Where is Freddie Falcon? The tale of a missing mascot December 18, 2010 — by David Eng David Eng Where’s Freddie Falcon? Tales of a missing mascot, Toga’s mascot missing in action, My quest began because the school’s most iconic sports fan of years past—scarlet-feathered mascot Freddie Falcon—seemed to be missing in action this year. He was AWOL from the football team’s thrilling 21-17 victory over Los Gatos on Oct. 22 and seemingly camera shy from all of this year’s spirit days. And so I set out to find Freddie, on a mission of grave importance to both the success of sports teams and my sense of investigative prowess. Where’s Freddie Falcon? Tales of a missing mascot, Toga’s mascot missing in action, My quest began because the school’s most iconic sports fan of years past—scarlet-feathered mascot Freddie Falcon—seemed to be missing in action this year. He was AWOL from the football team’s thrilling 21-17 victory over Los Gatos on Oct. 22 and seemingly camera shy from all of this year’s spirit days. And so I set out to find Freddie, on a mission of grave importance to both the success of sports teams and my sense of investigative prowess. 12:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7. I start at teacher and cheer coach Larissa Ridge’s doorstep. Earlier that day, I received an anonymous tip from a cheerleader who claimed she saw Freddie rooting for pee-wee cheerleaders at the halftime of an Oct. 29 game vs. Wilcox. Somewhat doubting the reliability of this source but acknowledging it as my only lead, I head for room H01. Ridge is there to greet me. “What can I do for you?” she asks. I just want to know where Freddie is, I say. She chuckles. “Freddie has headed south for the winter and will probably not be back for a while,” she says. “You might catch up to him at a few basketball games.” “Are you serious?” I reply. I don’t think she understands the gravity of my situation. She chuckles again and confirms the cheerleader’s account that Freddie indeed attended the game against Wilcox. “So where is he?” I ask, more desperately this time. “Like for real?” she inquires. Yes, I’m dead serious, I say. (Who jokes about this kind of stuff anyway?) She directs me to a modest room less than 10 feet away: assistant principal Karen Hyde’s office. 12:46 p.m. I have most definitely ascertained Freddie’s whereabouts, or at least cornered the person who does know. But my quest is not yet complete—I must ID Freddie in the flesh, or in this case, in the feather. My travels bring me to Hyde’s doorstep. She’s tied up with another matter, so I sanitize my hands with the automatic Purell dispenser just outside her door. When Mrs. Hyde’s prior engagement exits, I bombard her with my crisis regarding school-spirit upper management. Mrs. Hyde gets enough of this kind of schlock from parents, you know. She gestures for me to enter, nearly hacking up a lung. I probably gave her a funny look as she promptly explains that “the Hydes have a cold.” I ask where Freddie Falcon is. “He’s in storage because we don’t have a Freddie,” she says, almost in tears (I’m not sure if that’s from her emotional ties with a mascot, her cold or just the poor quality of my voice recorder). “I want Freddie to come back,” Hyde says. “But Freddie right now stinks. Literally and figuratively. He needs to be cleaned. So many years of blood, sweat and tears, more sweat than anything else.” She picks up her walkie talkie. BEEP BEEP. (I haven’t used a walkie talkie since I was 5 but I suppose this is a more practical mode of communication for the maintenance staff than texting during class is for my classmates.) “Can somebody get David Eng to the closet the closet behind Julie [Grenier]. He needs to see Freddie Falcon,” Hyde broadcasts. “Meet him there in a few minutes,” a male voice echoes from the walkie talkie. As I’m leaving, I thank Hyde and tell her how cool this is. “Do you know how odd you really are? If this is cool, you’re really odd,” she says. I’ve learned a few important things: Mrs. Hyde knows my name. And now she thinks I’m odd. All in the name of Freddie, right? I skip over to the Tech Guru/Xerox room/storage wing of the school. A mustached man driving a golf cart is waiting for me. “What are you trying to see?” he asks. I have no clue who this guy is, but he’s probably a maintenance guy judging from several keys hooked on his belt. I tell him I’m trying to find Freddie. He opens a closet and we enter. It’s really sketchy in there, almost something out of a Scooby Doo episode. After opening the external cobalt blue door, we must also unlatch an inner transparent door about 10 feet into the room. It screeches. “Uh…do you see it in here?” he asks. I look around. Nothing by racks and racks of fluffy dresses. “Freddie Falcon … didn’t know we had a name for him,” he mutters. We continue to ruffle through the piles of clothes. I step backwards, a move that seals my fate as I nudge the ajar creeky inner door and SLAM! It locks shut. We’re stuck. The maintenance guy (at this point I still don’t know his name) proceeds to jam each of his keys into the lock, hoping one will work. I ask him if he actually knows which key goes with which lock. “I don’t,” he says. “I usually keep certain keys in certain places of my key ring. Master keys and stuff like that.” Obviously he doesn’t have a master key for this lock because none of them work. “Hey Bart, this is Mike, copy,” he says into is walkie talkie. Silence. The man’s name is Mike (I later find out it’s Mike McQuade). Moments pass. Maybe we’re in one of those lead-plated mouse-traps which bounce back radio waves. After anxious seconds slip away, someone responds (presumably an associate), “Hey Mike, he was having trouble with his radio a few minutes ago. Let me see if I can find him.” It feels like several minutes fly by and Bart doesn’t respond. “Hey Brian,” says Mike, resorting to another option. “Could you come over to that room where I was gonna let that kid in? We’re locked in here.” Oh. Now I’m “that kid.” I’m cool with that. Just then a man wearing a black collared Comcast shirt passes by and saves us. Apparently, the creeky inner door to this closet is locked from the inside and unlocked from the outside. “Thank you for saving our lives,” says Mike to the Comcast Guy. “I was starving. I was freezing. Panic had set in.” We strut over to the Tech room and share our account with everyone there (Grenier, technical assistant Spencer Sands, June Lamm from the Activities Office and The Comcast Guy). Sands tells us that he’s been locked in that same room before, but no one offers any thoughts on Freddie’s whereabouts. McQuade and I pay our regards and start opening random blue doors in the wing. Behind cobalt door number 1? A furnace. Behind cobalt door number 805? A Freddie Falcon! Finally we uncover the whereabouts of Freddie Falcon, stored in a closet labeled 805. A feeling of satisfaction rushes into my heart—I guess this is my Sherlock Holmes moment. I thank McQuade for his help and return to the journalism room at 1:13 p.m., having accomplished my mission.