Office Walter O’Malley took a break for a moment to rub his eyes. He was assigned to watch the runaway hot air balloon from the park’s fire watchtower. It was his job to keep track of the balloon as it drifted around during the night. Officer O’Malley was slightly pissed about the situation. He was hoping for something a bit more proactive. Being a father himself, he could not imagine what Eric Dalton was going through as his youngest son was trapped in that balloon.
He had heard that a plan was being formulated to rescue the little boy from the balloon. O’Malley shook his head. Bureaucrats. Nerds. All left brain thinkers. All planners but not men of action. O’Malley was a man of action. He was itching to try something … anything … than just stand around and make light a bird watcher. Didn’t someone on the force hand glide? He could swoop in like a superhero and take control of the balloon. It was probably Stan Jefferson. Stan was the youngest member on the force. Young people were adrenaline junkies. O’Malley was always running into young people who were into hand gliding, sail boarding, and all the other insane things kids these days do for fun. Kids!
O’Malley peered through his binoculars and re-focused them onto the basket. The runaway balloon was slowly drifting around as there was not much wind so early in the morning. The area was quite dark, but they did with a large searchlight mounted on a pickup truck. He tracked the balloon for the next several minutes when a sudden gust of wind caused the basket to sway sharply. O’Malley did his best to stay with the basket, but the sudden harsh movement of the basket was hard to keep in focus. He lowered the binoculars to see if anything was happening to the basket itself when he saw it: the dark shadowy object that suddenly fell from the sky.
O’Malley was frozen for a moment, and then tried desperately to bring the binoculars back to his face to quickly focus on the falling object, but it was dropping too quickly to focus. He put down the binoculars and tracked the falling figure with his bare eyes. He picked it up the general direction before it disappeared in to the distance.
Cursing out loud, he quickly climbed down from the fire watchtower and located Thunder Foot, the bloodhound they used for search and rescue. Securing the leash, O’Malley ran towards the approximate area where the object fell. Thunder Foot was running ahead of him, his feet striking the ground with extremely loud thuds as the heavy dog did its best to sprint ahead of him. As they were running, O’Malley activated his walkie talkie.
“This is O’Malley from Watchtower #2. Something just fell from the balloon.”
A moment of static, and then a reply.
“What do you mean something just fell? Over.”
“It’s too dark to tell, but something definitely just fell from the balloon. I am going over there now to check it out.”
Another moment of static.
“Is it the boy?’
“I don’t know. God, I hope not. I will contact the moment I find out what it is.”
When they got to the area, it only took a moment for O’Malley to see the body lying in front of him. It was about the proper size of a little boy of five years old. A sick feeling started to bubble in his stomach, and Office O’Malley mustered all his self control not to throw up. Suddenly, Thunder Foot snarled and barked. Without any warning, Thunder Foot broke free of O’Malley’s grip and made a beeline straight towards the body. With its huge mouth, Thunder Foot picked up the body with his large teeth and proceeded to shake the body like it was an old rag. It took a moment for O’Malley to overcome his shock. He tried using vocal commands, but the dog would not let go of the nonresponsive body. He finally grabbed the dog with both hands as tight as he could, and used the command to drop the object in its mouth. After Thunder Foot finally dropped the little package, O’Malley chased the dog away. With both hands shaking, he took a deep breath and grabbed the shoulder of the body to turn it over so he could see the face. Instead of the face of Michael Dalton, O’Malley was staring into the face of Curious George, with its big black saucer shaped eyes and ever present smile looking back at him.
O’Malley almost fainted. He took a deep breath and proceeded to contact his commander that it was not the missing little boy, but a stuffed animal.