Chapter 5 timing: 20 minutes
Post 1: Flapjax for Sale
Flapjax – our extremely lovable and cuddly bear buddy who just occasionally gets into sticky situations – is what his human parents like to call “impatient”. Libby, his human best friend says he just likes activities (she gets him).
Sometimes, Flapjax and Libby have to do things they don’t especially like to do (but you’ve read about Flapjax at church, so you know all about that). Luckily even in the most boring of situations, they still had each other, and that was usually enough to get them through.
However, if there was one thing Flapjax couldn’t stand, it was the horrendously, astoundingly, mind-numbingly boring task of shopping for new clothes.
For one thing, Flapjax was perfectly happy with just the occasional hat. For another, his weekly church suits were itchy enough to make him almost want a bath afterwards. (Almost.) And if that wasn’t bad enough, teddy bears were everywhere at the shopping mall. Flapjax much preferred to be one-of-a-kind.
And have you ever been to a mall? Unfortunately for Flapjax, malls were everywhere in New Jersey, where he lived with Libby and his parents. Malls are also very large. Flapjax was very small. Walking across very large malls with very small legs is exhausting!
So when Libby snagged Flapjax up from a delightful nap and told him they were going shopping, he knew he was in for a difficult day.
Once in the children’s department, Mom went right to work rummaging through the racks of clothes while Libby and Flapjax bee-lined for the toy section. But it wasn’t long before Mom’s voice rang out to them.
“Libby! Flapjax! Let’s go to the fitting room, come on.”
Libby rolled her eyes at Flapjax, but like the good daughter she was, she scrambled up and ran to join her mother for the terrible task of trying on clothes.
Flapjax, however, stuck to what he was good at…playing…
Flapjax looked up at the shelves of stuffed animals with a wicked smile on his face. He had a brilliant idea for a trick he could play on Libby. (He could really be rascally sometimes!)
As Libby was occupied in the dressing room, Flapjax was speedily climbing the toy shelves until he got to the level with the teddy bears. He smoothly positioned himself among his fellow furballs and got cozy.
Sitting there snuggled up with other bears, Flapjax really understood the appeal. They were CUDDLY! He smiled to himself and used his neighbor’s brown fluffy fur as a pillow…
…and he fell fast asleep among the teddy bears.
Flapjax was snoring lightly (and drooling just a bit), comfy and happily dreaming away. But Libby was panicking. He had been right there with her! Hadn’t he? He never liked trying on clothes, but he always hung out anyway to keep her company. So where was he??
Mom, on the other hand, was mad. Flapjax always seemed to disappear at the worst times! She had work to do, and she needed to get them home.
Libby frantically searched through the racks of clothes while Mom spoke with each of the men and women working in the store to find out if they had seen Flapjax. But no such luck.
“Libby, we have to go,” Mom said, glancing worriedly at her watch. “The salespeople are going to be on the lookout for Flapjax, and they will call us when they find him. He’s here somewhere, don’t worry.”
“We can’t leeeeeeeeeeeeave!” Libby wailed. “Flapjax! FLAPJAX!!!”
Her shouts echoed through the store as Mom carried her away from her best friend.
Flapjax heard Libby call him in his dream, and he smiled. Then he heard it again. She wasn’t just calling for him though, she was shouting! His eyes popped open in panic just in time for him to see Libby and Mom walking quickly away from him out the door…
Post 2: The Trouble with Being a Bear
Flapjax was in a bit of a pickle…
He had meant to play a fun joke on Libby. Now he was stuck high up on a shelf with a bunch of other stuffed bears who wouldn’t even talk to him. And to make matters worse, he was in his least favorite place in the entire world (the mall!).
Worst of all, Libby was gone. He glanced around at the bears around him and pouted.
Why were they so mean? Couldn’t they see he was upset and needed help? But they just sat there and watched the humans walking around the store.
How was he going to get home? Or was Libby coming back for him?
He couldn’t just sit around and wait like all the other bears. He needed to find Libby.
Flapjax couldn’t drive–humans wouldn’t give a bear a license. In all fairness, he couldn’t reach the pedals, nor could he see over the steering wheel, so that was probably the right decision. But it made getting home quite difficult!
He had to get to a phone. He would dial his phone number and his humans would know it was him…they would have to!
But where could he find a phone? Flapjax pondered his options as he watched all the humans come and go. Most of them were on their cellphones, typing away with speedy thumbs. Flapjax didn’t have thumbs, but maybe, just maybe, his paws were small enough to hit the right places on the screens.
He had to at least try.
With stealthy, nimble bear moves, Flapjax climbed back down the toy shelf and scampered across the floor until he was safely hidden among a rack of colorful dresses. They were quite soft, he thought, as he stuffed his head and arms into a flowery, red dress.
(Maybe he could bring back dresses for bears, like in the Robin Hood days! Ugh but then he’d have to wear tights. Never mind…)
Properly disguised as his favorite human (Libby, obviously), Flapjax felt brave enough to find a phone to borrow.
He saw pocketbooks all over, but they were guarded by their towering owners, and while Flapjax was brave, he was not dumb, and he knew jumping into a pocketbook held by a human would surely be a bad idea. He shuffled casually over to where a human boy was sitting on a bench outside the dressing rooms. The boy had earbuds in and looked to be watching something on a phone.
This was it!
Flapjax jumped up onto the bench and scooted over until he was right next to the boy. The boy glanced questioningly at Flapjax, and Flapjax waved a paw at him. The boy smiled and went back to watching his phone. Flapjax poked the boy a few times until he looked up again, but now the boy was annoyed.
“What? I’m watching Spider-Man. Leave me alone.”
Flapjax frowned and pointed to the phone and then to himself.
“You want to use my phone? But what are you going to do with it?”
Flapjax mimicked talking on the phone.
“How are you going to talk on the phone if you can’t even talk?”
Flapjax sniffed thoughtfully. They boy had a good point. Then he pointed at the phone and mimicked texting with his paw.
“How are you going to type? You don’t have any fingers.”
Flapjax frowned and shrugged. Minor details. He always figured out ways around things humans seemed to rely on, like fingers.
“And how old are you? I bet you can’t even read yet.”
Flapjax sighed. This boy had no faith in him. So what if he was right? Flapjax would find a way home. He had to!
The boy went back to typing, but Flapjax was not willing to give up. He leapt up, grabbed the phone, and ran away as fast as his little stuffed legs could carry him.
Flapjax was out the door before the human boy knew what was happening, but it wasn’t long before the chase began…
Post 3: Runaway Flapjax
Flapjax flew through mall with the speed of…well, a tiny stuffed bear on two short, stubby legs. So, not that speedy at all. But Flapjax knew he was not that speedy. What he lacked in speed, he knew he could make up for in brains.
But the human boy was quickly catching up…
Flalpjax wasn’t stealing the phone! He just needed to borrow it for a few minutes! It was times like these when Flapjax really grew to appreciate Libby’s mind-reading abilities. He was sure that if he could just communicate with the boy, he would understand! But the longer the chase continued, the more unlikely that seemed. Flapjax felt like the bad guy, and he didn’t like that feeling. He needed to call Libby and then get the phone back to its owner ASAP.
Flapjax streaked past a window and turned just in time to escape into a heavily-scented store filed with shelves and shelves of…soap?
(This was something Flapjax didn’t get about humans…they sure loved their baths.)
The boy turned into the store and was quickly in snagging distance. Flapjax leapt up onto a pile of big, baseball-shaped soaps that smelled like flowers and began his climb to the top. Unfortunately, as soon as one innocent paw shifted the tower of soaps, Flapjax knew he was in big trouble. He tried to scramble up the slippery slope, but things just got worse. A second later, the entire pyramid of soap balls was cascading down to the ground…and Flapjax with it…
The boy ran towards Flapjax, ready to grab the phone out of his paw. But all of a sudden, the boy was on the ground too, lying face-up surrounded by the soap balls and looking very confused. Flapjax took that opportunity to quickly jump up and dodge the rolling soaps on his way out of the store and back into the chaos of the mall.
Flapjax ran past shop after shop of toys and candy, but he kept running. He even ran past the cookie shop that smelled so delicious he thought–just for a second!–that he’d be okay with being stuck at the mall forever if he could have those yummy cookies every day. But no, he had to get home to Libby.
He kept running.
And then he saw it. A sight so interesting, he couldn’t NOT stop to stare. It was a factory. A BEAR factory.
Machines were actually stuffing and sewing bears right in front of him! He looked down at himself, and then back up at all the bears lining the walls of the factory. They were all so different! Each one was a different color or size or wore a uniform or a bowtie or a hat.
And that’s when Flapjax had a brilliant idea.
He tip-toed into the bear factory, careful not to alert the humans who swarmed aroundthe many stations. The machines looked terrifying, and he wanted nothing to do with those long needles that were being used on the poor bears with stuffing coming out of their seams. (Mom had had to sew him back together a few times, and it was never a pleasant experience. He couldn’t imagine being stitched without Libby by his side to hold his paw.)
Flapjax shimmied over to a bin on the far side of the factory. He quickly scrambled out of his dress disguise and into a doctor’s uniform with a white coat and stethoscope. And with one quick glance in the mirror to see his mastery, he headed back out the door.
At that very moment, Flapjax spotted the boy running past the factory. He hadn’t seen Flapjax. Success!
Flapjax headed back the other way towards the store he had been in with Libby and Mom. He figured his best chance of rescue was there, he just needed to call Libby.
With a few seconds to spare, he held the phone out in front of him as he simultaneously ran and nosed the digits until the number he knew by heart was on the screen. But before he could hit SEND, he tripped on the long costume coat, and he was back on the floor, staring up at a very angry human. Wait, no, two humans. And one was wearing a uniform.
Flapjax gulped. He was in serious trouble…
Post 4: Finding Flapjax
The two humans glared down at Flapjax as he lay sprawled out on the mall floor, holding the hijacked phone in one exhausted paw.
The big human in the police uniform knelt down beside Flapjax. She picked the phone out of his paw and held it up to the human boy. Flapjax tried to grab it back, but the woman held him in a tight grip, so he could barely wiggle let alone escape.
The boy looked at the phone and then back at Flapjax. He had an odd expression on his face, almost like wonder.
“You typed in a number!”
Flapjax nodded. He had been so close!
“But you can’t type! You can’t talk! You can’t read!”
Flapjax shrugged. What did it matter what the boy thought he could or couldn’t do? He knew he would have found a way to get back to Libby. He just needed a few more seconds with the phone!
The boy looked at him curiously. “Who are you?”
Flapjax maneuvered in the officer’s arms until his tail was facing the boy, and then he bent over.
“F-L-A-P-J-A-X,” the boy read the letters stitched across Flapjax’s bottom.
The uniformed human picked Flapjax up and looked at his tail where Mom had sewn those letters back when Flapjax had first been adopted. She had also sewn in numbers below it. A phone number. It was almost like Mom knew Flapjax would need rescuing…
“Well Flapjax, I think it’s time we get you home. What do you think about that?”
Flapjax stared up at the human with teary eyes, nodded his head, and gave her a big bear hug.
Flapjax was going home, but he had to wait in Mall Jail for Libby and Mom to get there. He might have been rescued, but he was also still pretty sure he would be in quite a bit of trouble when his family heard about the mess he had made in the soap store, and the outfits he had borrowed from the shops, and of course the phone he had taken from the human boy.
He looked over at the boy who was typing away on his phone next to him. The boy looked back at Flapjax and smiled.
“Do you like Spider-Man?” the boy asked, holding out his phone to Flapjax.
Flapjax grinned and took the phone, then jumped up on the boy’s lap so they could watch together. It turned out this new human was actually pretty great after all.
“FLAPJAX!!” Libby screamed as she ran into Mall Jail where Flapjax was waiting for her. She grabbed him off the boy’s lap and hugged him tightly. “I was so, so worried, Flapjax! Why did you hide from me?”
The boy cleared his throat and Flapjax hesitantly handed over the phone. He would need to convince Libby to watch the rest of Spider-Man with him at home.
“Hey, Flapjax was trying to get back to you all day. Don’t be too hard on him. He’s a pretty clever stuffed bear,” the boy said, giving Flapjax a paw-bump.
Libby looked at the boy for the first time and raised an eyebrow. “’Clever’ isn’t the only thing he is. He is also fun, cuddly…and in BIG trouble.”
Flapjax waved to his new friend from his spot on Libby’s shoulder. The boy shrugged and waved back, then went back to watching the movie on his phone as if this big, crazy Flapjax adventure had never happened.
Mom was waiting for them at the entrance of Mall Jail looking not so happy. She smiled at the uniformed human behind the counter. “Thank goodness for Lost and Found,” she said, looking at Libby hugging Flapjax tightly.
“Thank goodness for good friends,” the uniformed human said and waved at the group as they headed for the door.
Libby glanced back at the boy who was still sitting and looking intently at his phone.
“What about him?” she asked the grown-ups.
“Oh, his parents are on their way. Flapjax isn’t the only one who escaped today,” the uniformed woman said with a narrow-eyed look at the boy who just smiled and shrugged again from his chair in the corner.
“I was never lost,” he said with a wink at Flapjax. “I was just trying to stop a bad bear from stealing my phone.”
Flapjax would have been offended, but he knew the boy was right. He thought about how horribly his little joke on Libby had gone wrong. This could have ended very badly for him. He was a lucky, lucky bear…
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