Sherlock Herms in Code Names

COVER Lessons with CharleyI nommed my breakkie with anticipation of a great day. Charley Feeble wanted to teach me everything he knew about the hardboiled detective business. Also, he would teach me about paranormal stuff since he had personal experience.

Charley is a ghost. I met him during my second case. Charley was also the almost-famous hardboiled detective, Maxwell Shallowford, but had died after being scared into a heart attack from the demon-like Vivian aka Loud Lady. Refer to my case, Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost, for clarification.

Beside me, nomming her own brekkie, was my lil sisfur Dori. She’s also a partner in my Wonderpurr Detective Agency. “What do you think Charley will teach us today?” I asked her in between bites.

“I’d like to learn how to dwaw dwagons,” she responded. “Or speak Eye-tell-lion.”

My sisfur is the Queen of Non Sequitur. Following her in a conversation is like following Big Foot through the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

I chewed my last bite, then licked my paw to clean my face. “I think Charley is going to teach us about private investigating. Watching for clues. Digging for dirt. Stuff like that.”

Dori licked her plate clean. “I’d rather learn how to dwaw dwagons.”

As I headed up the stairs to my mom’s author office, Opie and Jack fell into step alongside me. They invent stuff to help me solve mysteries. Nepawtism runs deep in my family.

“Charley is going to teach us purranormal stuff,” Opie said. “You think he will wear robes and have a long white beard?”

I looked at my ginger-furred brofur, confused. “Like Dumbledore,” Jack, my tabby brofur clarified. “From Harry Potter.”

“That would be cool,” I said, though I doubted it. We crossed the French doors to my mom’s office, and from there we walked to the door to our house attic. It also served as my Wonderpurr Detective Agency.

On Google I’d read that privacy is extremely important when you’re a detective. I’d needed an office with at least one window, a place nobody else used so I could detect in peace. And the room couldn’t make my meow echo in case someone eavesdropped in on my meetings. Our house attic next to my mom’s author-office was purrfect.

I’d once had my heart set on an office in a dingy building, slowly collapsing under the weight of time and despair, but then, during the case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost, I’d watched our house go through that very transformation and now realized I was happy doing business at home, near my mom.

As I pawed open the door, I expected to see my usual office, with my couch, table of magazines, and my huge desk filled with lots of nooks and crannies. The desk came with my office. Actually, it came with the house. It’s too big to get through the door without chopping to pieces. Our home was built around an older house that refused to be torn down. I found out why. The desk—my attic office—had belonged to Charley when he was alive and practicing being a detective in secret. After he died, the house began to crumble, but Charley loved his office and refused to let the bulldozers tear it down. That’s why our house had to be built around Charley’ home.

Instead of seeing my office, however, I saw Charley had created a classroom.


Jack and Opie’s tails drooped with disappointment. “No Hogwarts for us,” Opie grumbled.

“Good morning, pupils!” Charley appeared, smiling and happy to get his first lesson underway. Seeing our disappointment, he frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“They were expecting Hogwarts,” I told him. “It’s okay. This is a real nice classroom.”

Behind me Dori and the others had arrived: my sisfurs Peaches, Gidget, Chauncie Marie, Candy, and my other brofurs Jesse, Nikolas, Frank and Noah. Charley wanted everyone to attend his classes. He said the Wonderpurr Detective Agency needed the participation of the entire Wonderpurr Gang in order to be… Well. Wonderpurr!

Charley looked confused. “What is Hogwarts?” Charley died back in the 1940s and had remained there until he followed us home to our time, seventy-some years into the future. He had a lot of catching up to do.

I crossed to my mom’s author library in the corner and tried to hand him the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He couldn’t hold it, of course. He can’t hold anything cuz he’s a ghost. Stuff falls through his hands to the floor.

“Place the book on my— I mean, your desk,” he told me. I did, and watched as Charley disappeared inside the book.

We all stood around with our jaws dropped, and Frank whispurred, “Cool!”

A minute later, the book talked to us.

We obediently filed into Mom’s author office and closed the door to my detective office. We then stood around with our hands in our pockets, waiting.

Nikolas checked his watch. “Is this going to take long? I have a date with an unspayed Siamese.”

“And I want to hunt birds,” Frank added. “Also, there’s a squirrel with my name on it.”

“You may return!” we heard Charley call out. I reopened the door.

Charley with sorting hat

We all exploded into yowls of joy. Charley gave us a few minutes to explore the classroom, then asked us to have a seat.

Classroom with Wonderpurr Gang

“Thank you all for giving up your prowling and hunting and napping for my lessons,” Charley said once we settled down. “For my first lesson, I’d like to open with a little history about private investigating. The very first private investigation agency was opened by Allan Pinkerton, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1819. Pinkerton played a significant role in history, as it is alleged he became aware of the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln whilst en route to his inauguration in Washington D.C. Pinkerton overtook Lincoln’s entourage and persuaded him to change his itinerary, thus thwarting the attempted assassination.”

I wanted to raise my paw and ask where Pinkerton was four years later when the president was assassinated at the Ford Theater, but I didn’t know how to ask without sounding like a know-it-all. I’m my author mom’s mews. We read a lot of history stuff when doing research for our books.

Then I saw Dori raise her paw, and I held my breath. Dori hangs around our mom’s office, but she doesn’t care much about history. She’s more about if Mom has any snacks in her desk drawers, and likes to sleep on top of her novel notes. I could see she had a package of Smittens in her lap, so I doubted she would ask about Charley serving ‘wefweshments.’ I couldn’t imagine what question she had.

“What about code names?” Dori asked.

Charley looked as confused as I felt. “Code names? You mean like kind the Secret Service uses for presidents and their families? The use of code names began as security when sensitive electronic communications were not encrypted. Today, code names simply serve for purposes of brevity, clarity, and tradition. They didn’t use code names when President Lincoln was alive. They began under President Franklin Roosevelt. Oddly, he didn’t have a code name, but President Kennedy’s code name was Lancer. President Clinton’s is Eagle. President George Bush’s is Trailblazer. President Reagan’s was Rawhide. President Obama’s is Renegade.”

Dori again raised her paw. “I don’t know all them hoomon’s. I want to know what our Code names are.”

“Like OO7!” Opie yowled.

“And Q!” Jack joined in.

“Agent 99!” Peaches and Chauncie Marie said in unison.

“Agent J from Men in Black,” Jesse said, and Frank joined in with, “Secret Squirrel.”

Charley and I exchanged discreet glances. I felt a little embarrassed. This was play stuff. Pretend private investigators. Not real hardboiled detective with grit in his blood stuff like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and my hero, Sherlock Holmes.

“Well,” Charley said, “why don’t we spend today picking out code names, and then get down to the actual lessons next time? Dori. What code name would you like to have?”

From her expression, clearly she had already decided on one. “Pwincess.” To accent her choice, she slid a crown onto her head. It looked like one her boyfriend, Wills aka @HRMeownessWills, had given her.

Dori with Crown

“That’s an excellent code name,” Charley said diplomatically.

Opie snickered behind his paw. “She should have the code name, Destroyer.”

At our house, Dori is famous for making stuff crash. I watched her eyes narrow. I’d seen that look before—right before I got a headache. She claims she can give migraines just by thinking one into your head, and I believe her.

“Your code name should be Opipotamus,” she growled, “cuz yoo haz a big butt.”

While everyone meowed out loud, I hid my smile behind my paw. Charley’s white brows lifted with surprise.

“So does Chauncie Marie,” Frank shouted.

Our tabby sisfur’s eyes grew large with hurt. “Meowmy said I am the Beyoncé of the cat world.”

Peaches glared at Frank. “Your code name should be Toxic Tabby after what you do to a litter box.”

I put my paws over my eyes. This wasn’t going well. I could see by how pale Charley looked—even for a ghost—that he was getting nervous. Charley once told me he liked girl cats because he had once been bit by a boy cat. I couldn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be a brawl with lots of scratching and biting if someone didn’t say something to defuse the tension.

I waved my paws. “Let’s not insult each other. This is supposed to be fun.”

“Fun?” Opie snorted. “I saw you laughing behind your paw at Dori calling me Opipotamus. Your code name should be Skinny Ass’d White Boy.”

I felt the fur on my neck stand on end. “That’s getting purrrsonal. I can’t help being a lightweight.”

“No more purrrsonal than me being called Opipotamus because I’m a heavyweight.”

“I was thinking of using Monkey Boy,” I told everyone. “That’s what Mom calls me.”

Jack and Jesse started scratching and screeching like chimpanzees, while the others rolled their eyes. They’re all jealous of my relationship with our mom cuz I’m the favorite.

“I want my code name to be Chef,” said Gidget, “because I help Mom cook.”

We all ignored her, preferring to argue among ourselves.

“I don’t want my code name to be Amazing,” Candy’s sweet little voice penetrated the cacophony. (That’s a ten dollar word for a harsh discordance of sound. Remempurr, I’m my author mom’s mews.) “The pressure is too much for me to live up to it.”

We all stopped arguing to look at her. Candy is our newest sisfur. She’s a Calico and so far she’s fit in pretty good. We all like her, even Opie.

I watched his whiskers twitch. I knew from experience that Opie can be cutting and brutal with insults. I hoped he wouldn’t be mean to her. She’s only a year old; still a baby.

“Amazing would be a lot of pressure,” he agreed. “But I have a better code name for you. It’s the one Mom calls you because you’re always stripping off your collar.”

We all looked at Candy’s throat – naked of her pink collar.

Candy with no collar

“Your code name should be Bubbles,” Opie told her. “Bubbles the Stripper Kitty.”

Everyone laughed. Including Charley. Including Candy. She clapped her paws. “That’s a fun code name. I like it! I’m Bubbles.”

The Wonderpurr Gang then got down to business of picking out serious code names.

Jesse and Nikolas are both black panfurs and look like twins, so they chose Toxic Twins 1 & 2.

Peaches chose Alpha Queen cuz…she is.

Chauncie Marie chose Meyowcé, and Gidget changed her mind from Chef to Cuisine.

Our newest outside brofur, Noah, chose the code name Ex-Stray because that’s what he is. Jack chose Agent J (He’s a huge Men In Black fan), while Dori and Candy stuck with Princess and Bubbles respectively.

Frank decided he liked Peaches’ insult, Toxic Tabby, and Opie chose Gingerman for his deep orange fur.

I chose Monkey Boy because that’s what my mom calls me.

“Hey Charley!” I said when we were getting ready to leave. “You didn’t pick a code name for yourself. What name do you think would be good for you?”

Charley thought about it a moment. Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, he replied, “I think my code name is Mud.”

We all stared at him, not getting the joke, if there was one.

“Meet back here next Friday,” Charley then told us. “Your first lesson on mastering the techniques of private investigation will begin then.”

Hope to see you all join us, too. Until next Friday, have a Wonderpurr week!

Purrs! Herman!!!

If you’re new to Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mysteries and want to catch up, here are the links to my first case, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts, and my second case where I met Charley Feeble, Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost. Also, you can click on the links located on the sidebar of this website.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I’d love to hear what you think of my series, so please leave your comment below. Thanks so much! Herman!!!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the books me and my mom write, visit our Author Page.

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About the author

Herman TattleCat


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