The early morning was still quite with the smallest chill. A lingering memory of a warm night could still be sensed. As often happened in the post dawn light, the garden spoke to him. It needed to happen now. If he left on his mission – right now – all would go well with it. It was a sudden flash of intuition that he knew to be correct. If he was going to steal those rocks it would have to be… right… now.
He had noticed the rocks on his way to the old part of town where he performed his sidewalk puppet show. It was under an overpass next to a county park. They (whomever was in charge of such things) had shorn up the soil – eroding under the bridge – with a beautiful jagged blue rock. While some were boulders and way to large for a person to pick up, some were normal sized and portable, he needed rocks for his garden. He was using a blue Mexican pebble to create his stone waterbed to mimic a creek. These squarish jagged stones would provide the perfect little erratics. Or, one could imagine them as gnome sitting stones.
As he made a mental list of how he would pull this off he realized the first thing he would need is a partner in crime.
He knocked on the fence and peeked over. Moira (his neighbor) was sitting in lotus – meditating.
“Moira, care to go on an adventure with me this morning?” he asked. “we have to go right now.”
Moira gathered the folds of her diaphanous robe and rose to come closer. Standing under the fence she looked up at Jake.
“Where are we going?”
“I want to go under the overpass and take some of the blue rocks. I need a look out.”
“We are going to go steal rocks?” asked Moira tilting her head sideways wondering if he was for real.
“I’m thinking of it more as a tax refund. Are you in?”
“Let me grab my boots and hat. I’ll meet you in front of your garage.”
Moira and Jake were silent as they drove. Moira was sipping coffee enjoying the fuzziness of morning.
“Here’s the plan,” Jake interrupted, “We are going to use my wagon that I transport my puppets in to get the rocks. We will park at the parking lot nearby in the park and put blankets in it to make it look like we are going for a picnic. When we get to the rocks you will be the look out. I need six to ten rocks. I will place them under the blanket and then we will take them back. The danger will be while I am collecting the rocks and then unloading them into the trunk. What do you think.”
“I think this is the stupidest reason to be arrested I can think of. I hope it doesn’t end up in the paper.” Moira answered dryly.
Moira and Jake had been neighbors for many years. When Moira had moved in next door, Jakes wife had been dying of cancer. Jake had dutifully introduced himself. Then, they really hadn’t spoken for the first year as opportunity had never presented itself. Most of their interactions had been Moira watching Jake. She had watched him help his wife in and out of the car in the driveway to what she assumed were trips to the doctor. Since she didn’t really know them, it seemed like the politest thing to do would be to overt her eyes and give them some privacy. It would prove to be her constant strategy and the least she could do as her neighbors dealt with the hand fate had played them.
Moira had moved here to be employed as a yoga instructor at the nearby resort that boasted hot springs and a bathhouse. The chance to be friends with the neighbors had come and gone as she settled into her new work and reality and proceeded to populate her life with new friends.
Then one day she came home to Jakes house overflowing with people and she knew his wife had passed away.
A month later she had brought over a casserole, gave her condolences, and stayed for a quick chat. Then a week later he had returned the pan with a peach cobbler from peaches stolen from her tree and a friendship began. He was a good cook and they both liked to garden.
The puppets had come out a year later. His late wife had hated them, he explained to Moira. He had been a clown with the circus before having a family and trading in his paint and puppets for boardrooms and business. Even after retirement he had found that entertainment was in his blood. His sidewalk circus fulfilled the need.
With this revelation, Moira had found him a little odder and a little more interesting.
Moira’s memories retreated as they pulled into the parking lot near the overpass. Surprisingly (considering the early hour) there were already cars parked. There were one or two people also – on the other side of the parking lot. Jake quickly but deliberately prepared the wagon. Once he placed the blankets in the bottom they headed up the hill to the overpass.
Jake wondered briefly about how going down a hill with a wagon full of heavy rocks with no brakes was going to work as they made their way up the hill towards their destination. He wondered what other obstacles they would encounter that he hadn’t planned for on their trip. He decided he would think about it on the way back and hope for the best.
They reached the path under the bridge without incident or interference. While there had been people in the parking lot, there were none yet on the bike path that went under the overpass next to the rocks.
Jake quickly loaded up his wagon.
They were on their way back (the steep hill wasn’t adversely affecting control of the wagon), when they spied the ranger coming up the road from the parking lot heading towards them. They realized that he must have been in the parking lot the whole time and they had been concentrating so hard they had not seen him. It also occurred to them that the ranger would just miss them stealing rocks. If he left but five minutes earlier, he would have been able to watch the progress of their perfidy on his way out.
Moira took Jakes hand. Jake looked at her noticing for the first time how pretty she looked. The wind had caught her silver hair and flowing jacket pressing the clothing against her toned yoga body whisking her hair back into a flowing wave.
The ranger smiled at them and waved. Moira smiled and waved back. Jake held onto the wagon and squeezed her hand.