Jimmy’s chubby fingers barely fit around my grip. Tottering about the living room, he is the cop to Mr. Stuffin’ and Quacker’s robbers. Ever since I moved in with Nana Vase three years ago, I’ve spent most of my time in the living room. Family pictures cover the wall behind the couch and the mantle above the fireplace. The picture of Papa Vase is smudged because Nana Vase kisses her fingertips and presses them against his smiling, two-dimensional lips every night before she turns out the lights.
Toy cars, blocks, and books litter the worn beige carpet. All the throw pillows in the room are strewn about a chair shoved beneath my favorite shelf. Jimmy hasn’t learned to put his toys back in the box yet, but he will. He’ll absorb Nana Vase’s need for organization.
Although Nana Vase constantly bustles about our single story home dusting, scrubbing, and mending, she does not scuttle. Her proud shoulders only hunch to remove an object from the floor or kiss a child’s cheek. Jimmy has noticed the way she carries herself. I see him square his shoulders as he commands Quacker to freeze.
For such small appendages, Jimmy’s hands contain an astonishing amount of sticky substances. Gunk and fingerprints coat me, and we haven’t even detained the robbers yet. I don’t worry about stickiness because Nana Vase ensures we stay clean. Her rough bristled brush removes grime from all my crevices and the soft cloth polishes my body to a fine shine. Besides, I don’t often get to play with Jimmy. For some reason, Nana Vase thinks Jimmy isn’t old enough to play with me, that he won’t understand my games, but we’ve been playing together for an hour now and he’s doing just fine.
“Jimmy,” she calls from the hallway, “It’s time for bed.”
“Noooooo,” Jimmy screams before he resumes our game and whispers to me, “The Big Bad Guy is coming.”
Nana Vase doesn’t actually stomp into the living room, but her presence has a way of thundering into a space when she’s irked. Jimmy pivots and wobbles. Instead of a blonde teddy bear or a plush mallard duck, an elderly woman with grey curls swept into a loose bun stands in my sights.
“Hands up big bad robber,” says Jimmy.
Nana Vase’s mouth thins to a pink lipsticked line, and her hands move to her padded hips. “James Allen Vase, you put that down right now,” she orders.
“No.” Jimmy grasps me with both hands and repositions his fingers on my grip. My cool metal warms in his sticky palms.
“Jimmy.” Nana Vase holds her hand straight out as if she can lower me from across the room.
“Time’s up, Robber.”
Nana Vase strides across the room, crunching cars and kicking blocks as she progresses. Click Click Click. Jimmy pulls my grip again and again. The tiny switch on my right side keeps my empty mechanics from releasing. Nana Vase rips me from Jimmy.
“This is not a toy,” she says.
She places me on the mantel behind Papa Vase’s picture and grabs Jimmy’s upper arm. Sitting on the couch, she bends Jimmy over her knee and swats his bottom with an open hand. His cries remind me of that coyote’s whine – the one that got caught in the fence. Nana Vase and I had to put him down, so he wouldn’t suffer anymore.
I’m not sure why Nana Vase trembles after she puts Jimmy to bed. We were only playing cops and robbers.