When Minnie looked in her rearview mirror she noticed blue lights on top of the car following her. They seemed to be spinning. A loud alarm-kind of wail filled the cool night air.
It must be a fire truck.
She hoped her house on Coach Lane was not burning. Maybe someone left the iron on.
Yeah, that’s it. The cat knocked it over.
Now let’s see, she pondered, do I have a cat? She would think about that later.
That ill-mannered car in pursuit was getting on her nerves. Her house-slippered foot slammed the gas pedal. Trees and signs flew by in a blur. When the right front wheel hit the pothole there was a loud bang, like a gun. The injured vehicle veered off toward a beautiful garden of hydrangeas.
She jerked the steering wheel and spun out into the street again. The scraping sound of metal set her teeth on edge. She slowed to a crawl just before crossing the bridge. At least those pesky blue lights were gone; but now there was a low flying helicopter with bright searchlights that hurt her eyes. She was feeling chilly. The thin nightgown barely covered her scrawny, wrinkled old body. She couldn’t remember where she had left her glasses.
The crippled sedan kept rolling and screeching. As soon as she was over the bridge the old car hobbled to a stop under some trees. Chopper blades whirring like a giant eggbeater in the sky frightened her into the woods. Her feet were hurting. There seemed to be something wrong with her shoes.
She walked for what seemed like hours. Several times she thought she heard someone calling her name. Maybe it was Momma wanting her to come to supper. She began to cry. Nothing was familiar.
She trudged along, sobbing and scared until she saw neon lights and the pavement of a parking lot. Those sirens in the background were relentless. Her head was pounding. Her nose was running. Momma said a lady must always carry a handkerchief for such emergencies. She didn’t even have a purse and her house shoes were on the wrong feet. She reached up to smooth her matted hair, patting it gently as if that made a difference. She really needed a tissue.
It was closing time at the department store. Out of the corner of her eye she saw men in blue uniforms hurrying in her direction. She was embarrassed to show her face covered with a mixture of tears and mucus. Momma would scold her good for being so uncouth. She darted through the double doors and straight into the lingerie department. Somewhere along the way she had lost one slipper. Her foot was getting cold.
A table of pastel colored under things distracted her. She grabbed a few of the soft and lovely unmentionables and sped through another door. It was marked for employees only.
I’ll just stay quiet as a mouse under this lunch table for a while; then I’ll go home for supper.
When she opened her eyes there was a sweet looking young woman sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of her.
Minnie smiled like an innocent baby. “May I please have a glass of water?”
“Why sure, Honey,” the stranger cooed. That’s when the blue trousered legs appeared. The owner squatted down and handed the elder a paper cup of cool liquid. She sipped a little, with one pinky finger crooked most correctly.
The charming man reached out to her. In a spit second decision, she grabbed her silky treasures, put them to her nose, and blew loud and strong.
Momma wouldn’t like me looking common and snotty.
She patted her hair and extended her thin, blue veined hand. He handled her as if she were exquisite crystal.
“Miss Minnie," Sergeant Joe whispered to his childhood Sunday school teacher, “ you must be cold. Sit down in this chair and I’ll wrap a pretty blue blanket around you. In a while we’ll take a little ride to a nice warm place with a bed and some folks who are waiting to help you feel better.”
She recognized something Joe was holding. He knelt down and placed the beat-up right slipper on her bare and dirty left foot. She held her head high, like a princess. Now she was safe. Joe prayed her fairytale would never end and she would live happily ever after.
*Some events based on a true story related by a police officer. Names changed.
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