The Forlorn Bear
By Jeff Baker
I was twelve years old and I was in bed with a cold. Over my protestations, my Mother sent for the doctor. Our regular doctor having been summoned on another call, Old Doctor John was the one who showed up. He was semi-retired and must have been about eighty, He harrumphed and grumped a bit and made me laugh. He told me I had a cold and I said “I know.”
“Sometimes,” Old Doctor John said, “the obvious isn’t so obvious. It reminds me of something that happened when I was helping out a friend of mine. It must have been back in nineteen-oh…”
“Nineteen-oh!” I said. Old Doctor John glared at me. “Yes, Nineteen-Oh. Someday, the years won’t seem as far apart to you as they do now.”
I sat back and listened. I loved his stories. He went on.
I was in the rooms my friend rented in London (Old Doctor John said) and one afternoon he received an envelope with a photograph and a note. The note pertained to the recent kidnapping of a child which had been kept out of the London papers. The note taunted my friend, saying that he was known for solving the “pretty little problems” but couldn’t solve this one.
I examined the note for a watermark and found none as my friend examined the photograph; a child’s toy staring forlornly at the camera.
“We have to get this to the police immediately, John,” he said. “This man may not have wanted to be caught but he was careless.”
My friend usually didn’t call me by my first name, and so I caught the urgency of the situation. As we rushed out the door he said “We now have one vital clue.”
And the kidnappers were apprehended and the child reunited with his family by nightfall.
Old Doctor John finished his story and picked up his doctor’s bag.
“Wait,” I said. “How did your friend know? What was the vital clue?”
Old Doctor John smiled.
“The kidnappers ran a photography studio. The photograph was embossed with their address in gold lettering.”
I smiled and lay back in bed. In my dreams, I was rushing through the London streets with Younger Doctor John and his brilliant friend.