It happened so fast. I couldn't really believe what I was seeing.
I was sitting at the light at the corner of Cantrell and Kavanaugh Friday afternoon. I was proceeding East on Kavanaugh back to the house. For those of you that aren't from around here Kavanaugh and Cantrell are two major arteries here in Little Rock. Indeed, Cantrell Road is actually a state highway.
I first saw him as I went through the intersection after the light changed. A little boy-he couldn't have been older than a year and a half- was standing in the front yard of a house on Kavanaugh. As I got closer I started looking around.
"There's bound to be an adult around here somewhere," I thought to myself. Unfortunately, there was not.
And to my horror, the little guy took off across the neighbor's yard to Cantrell where rush hour traffic was sitting at the light.
The lady in the Mercedes ahead of me hit the brakes and she got out as I was slamming the gearshift into park. She was clicking down Kavanaugh after him as I ran in front of the cars parked at the light holding my hands out.
"Don't move!" I yelled. "Don't move!"
By that time the well dressed lady in the Mercedes snatched the boy up and pulled him up to her, pressing his little head against her lips as she carried him back to the car. From there she drove the Mercedes into the closest driveway with the boy in her lap.
As I left the scene she had the boy on her hip outside her vehicle. She was pointing to the houses in front of her in order to find out from which house the child exited from.
Still no sign of any adult apart from the lady from the Mercedes.
Parents don't have a worse nightmare. They have dozens of them. And this was one of them. Imagine the ways this could have turned out.
The little boy could have been struck by a car. He could have been killed or disabled. The lady that grabbed him up could have kidnapped him. He could have headed the other way and gotten lost. What if I had hit the kid? How could I have lived with myself after that?
All because some fool forgot to pay attention.
Later that evening I told a friend about what I had seen earlier that day. She has boys and her reaction was the same as any other Mom's would have been. She gasped. She covered her mouth with her hands. Tears came to her eyes.
" I feel sick," she said. "And I wasn't even there."
I didn't feel sick afterwards. But my hands didn't quit shaking for a good ten minutes.
I had to drive past that spot the next afternoon. I slowed down. I looked hard into the yard where I last saw that baby head for freedom. And I felt my hands tremble again as I held the wheel.
Some young mother on a house on Kavanaugh got really lucky Friday afternoon.
And I hope the lady in the Mercedes let her know about it when she restored her kid to her safe and sound.
And I wonder if I'll ever quit looking for him whenever I cross the intersection to get back to Hillcrest.
Something tells me that I won't.