This week cavalcadeofstars welcomes T. R. Healy.
Lost and Found and Lost Again
By Thomas Healy
“Come on, Grogan,” Siddle sighed, slapping a hand against his thigh. “We can’t spend all morning in the park. I’ve got some errands to run today.”
Sedulously he continued along the cedar trail for a few more steps then looked around again for the Irish setter but he still wasn’t in sight.
“Damn you, Grogan,” he groaned, turning back down the trail.
The setter was a couple of feet behind a pine tree, its head down, urgently sniffing a clump of leaves as thick as a feather pillow.
“Have you found something, boy?” he asked as he stepped toward the dog. “Something other than another dead squirrel?”
It took him a moment before he saw the shiny object the dog was so interested in and, at once, assumed it was a piece of glass. Nearly all of the trails in the park were littered with broken wine and beer bottles. Then, as he reached to pick it up, he saw it was a pocket knife.
“That’s not something you can gnaw on, boy,” he said as he examined the knife which looked as if it had been lying under the leaves for quite some time.
Whatever was etched on its side was impossible to make out it was covered with so much dirt and grime. He started to toss it back into the woods but was afraid Grogan would go after it so he slipped it into his pocket and returned to the trail.
Back home, looking at the knife more closely, Siddle decided not to throw it away, figured he could use it as a letter opener. First, though, it needed to be cleaned and he got out a scouring pad and some soap and proceeded to remove all the junk that had accumulated on it. The stainless steel blade was scratched a little but otherwise smooth and still very sharp. The handle was carved from sycamore and on one side of it was etched a name. He smiled, sure that must be the person the knife belonged to: R.G. Krajcik.
Nearly three years ago, a man he had never seen before appeared at his door and presented him with the college class ring he had lost a few months earlier. He was stunned; sure he would never see it again. The man explained that he volunteered once a week at a Goodwill depot and noticed the ring in a box of bric-a-brac and saw the name on it and figured it wasn’t something that was meant to be donated. Siddle was so grateful that he wanted to give him something in return but the man refused to accept anything.
“Maybe, some day, you’ll have the opportunity to do something similar for someone else,” he suggested. “That’d be reward enough for me.”
There were eight Krajciks listed in the telephone directory but only two with first names beginning with the letter R: a Rhonda and a Roger. The knife didn’t appear anything a woman would carry so he assumed it belonged to Roger Krajcik and dialed his number but no one answered. The man lived not much more than a mile from the appliance store where Siddle sold stoves and refrigerators so he decided to deliver it to him in person the next day after he got off work. Besides, it was safer that way, he figured, not wanting to take the chance of it getting lost in the mail.
He was pleased how clean he was able to get the pocket knife, thought, except for some nicks here and there, it looked almost brand new. And wanting to keep it that way he wrapped it in a handkerchief and put the knife in a clasped envelope, just as the person did who returned his ring.
“What can I do for you?” the short, portly man asked after he opened the door of the small sandstone house on the corner.
“Are you Roger Krajcik?”
“I believe I have something of yours,” he said as he removed the knife from the envelope.
The man’s eyes became as round as marbles when he saw the knife. “My God!”
“This is yours then?”
He nodded, still not believing what Siddle was holding in his hand.
“I was out walking in Partridge Lake Park the other morning with my dog and he found your knife under some leaves.”
“I haven’t seen this in almost two years.”
“Well, here it is,” he said, holding out the pocket knife, which Krajcik seemed almost reluctant to accept. “I’m glad my dog was able to find it.”
“I suppose it must’ve slipped out of your pocket when you were in the park one day.”
“I suppose so.”
Not having anything else to say, he nodded and turned around and walked back to his car. He was surprised Krajcik didn’t thank him for returning his knife, didn’t really seem that pleased to have it back in his possession. It didn’t matter to him, though, because he had really done it to pay back the person who found his ring.
Krajcik slumped against the heavy oak door as soon as he closed it, breathing hard, and stared at the pocket knife in his right hand. He could not believe it, thought for sure he would never see it again. Suddenly, angrily he threw it down the hallway, remembering that awful night when he stabbed his then wife with it. They were both drunk and angry, hurling one invective after another at each other, and before he knew it he pulled out his knife and swung it at her and grazed the back of her left wrist. The wound wasn’t serious but he was mortified by what he had done and rushed out of the house and got in his car and drove to the park and tossed the knife into a dense thicket of underbrush. Tonight he would have to throw it even farther, maybe into the lake, where he was sure no one would ever find it again.
Thomas was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and his stories have appeared in such journals as Freight Train, Limestone, Rusty Truck, and Steel Toe Review.