THE MYSTERY OF MISS VICKI®

Kara and her best buddy Ella the Pug sat on the stoop of the old brownstone. It was a very hot day in Brooklyn. If there was a tree growing in Brooklyn, they have yet to find it. Kara twisted her hair into braids that outlined both sides of her face. She and Pug had just finished playing a game of tag ball and she was sweating. Pug panted hard as she stretched her body out fully along the cement, trying to get cool.
“Here kitty. Here Kitty,” Mrs. Bird was calling for her cat.  “Sppssssppspss.  Spppssssss,” she made the noise in a whistling sort of way. She was tall.  Her hair piled higher on her head actually made her appear gigantic.  She was lanky. Kara thought Mrs. Bird must eat like a bird.
“I can’t find Miss Vicki,” Mrs. Bird stood at the bottom of the stoop looking over her specks at Kara. “Has Pug chased her?”
“No. Pug has been with me all morning,” Kara spoke wiping sweat from her brow. “Maybe Miss Vicki is inside keeping cool.”

“There’s a five dollar reward to whoever finds her,” Mrs. Bird said as she made her way through the front door into the cool of the vestibule.
Kara’s eyes lit up. “Did you hear that Pug? Five Dollars! We can buy a lot of snowballs with that.”  She stood up from the stoop and pointed down Pineapple Street. “Let’s start at the corner.”
Pug was already down the steps. Her tail swaying back and forth as she strutted slightly ahead of Kara.
“We have to think like Miss Vicki, Pug,” Kara said changing her gait to a skip. “If you were a cat in this dreadful heat, where would you be?”
Pug turned the corner onto Peach Road. She sniffed and stopped. And stopped and sniffed. She barked and began running.

“Slow down, Pug,” Kara commanded.

Pug stopped at her friend Cello’s house. Cello was at the front window barking out, but Pug could barely understand. She barked back. Cello could not get out and Pug could not get in. Pug ran toward Kara and back to the window again. Finally, Kara stopped.
“What is it, Pug?  Do you want me to see if Cello has seen Miss Vicki?”
Kara rang the bell. Her friend Mary came to the door with Cello barking behind. Kara explained to Mary they were looking for Miss Vicki.  Cello and Pug shared a few sniffs, whispers and small barks to each other. Mary told Kara she had not seen the kitty.
Pug ran down the steps and began barking for Kara to follow.
“I think Pug is onto something,” Mary said. And she and Cello joined Kara skipping down the long block. Pug was in the lead, with Cello close behind.  The two barking, running and panting.
Cello stopped running and took time to sniff the sidewalk alongside Kara and Mary. They could hear Pug up ahead barking. From the distance Kara saw a tree.  Pug was barking upward at the tree.
“Mary,” Kara said. “Let’s run to Pug.”
Mary picked up little Cello, tucked him in her arm and ran with Kara to the tree. The tree was white and its bark was shedding. Pug and Cello sniffed the base of the tree. Both stood on hind legs, with front legs and paws outstretched toward the top of the tree. The tree was so full of leaves the shadow sprawled out on the sidewalk creating a very nice umbrella of shade.  The girls found it refreshing, as they sat down crossed-legged on the cement. Pug barked and nudged Kara’s arm.
“What is it, Pug? I think you have brought us on a wild goose chase.”

Through the silent air, Kara heard a faint “meow” Pug ran back to the tree. Kara and Mary looked up to see Miss Vicki. Her white fur sprawled out along the white shedding branch was like camouflage.
“Miss Vicki! Come down at once,” Kara coaxed.
Mrs. Bird handed Kara the promised five dollars.

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“Let’s go and get snowballs,” Kara said to Pug, Mary and Cello.  “Isn’t it just like a cat to find the only tree in Brooklyn?”

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