a tale of an old hero. part two
Now that was an easy bust, thought the officer, as he placed the one robber named Joe into the back of the van. The man was still shaking his head and smelled of alcohol, muttering to himself, "Just you wait, you old broad. Just you wait."
Humn, so maybe I should really look for that old lady everyone talked about. He watched the van pull away, turning, he saw his partner, his senior of fifteen years was bringing the car around.
"Hey, Sam, what do you think of that old lady? Don't you think we should find her? I mean to further the investigation along?"
"Look, rookie. That is why detectives make the big bucks. We have patrol. Remember?"
"No buts, rookie. Sometimes it is better to leave well enough alone." The salt and pepper stoic guy in the driver's seat stared out the front window deciding on which way to turn for their patrol.
"Aren't you a bit curious?"
"Look kid, sometimes out here, curiousity can kill the cat. Catch my drift?"
Drift? thought the younger man, ah, yeah. Generational slang.... okay. Sighing he kept further thoughts to himself.
In an alley way, a little old lady sat on an old apple crate beside a grey queen with her five frisky kittens taking their dinner, inside another crate.
"Ah, Missy, your babies are so cute and demanding. I admire your patience." as she opened the can of tuna and poured a bottle of water into an old butter bowl. "I hope you are hungry. I brought you the good stuff." chuckling to herself, she felt a little stitch in her left side and an ache in her right knee. "Guess I don't fall as well as I used to, Missy. It sure is hell getting old." She smiled and looked up at the sky that had now cleared from cloudy to sunshine. "But the alternate to getting older ain't so hot, either." Chuckling again to herself and then ruefully grimaced as she rubbed her left ribs. Must have bruised them from the stupid oaf. "And it cost me a beer to boot. Ah well.... " Smiling again... I did buy the cheap stuff, but maybe a coke would have been better. Nawwww.... I needed something that would really sting in the eyes. Ah well... "Okay, MIssy. I will leave your brood to you. I know you are quite the busy one. I will make sure the manager knows how you are keeping the mouse population down. And remember, keep up the good work. You know it is a great life if you don't weaken, at least that is what my mom always said." She got up and climbed onto her bike to head towards the recycling collection area. "Should get some extra change for all of this." Smiling to herself.
Mr. Johnson looked out of the window of the makeshift office. She should be coming any time now... His normally frowning mouth was forced to jerk upward at the corners as he saw the familiiar orange flag coming up the steep embankment. "As if I haven't told her a hundred times, now it will be a hundred and one..." Shaking his head and stepping out into the crisp fall air, "Miss Jones.... " He called out as he hurried down to the old lady struggling up the hill. "Why do you insist pushing your self this hard. I put that intercom at the gate just so you could call me and I could come to you."
The old lady now at the top of the hill, huffing a little.... "Why? You think I can't make it up here? I have you know, young man, that I was a great runner in my time."
Young man? thought Mr. Johnson who was just shy of his sixtieth birthday. Just how old was this lady?
"I know, I know.... but ..."
"But nothing, sonny. I have got to finish my rounds. Let's get down to business." As the old lady careful of her knee got off of her bike.
The sum total of the aluminum, the newspapers and the plastic came up to a whopping ten dollars. Mr. Johnson turned his back and then quickly handed over the money to the one known as Miss Jones.
"What's this, sonny?"
"Well, you made twenty dollars today."
The old lady glared at the younger man. "No wonder you can't even buy yourself a decent pair of shoes, if you keep doing business like this, Laddie."
Laddie? thought Mr. Johnson. "But, Miss ..."
"Don't Miss me... Young man. You think I am a charity case??"
"Well, no. But you are a valued customer and the company has lowered the returns for recyclables... and so.."
The old woman handed back a ten. "And so, today, today I earned ten dollars."
Mr. Johnson turned beat red. How could someone in a tattered coat and hat complain about his shoes.
The old lady smirked. "Sonny, you should start exercising more. It will keep your blood pressure down." She slowly climbed on her bike to head down the embankment... "Anyway, there is a reason I bike up this hill everyday..." She turned, grinned and gave the man a coyish wink. as she started down the hill with her legs spread out, Mr. Johnson could here a "Weeeeeeeeeee" sound as the old lady went flying down the hill.
Shaking his head and hoping she would not end up killing herself, he looked down at his old sneakers that were once white, and saw his pinky toes coming out of the sides. He closed the door of his office.
The cemetary was quiet. The sun was shining. Squirrels and chipmunks scurried around the trees and tombstones gathering food for the upcoming winter. A lone woman sat on a stone bench, holding one red rose in her hand and a bottle of beer in the other.
"George, it has been quite a day, today. I know... I know, I should have minded my own business.... but when I saw those two young boys with guns in that store... and that little one's mom inside. I just had to do something. I know... I know... But George, you know, it wasn't my time yet." She looked at her wrinkled and spotted hands. "Remember how you used to say how beautiful my hands were.... Maybe it is a good thing that you went first." As she stretched her hands as high as she could toward the sun....the wrinkles seemed to fade away as the rays fractured between her fingers. "Well... Gotta go. Happy birthday, Georgie, my sweetheart. Keep the place cleaned up, Kay? You never know when I will be back to move in. And you know how much I'll nag if I have to pick up your socks again." She chuckled a little as she allowed a tear to slide down her face. Getting up, she laid the cheap fake rose down on the bench, tracing her arthritic finger over the name, George Alexander Jones, beloved husband and father. "I am glad we chose this bench, Georgie. Guess i need to move on, honey. See you tomorrow." As she laid the beer down beside the rose. "Happy birthday."