A boy. A baseball card. And a thing.
I hated Cesar!
"Why won't he trade cards with me? He can keep his beat-up 'ole card. Who cares!"
I cared. School had let out. As I crossed Broadway absentmindedly, I plotted how I was going to get that 1983 Topps Jim Rice baseball card. Rice was the only man I would ultimately ever steal for, and Cesar was the only other kid in the 4th grade who collected cards. Getting Rice out of Cesar's aluminum Hulk lunchbox, undetected, would not be easy.
"Maybe he won't notice," I lied to myself.
The crossing guard chuckled at my mumbling as I passed her in the crosswalk. I stepped up onto the curb in front of the Broadway Bike School. On that day I was too preoccupied to look at the rusty one-speed with the vintage mustache handlebars that the store owners had mounted over the entry way. I liked that bike, but not as much as the 1983 Topps Jim Rice card.
It was the last one I needed to complete the Red Sox set!
A few steps after the shop I took a left into the alleyway between the school and my building. It was my path to and from school every day. I often played there with friends. Although distracted, I instinctively picked some burs from the burdock weeds growing out of the cracks at the pavement edges.
The thing had a long snout and tail. Plump, like an oversized rat. In my panic I could have sworn the thing had said, "We've been expecting you." I threw the burs in my hand, making the thing jump into the air. I screamed, turned, and ran all the way back to school.
City kids should really be told about possums.