Lost and Found
by Christian Heftel
When Forrest Long was 33, things that he had lost long ago began to return to his life. That day,
he and his crew were trashing out foreclosed homes. They usually did construction, but ever
since the recession, this was the only work they could find.
They'd just reached the last house of the day. From the outside, it looked like it was in decent
enough repair, but that was no guarantee of what he'd find inside. Last home he'd done, the
family had left food sitting in an open, powerless refrigerator for weeks. The whole house had
smelled of it, and the kitchen had been full of mold and maggots.
The bank hadn't given Forrest a key, so he had to find his own way in. He called over Pete, who
had worked for him longest. "Have a couple of the boys check the windows. Get the rest working
on the yard."
Pete nodded and called out to the men, once in English and once in Spanish.
Forrest watched as the men carried lawn ornaments and potted plants to the dumpster. He sighed.
This was going to be a big job. The yard was full of crap -- lawn gnomes, bird feeders, wind
chimes, suncatchers, ceramic toadstools -- and people with cluttered yards had cluttered houses.
You sometimes found hoarders with immaculate yards, but you never found a cluttered yard and
an immaculate house. Ah well. Maybe he'd find some interesting stuff at least.
There was a call from the back of the house. Someone had found a way in.
Forrest wandered around the side of the house, looking in the windows. The curtains were all
drawn tight, and they were made of sun-faded fabric that looked like it was decades old. Coming
around the back of the yard, he saw Pete standing with the back door open.
"Wasn't even locked," Pete said.
Forrest nodded and walked in. It was hot and muggy and dark inside the house, but at least it
didn't smell like feces or vomit or rotting food. It didn't seem like squatters or hobos had been
here, or like some abandoned dog had been forced to fend for itself in the house since its owner