Tina was not quite five years old, but she knew Mr. Binkley was up to no good when she saw him in her backyard at three o’clock in the morning. In the full moon light she could see he was on his hands and knees on the grass digging with a small garden shovel. Was he burying something and why in my yard? Tina thought.
At breakfast Tina told her mom, “Mama I saw Mr. Binkley digging in our yard last night.”
“You must have been seeing night shadows and what were you doing awake in the middle of the night, young lady?” Ellen said as if scolding her daughter.
“I could not sleep and got up to look at the full moon but just for a minute, I promise. That’s when I saw him.”
Seeing who she thought was Mr. Binkley digging in her yard reminded her of the time her brother had buried her cat, Stinky, after it was run over on the street. Bobby had gone out in the street and used a coal shovel to scrape up the cat’s remains. He then put them in a shoe box and buried it in the backyard near the creek. Tina remembered how she cried and how horrified she was at this treatment of her pet. Maybe Mr. Binkley was burying, Murphy, his dog in our yard to be with Stinky.
“After you finish your cereal get your shoes and coat on and we will go for our walk,” Ellen said.
The two had just reached the sidewalk in front of their house when they saw Mr. Binkley approaching them with Murphy.
When they met to exchange morning greetings Tina clung to Ellen’s leg and looked suspiciously at their neighbor.
“What’s gotten into you, Tina?” Ellen said. “You know Mr. Binkley.”
Murphy was wagging his tail expectantly and Tina bent down to pet him and give him the treat she always brought. She was relieved that the dog was alive but she was still wary of Mr. Binkley.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into her,” Ellen said. “She thinks that she saw you digging in our yard last night.”
Mr. Binkley made no admission nor offered any explanation.
Later that day when Tina was playing in the yard she went to the spot where she saw Mr. Binkley from her second floor bedroom window. But all she saw was the grass as it had always been.
Tina’s parents were not gardeners: nothing bloomed, the grass was splotchy and the shrubs were in need of trimming. This contrasted sharply with Mr. Binkley’s yard where something was always blooming. He was often seen puttering in his yard and his efforts showed. The Binkley yard and garden was the most beautiful on the block.
Time passed, the night time incident was forgotten and Tina and her mother’s usual morning meet and greet on the street continued as if nothing had happened. Spring was in the air and Easter was coming. Tina thought about the egg hunts and the candy she would receive. Tina especially liked those big solid chocolate Easter bunnies.
Easter Sunday arrived and Tina went to the window to look out on the bright spring morning.
“Mama, mama,” Tina hollered from her bedroom, “Come here, hurry!”
Tina was jumping up and down with excitement when Ellen came into the room.
“Look,” she said pointing out the window.
Outside in the yard where she had seen Mr. Binkley several months ago was a carpet of hundreds of blooming yellow Jonquils and Daffodils.