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Caught Red-Handed

The young boy glanced around the corner of the store, clutching his bulging jacket tightly to his chest. A few people passed by him without a glance, but they didn’t concern the boy. He was really interested in police officers walking back and forth between their squad cars and the store with its alarms blaring noisily.

He pulled away from the scene, and started to walk down the street, occasionally looking behind him to look out for the police. A muffled crinkling noise was heard as he wrapped his arms even tighter around his torso.

An old man sitting at the bus stop bench a few feet away looked up at the noise. His wrinkled brown fedora was perched slightly askew on his balding head, and his old plaid jacket was unbuttoned down the front. A yellowing newspaper opened to the crosswords section was opened on his lap, the pen idle in his hand.

“Whacha got there, son?” he called out to the boy, who jumped at the unexpected voice addressing him.

“Nothing, Father.” He had been raised with good manners, and couldn’t bring himself to ignore them now. “Have a good day.”

“You too, my son. You too. You stay out of trouble, now, ya hear?” The old man turned to watch him leave.

”I will, Father.”

The boy breathed a sigh of relief as soon as he was out of sight. However, the young boy would soon find out that that relief was short-lived. As he continued down the block, finally turning another corner, he didn’t see the two police officers walk from the direction he had come and stop by the old man who had just turned back to his Sunday paper.

The old man looked up as a tall shadow fell across the paper, and smiled pleasantly at the officers. His fedora fell forward, covering his eyes, but he just laughed silently and pushed it firmly back atop his head.

“Howdy do, officers?” His eyes squinted against the harsh glare of the sun.

“Good morning, Sir. My name is Detective Rodriguez, and this is my partner Officer Blake.” He stuck his hand out for the old man to shake.

“And I am David Wyss. What can I do for you youngsters?” Wyss’s friendly attitude relaxed the stiff posture of the police.

“We are investigating a robbery that occurred a few minutes ago at Green’s Grocery. We have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind?” Detective Rodriguez was taking out a notepad and a pen from his shirt pocket, and flipping it open to a new page.
“Of course, of course. What would you like to know?”

“Did you happen to see anyone suspicious passing you in the past few minutes?” The old man paused for a minute to think.

”There was…no, not him…Ah yes! I do remember, there was a young boy who passed by not a minute ago. I spoke a bit to him. He seemed to be hiding something…he was…he had his arms wrapped tightly around his chest—holding something under his jacket, I would imagine.” The old man was tapping his chin thoughtfully throughout his mutterings.

The officer was scribbling furiously, while Officer Blake spoke up.

”What was he wearing, this boy? And what did he look like?”

“He was wearing some denim jeans and a black zipper jacket…some white tennis shoes. He had brown hair, his face a little chubby—still in his younger years, not quite a teenager yet, I imagine—and his eyes were a strange grey color.” Wyss looked up again as Detective Rodriguez spoke again.

“Thank you very much Mr. Wyss. You have been very helpful. I think I know who the boy is. We have had a bit of trouble with him before, I believe. Good day to you.” The officers turned away and continued the same route the boy had taken.

David Wyss sat on the bench, staring after the officers bemusedly. The younger generation would never cease to amaze him with the speed at which things were done. He turned back to his paper to pass the time until the bus came.

The young boy had reached his home already, and ran upstairs to his bedroom. He could see his mother through the kitchen window working in the garden in the backyard. Once he had reached his room, he kicked off his shoes and then took off his jacket, dumping it unceremoniously on the floor.

His prize was held tightly in his hands. It was a large G.I. Joe action figure that had only just recently been placed on the shelves in Green’s Grocery. His friends would be very jealous when they saw that he was the first one to get it.

He walked across his room and flung himself across his bed. He could hear his mother shuffling around downstairs, probably washing up and getting ready to prepare lunch.

“Trystan! Are ye home? What do ye want fer lunch?” his mother’s voice drifted up the stairs.

“Yes Ma! Can you make me a cheese sandwich? Thank you!”

She turned around to walk into the kitchen when a sudden knock sounded at the front door. She turned towards the front door, and opened it. She was surprised to see the officers standing in front of her.

“Hello Detective Rodriguez, Officer Blake. What can I do fer ye?”

“Sorry to bother you Ms. Harold, but is Trystan home? We would like a word with him.” Rodriguez glanced past Trystan’s mother, only to see the boy walking down the stairs. He had come down at the strange voices, but was now wishing he hadn’t. The forgotten G.I. Joe character was still clutched tightly in his fist.

Catherine Harold turned around to call her son, but quickly lowered her voice when she realized he was quite close.

“Trystan. What ‘ave ye done now? Ye know what ‘appened the last time…” Trystan looked at his feet in shame. Officer Blake stepped in the doorway.

“Trystan, if you would……give me the toy. You are lucky you are so young. You would have been caught and sent straight to jail for crimes such as this. Remember that for when you are older, my boy.” Ms. Harold’s face hardened as she realized what her son had done.

She grabbed the toy from his hand and roughly shoved it into the officer’s hands. She looked back at the men with a hint of a smile on her face.

“Thank you, officers. I promise ye, Trystan won’ be causin’ much trouble anymore.”

Detective Rodriguez nodded, and both officers left the house. Catherine Harold turned around, furious. Her hands were folded across her chest, the scowl on her face causing Trystan to cringe away.

“How many times have I told ya? I don’ wan’ no trouble! Firs’ it be at yer school, and now ye be doin’ it at home too. I don’ know what ta do wid ya anymore.” Her quiet disappointment was much worse than her yelling.

Trystan’s eyes welled with tears, and he rushed forward burying his face into his mother’s skirts.

“I’m sorry Ma. I won’t do it again, I promise! I just wanted the toy. But I won’t do it again, Ma. I don’t wanna go to jail, please Ma! I won’t do it again.” His mother’s face softened and she gathered her young son into her arms.

“I know ye won’, Trystan. But ye must learn from yer mistakes. Always remember this here moment, my son. I trust ye will do better. Come now. Let us get our lunch.” They walked into the kitchen, Trystan gripping his mother’s hand tightly.



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