I thought I'd left my scooter by the fence around the tennis court, so when I saw it by the drinking fountain instead I was confused. For like one half of one second.
Then I figured I must have not been paying attention or something when I set it down. I got a drink and jumped on the scooter, kicked off and rattled my way over the sidewalk to the playground.
I was sitting on the swing, minding my own business, when some kid just came up and swiped my scooter.
Right in front of me! I watched him do it. He walked up to where it was leaning against a tree, took a look at it, then grabbed the handles, stepped on, and off he went.
"Hey!" I jumped up from the swing, but he didn't even look back. Straight black hair flying, one shoe rowing, wheels thumping over every sidewalk crack. I thought about chasing him down, but then what would I do when I caught him? He was bigger than me.
Some other kid might have chased him down anyway. Not me. I was the type that watched and waited for my chance. I memorized the kid as he sped away toward the foot bridge. Black t-shirt, green and black basketball shorts, orange and blue shoes with those stretchy laces that don't really tie, kind of tall, probably fourth or fifth grade. I tried to remember if I'd ever seen him at my school. I wasn't sure, but I thought I had.
I heard the sound change as the scooter bumped over the wooden boards of the footbridge. The gate into the park was only a few yards away from him. He was getting away. I might never see my scooter again.
He didn't go out the gate.
Instead, he followed the loop around the grassy area, where an old man was throwing tennis balls for his golden retriever. I watched the scooter thief go by the row of pine trees, then turn toward me.
He was coming back. Was he bringing my scooter back? Had he just borrowed it for a ride around the park?
I watched him go by. He glanced at me, casually, like it was no big deal he was riding my scooter around without asking me. What was with this kid?
He kept going around the park. Over the footbridge, up the hill, down the hill past the pine trees, then past the playground on the way to the footbridge again. The third time he came by I'd had enough. I stepped onto the sidewalk right in front of him.
"Hey," I said. It came out kind of shaky and more whiny than I meant to sound.
He swerved to a stop. "Hi," he said, a little confused.
"That's my scooter," I said.
He frowned at me. "No it's not. It's mine."
"My name's..." I started to say, but he'd already picked the scooter up. There was a name on the bottom, but it wasn't my name.
I think my stomach ended up somewhere three feet below the pavement.
"Is that yours over by the tennis courts?" he asked.
I looked. Far away, on the other side of the playground, a scooter identical to the one in his hands leaned against the chain link fence around the tennis court.
I was the one who had swiped his scooter.
"No worries," he said, and scooted away.