Lost and Found
by David Lubar
"Hey, look at this," Dale said as he noticed the white square of folded cloth lying
by the side entrance to the mall. "Someone lost a handkerchief."
"Yuck," Kirby said. "Don't touch it."
"No, it's not that kind." Dale bent down and picked up the handkerchief. "See,
it's a fancy one." He pointed to the initials that were embroidered in one corner.
The letters HCX, stitched in dark-red thread with lots of fancy loops and swirls,
stood out against the bleached whiteness of the cloth.
"What's that mean?" Kirby asked.
"It's someone's name," Dale said.
"Then what's that?" Kirby tapped the corner of the handkerchief.
Dale looked below the initials. In much smaller letters, in the same red thread, he
saw YFFI. "I don't know."
"Yiffy?" Kirby said. "Yuhfie? Whyfee? How do you think you say it?"
"Who cares? It's not important," Dale said. "But I'll bet we can find the owner.
Maybe there's even a reward."
"How are you going to do that?" Kirby asked. "Anybody could have dropped it."
"Easy," Dale said. "The last name begins with an X. There can't be a whole lot of
people with those initials. Let's go to my place and check the phone book."
Kirby walked along next to Dale, chanting, "Yiffy, sniffy" for a block and a half
before Dale smacked him and told him to stop.
When they reached his house, Dale got the phone book from the drawer in the
kitchen. Sure enough, there was less than a page of people with last names
beginning with an X. This was going to be even easier than he'd thought.
He ran his finger down the listings. "Here we go. Harold C. Xantini. He lives on
Bowie Street. That's not far from here." Dale couldn't help grinning. He felt like
one of those detectives he saw on TV shows.
"Are you going to call him?"
"No. Let's surprise him. I don't want to give him a chance to think."
"About my reward." Dale waited for Kirby to say they should share the reward,
but Kirby didn't complain. Dale grabbed the handkerchief from the kitchen
counter and set out toward Bowie Street.
"Here we go," he said when they got there. "Number one eight three six." Dale
paused, wondering if he'd made a mistake. The house looked abandoned.
"I don't think anybody's there," Kirby said.
"Let's knock." Dale went up and tapped on the door.
Before he was ready for it, the door flew open. Dale jumped back.
A man looked out. "Yes?" He was old and small and very wrinkled.
"Mister Xantini?" Dale asked.
"That's me," the man said.
"Did you lose this?" Dale asked, holding out the handkerchief.
"Oh my!" the man gasped, his face breaking into a grin of delight. "I thought I'd
never see it again. It means so much that you brought it to me. Thank you. Thank
Dale handed the handkerchief to the man.
"Please, tell me how you found me," the man said. "It must be a miracle." He
stepped back and opened the door wider. "A true miracle."
"No big deal," Dale said, shaking his head. "It was easy."
"Yeah," Kirby added. "No problem at all."
"But how?" the man asked.
"I used the phone book," Dale said. "You were the only one in it with those
"Did anyone help you?"
"No," Dale said. "I figured it out all by myself."
"So clever. So very clever. You certainly shall be rewarded. The man reached
into his pocket. Then he frowned and walked across the room. "I must have left
my wallet over here."
Dale followed him. "Well, it's not really necessary," he said, though he didn't say
it very loudly. In his mind, he was wondering what his reward might be. The man
had mentioned a wallet -- so it would probably be cash.
"We both brought it back," Kirby said.
Dale shot him an angry look.
"And you'll both be rewarded," the man said as he reached into the drawer. "Such
"So, what does YFFI stand for?" Dale asked "That's the only part I couldn't
"You fell for it," the man said.
"What?" Dale asked, not understanding.
"You," the man said, "fell," he added, removing his hand from the drawer, "for,"
he raised the knife, "it," he finished, leaping forward.
The knife fell. Dale Fell. Kirby fell. A drop of blood fell on the handkerchief.
But the man didn't mind. He had plenty more.