‘My wallet’s gone! I was sure I left it on the table here.’
The voice of the blond, suntanned electrical contractor, shook the walls of the hilltop house.
Bears on shelves and in cupboards woke up. Missie barked. The cat meowed and fish splashed excitedly.
‘It’s got all my credit cards and personal information in it. I must, I must, find it.’
The young man began searching the floor and chairs in kitchen and lounge room and even moved heavy chairs and two cupboards to look underneath.
‘I’ve been checking the ceiling fans and power points. I was certain the kitchen table was the best place to leave it.’ He sighed. ‘I’d better cancel all my cards. Oh what a bother.’
Mother’s calm voice broke his panicked dialogue. ‘Come outside in the cool’ she said gently. ‘Let’s have a cuppa – a cold drink or a tea/coffee just tell me your preference. Make yourself comfortable at the table under the tree and I’ll bring it all out. We can even have a bit of fruit cake. Later, we’ll work on your problem. We’ll search the house inside and outside together.’
A short time later when the house had resumed its quiet stillness, a voice spoke.
‘Ted. I may be able to help. May I come out and speak to everyone?’
The old bear nodded. Joseph growled ‘Be careful young’un. Ask Missie to guard the door, and be ready to return to normal if you’re interrupted.’
A small, burnt-caramel coloured bear, with soft pink feet, shuffled his way forward. (His place in the cupboard was on the bottom shelf in the left-hand corner.)
‘Excuse me all.’ He elbowed his way until he gently dropped to the floor.
‘Good morning everyone. I’m Richard. There is a stamp on my passport photo that identifies me as Dick the Detective Bear. I was not made for movement. He showed them all the delicate pink pads on his feet. Please excuse me as I sit.’
He moved and sat on the footrest of the large lounge chair facing the shelves and cupboards. Joseph, Sue Car-Bear and old Ted repositioned themselves to lean against the arms of the chair so they could look down and see him clearly.
‘First, I must eliminate all possibilities in this room.’ He held his notebook and began writing. ‘Would someone check the fishtank, please.’
‘I’ll do that’ said Ted. ‘I’m the closest and I can clearly see inside.’
‘What nonsense’ burbled Goldie. ‘As if I wouldn’t complain if a germy leather object fell into my home.’
‘I understand’ said Dick ‘but it is important, I look at all possibilities.’ He made a large tick in his book.
‘Now everyone, I want you to shuffle around and make sure there’s nothing on the shelves or in the cupboards that doesn’t belong’.
Little bears shuffled and swayed like a breeze sweeping across shelves and cupboards. It was a soft ‘hiss’ but Joseph muttered ‘shh!’.
Pedro the Pirate said excitedly ‘I’ve found something’. On the end of his cutlass he proudly displayed a piece of Christmas tinsel. ‘It was stuck on my beard’. He chortled heartily.
Dick nodded. ‘Thank you everyone. Now let’s see if we can solve the mystery of the lost wallet. Everyone think. You all see lots of things you may even have forgotten. Please settle and remember. Did any one SEE the young man put the wallet on the table?’
‘Yes’. The clear voice of Colin the Captain came from the shelves. ‘I remember him putting it on the table. I saw him.’
‘Oh’ Sue Care-bear suddenly sat up. Joseph steadied her with his paw. ‘I saw him turn back and pick it up again. He put it in the top pocket of his shirt. I think he also put in a handkerchief or a piece of cloth.’
‘Where did he go, Sue?’. Dick made notes. He smiled at the little pink bear. ‘Thank you. I hope you can remember something else.’
‘Yes, I think it was the computer room. He was muttering about leads and checking power boards or…… or something!’ Sue’s voice suddenly faltered. ‘I only clearly remember he put the wallet in his shirt pocket and walked to check ‘something’. He went in the direction of the computer room.’
She anxiously clung to Joseph. ‘You’ve helped little one. Don’t be worried.’
Dick spoke now with authority and clearly addressed his audience. ‘I think if we have time, we will target the Computer Room and do a thorough search there. I will need folk to help. Missie, please warn us if anyone is coming. Sophie I will need your jumping abilities.
The cat meowed. ‘O please, please, don’t involve me. I know there will be trouble, someone will say ‘The cat did it!’
Several voices soothed Sophie. ‘All you have to do is be a cat’ someone said.
Dick continued. ‘Please go into the room. Find the highest place. Maybe on the computer or a window ledge. Somewhere ‘normal’ for a cat to sit.
Ed, Colin and that young bear whose name I forget (he looks like a school boy), please could you go with Sophie and if she sees anything, together you may be able to help retrieve the lost item.’
Colin immediately said ‘Great!’
Ed the Explorer looked at Ted for confirmation, then happily jumped to the floor, when the old bear nodded.
The more youthful looking of the trio, Sam leapt exuberantly, from the top shelf. ‘Let’s go. Let’s go’ he sang.
‘Please be quick and very careful’ murmured Joseph.
‘I’ll pray’ Sue whispered.
‘A-men.’ shouted Lionel the Lion Tamer ‘so be it to anything you pray.’
A black and white cat and three teddy bears – the cat slinking, two bears toddling and one skipping, entered the computer room. Fortunately, the door had not been locked. It was easy to open from the floor corner with bear paws.
Sophie entered first and jumped gracefully onto the window ledge. She walked along, sprang onto the desk and then happily made herself comfortable on the black box computer top.
She concentrated her keen cat’s eyes on scanning the whole room.
Back and forth her eyes focussed. Suddenly, she stiffened. ‘It’s here! She meowed. Oh Meow! Meow! Meow! What Joy! What joy! I see it! I see it!’
The brown leather wallet was wedged among a pile of leads surrounding an electric circuit box.
‘The young man must have leant over the table to check the leads and his wallet fell out’, Ed remarked.
‘I’ll go under and try to get it’ Sam raced away and scrambled over the scattered cables. He couldn’t move the wallet. It was wedged and too big to handle.
It took three pairs of bear paws to push it free. Together, they waddled back to the lounge room carrying the brown burden like a trophy.
Sophie was on her scratching post tower, purring happily. ‘We found it! We found it’ she mewed.
The three bears were almost back into their places when Missie barked. ‘Woof! Woof! Quiet now….MOVE! They’re coming.’
‘Give me the wallet’ said Ted. ‘Now, back into place, as fast as you can.”
Three little bears ran as fast as little bear legs could carry them. They climbed pushed and settled in their own places.
Dick was busy finishing his notes and burrowed under the footrest of the armchair.
Ted threw the wallet onto the corner of the low lounge table. The house returned to a semblance of normality.
The cat played with a swinging ball still mewing and making odd throat noises.
The humans entered the room
‘Tim! Look your wallet is there on the table, near the fish tank.’
‘I don’t believe it. I’m sure I looked there, and I don’t remember crossing this room.’ Tim Carruthers stopped suddenly beside the low table. ‘Mrs Daniels were you aware that one of your little bears has fallen off the shelf and is wedged under the footrest of this arm-chair?’
He moved, scooped up Dick, and passed him to mother.
As she cradled him in her arms she looked closely at his clothing and saw the identification disk which clearly read ‘Dick the Detective’ Bear. She gasped, but said calmly ‘Thank you, I’ll just put him back.’
She returned Dick to his bottom shelf position and patted Tim’s shoulder. ‘Unusual things often happen in this house’ she said. ‘Let’s be thankful your lost property has been found.’
Missie barked agreement. ‘Woof! Woof! And yes, yes, yes!’
For a moment mother’s eyes carefully looked around and finally rested on Old Ted. He was certain she nodded and smiled.
That night multiple bear voices joined in a soft chorus of ‘Well done everyone, and congratulations to Dick the Detective Bear’.
Old ted had the last word. ‘Yes! Young’un. You’re a magic bear with a lot of common sense.
The night was gentle. The breeze brought cooling relief after a hot day. This house so quiet and peaceful looked normal.
All residents knew in their hearts. This would never be an ORDINARY PLACE.