Disclaimer: Hey, I've read the other authors' disclaimers and since nobody else claims Phil of the Future, can I have it?

Author's Note: If you're into Pheely, and love a good mystery, be certain to check out When Your Knees Buckle right away. It's really good and only a few chapters left.

Lost and Found

Chapter One - Acquire

It's a quiet afternoon for Neil Hackett at H. G. Wells Jr./Sr. High so far.

Not like this morning when Vice-Principal Hackett confronted Pim Diffy about her unauthorized selling of high-priced snacks since all the school's vending machines suddenly seized up simultaneously. Where did all that junk food go to? One second it was piled high on a couple of overhead carts, and the next? Poof! How does she do that ? Three belly button dress code violations later, his day has quieted down sufficiently for him to indulge in a some herbal tea and his mediation mantra, "Down, down, down with the Diffys."

After his chakras were better aligned, he'd perform his weekly scan of active substitute teachers, not that he needed one. If a teacher's sick, well, who's going to teach the class? Certainly not him. No, Neil Hackett perused the substitutes list for a certain name: Vanderhoosey.

A stylish knocking on the doorframe to his office startled Mr. Hackett. Coughing at first, he cleared his throat by spraying out his chamomile all over his Administrator of the Month Award.

"Diffy!" shouted Mr. H. He didn't know who was at the door, but the odds were in favor of at least one Diffy.

"Um, no. It's me, Vice-Principal Hackett. Candida Keagle. Miss Freelander told me to give you a message."

"Well, let me have it, Miss Keagle."

Candida started to bring her hands out from behind her back with the note when she spotted a familiar purse on the vice-principal's desk. Her right hand never made it around her waist to reveal the scrap of paper.

"Note? What note? OH, The MESSAGE," clucked Candida. "Well, she said it was … very personal."

"Okay," urged Mr. H., "so 'tell' me the message."

"But it's very personal," insisted Candida, her eyes glancing again at the handbag, "so she couldn't tell me."

"I don't get this. Miss Freelander gave you a very personal message to give to me, correct?"

"Yes."

"But you can't tell me what it is …"

"Right."

"… because she didn't tell you?"

"Uh-huh."

Neil Hackett's hand slapped the front of his face, his fingers pretending to claw his own face off.

"Then why did she send you?"

"To tell you that she wants you - to go to talk to her?"

"She's on the other side of campus. I'll just use the intercom."

"But she wants you to come." Candida turned on her charm as she did so often with her new daddy to get him to buy her new clothes. "Think about it, Mr. Hackett - did she call you over the intercom? She wants to talk only to you - about something for only your ears - and I think it has to do with this Friday night," enticed Candida.

Mr. Hackett had been a lonely bachelor for a long time - too long. Things hadn't gone as well with Veronica as he had hoped, and, well, he was reduced to looking for signs of Miss Vanderhoosey surfacing once again on the chance that her boyfriend had finished the ninth inning for the last time and she'd be available now. Even though he'd only just started scanning the sub list, he made a decision. Yes, he'd give Miss Freelander a chance. After all, she was only ten or twelve years older than he; that probably made her even more desperate than he was.

"Thank you, Candida. I"ll walk you back to class."

Candida considered grabbing the pocketbook off Mr. H's desk as she left, but decided it was too risky. Besides, she didn't just want the purse; she wanted to find out what was inside, and that required time, and maybe an empty office.

"That sounds 'super,' Vice-Principal Hackett - uh-oh. You better go ahead without me, Mr. Hackett. I gotta -," Candida motioned her head toward the girls' bathroom down the hall.

"Huh? OH! Right. RIght. Okay, I'll go and you come when you're done with -," Hackett's voice trailed off and his hands made some weird gestures in the air between them before he started to perspire and walked quickly down the hallway in the other direction.

Candida takes only a few steps in the direction of the bathroom before looking over her shoulder, smiling, and quietly pacing almost as quick back into his office before closing the door.

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