The time is present. The place is Alexandria, Virginia.
Seven-year-old Timmy Carlton bounded down the steps. “See you later, mom!” he shouted. “Where are you going?” his mom replied. Timmy slipped into his coat and threw on a scarf. “Me and the boys are going to the park for a snowball fight.” Before Charlotte could answer, Timmy snatched his wool hat and was out the door. SLAM!
It was a crisp November day. Battleship clouds drifted past. Timmy hoped on his bike. He peddled down the street like mad man, waved at Mr. Dixon, trimming his house with Christmas lights.
Meanwhile, at a toy factory across town, a whizzing conveyor belt whizzed stuffed bears toward the packaging center. ZIPPPP went another conveyor belt of stuffed lions, while another, delivering stuffed otters, grounded to a shuttering – GRRRCH.
A red-haired lady leaned forward and squinted. She examined one of the stuffed otters, one sporting a blue ball cap and red bandana around its neck. The lady snatched the otter from the assembly line and frowned. This otter had two different colored eyes; one was brown, the other, blue. The lady shook her head. She tucked the otter under her arm, and marched toward the back door and FLUNG the poor little otter directly into an overflowing garbage bin.
The otter landed limply atop the rubbish, and rested there as a gentle snow covered him.
WHOOOOSH – Timmy and his three buddies peddled down the street. As Timmy zipped past the garbage bin, he did a double take. He hit his brakes. SCREECH. His wheels locked; the bike skid on the wet pavement.
“Whatta ya doing?” one boy shouted. “I saw something,” stated Timmy. He peddled toward the garbage bin and leaped off his bike. His friends stared in dismay as Timmy disappeared into the garbage bin… and then, he popped back into sight. In his gloved-hand, Timmy held the discarded stuffed otter.
“Look, what I found!” Timmy’s friends squinted and strained forward. The boys snickered. Timmy crossed toward his bike. “He is brand new.”
“He was still in the rubbish,” one boy mocked. Another said, “Come on, throw that sock puppet back and let’s go.” Timmy studied the otter, he would not discard the little animal, he intended to keep it. Timmy looked at his friends and proudly said, “this little outcast needs a home and I’m the person to give him one.”
“Great for you, but we’re going to the park. See ya!” shouted a stocky boy. The boys peddled down the street as Timmy stared at the otter. For a moment, he could have sworn the otter smiled. The day grew short. Timmy tucked the otter into his pocket and climbed on his bike.
Later at dinner, John and Charlotte had a guest. The stuffed otter sat next to Timmy.
John and Charlotte tucked Timmy in bed. As soon as his bedroom door closed, Timmy cocked his head to one side and stared at something. He crawled from bed and crossed to a shelf, lined with stuffed animals and scooped the stuffed otter into his arms “Come on, Outcast, you can sleep with me.”
Timmy repaired to bed and snuggled beneath his blanked. He drifted off to dreamland, as shaft of moonlight fell on Outcast. And in that moment, something remarkable happened… Outcast sat up and smiled.
Outcast crossed to the window. The falling snow had blanketed the neighborhood. Outcast noticed Mr. Dixon’s Christmas lights, twinkling and thought how grateful he was. He beamed and climbed into bed and snuggled with Timmy, whispering, “Lickity-skipity.”