Grandfather and George: The Hat

George helped his grandfather clean out the closet in his guest room.   They’d filled a garbage can with old papers and clothes with holes in them. They’d filled a box with things to donate. Then George put everything else back into the closet.

Grandfather sat on a chair and told George where everything should go. At last, all that was left was a jaunty black hat. “Do you like that hat?” Grandfather asked.

“I like it a lot,” George said.

“You can keep it,” Grandfather said. He leaned forward and plucked the hat out of George’s hands and dropped it on his head.

“Thank you,” George said.

Grandfather thanked him for his help and sent him home with a handful of cookies. George lived around the corner, so it wasn’t far to walk.

He waved to Grandfather, who was watching out the window, and jumped down the front steps. A strong breeze rustled the tree branches behind him. George turned around.

A fluffy black cat with a long blue scarf and golden eyes was flying through the air. It snatched the hat off George’s head as it flew past. “Hey, that’s mine!” George said. He started running.

The cat paused. It spun the hat between its paws. The breeze turned and twisted, making the leaves dance. A woman on a phone stopped walking and stared.

“Hey, kid, do you see that?” She asked.

“The cat?” George asked.

“No, the hat. The hat! What cat?” She said.

The cat gripped the spinning hat tightly between its paws and flew off. George waved to the woman and ran off to follow it. He caught up to the cat in the park on the corner.

The cat held the hat between its teeth and was flying in and out of a tree, darting around branches at the last minute. The breeze followed, weaving itself among the leafless branches, back and forth. The cat’s scarf brushed the branches behind it.

Two small children stood there watching with their mouths hanging open. “Do you see the cat?” George asked.

One of the children turned to look at him. “Did you lose a cat? We haven’t seen one. Did you see that hat? Look!”   The child pointed to the tree.

“Uh, thanks,” George said. The cat flew around the corner and George followed.

The cat bit firmly on the brim of the hat and began flying upside down loop-de-loops down the sidewalk. George chased after it. “Is that your hat, kid?” A man yelled as George ran by. “Is it a trick hat? How does it do that?”

“I don’t know,” George yelled over his shoulder and kept running.

The cat stopped right in front of George’s house.   It was flipping the hat into the air when he arrived. He watched it fly upward, spinning like a quarter, then dropping into the cat’s waiting paws.

“Do you want to play?” George asked. The cat kept flipping the hat. It didn’t look at him.

“Do you like the hat?” George asked. The cat looked down at him and caught the hat without looking and pulled it into its chest. The breeze swirled, lifting the edge of the cat’s scarf.

“You can keep it,” George said. “But it might be too big.”

The cat’s golden eyes narrowed. It put the hat on its head. Somehow, the hat fit perfectly. It nodded at George and flew away, breeze and scarf trailing behind.

George told his mother he was home and called his grandfather on the phone. “Grandfather,” he said, “You won’t believe what just happened!”

“Was it that cat? I’ve never seen anything like it. A flying cat!” Grandfather said.

“You saw?” George asked.

“Of course I did. I was looking out the window,” Grandfather said. “This window right here, and…” Grandfather paused. “Oh no, I need to go. A monkey just stole my best shovel and is climbing the neighbor’s fence. Where did the monkey come from?”   Grandfather hung up.

“Huh,” George said. “At least I still have the cookies.” He pulled one out of his pocket and took a bite. “Ew, they’re pickle flavored.”