Cannon Beach Caper
“Puh-leeze, Dad. We can’t leave Slinky alone for two days. Besides, how much trouble can a two-pound ferret cause?” Kathleen pleaded with her father as the family packed for their annual trip to the Oregon coast.
“Humpf.” Her father straightened into his Greek warrior pose, hands on his hips, head thrust back and tapped his foot. “How much trouble? Where do I begin? My missing car keys? How about my shredded report for work, or your shoelaces, gnawed to nothing? And what about the time Slinky bit me?”
“That’s not fair.” Kathleen lowered her gaze to the floor. “Slinky was still a kit then. He’s gotten much better since he’s older.” As an only child, Kathleen long ago learned that pleading puppy dog eyes with a little of bit of cunning cat mixed in, often pushed her father to see things her way.
“I suppose if you take the small cage and his leash and watch him carefully it would be okay.”
Kathleen hugged her father around his legs and dashed off to her room. Anticipating the good news, she’d already packed enough food for their two-day stay. She tossed a few toys into the cage and carried it downstairs placing it behind the seat so she’d have easy access during the three-hour drive to Cannon Beach.
The next morning, Kathleen woke in their small hotel room to her mother at the small coffee pot preparing her early morning caffeine fix. She yawned and looked out the sliding glass door to where the ocean and sandy beach lay just beyond the small patio area. The sun woke her. Kathleen checked on Slinky, still buried underneath his cloud of white shredded paper.
“Ready to hit the breakfast buffet?” After a quick breakfast served in the hotel lobby, Mr. and Mrs. Conrad and Kathleen, with Slinky in tow on his leash, joined the growing crowd gathered around the mounds of sand taking shape for the Sand Carving Festival. Fantasy castles, giant sculpted whales, and bears driving cars. The creations were painstakingly carved from early morning until noon and limited only by the artist’s imagination.
With Slinky securely collared and hooked to his leash, Kathleen breathed in the salt air of independence. They were on their own with plans to meet up with Kathleen’s parents in an hour at the snack bar to have a quick snack before coming back to watch the final stages of carving the intricate works of art and patience. Kathleen strolled down the beach pausing at each rough sculpture long enough to image it in its final stages.
A young woman in a bright red swimsuit wrapped with a navy skirt plodded through the sand towards Kathleen with a black lab prancing by her side. Suddenly the dog spied Slinky and pulled free of its owner. “Come back Jessie.” The woman gave chase of a dashing blur of fur.
Seconds later the dog bounded at Slinky. Slinky quivered then dashed between Kathleen’s legs. Kathleen lost her balance and fell to the wet sand letting go of the leash. Slinky bolted across the sand dragging his leash, with the black lab in hot pursuit. Across the sand Slinky ran, but the dog was too fast. A five-foot tower of sand taking the shape of an old castle looked like the perfect place to hide. Slinky darted into one of the openings that formed a doorway in the castle. With no chance for them to react, a seventy-pound lab leapt onto the sand artist’s work. Sand flew in the air.
“Get off, get off,” four angry men and women waved the animals away. Out in the open again Slinky dashed for a new hiding place. Only a few yards away Slinky fit nicely underneath the chassis of a sculpted racecar. Jessie unfortunately did not. By now a crowd of spectators gathered with mixed emotions of anger and amusement.
“Run, come on little guy, faster.”
Several sculptors joined in the pursuit after Slinky. “Just wait ‘til we catch you.”
Rushing after their pets, Kathleen hollered at Slinky and the lady in the red swimsuit hollered at her dog.
“Come here NOW Jessie!” Jessie’s owner scolded. Jessie dropped his head and his eager wagging tail went limp, he sulked over to his owner and was led down the beach. Slinky meanwhile took cover underneath the souvenir stand.
“Yikes!” The young teenage girl working the stand screamed. “What’s under there?” Slinky brushed against her leg. She danced about flinging her arms. The table of T-shirts, hats, and mugs toppled to the sand. Startled, Slinky was on the lam again.
“Come here Slinky,” The desperation in Kathleen’s voice rose. The crowd as getting thicker and angrier. It was hard to keep Slinky in sight. He darted into the sea of people.
Slinky scurried away into a crowd of sunbathers. “EEEK! Come back. It’s got my keys.” A woman in a big rimmed hat took up the chase. “I’ll get you, you little varmint, just wait.”
Slinky disappeared again into the crowd.
“Oh no, I’ll never find him.” Kathleen stopped running resting her hands on her legs. After a few moments catching her breath Kathleen scanned the beach and saw a crowd laughing by the snack bar. She hurried over to the commotion.
A young boy stood pointing something out to his dad. “Look at the little beggar. Isn’t he cute?”
“What’s going on?” Kathleen moved in closer to the crowd.
“There’s a squirrel in front of the snack bar trying to beg for food.”
Kathleen peered around the laughing crowd and spied the object of their amusement and quickly lunged for the wet and sandy leash.
“Looking for these?” A man held out a key chain with an orange fuzzy ball on the end, to the woman in the big brimmed hat.
With the keys returned, Kathleen faced the mob of onlookers wincing apologies, and returning high-fives to those not affected by Slinky’s antics. The sculptors hurried back to attempt to repair their castles and race-cars before the judging.
“I think we’ve had just about enough fun for one day Slinky, don’t you?” Kathleen took and deep breath and tightened her hold on the leash.
“There you are. Right on time.”
Kathleen swung around to see her parents plodding down the sand towards the snack bar.
“You look tired, Slinky didn’t cause any trouble, did he?”
Kathleen mustered a smile. “Of course not, dad, after all, how much trouble can a two-pound ferret cause?”