LEWIS — In mid-afternoon, a clear scent of spring caught in the wind.
But the Cech family had a mission and no time for a Sunday snooze.
There were lollipop bandits on the loose, dodging the Essex County sheriff and hiding a stash of suckers on dusty back roads.
Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting and his deputies knew there was just one thing to do: They called in Mighty Matthew.
TAKING THE OATH
Eight-year-old Matthew Cech donned the deputy’s uniform he’d been given a few weeks before and drove with his parents and two brothers to the jail.
He stepped bravely up onto a chair.
“You gotta take an oath,” the sheriff said.
“I don’t know what that means,” he replied.
But, wearing the size 3T deputy’s uniform and a wide-brimmed Stetson hat that dipped daringly over his eyes, the Cumberland Head Elementary School third-grader raised his right hand.
“I do,” he said, promising to protect and defend.
And they were off.
Cutting, Undersheriff Michael Badger and Major Thomas Murphy set up a patrol watch next to the ambulance garage off Route 9.
They waited, keeping a sharp eye for any signs of a tan pickup truck allegedly used in the lollipop heist.
The details were sketchy, though the sheriff said the bandits had a good haul of candy.
Mighty Matthew kept his finger at the switch, ready to blast on the spinning blue lights to warn the suspects to stop.
And then — there it was, turning fast onto Ray Woods Road.
Matthew and the sheriff gave chase and pulled the suspect vehicle over.
The bandits, somewhat resembling Essex County deputies Bob Rice and Lloyd Lamont, stepped out and hung their heads.
They knew they’d been caught.
Matthew carried a plastic bat and a can of (training) pepper spray to use if the two culprits got unruly.