Ann Romick, who used to contribute feature stories to the Daily Review, checked in with a Halloween tale of bad deeds, good deeds, a little boy and his giant pumpkin:
THE BIG PUMPKIN HEIST
By Ann Romick
“It was a dark and stormy night………” Isn’t that the way mysterious Halloween stories begin? Well, actually, the storm has come and gone and the heist took place during the daylight hours — about 10 a.m. in the morning of October 27, but it’s a special Halloween story which needs to be shared.
We, who become a little jaded by the bad things touching our lives, could do with a reminder that while there are thoughtless people in the world, there are also those who are good and kind, and willing to take a moment to heal the broken heart of a little boy. (Story continues after jump.)
The victim, a 95 pound pumpkin was the property of young Robert Clegg of San Lorenzo, but to Robert it was more, so much more than just another Halloween pumpkin. Visiting Grandpa and Grandma Grotting of Redding in early October, 7-year-old Robert, his little sister, Sofia and his mom, Malena, and Aunt Chrissy visited a pumpkin patch for the very first time.
“Yes,” Robert was told, “You may choose from the vines any pumpkin you like.” Robert looked and looked before choosing the largest one in the patch, which he pulled from the vine, helped load into a wheel barrel, and then into the car. Sofia picked up a tiny white pumpkin which she could carry herself. “Robert,” said Aunt Chrissy, “Because this pumpkin is so special, I’m going to give it to you for your birthday.” Robert smiled a broad toothless smile and though to himself, “What could be better than a Halloween-birthday pumpkin?”
At home, the two pumpkins — the very big pumpkin and the tiny pumpkin — sat together on Robert’s front porch. The giant pumpkin was admired by all who saw it. Some of the neighbors asked Robert, “Where did you get such a big pumpkin?” Robert would tell them all about his special Halloween-birthday gift; he was so proud.
However, five days before Halloween, while Robert was at school, and his mom and Sofia were doing errands, thieves did their dastardly deed and stole Robert’s Halloween-birthday pumpkin. Pulling into the drive, Malena noticed immediately the great pumpkin was gone. How was she ever going to explain the disappearance to her young son?
That afternoon, on the way home from school, she quietly told him that she had some very bad news which she broke to him as gently as possible. There were tears, actually there was sobbing – and questions: “Why would somebody take my pumpkin?” he asked in wonderment, his tender youth having been sheltered from the thoughtlessness and mean-spirited people of the world, until now. Arriving home didn’t help. There was the empty space on the porch where his prized possession had been. Now it was gone.
Still sobbing, he threw himself on his bed. No number of hugs and kisses consoled his broken heart. “Mom,” he cried, “what can we do? Call the police, mom. Please call the police.”
“My heart ached for him,” said Malena and I wondered what I could do.” Then she had her “light-bulb” moment: she would call a good friend who was also a Hayward police detective (and also publicity shy so we will call him John).
“What can I do?” questioned the detective, baffled at first by Malena’s dilemma. “Just talk to him,” she desperately pleaded.
Hearing the distressed boy, the Detective John became inspired, explaining to Robert that he would have the entire police force on the lookout for any suspicious-looking culprits carrying extra large pumpkins. He would put out an APB describing the missing pumpkin, and flyers would be posted everywhere using the photo Malena had taken of Robert choosing his giant pumpkin. Before Detective John hung up Robert was convinced his pumpkin would be found, but now it became a waiting game.
“Mom,” he asked, relieved, yet still worried, “What if someone is already cutting it up and making pumpkin pies?” It was all Malena could do to keep from smiling; instead she managed to reassure her small son that everything was going to be all right.
In hardly any time at all Detective John, back in full uniform for this special caper, stood at the front door, badge gleaming in the sun, trousers impeccably creased and looking very official. On the porch was Robert’s giant pumpkin next to the tiny one owned by Sofia. “I’ve never seen him with a bigger smile,” said Malena looking at her relieved and happy son. “My heart just melted.”
“Is that your pumpkin?” asked the detective.
“It looks like my pumpkin,” said Robert, “but I think my pumpkin might have been a little taller.”
Detective John went on to explain that he had seen two teenagers running down the street carrying it, and in their haste they could have pushed down on the top, making it shorter than it had been. “When they saw me, they put it down and ran off.”
Malena could see through her friend’s ploy. “You know you’ve made our day,” she said, her eyes beginning to puddle. “Thank you so much. Let me pay you for the pumpkin,” she quietly insisted. “It must have cost a small fortune.”
Palm held up in refusal, the detective replied, “No. It was my pleasure. Seeing Robert so happy has actually made my day.”
Case of the big pumpkin heist: closed