Officer Jim, while on patrol one afternoon in the small prairie town of Endersly, noticed an unusual sight: a young lad trudging along the main street. On his shoulder the boy carried a rounded bundle knotted at the top with a pole slung through it.
Officer Jim pulled his car over to the curb and climbed out. As he approached the boy, he called out, “Hey son, are you lost?”
The lad turned and shook his head vigorously. “Nope, I’m heading down the road.”
Officer Jim paused…”Oh, I see. Tell you what, since you look like you’ve a long journey ahead of you, how ’bout coming into Pete’s Soda Shop for a nice cold milkshake? It’s my break time and I always stop in to see Pete once a week. What do you say?”
The lad hesitated, then reached in his pocket. Pulling out his hand, he showed officer Jim his money. “Can I buy a milkshake with this?”
The policeman gazed solemnly at the dime in the lad’s outstretched hand. Shaking his head sadly, he replied, “I’m afraid that won’t buy a milkshake.”
The boy looked downcast.
Suddenly, the officer smiled. “But I have a solution. How would you like to come as my guest?”
The boy brightened. “OK,” he said with a grin.
As the two entered the shop, Officer Jim called, “Hey Pete, I’ve brought someone with me today.” He leaned down. “What’s your name, son,and how old are you?”
“My name’s Brad Hanrahan, and I’ll be eight next week.”
“Well, Brad, my name’s Officer Jim, and I’m pleased to meet you.” He reached down and shook Brad’s hand. “Now, I have to tell you that Pete has the best sodas, milkshakes and banana splits anywhere in town, so you just put your sack down and hop up on one of those stools at the counter. Pete’ll give you a list so you can choose what flavor of milkshake you’d like.”
Brad hung his head and murmured, “Could he just tell me? I don’t read very well.”
Pete and Jim glanced at one another.
“Tell you what, Brad,” said Pete. “We’ll look at the list together. You say what words you can read and I’ll help you with the ones you can’t. Deal?”
“Deal!” Brad replied.
After Brad had selected the double chocolate malt, Officer Jim turned to him and asked, “Say, Brad, how far are you travelling?”
Between sips, Brad said, “I’m going to my grandpa’s and grandma’s.”
“And where do they live?”
“On a farm on the way to Billington.”
“Say, that’s quite a hike—almost 4 miles,” Pete remarked as he leaned over the counter.
“Do your grandparents know you’re coming?” asked Jim.
Brad shook his head. “Nope.”
‘Well, how ‘bout we give them a call—just in case they’re not home?”
Brad shook his head stubbornly. “I can stay in the barn ‘til they come.”
Jim rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. “Say, I’ve got an idea. Since I have to patrol down that way, why don’t I drop you off?”
Brad nodded slowly. “I guess that’d be OK.”
“Alright, son,let’s hit the road.”
“OK. Hey Pete, thanks for the milkshake, that sure was good,” said Brad as he hopped off the stool and picked up his bundle.
“You’re welcome, Brad. Next time you come, you can help me make yours.”
Jim waved as he and Brad headed out the door.
As they arrived at the car, Brad hesitated. “Officer Jim, could I go home instead of going to the farm?”
Jim looked at him and smiled as he patted him on the shoulder. “Well, now, I think that could be arranged. You can sit in the front seat of my patrol car and give me directions.”