Jack (bp coyle)

The man looks frantic, on the point of tears.

‘Sorry to bother you,’ he begins. ‘Did anyone hand in a child’s toy? I was here earlier with my little girl. Now her toy is missing. Her favourite one. This is the eighth shop I’ve called back to. You’re really my last hope.’

‘I’ve just come on duty,’ I explain. ‘But I’ll check the box where we keep the stuff that’s been found. Not the important stuff,’ I tell him, though I know he has no interest. ‘Things like wallets and purses..’ He nods and moves his fingers nervously on the counter. ‘Oh and credit cards too,’ I add. ‘Mustn’t forget them!’

‘Of course,’ he looks like he’s about to vomit. ‘If you could check that box. It may not be expensive but it means the world to her.’

I went to the cupboard where the box is kept. ‘What sort of a toy is it?’

‘A stuffed one. A clown. Called Jack. She has it with her always.’

There it was, at the top, small and soft and so very cute. ‘Sorry,’ I say in my saddest voice. ‘There’s nothing like that here.’

He turns away with a sigh.