There was a light mist but no wind when Harry backed his truck into Hank Steele’s driveway the next morning. The man had thoughtfully left the side closer to the Walters’ driveway open for him. There were a few small shrubs along the property line between the two lawns, but they didn’t obstruct Harry’s view of the Halloween display on the Walters’ lawn.
It was still dark, and with the tinted windshield, no one would know he was in the truck. Light spilled out onto the front step from the entryway indicating that Paul Walters was up. Thirty minutes later Harry watched as Walters drove away, headed for his job in the city.
Harry continued to watch the Walters’ Halloween display as the morning started to lighten up. Finally, just before six-thirty, something caught his eye. At first he thought it was a dog, perhaps a stray. But something didn’t look right about the way it was moving. Could it be injured? It stopped beside the display and Harry’s eyes widened… then he smiled and shook his head. Clever! The kid was crawling on his hands and knees in an effort to remain less noticeable.
The boy carefully extracted two of the neat little blocks of hay without disturbing anything else, wrapped straps around them and secured them on his back. Then he crawled back down to the road.
Harry eased open the truck door and slid out. When he reached the street he saw the kid speeding away on a bicycle. He went back to the truck, pulled out onto the street and followed at a distance. Fifteen minutes later the kid turned onto a dirt road. Harry turned the truck onto the dirt road, stopped and got out. He knew there was a farm just up past the trees. It belonged to someone named Smith, and he suspected that’s where the kid was going.
Harry walked up the road until he brought the house and barn into view. There didn’t appear to be any activity but the barn door was open, so he decided to head that way. When he had almost reached the door, he stopped and listened.
“I have to go to school now, Sam, but I’ll be back again when school gets out. Don’t you worry now. See, I told Mr. Smith I would take care of you and I will. I know the hay isn’t much but I’ll bring you some more carrots and an apple after school.”
Harry was pretty sure who the voice belonged to, so he waited silently until the kid appeared in the open doorway. “Good morning, son. Is Mr. Smith around?”
“N-n-n-no sir. Mr. Smith is sick and I’m taking care of Sam for him. That’s his horse.”
“And this is why you’ve been stealing the hay from Mrs. Walters’ Halloween display. Do you steal the carrots and apples too?”