” I guess you can sit here.” She patted the seat beside her. He looked down at her, not quite sure whether he could trust her.
She was a wild cat, this woman. He had known her for a few months. The two of them met while they both sat and fed the birds. Each came with their own plastic bag filled with crumbs they had saved all week.
At first she smiled, and he took this as a sign to join her. Then she began to change. She went from that friendly face to that of a vicious wild woman. Eyes popping out. Teeth worse than any Jack-O-Lantern face. Claws once kept by pretty colors of nails now white daggers.
The first time Millie did this it scared Bob. He jumped up from his seat, getting as far as he could from her. The next time he saw her, she smiled and asked, “Where ya been?” He looked at her and scratched his head. ” You about bit my head off old woman the last time I was here. What’s the matter with you anyways?”
” What you talking about Bob? I come here every week. You know that. We feed the birds together. Now quit talking that nonsense talk and sit down.” Bob sat down and their visit went fine, just the way it should have.
For several weeks everything went normal until once again Bob walked up to sit down, and she stood up and gave him a piece of her mind. He decided that was it. He wasn’t coming back to this seat again. Women, can’t figure them out, but he knew this one was a wild cat.
Bob changed his days for the park. He didn’t see Millie for some time. He emptied his plastic bag and on his walk home decided to stop and look through the newspapers sitting at the stand.
There on the front page was the headlines Missing Local Woman. He picked the paper up and quickly grazed the words. He didn’t plan on buying a paper today and didn’t want to get shewed off.
There was the photo of the woman he had been feeding the birds with. Wow, she was missing. He put the paper back as neatly as he could and finished his walk heading home.
He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat at the small, oval kitchen table going over in his mind the story of the missing lady. He thought back to all the talks they had in the past. Did she mention anything that could be important? Nothing really came to mind.
He fixed himself a bite to eat and then taking his shoes off he laid down on his bed to rest. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. Not that she was really important to him. In fact when he usually thought of her she wasn’t anything more than a wild cat.
The paper said she had family. Hmm, she had never mentioned family to him before. He just figured she was a widow or maybe an old maid. He sat up in bed as he remembered how she used to talk about the swings. Millie used to watch the kiddies swinging and talk about how much she used to swing and kick her feet back and forth to see how high she could go.
He also remembered that she had said she grew up near by. What was the name of that town? Oh ya, Collins, ya, that was it.
He laid back down determined first thing in the morning to find a way to this little town.
Next morning, washing up and finished with breakfast he called a buddy of his who agreed to take him on his search. He paced the floor waiting for the honk of the car to sound. He headed out the door and the two were on their way.
Collins was only about five miles a way, so it didn’t take long at all. ” Lets’ drive around until we see a park or a school. They drove up and down the streets and then there was a turn off onto a dirt road. On a hunch they took it. It was pretty short and when they came to an opening, there sat a weathered, run down building. An empty flag pole stood all alone. The windows were broken out. The front door boarded up.
Bob and his buddy got out and walked around but they saw nothing. Disappointment fell over his face as he was so sure that Millie wasn’t really missing; she was just lost. She wasn’t crazy or a wild cat. The poor woman had Alzheimer’s.
He had read plenty about it and had heard too many stories. This stuff hit people his and Millie’s age. He just knew this was what had happened. Kicking his feet in the dirt, delaying leaving, the two sat on the front steps of the old school.
It was starting to get hot so they stood up to go. Something just kept picking at him. He told his buddy that he wanted to just walk around the building. He wanted to see what the old building looked like.
The two started their journey. They got on the back side of the school and their on the back steps sat Millie. She didn’t see them. His buddy stayed back and Bob quietly walked up to her.
He saw that she was sleeping. He leaned down and patted her on the shoulder. She looked up and tears started streaming down her face. She stood up and gave him the biggest hug he had ever had.
” I’m scared Bob. I don’t know how I got here. I was looking for the park bench you and I sit at.” She pulled out her filled plastic bag of bird food and showed it to him. He put his arm around her and told her, ” Everything is going to be ok Millie. My friend and I will take you home.”
All three walked back to the car in silence. Bob helped Millie sit in the front seat. Climbing in the back seat they took off back to town. They went through the doors of the police station.
Suddenly a loud voice could be heard. ” Mom, oh mom, you are safe. Mom I was worried sick.” Her son came up and hugged her, looking at the two gentlemen standing with her.
” It’s ok sir. She and I, well we feed the birds every week together. We talk a lot about nothing. Then when I was walking home I saw her picture on the front of the newspaper. I thought real hard about what had happened. I just knew inside she was alright. I knew no harm had come to her. I wanted to help find her.”
Her son took both of Bob’s hands in his and shook them until he thought they were going to break off. He took his wallet out of his back pocket and started handing Bob some money. Bob held his hand out to stop the man. ” Don’t want your money.”
Her son put his wallet back and gave him a quick hug. Walking back to his Mom he led her into the police officer’s office.
Bob was so relieved but he was going to miss Millie. He just knew that he would never see her again. He didn’t go back to the park bench for a couple of weeks. But his bag kept filling up and he had no choice but to go or throw a way good bird food.
He put his shoes on and started his journey to the park. There on the park bench was a woman. Not Millie, but another woman, about her age, but with different hair and a crooked smile. He looked down at her and she looked up at him.