Cute little turtles. Keep in mind that the little guy isn't the most reliable narrator at all of three years old or so. I realize that Target doesn't carry food for either humans or cats, but just pretend. I'd change it to Wal-Mart, but I used a gag with it.
Elaine left the subway. Now where was Target? Was this even the right block? She'd lived in New York City her whole life and had shopped at the Target store since it opened, so why couldn't she find it? The stores on this street were different. They had changed ownership slowly over time. She recognized the buildings, but not the signs outside of them. Only the old Howard Pharmacy was the same.
Her daughter told her to wait until tomorrow. "You can get cat food any time. Let me get it." She's told Michelle that as long as she could walk, she could still ride the subway. Michelle was well-meaning, but she acted like she was the mother sometimes.
Elaine wasn't lost. She caught sight of the street corner sign. 52nd and Clay. So Target was a block to the right. She pushed her walker a little faster, scanning the sidewalk ahead for black ice. All she needed was a broken hip.
As she passed an alley, she heard a small scuffling and turned her head. She hated seeing stray cats in alleys. True, they were feral, but it was still depressing to think of them living in garbage cans instead of in warm houses where they belonged.
A little child's voice said, somewhere near her knees, "Excuse me, I'm lost. Can you tell me where I live?"
There was a child. Maybe a child. She wasn't sure what it was at first. It was naked and shivering, but it looked like it was wearing green makeup and a large brown backpack.
"What are you doing out here alone? And with no clothes on?"
The little creature rubbed its arms and legs together and looked like it was doing the potty dance that Michelle used to do. Now Elaine observed Michelle's own little girl doing the same dance and in exactly the same way. "I don't wear clothes. I got lost from my Sensei. My brother Raphie dared me to run outside of the tunnel when Sensei wasn't watching. He's real naughty. I couldn't remember where I came from and then I walked and walked. I'm real tired and my feets hurt. I'm supposed to hide when I get lost because people are bad, but you look like a nice lady and I think because you're nice that you'll take me home. I was getting lonely behind that thing too. And I'm cold and I'm hungry and I gotta go potty."
She blinked at the little green child a few times. "You talk a lot, don't you?"
"It makes Leo hit me lots." It held up a little green, three fingered hand. "Please take me home. I'm so cold."
She pulled off her top coat. Luckily she had worn a thick sweatshirt under her jacket. Elaine bent down and bundled up the little shivering creature in her coat. "Why were you supposed to hide?"
"We ain't supposed to be seen. Somebody might take us away and do bad things to us," it said though chattering teeth. It had an adorable little voice and large blueish eyes.
"I'll take you home with me to warm up. How does that sound?" She picked him up and sat him in her cart. "I would never do bad things to a cute little thing like you. My name is Elaine Short."
"Short? But you're tall. I'm Mikey. I'm short. But Raphie's shorter. I think that's why he hits us so much. He cries a lot too. And Leo's real mean. He's always locking him closets and dropping bugs in his soup and Don can read five books and he reads to me every night and I'm too stupid to read. My That's what Leo says. He said that if I eat macaroni and cheese I'll turn into a girl."
She pushed the cart back down the street towards the subway and then reconsidered. "Do you mind if we go to Target first? Do you have a coat?"
He wiggled his little legs happily in the crate. "We don't haves any coats. We stay inside and don't needs them. What's a target? Like the thing you hit?"
He didn't have a coat? What kind of parent did he have? "Don't you play outside in the snow?"
Little Mikey was shivering in her coat and cuddling it around him. "I never seen snow before. I like it. Raphie would be scared. He's scared of everything. He's scared of loud noises and the dark and bugs and Leo and cats and fire and baths..."
"I'll take you to the store with me and buy you a coat and some other nice things. How many brothers do you have?"
"Three. There's Leo and Raphie and Donny."
She pushed the cart along the street. "If you aren't supposed to be seen, you'll have to bundle up like E.T."
She bent down and covered him up in the basket like a mummy. "That warmer? Now nobody can see you. How old are your brothers?"
"Age?" He sounded like he didn't understand the concept. "I don't know how many we are. But Sensei says we're the same age."
So they were quadruplets? There were three more of these little green children. "Are your brothers as cute as you?"
She laughed. "I had a little son a long time ago. He was a lot like you."
"He was cute too?"
"Yes." She had to ask. "What are you exactly? You don't look like a human. You look like a leprechaun."
"We're turtles. We're not supposed to let humans see us because they'll take us away from Sensei. And we ain't supposed to go outside or go away from him because we'll get lost and Donny gets lost a lot. He takes stuff apart too. He set our bed on fire once."
They were within sight of the Target store. Little Mikey stuck his eyes out of the blanket and gasped a little cry of fear and hid face from the lights. "Don't worry," she said. "Nobody will see you and nobody will take you away. I'll buy you a coat to wear and then you'll be warm. And I'll buy some dinner for us. I have a kitty and I'll need to buy her dinner too."
"A kitty!" He nearly jumped up in the basket in his excitement. "I like kitties a lot! I tried to pet one once and it bit Raphie!"
That Raphie seemed to have bad luck, she thought as she wheeled through the door and her walker rattled over the entrance. She saw him sit forward, looking out of his cocoon with curiosity.
"What do you want? Do you want toys?" She looked down and saw the bundled up jacket quivering.
His voice was little and nervous. "Leo says toys are for babies and that he's a big boy. He's going to be a great ninja when he grows up. Either that or a clown in a circus so he can ride the elphants every day."
She wheeled him down the grocery aisles. "See anything good?"
"That's pretty!" He pointed a green finger at a pink box of cereal with a multi-colored unicorn on the front.
"We can have this for breakfast then." She put the box in the cart and tucked the box into his coat so he could look at it. She heard his squeaky voice saying, "My name is Donatello, the magic unicorn trainer and I'm gonna make these unicorns have jets so they can fly to the moon..." He imitated a horse neighing. The sound was high-pitched and adorable.
A lady nearby looked down and smiled. "Is that your grandson?"
She smiled back and nodded.
"Let's have pizza! I had that one time."
She pushed her walker off to the freezer aisle. "Tuck in tight, there. It's cold down here."
"Let's get lots of pizza and save some for Sensei. He liked pizza too."
She got one small pizza and said, "Well, they won't be able to join us tonight. Maybe tomorrow night."
"Okay." He neighed at the cereal box again.
They left Target with a sack full of four snowsuits, a pizza, and cookies and candy. Before they left, she took him into the bathroom to let him use the toilet and to bundle him up in the new snowsuit. As soon as the door shut and locked behind them, he jumped out of the basket and ran up to the toilet. He pushed up the lid and looked inside, with a confused expression. "What's that?"
"That's a toilet."
"Why's it white? Ours is a bucket. It don't have water in."
"Do you need to sit down?" She was really becoming concerned at his living conditions at home.
"No, I gotta go potty."
She decided to turn around let him use the toilet in privacy. He wasn't her little boy. Elaine couldn't help looking at him though. He was so different, but adorable. Cuter than a human boy his own age. At least to her. His eyes were so large and expressive and he smiled and giggled at everything.
He finished and she reached over to flush the toilet. Elaine felt his arms wrap around her leg and he said, "That was loud! I don't like the new toilet!"
So she packed him into one of the snowsuits. It was an awkward fit, due to the hard shell on his back. She sat him on the baby changing table and thought he would protest and say he wasn't a baby, but he didn't seem to know what the table was used for and was content to lie there and play with the straps and talk to himself in his elfin voice while she tugged and pulled the snowsuit up his body. Then she tied the hood tightly around his face so that as little green was showing as possible.
She put him down on the ground and he reached up to hold her hand. "You're so much like Dennis," she said. "I can't hold your hand when we walk because I have I have to push this. But you can hold on to the basket, if you want."
He happily took a hold of the rail of the walker and started singing to himself. Then he said, "I don't think Raphie will wear his. He's naughty. Don might cut his up. He's naughty too. They're all naughty but me. I'm a good boy."
The subway was crowded with people on their way back home from work. Little Mikey looked down the stairs into the subway and said, "We going home now?"
"Yup. My house is far away and we need to ride the subway."
He hesitated. "My Sensei will paddle me for getting seen and being lost. I need to go home now."
She grabbed his mittened hand. "But I don't know where you live and you don't either. I can't let you wander around at night by yourself. I'll bring you back tomorrow and we can look for your... what's your parents names? That might help."
"I don't have a mommy, but Sensei is our daddy. He takes care of us. He's real nice. He lets me sleep in his bed when I have bad dreams or when Raphie knocks me off the bed." She picked him up carried him in one arm and pulled the cart with the other. He put his arms around her neck. Just like little Dennis.
They sat on the subway and she held him on her lap and watched him staring at the other commuters, his already large eyes even wider. It was a little bit of a shame that the little cutey had a family. It would be so nice to keep him.