The foursome continued down the dark alley. When they reached the street, they turned left, heading toward Maple Lane.
“Look! What’s that say?” Max asked, pointing to a sign. They all strained their eyes to see the large letters in the dark.
“You’d think after all these years in school I could read that by now,” Trixie sighed.
“S-T-O-P. Stop.” Everyone turned toward Dove.
“Don’t tell me,” Purled grunted. “You looked it up.”
“I just found this new app where you can type in the letters and it will sound it out for you!” he exclaimed. Trixie groaned.
“Come on, we need to find Socks,” she said. They turned left and headed down Maple Lane.
“Let’s look over the facts of Socks’ disappearance. What was the last thing she said?” Trixie asked.
“Uh, guys! I think we’re locked out!” Purl exclaimed.
“Duh, you just now figuring that out?” Trixie retorted.
“No, I mean that’s what Socks said last,” Purl said. They continued walking. The night was silent except for an occasional beep from Dove’s phone.
“Sorry, I keep getting mail,” he would say.
Purl walked behind Trixie, keeping up the brisk pace. But something just wasn’t right. Her yellow eyes looked around the small group of friends. Trixie looked from side to side, probably eyeing for the black, missing cat. Dove took small, quick steps, tripping here and there, as he fumbled to type on his touch-screen. But Purl knew something was wrong. Then it hit her like a block of ice.
“Trixie, where’s Max?” her voice quivered. Trixie stopped walking and turned around.
“Oh, great. Now he’s missing too?” she asked. Trixie and Purl looked way down the street. In the faint streetlight they could see a little rabbit sitting in front of the stop sign.
“Oh, brother! Now what’s he doing? Max! Max! Get over here!” Trixie yelled. He didn’t move.
“Max?” Purl shouted. The bunny turned his head. His tiny voice rang through the dark, empty street.
“I am stopping.” Trixie and Purl and Dove ran down to where Max sat.
“You’re what?” Dove asked.
“Stopping,” Max replied. “All of you really out to be ashamed of yourself,” he said.
“How’s that?” Trixie snorted.
“I’m the only one who obeyed the law. The sign said stop, so I stopped!” he said. The animals looked at one another. And then back at Max. Purl tried to explain.
“Do you know what a car is?” she asked, trying to smile.
“Uh, yes! I see them come down the alley all day,” Max replied.
“Good. This sign is for cars. It tells the drivers to stop. They look both ways, and then they can keep going,” Purl said.
“That’s a pretty good summary,” Dove said. “But this website does it better,” he said, reading intently.
Max looked blankly at Purl.
“You mean, I don’t have to stop?” he asked.
“No. Now we need to go. Okay?” Purl said. Max got up, and walked along with them. Trixie muttered under breath. Purl caught a few words.
“Rabbit…sign…stopping…” Purl laughed. Trixie always seemed to be complaining.
When they were about halfway through Maple Lane, Dove spotted something sitting in the shadows beside a brick house across the street. Its yellow eyes glowed and watched their every move. In the gleam of a porch light, the creature came out.
“Socks Boots Henry, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” Trixie yelled. Socks sat there, motionless in the shadowed yard.
“Socks, we’ve been looking all over for you!” Purl shouted. The black cat took a long breath.
“Hello, my night friends. What brings you here?” it slowly crossed the street.
“You’re not-not Socks,” Dove stammered.
“No, no, I’m not. My name is Black Midnight. Blacky for short.” She circled them.
“So, where do you live?” she asked, sitting down on the sidewalk.
“Max and I live on Banta Street, and the others are just visiting,” Trixie said.
“I see. What brings you here?” Blacky asked, raising her eyebrow.
“Socks is missing,” Purl replied. “We thought you were her.” Blacky laughed.
“There is NO other cat like me,” she boasted. “Socks may be black, and she may look like me, but she’s nothing compared to the Terror of Maple Lane,”
“The-the Terror of Maple Lane?” Purl stammered.
“Well, I’ll have you know in the year of 1999 I spent an entire summer outside, and earned the title of Trixie the Terrible. Top that,” Trixie smiled.
“Well, how nice. If you’re so brave, we could have a little competition,” Blacky said. Trixie gulped.
“A competition?” she asked.
“A certain dog named Maxwell Jackson lives on the end of this street. He won’t let anyone get near his property. Even I, the great Black Midnight have not been able to defeat him. See this?” she asked, showing them a scar behind her ear. “From his claws. The animals on the street have appropriately named him ‘Claws Jackson’.”
|This is a picture of Trixie, BTW|