It's time for a treat, she thought. Over to 103rd Street and the bakery, for a cream puff or two.
She was walking past the Wee Book Inn when someone said, "Excuse me, miss?"
Her first instinct was to check if she had dropped something. No, she hadn't. She turned to face the man who had spoken. He was standing next to a small boy playing with a yo-yo. "Can you watch my son for me while I dash across the street? I won't be a minute."
Estella, puzzled and caught off-guard by the offer, said, "Sure." She instantly regretted it--who was this guy, to appoint perfect strangers for babysitters?-- but by that time he'd already thanked her and dashed across the street on the flashing signal. Damn. Well, at least she still looking innocent and helpful. But the magazine in her bag was proof of that.
The boy kept playing with his yo-yo. "What's your name?" Estella asked, feeling uncomfortable.
The boy mumbled something. "What was that?" she asked, brightly.
"Drew," he repeated, slightly louder.
"That's a nice name," she said, wondering why anybody said such things. There were too many totally meaningless phrases in the English language, she decided. She looked around for a sign of Drew's father, but he had disappeared. Then she heard a dull crunch behind her, and turned back towards Drew.
She'd only taken her eyes off him for a second, but in that time...Estella shook her head, unable to believe what she saw. A girl of about fifteen lay on the sidewalk. Her head looked like someone had taken a sledgehammer to her temple. Drew stood playing with his yo-yo, looking passively at the scene. There was something red dripping from his yo-yo.
"Dear God," she whispered. She grabbed Drew and held him in front of her. "Did you do that?" she asked.
He nodded. "My Dad showed me."
And what would his Dad do, if he found out what she'd seen? If his son could do that, what might the father be able to do?
"Come with me," she said, taking Drew firmly by the hand and almost dragging him along. There was a police station a block north of here, and she could seek safety there. They wouldn't believe her story, of course, but when they saw the body, and the yo-yo, they'd have to believe.
Drew kept saying, "Don't want to go. Daddy said stay." But he protested no more than that.
He stood quietly as she made her statement to the police, playing with his yo-yo again. He couldn't do much with it, she noted, except for making it go up and down. And killing people with it, of course. She took it away from him to show the police. He struggled to keep it, starting to cry quietly, but once it was gone he didn't protest. The blood was still there--Estella had been starting to wonder if she had imagined it.
"We'll send a patrolman down to check it out right away, Miss McAdam," the officer on duty said. He still looked skeptical, but she stood firm to her story, and was sure that if nothing else they'd find a body.
The patrolman returned fifteen minutes later. "No body, sir. Nobody reported seeing one, and there were no traces on the sidewalk or anywhere nearby."
Estella refrained from saying that that was impossible. She didn't want them to question her sanity any more than they had already. "I'm sorry, officer," she said, smiling weakly. "I must have seen something else. Perhaps they were doing a play." The officer nodded, and turned back to his paperwork, seeming willing to let her leave before she embarrassed herself further.
She took the yo-yo back off the counter, where it had left a slight red stain, and turned to give it back to Drew. But Drew was gone.
There was a scrap of paper on the floor, with her name on it. She picked it up, and all it said was, "So sorry you had to see that." No signature.
She stared at the yo-yo in her hand, and then put in into her pocket. Somehow she didn't feel like going to the bakery anymore.
<This story is for the eminent Tom Boutell, who inflicted
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