Where is Pinky?

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It’s been almost two weeks since the dark cloud of the event descended upon our fair town, and the wrongdoer has yet to be identified. The uncaring act of one misguided youth (no adult would do such a heinous thing) has triggered a mixture of both outrage and sadness from those who drive daily by the scene of the crime.

I know. I’m one of those daily drivers. And make no mistake — what was done was an unthinkable crime. Even this writer has been surprised by the outcry and flood of comments from our community about the vandalism of such an iconic destination. I’m a believer in second chances and rehabilitation, but not in this case. The thief of “Pinky” the flamingo from Troll Rock must be brought to justice!

When land was cleared for the new golfcart path in our town, three huge rocks were pushed off to one side and forgotten. For years, the smallest among us have been spotted climbing on those rocks. Little One and Sweet Caroline, our two granddaughters, have been among them. Our Girly Girls have been climbing on those rocks since they could walk.

Early one morning about four years ago, they brought a couple of their trolls to play with. After an hour it was time to leave, but the girls decided to leave their trolls at their new home so others could play with them. Every day additional trolls were added. So many were added that we made, painted, and installed a sign in front of the new favorite morning destination — Troll Rock.

Since then, hundreds of trolls in all shapes and sizes have been added or swapped out. Driving by, you can always spot children playing on Troll Rock with their parents or grandparents looking on and taking pictures. Trolls were the only thing brought to the rocks. This has been an unspoken rule that all have followed … until two years ago. That’s when “Pinky” first landed and changed everything.

No one knows where Pinky flew in from. If asked, little ones will say she got lost from all the other flamingos and found a new home with the trolls. But the most repeated story around town is that she was originally bought by a husband and placed in their front yard as a joke.

When his wife got home, she saw the flamingo, laughed, and then asked him to please find a new home for the pink bird. The very next morning Pinky landed at Troll Rock right alongside the new golfcart path — the very same path the loving couple walk every day.

Driving by you can see the smiles on the children’s faces as they play with the trolls while the lone flamingo watches over them. Over the years, many trolls have come and gone from the rocks, but the little flamingo called Pinky has never flown away. She has been happy with her new family and friends.

Every afternoon traffic slows to a crawl due to heavy volume on the narrow road running alongside the golfcart path and Troll Rock. As we drive by, The Wife and I smile every time we see children playing just as our granddaughters did so many years ago.

Sadly, Little One and Sweet Caroline have long outgrown the grand climb up the iconic rock but have never outgrown its magic and the lessons they have learned from it. Once a week we take the short walk or golfcart ride down to Troll Rock to check on everybody. The girls pull weeds, add to the growing family of trolls, and always give a friendly wave to Pinky as they leave … until two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, Pinky was flamingo-napped! And all the trolls she’s watched over have been lonely ever since. Instantly, a passionate plea went out over social media for her return, and the response from the community was great and far reaching. But alas, the plea and outpouring of comments of how much the little flamingo has meant to the children must’ve fallen on deaf ears. Pinky wasn’t returned.

Not being able to stand the loss any longer, our granddaughters asked if we could buy a new one. So, we did. The Girly Girls installed Pinky 2.0, and all was right in our little corner of the world once more. Unfortunately, their joy wasn’t lasting. Two days later Pinky 2.0 was also flamingo-napped.

Now it’s time for me to travel down to the basement, fight off the ever-growing family of spider crickets to retrieve my soapbox, and stand once again atop it.

A long, long time ago on an old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo, I grew up with my three brothers, The Sister, and a bunch of neighborhood kids. Except for Down the Street Bully Brad, we all had a healthy respect for our parents, teachers, and law enforcement. If we didn’t follow their rules, we knew we would be punished — and rightly so.

Except for a very few occasions, we tried to follow all the rules because none of us wanted to be punished, but more importantly, we didn’t want to disappoint our parents. At school we would never break the teacher’s rules because … well, she was the teacher. And the same was true with law enforcement. You followed the rules. To do anything else was just wrong.

I’m sure whoever flamingo-napped Pinky and Pinky 2.0 believes it to be a funny prank. But I have news for them: stealing the joy from little kids is not funny nor a prank. It’s just wrong. And if your parents ever found out, they would certainly be disappointed in you.

With that, I’ll get down off my soap box, returning it to the dank basement and all those spider crickets once again. Next week will be a funny story about those kids from Flamingo Street … unless, of course, someone steals Troll Rock.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]