El Kidnap

This boy was all of 4, maybe 5 years old at the time of the kidnap. I was there when it happened. Saw it all. Police were involved too. And a screaming mother.

So on this early morning in the Bronx, I’m sitting in this little corner cafe having a cup of tea and preparing my lesson plan before I go in to teach. The school was right around the block, no hurry. The cafe was one of those neighborhood stop-overs with three tables squeezed into to a tiny space.

Everyone in there was Hispanic, except me. The cashier, the grills guy and a big lady sitting at one of the tables. She had a pretty little girl with her, about 3 I’d say, and this little girl had a doll stroller with a wide-eyed pretty little doll sitting in it. You could not miss that doll with it long lashes, flowing shiny red hair a pink frilly dress and perfect itsy-bitsy shoes to match.

In comes a man with his little boy – the boy I told you was all of 4, maybe 5. The man and his boy go up to the counter to chat up the cashier and grills guy. The little boy has his eyes on something else. I notice him, bitty human, break away from the man and amble over to the only empty table. He’s walking sideways, like a crab, while all along keeping his eye on the little girl’s stroller and its doll content.

This boy, cute as a button, little devil I tell you, is scheming. I can see it in his eyes. Shit’s about to go down. I sip my tea.

Now, the pretty little girl and her mother were busy munching on sandwiches and talking about whatnot while the doll stroller was carefully parked right next to them.

It happened in a flash I kid you not. A flash! That boy, all of 4 maybe 5, moved like lightning, swiped the pretty wide-eyed doll with his tiny hand right off of its doll stroller, then dashed and hid behind the legs of the man he came in with. Hot damn, rewind that shit!

What followed was a shrill scream from the little girl’s mother who somehow saw the doll disappear in a blink. Mothers have compound eyes, you know that. Whatever came out of her mouth in high-speed Spanish made the cashier guy snatch the phone and go “911 pronto pronto!” before getting the full story.

There was a cacophony of tongues going about, everyone talking and no one listening. I knew the whole story but no one was trying to bother this invisible African and her books.

In a minute a police officer walked into the noise. This is a neighborhood with police at every block. He’s white, doesn’t speak Spanish, and he asks what’s going on.

Screaming lady says “El kidnap! El kidnap la nina!” Immediately the police officer is on his walkie-talkie. He’s about to put out an Amber alert for a kidnapped little girl. Meanwhile the little doll kidnapper is peeking out from behind the legs of the man while clutching his loot. I want to wink at him. I’m not ratting you out kid! Why do we root for anti-heroes?

The cashier guy, the grills guy and the man with the legs finally sort out the details of what went down and explains it to the police. The bitty scheming hombre is asked to return the kidnapped doll to its stroller. The way he pulled off that heist! It’s been 21 years since. He’s probably running a hedge fund on Wall Street, snatching up your money right in front of your eyes. Or a priest running a parish.

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