Cal feared the new garbage truck: its dinosaur bellow of steel on steel as the automated arm plucked the blue plastic containers like weeds, flipped them upside down, and dumped the contents with an explosive crash. The engineering marvel rescued lower backs and killed jobs, but Cal wouldn’t know anything about that, being seven.
All he knew was the men were gone.
Until the horrid business was done, Cal stayed inside. No amount of cajoling would get him out on garbage day. One day the truck never came. Lucky it was summer.
Cal’s dad decided this couldn’t go on.
On top of the can was a gorgeously wrapped box tied with a purple bow. If Cal didn’t take it, the garbage truck would.
“What is it?”
“Go find out.” Dad winked.
Cal feared. Feared and coveted and the warring emotions dueled inside his young mind for preeminence. Desire began to get the upper hand; it moved slowly down his skin like a finger hesitant on a trigger. Cal placed his hands around the doorknob.
“Better go, Son. I hear the truck.”
The sound of squeaking breaks in the distance. The sound of dinosaur arms.
“They wouldn’t throw it away?”
The dinosaur was on his street. Cal could see its scalpel blade slide through the loops of a can. Still fear rooted him.
At the neighbor’s.
Something in him broke. He gripped the doorknob fiercely. Then realized: the bolt. Frantic, he jammed his fingers in his haste to undo it. The monster was right in front of his house now, about to take his present. The bolt slid free. Cal threw open the door and sprinted like a jack rabbit.
The blade came screeching out. It grabbed. Cal grabbed.
Just in time.
“Hey kid, watch it,” said the driver.