by Valerie L. Egar
Leo saw the kitten right away. He was nestled under a bush by the entrance to Pioneer Village and meowed loudly. Black with golden eyes, the kitten had long fur and a bushy tail. Leo bent and patted his head. The kitten kept mewing.
“He’s hungry,” said Leo.
Mom kneeled on the sidewalk to look. She reached under the bush to pet him. “He looks young, barely old enough to be away from his mother.”
“We need to get him something to eat,” said Leo.
“Let’s see the museum, first, OK?” said Mom.
They were on vacation and had flown from Portland, Maine to Denver, Colorado the week before and spent days sightseeing. Driving through Nebraska’s rolling hills, they saw a herd of wild buffalo and a colony of prairie dogs. In South Dakota, they viewed presidents’ faces carved into Mt. Rushmore. So far, it was a great vacation.
Today, the plan was to visit Pioneer Village. They looked forward to seeing a log cabin, old print shop and general store. The village also displayed antique cars, trucks, tractors and fire engines, everything Leo liked to see. Mom paid the admission fee and they started to walk around.
“Do you think the kitten will be there when we leave?” Leo asked.
“Yes,” said Mom.
“He needs food,” said Leo.
“We’ll get him food before we leave,” said Mom.
“He’s hungry now,” said Leo.
Leo wasn’t interested in the old fire trucks or the trains displayed in the barn. He was worried about the kitten.
“Let’s get the kitten something to eat and come back in,” Mom said. At the museum’s cafeteria, they ordered a hamburger.
“Plain,” Leo said. “Kittens don’t like ketchup.”
They broke the hamburger into tiny pieces and the kitten gobbled it up. He started to purr and rubbed on Leo’s leg. Then, he walked back under the bush for a nap.
Pioneer Village was full of wonderful things to see and do. Leo and Mom enjoyed an ice cream soda at a counter in an old fashioned drugstore. Leo pretended to drive an old fire truck. Before they knew it, it was time to go.
The tiny kitten was curled up, under the bush, sleeping.
“We have to take him with us,” Leo said. “We can’t just leave him here.”
“Maybe he belongs to somebody,” Mom said. She didn’t think so, though. She went back inside and asked.
The woman at the admissions counter rolled her eyes. “People leave kittens here all the time.”
“That’s wrong!” said Leo, and Mom agreed. “We have to take him.”
Mom sighed. “We’re far from home. We came here on a plane.”
“Cats fly on planes,” said Leo.
“I know, but—”
Leo was determined. He looked at Mom. “It would be wrong to leave him here.”
Mom knew Leo was right. Pioneer Village was on a highway and if the kitten walked into the road, he’d get hit by a car. Whoever owned him should have never left him to fend for himself.
“OK,” Mom said. “We’re headed back to Denver, maybe we can find a shelter that will take him and find him a home.”
“Or, he can come home with us,” said Leo. Mom didn’t say anything. Before the car was out of the parking lot, Leo started calling the kitten, “Little Critter.”
That night, Mom found a motel that allowed pets. They stopped at a convenience store and bought cat food. Mom made a make-shift litter box from a cardboard box. Little Critter romped around the room and climbed the drapes. Leo giggled. Worn out, the kitten slept in the bed next to Leo.
“Little Critter would love to ride on a plane,” said Leo as they drove towards Denver the next day.
Leo said, “He’s little, I don’t think he’d eat very much, do you?”
“Little Critter would love Maine,” said Leo. “I bet he’s never heard a loon.”
Mom laughed. She’d grown to love the little black kitten, too. “You’re very persuasive,” she said. “I’ll call the airline as soon as we get to Denver.”
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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published August 9, 2015 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).