He jumped down from the bed,
took off his pyjamas and looked for his trousers.
He looked on the chair where he'd left them and
he looked on the floor under the chair -
and then he looked through the chest of drawers
in case they were there.
But they weren't.
They were nowhere.
You wouldn't think it was possible to lose a pair of men's trousers
in regular rotation.
Especially as there are no other men in the house at present.
Naturally it was assumed that they were somewhere in the washing cycle.
Laundry basket. Washing machine. Airer. Ironing basket.
'But they must be somewhere,' said Little Bear.
'Trousers don't disappear.
I'll go and ask Old Bear.
He'll know where they are.'*
But Old Bear didn't know where they were
because they weren't her trousers.
But once she knew they were missing she was a woman possessed.
She re-examined the washing cycle places.
She looked in the wardrobe.
She looked amongst her own trousers.
Just in case.
She looked in other people's wardrobes.
Just in case.
They wondered if they had been taken to the cleaners.
They wondered if they had been left in another house
because they had stayed away,
but no, that would have meant coming home in underpants.
But they must be somewhere, she wailed.
This is ridiculous.
A suspicion was entertained that Old Bear had taken them to a charity shop.
But she knew that she had done no such thing and was very indignant.
They began to believe that trousers could just disappear.
And then one day a strange flash of intuition
pierced Old Bear's befuddled mind.
She looked at the laundry basket
and held her breath for she had remembered something.
The basket has a drawstring liner so that you can lift the washing out
and sometimes people drop things into it
before the liner has been replaced.
And then the liner is brought back upstairs
and popped back in -
on top of whatever lurks in the dark at the bottom.
You are ahead of me.
Now we must turn our attention to the missing metal tape measure.
Used only yesterday for measuring up pictures
that are being re-hung on the freshly painted walls.
It is a new tape measure, self-locking and retracting.
Could it be in the laundry basket?
*Little Bear's Trousers by Jane Hissey.