Foolaini and the Tokyo Chameleon

Published October 16, 2009 by Eli Stutz

Foolaini is the world’s most devious thief. He is so devious that he could be sitting right behind you now, reading over your shoulder – and you wouldn’t know it!

Did I make you look?

Don’t worry, even if Foolaini is right behind you – you are safe. That’s because Foolaini has given up being a thief and is now devoted to catching other thieves.

Foolaini was lying on the couch of his Paris apartment, reading his favorite magazine (“Invisible Anonyme”) on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

An advertisement caught his eye.

There was a large picture of a pantomime mask and the words:

– World Mask Fair –

this year in Tokyo, Japan

“The World Mask Fair,” Foolaini exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to see it. They probably have disguises even I have never considered.”

Foolaini reached for the phone. “It’s lucky I have a niece in Tokyo.” He dialed. Seconds later someone picked up on the other end.

“Moshi moshi.” (that means hello in Japanese).

“Sakura, is that you?” said Foolaini.

“Foolaini?! So good of you to call. Yes, it is your niece, Sakura. How are you, dear Uncle?”

“All is well, Sakura. Listen, I require your assistance. I want to come to Tokyo for the World Mask Fair. Would you be my guide?”

“Sugoi! (great!) I would be honored to take you to the World Mask Fair, uncle.”

“Magnifique!” said Foolaini, thanking Sakura. The two made arrangements to meet.

One week later Foolaini was on a flight to Tokyo.

Sakura met him at the airport. They hugged.

“But where are your bags?” asked Sakura.

Foolaini smiled, then produced an entire suitcase from under his hat.

“Foolaini – you really are a sneaky fellow,” she said.

“And this is for you, Sakura,” said Foolaini, giving Sakura a small green whistle.

“Thank you, Uncle Foolaini,” she said politely.

“This is no ordinary whistle,” said Foolaini, “It is a dog whistle. If you blow it, all the dogs in the vicinity will come to your assistance immediately.”

“Suki desu! (I like it!) It is truly extraordinary,” said Sakura, bowing. She raised her head. “Shall we be off?”

Sakura took Foolaini by the hand and led him out of the arrivals hall, and into the subway station.

“The fastest way to the World Mask Fair is by subway train,” she explained.

As they waited for a train, Foolaini noticed several flyers on the walls of the station.

On each flyer was a picture of a chameleon.

“What do these flyers say?” Foolaini wondered.

Sakura translated:

“Beware: Kizaro the “Chameleon” is on the loose.

If you see Kizaro or have any clue to his whereabouts, call 119 – Tokyo police”

“Who is Kizaro?” Foolaini asked.

“Oh, Kizaro – he is a very naughty criminal,” said Sakura. “He is a master pick-pocket! They say that he picked the pocket of the chief of police.”

“And has he ever been caught?” asked Foolaini.

“That is the trouble,” said Sakura, “he has not. Rumor has it that right after each crime he disappears into thin air. That is why he is nicknamed the “Chameleon”. People think that he can change his colors like magic and escape detection.”

Foolaini rubbed his chin, “Hmm.. the Chameleon..I wonder…”

A train arrived. Sakura and Foolaini boarded it. It was quite crowded and the two of them had to stand.

The train left the station and sped off down a tunnel.

Foolaini noticed a fancily dressed lady standing at the other side of the car. She had a large, expensive looking purse hanging from her shoulder.

At the next stop, several people boarded the car.

One of them was dressed like a pirate.

He had a pirate’s hat, a patch over one eye, a pirate’s coat, and a cane. One of his legs was wooden.

As the train sped off again, the pirate slowly made his way over to the fancy lady.

The train came to a stop as it reached the next station. Suddenly the lady screamed, “Suri da! Suri da!” she yelled.

“What does that mean?” asked Foolaini.

“It means pickpocket!” said Sakura, “and look, that pirate is making off with her purse!”

Foolaini and Sakura ran after the pirate.

The pirate ran out of the car and into the next car. Foolaini and Sakura were close behind.

But the doors were closing. Foolaini made it through, but Sakura got caught between the doors.

“Tasukete!” she cried, “Help, help! I’m stuck”

Foolaini pushed the doors open just enough so that Sakura could squeeze through. The two of them breathed heavily.

“Are you ok?” asked Foolaini.

“Yes, uncle, I am fine. Just a bit winded. But where is the thief?”

Foolaini and Sakura looked around the car. There was no sign of the pirate.

“He must be on this car,” said Sakura quietly, “he could not have escaped before the doors closed.”

He is in disguise,” said Foolaini whispered, “we have only to figure out which passenger he is.”

Foolaini surveyed the other passengers. This car was mostly empty – there were only four.

One was an elderly man, with thick reading glasses. He was trying to solve a crossword puzzle.

There were two school children with back packs. They were looking intently at a comic book.

There was a young lady with a poodle on a leash.

“It is a mystery,” said Foolaini, looking hard at the passengers for clues.

At the next stop, several people got on, making it hard for Foolain and Sakura to move freely.

“What should we do, uncle?” she asked “the World Mask Fair is the next stop.”

“We cannot find out more like this,” said Foolaini, struggling between two large women.

Foolaini and Sakura got off the train. Sakura led the way up to street level. Five minutes later they were at the World Mask Fair.

It was indeed quite an affair! There were hundreds of stands and displays, with masks from all over the globe. Thousands of people milled around the fair ground, trying on masks of all shapes and sizes.

“This is a wonderful fair, uncle Foolaini!” said Sakura,

“Thank you for being my guide, Sakura” said Foolaini. “lets take a look at some of these masks.”

There was an enormous variety of masks on display.

There were witches masks, superhero masks, clown masks, large masks, small masks, colorful masks, pantomime masks, masks for children, masks for big people, why there was even a pirate mask!

“Uncle Foolaini, look here-” said Sakura, pointing to the stand that was selling the pirate masks.

This stand also sold other pirate equipment – boots, swords, patches, hats, a hook. A man in a pirate costume was manning the stand.

“Did anyone strange or suspicious buy a pirate costume recently?” Foolaini asked the “pirate”.

“Arrr, matey!” he answered, “Two they were. Just kid’s I’ll wager. But they be strange kids to purchase such a mighty large costume. Told them I did – that costume’d never fit, or I’m a pickled herring.”

Foolaini and Sakura thanked the man and went off to see the other stands.

One stand was selling clown equipment. Foolaini stopped and looked at it. Besides masks and costumes, there were even a pair of stilts on sale.

Another stand was selling spy costumes and equipment. Another had glamorous clothes and purses.

“I have an idea,” said Foolaini. Foolaini bought a pair of binoculars from the spy stand.

At the glamorous stand, he bought a flashy looking purse. “You hold this,” he said to Sakura.

“What is it for, uncle?” she asked.

Foolaini whispered his plan to Sakura.

On their way out of the fair, Foolaini bought a local newspaper. He browsed through it, while they waited for a subway train to arrive. Foolaini couldn’t read Japanese, but some of the pictures were interesting.

On the back page was a photograph of two midgets performing an acrobatic stunt. Curious, Foolaini asked Sakura to translate:

Sakura read:

Circus Delayed by Disappearance of Midget Brothers

The Tokyo circus has suffered a setback. It’s star performers, the Yakamoto Midgets have disappeared. Aro and Kiz Yakamoto were last seen after Tuesday night’s performance..”

Just then the train arrived. Foolaini and Sakura were soon on it.

Sakura stood in the middle of the car, dangling her flashy purse. She was trying to look calm.

And can you see Foolaini?

Look at the man reading a newspaper on the corner seat. Or is he reading it? Foolaini had slyly cut two holes out of the front page, and was watching the subway car with his binoculars. He was waiting for something to happen!

After a few stops, the doors opened and several people got on the car. One of them was the pirate! As soon as he saw the purse he inched over to Sakura…and snatched it!

Foolaini ran after the pirate. The pirate expertly opened the door between the two cars and slipped into the second car, locking the door behind him.

But Foolaini is an expert lock-picker. In no time, he picked the lock and ran into the second car. Sakura was on his heels.

Foolaini surveyed the second car. Again, the pirate was nowhere to be seen.

Foolaini looked at the other passengers. Two of them were the kids they had seen earlier, sitting with their backpacks on, reading a comic book.

“Very suspicious..” said Foolaini to himself.

Foolaini cunningly eased himself onto the seat behind the kids. He then very quietly began to open the zipper of one of the backpacks. Suddenly, one of the boys turned around.

“Suri da! Suri da!” he shouted.

Without warning, several passengers ripped off disguises and jumped on Foolaini. They were wearing police uniforms.

“You are under arrest, Kizaro!” said the captain, handcuffing Foolaini.

“No!” said Foolaini, “you don’t understand. I’m not the thief – you have the wrong man!”

“Save your excuses for the chief, Chameleon,” said another policeman.

No one listened to Foolaini’s protests as they escorted him off the train. The kids laughed to themselves and left the car. Sakura quietly followed them.

Down at the police headquarters, Foolaini was brought before the chief of police. The captain showed Foolaini’s passport to him.

“Ahh, you are Foolaini,” he said, “yes, I have heard of your heroic exploits in France. I happen to be good friends with the chief of police of Paris. But how have you come to be involved in this mess?”

Foolaini told the chief of police his story.

“I apologize for this misunderstanding.” said the police chief to Foolaini. “Uncuff this man,” he said to the captain. The captain removed Foolaini’s handcuffs.

“Are you willing to help us trap this villain?” the police chief asked Foolaini.

Foolaini stood up and dusted himself off, “you have my word of honor, sir,” he said.

The chief of police bowed. “Good, then let us get down to business.”

Foolaini bowed back politely.

An hour later a rich businessman could be seen on a subway car. He was wearing an expensive suit and dark sunglasses. In his hand was a large briefcase. It was bulging with something. From the edges of the briefcase, several yen notes (Japanese money) could be seen bursting out.

“Do you see him, anywhere?” the man whispered into his wristwatch.

“Not yet, uncle,” said a girl’s voice in the man’s ear. He tipped his sunglasses down for a second. It was Foolaini in disguise! He was talking to Sakura over tiny high-tech walkie-talkies that the police had given them.

“Wait – there he is!” whispered Sakura on the walkie-talkie. “He is coming onto your car now.”

Foolaini touched a see-through wire that held the briefcase to his wrist. “The Chameleon will not escape us this time,” he said to himself.

The pirate hesitated for a moment when he saw such a rich business man – and such a bulging suitcase.

A single yen note fell to the floor. The pirate made his move.

He lurched over to Foolaini, grabbed the suitcase, and ran.

“I’ve caught you now!” said Foolaini, holding onto the see-through wire. The pirate dashed into the next car, pulling Foolaini after him.

“My, this Chameleon is strong!” said Foolaini, trying to pull back. “Wait.. ah!” Foolaini slipped and fell. Soon he was being dragged across the floor and into the next car.

In the car was a lady with several dogs on a leash.

Sakura ran into the car shouting “Keisatsu! Keisatsu!” (Police! Police!)

But no policemen were on this car.

The wire snapped. “He’s getting away!” cried Foolaini.

Sakura thought fast. Suddenly, she had an idea. She took out her green dog whistle and blew it loudly.

Suddenly all the dogs ran over to her barking expectedly. The lady screamed and lost control of the leash.

“Ikinisai! (Go get him!)” she commanded, pointing to the pirate, who was struggling with the door of the next car.

The dogs obediently dashed over to the pirate and pulled him down to the floor, growling.

Just then, several policemen rushed into the car. The chief of police was with them.

Soon the pirate was surrounded.

Foolaini stepped up to the pirate. “The Chameleon is a pirate of sorts,” he declared. “but he is not Kizaro. He is Kiz and Aro!” Foolaini began to pull off the mask and the pirate coat.

“No, don’t!” cried two high-pitched voices.

Two small figures were unmasked.

“But these are merely children,” said the police chief.

“That is what they would have you think!” said Foolaini, “No children are that strong – or that cunning. Kiz and Aro Yakamoto are midgets. You see, the one was on top of the other’s shoulders. They used these stilts for balance. One stilt looked like a pirate’s cane – the other, his wooden leg. That is why they were able to disappear after every theft. You were always looking for one tall man – not too little ones. And they used these school back packs to hide their costume.”

“It is true,” said Aro. “We thought to fool everyone – but it seems that you are nobody’s fool, sir.”

“We were successful as circus performers,” said Kiz, “but you can’t get rich like that. Picking people’s pockets was a natural choice.”

“Then you will naturally go to jail,” said the police chief, “Take them away!” he commanded his officers.

“Uncle Foolaini,” said Sakura, hugging Foolaini. “I knew you would catch the Chameleon in the end.”

“Thanks to you,” said Foolaini, grinning from ear to ear.

“Thanks to both of you,” said the police chief, “And to celebrate this occasion, we have a little culinary surprise.”

That evening, Foolaini found himself with Sakura and the police team at a nearby sushi restaurant.

The dog team that helped catch the Chameleon had also been invited.

“But I don’t eat sushi,” Foolaini whispered to Sakura.

“You must be polite and have some,” she whispered back. “otherwise everyone will be offended.”

“This is the Tako – the Octopus sushi,” announced the chief of police, “Foolaini, please do us the great honor of taking the first bite.”

All eyes were on Foolaini. He gulped. Then he delicately put the Tako to his lips, took a bite, and swallowed.

Everyone applauded. Sakura laughed. Foolaini grinned.

As the rest of the crowd dug in, Foolaini quietly did away with the piece of Tako.

Being such a devious fellow does come in handy sometimes.

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