Previously on Sherlock Herms in Spring Break…
My title on the org chart said I was a hardboiled detective with grit in my blood. If I couldn’t promote that image to my agency personnel, I sure couldn’t promote it to my clients. I didn’t want to upset my siblings, but I needed to take control and not let them run all over me. The org chart was insignificant. No one outside the agency would see it, and if the silly titles, colored boxes and the flowers and the tartar sauce made everyone happy, so be it. But if my investigators-in-training started to supersede (my Word of the Day on my Word of the Day calendar) my position as Lead Investigator, I would be forced to shake my floofy tail and get tough. I’d also tattle on them to Mom.
And now… Sherlock Herms in Denial
As the aroma of corned beast and cabbage drifted up the stairs to my huge office on the third floor, I ignored my growling tummy to concentrate on emptying the last box that contained items from my office at our old house. Today was St. Patrick’s Day and Mom’s Irish blood made St Paddy’s Day an event that required Celtic mewsic and green beer. My fur sibs and I would skip the beer and the cabbage, but there was a juicy chunk of beast with my name on it that I planned to sink my teeth into later tonight.
The last item out of the box was my snake-necked lamp that I planned to shine blindly into suspects eyes during interrogation once my 1940’s Bakelite phone with the rotary dial got hooked up later this morning and clients started calling. My smiling piggy bank was hungry to be fed more huge quarters.
Dori wandered into my office rolling the Amazon Echo Dot. We had ordered some bacon and pawfessional ghost hunting stuff when we first arrived, but our order had been cancelled after an Amazonian called Dad to verify the order and Dad being Dad snuffed the deal.
“Concatulations, Hwemie! We are a finalist for Blogpaws Nose-to-Nose awards in the Best Pet Humor Blog category.”
“Actually, I am. Yoor my stwaight man. Like Ricky to Lucy.”
“I can be humorous. I can be like Alec Baldwin to Tina Fey.”
“Sowry, but Alec Baldwin will never be funner than Tina Fey.”
“But I’m Sherlock Herms, a famous hardboiled detective with grit in my blood. It says so on the W.A.D. org chart.”
“Detectives aren’t humorous.”
“Sure they are.”
While I struggled to think of even one, Dori spoke to the Echo Dot. “Hi Dottie, this is Dori. Hope yoo are having a Wonderpurr St Paddy’s Day.”
“Hi Dori. So nice to hear from you,” said the Dot. “I’m having a beautiful day.”
I stared at the hockey puck-like computer. “I didn’t know it could talk back to us.”
“If yoo awen’t too busy,” Dori said to the Dot, “would yoo please bwing Hwermie a pwetty couch and tables with lamps and chairs. We also need ten desks and a conference table.”
“I know the perfect couch for Hwermie,” the Dot responded. “It’s on its way.”
I gazed around my huge office. I could use a couch, but there wasn’t room for a conference table along with ten additional desks. Just as I was about to say that to Dori, an Amazonian deliveryman appeared at my office door. “Dot asked me to deliver a pretty couch and tables with lamps and chairs, ten desks and a conference table.”
Dori jammed her paws into her hips. “What kept yoo? I almost had to wait.” She pointed to where they should place the couch and chairs. “Conference woom is downstairs. Follow me.”
“What the Friskies?” I followed them down the stairs. I didn’t know we had a conference ‘woom.’ Turns out a room I’d mistaken for a closet was big enough for not only a conference table, but also ten decks. “I thought we would be sharing my huge office.”
She patted my shoulder. “The boss doesn’t share space with his employees.”
Everyone looked happy and busy, so I left them to return to my now furnished office. It looked pawfessional, although the couch and chairs were more Dori’s taste (or rather Dot’s) than one a hardboiled detective with grit in his blood would have in his office. But at least they weren’t pink. I felt my grumpiness fade. I wouldn’t have to share space with my fur sibs after all.
Beside my desk Mosey, my stroller, sat quietly waiting for our next adventure. When I got my first case, Opie and Jack rigged my Ride with a control panel that had a scary array of buttons. Mosey was now capable of taking me wherever my clients needed me, including back in time. We had traveled to the 1940s for The Case of the Dancing Ghosts, and again for The Case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost where we met my detective friend Charley Feeble who was a ghost and is now my Guardian Angel.
Inside the compartment beneath Mosey lurked the shadowy couch monster. Right before we fled our home I’d made a decision that I hoped I would not regret: I’d invited the couch monster to come live with us. The mist had never harmed us and I’d felt kinda bad about leaving it to the mercy of Ghost Guy, so I told it, “If you want to come with me, you can. But you need to behave yourself.” Then I unzipped the compartment beneath Mosey and the mist had shape shifted into a bunny rabbit and hopped inside…where he remained, waiting for me to buy him a new couch. I told him now, “I have a new couch. Come check it out.”
Mosey shuddered as the shadowy mist seeped out of his compartment. It formed a question mark when it saw the couch. “Yes,” I said. “It’s your new home.” The mist turned into an exclamation mark, then into an arrow and shot under it. I’m pretty sure I heard a it sigh with contentment.
I spent time trying out the furniture, pretending I was interviewing a client…or a suspect. But after awhile I felt bored and wandered back downstairs to see what Dori and my W.A.D. team was doing. W.A.D. stands for Wonderpurr Detective Agency.
Cat’s can’t do math.
Nor can they comprehend acronyms.
I found my purranormal investigators-in-training spinning in their new office chairs. They looked like they were having a good time, although Chauncie Marie had a green tinge to her fur that I feared would result in her spewing on the carpet.
Seeing me in the doorway, Dori stopped spinning. “Why are you here?”
“I thought I could help you set up.”
“We are set up,” she said as Chauncie Marie yakked into her waste basket. “Go stir up bizness. We haz employees to pay.” Waving me off, she went back to spinning.
Clearly not wanted, I returned to my office. My big huge lonely office. Kinda hard to stir up bizness when my phone wasn’t hooked up. I sat in my sunny turret for awhile, enjoying the view. We now had a big front lawn with a gazebo to one side, and across the street was a park-like strip of grass with weepy trees and a bench to sit on while enjoying the ocean-size lake. There was also an iron staircase leading down to the beach, but I hadn’t yet had a chance to explore.
The sun felt good on my fur, though it made me want to nap. If Dori and the others came to see me, I couldn’t be caught unconscious with drool on my pillow. To fight the urge I tried zooming around my office, bouncing off the couch and chairs which was fun, but then I got tired and the turret sunbeam again beckoned me. Maybe a little nap, just to refresh. The sun puddle warmed my ears and nose, and toasted my fur. I decided this was the bestest place in my whole office. As I flipped onto my back and stretched my arms and legs and tail to their full extent, I wondered dreamily if white cats could tan like hoomons.
Laughter reached my ears. Sounded like my investigators-in-training were having a party. I could hear the clink of glasses and I even smelled corned beast with a smear of mustard. My tummy rumbled with hunger, but I didn’t go to join them. I wasn’t invited. I was The Boss.
I listened for awhile, but the more I listened the more I realized the party sounds weren’t coming from downstairs in the Conference Woom, but rather from behind a heavy drape to the left of my turret. I opened my eyes to stare at the drape. The more I stared, the more I suspected it didn’t cover a window. I went to inspect it. That’s when my phone rang. I was so startled, I nearly widdled on the carpet. Instead I took a deep breath and scampered to answer my 1940s Bakelight phone with the rotary dial.
“Wonderpurr Detective Agency, Sherlock Herms speaking.”
“Detective Herms, we request your presence on the roof.”
I stared at the phone. “The roof?”
“You will find the door on the other side of the drape you were just inspecting.”
The line went dead. I returned to the drape and indeed discovered a door. It looked like a closet, but as with the conference woom I was mistaken. Instead I found stairs. Heavenly white stairs with gold veins that appeared to be chiseled from Italian marble. I followed them up to a roof-top patio with an unobstructed view of Welcome Home Township and the ocean-size lake. And along with deck furniture and potted plants I found two elderly ladies nomming corned beast with mustard and sipping tea.
The lady on the right had hair the color of snow while the lady on the left had hair the color of sunshine. Otherwise they were dressed alike in white, and had powdery wrinkled faces with kind eyes. “I am Violet,” said the lady on the right, “and this is Isobel. We’ve been waiting for you. Isobel, fix the detective a plate. Hold the mustard.”
She patted the ottoman for me to jump up, and after tucking a napkin into my collar, she poured something green into a tea cup for me. It smelled like clover and tasted like grassy nectar. I hunkered over my plate of corned beast and nommed until every bit was gone. Then Violet wiped my chin with my collar napkin, and removed the dishes so I could stretch out. There was a light spring breeze drifting over the patio with an ocean-lake tang in the air, making it a purrfect day.
“Did you say you’ve been waiting for me?” I asked.
“We want to hire you,” said Isobel with the sunshine hair.
My heart thumped with excitement. My first clients in my new office. And they had come looking for me. My reputation as a hardboiled detective must have followed me from the south to the north. I was now an Internationally known detective. ^proud ears^
“Nothing is as it appears to be,” said Violet with the white hair. “On the surface all is pleasant, but beware! Looks are deceiving.”
I nodded as though I understood what she was talking about. I wished I’d thought to bring my notebook and a purrple crayon, but I hadn’t expected to find clients sitting on my roof.
“Welcome Home is filled with beauty and history,” Isobel told me. “It has interesting people and is sought after as a much-loved vacation destination.”
“But the beauty hides an ugliness that penetrates centuries of deception,” Violet continued. “I never thought such ugliness would touch my family, but alas it has.”
The bright sunlight soaked my fur and blinded me into closing my eyes. I often felt the need to nap after a meal, and now was no exception. I slumped as though drugged by good food and an even gooder sun puddle. I would have feared I’d been drugged if it wasn’t for the kindness I heard in their voices. Kind people didn’t drug cats…did they? “Could you be less cryptic and more direct?” I managed to ask. “What ugliness has touched your family?”
“Murder, Detective Herms. My granddaughter has been murdered.”
“And she doesn’t even realize it,” Isobel added.
What the Friskies did that mean? With my bones the consistency of Ramen noodles, I didn’t have the strength to ask. I wondered…had Sam Spade ever curled up in a sun puddle to nap in front of new clients?
“Hwermie! Wake up!” I felt someone shake my shoulders and opened my eyes to find I was back in my office turret sun puddle with Dori standing over me. “We have a problem. Welcome Home Bell Telephone company is here.” She gestured to a strange hoomon in uniform standing at the door. “She said she can’t hook up your phone cuz it’s…” She looked at the woman who said, “Vintage. An antique. The wiring is frayed, plus the ringer is broken.”
I stared at them. “But… It rang. Violet and Isobel called me.”
Dori patted me on the head like I was Denny Crane having finally succumbed to Mad Cow disease, then escorted the phone lady out. I wondered, had my lunch with Violet and Isobel been a dream? Disappointed, I went to pay my last respects to my Bakelite phone. It had worked at my old office. Something must have broken inside during the move. As I pet the receiver, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a beloved old friend. Sure, I could buy one of those fancy pawPhones with the apps and meowing cat ringtones, but the Bakelite had been with me from the beginning. I wouldn’t feel like a real detective without it.
I felt like crying. Had Philip Marlowe ever sobbed over a piece of office equipment? I didn’t want to just throw it in the trash. Seemed disrespectful. Should I bury it in the yard with a marker reading:
Or should I leave it on my desk in memory of the good times we’d had? No. I’d never be able to move on. Maybe I could display it in a place of honor with a spotlight. But where?
I picked up the Bakelite and turned to survey my office for the perfect place when I tripped over the Echo Dot Dori had left lying on the floor after ordering my furniture. I fell hard with my phone bleating a shrill ring as it landed beside me. I laid there for awhile assessing the damage. Had I broken a paw, a leg? Was my floofy tail still in working order?
“Are you alright? Should we summon an ambulance?”
I peered at the door, expecting to see Dori. No one was there.
“Detective Herms, please reply. If you are not mortally wounded, perhaps then we can resume our discussion as to whether you will take our case?”
I stared at the phone. The voice sounded familiar and was coming from the receiver. I picked it up. “Violet?”
“You vanished without giving us your answer. Will you take our case?”
I took a moment to gather my thoughts as my fall had pretty much scrambled them like a roll of Yahtzee dice. “You want me to find out who murdered your granddaughter?”
“No! We already know who murdered her. Suffice to say we would be extremely pleased if you could bring the murderer to justice, but that isn’t why we wish to hire you. We want you to convince her of her disembodied state so she can accept being dead. She’s in Denial, Detective Herms.”
“Denial in Egypt? Did she drown?
“Denial as in purgatory. She thinks she’s still alive.”
“So you want me to show her The Light.”
“Actually, we want you to show her The Roof so she can join us for tea. I miss her dearly.”
I took a moment to digest that revelation. “So…you’re dead too?”
“As the proverbial doornail!”
TO BE CONTINUED FRIDAY, MARCH 31st.
Welcome to Season Two of Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mysteries starring me, Herman @TattleCat and my lil sisfur, Dori @Adorapurr on Twitter. If you’re new to us, you’ll find my Season One Case Files located in my Case Note Archives . You can also Subscribe to this Wonderpurr blog by email. See the side column. Go on, I’ll wait while you look.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s story, and if you did, let me know in the Comments below. And pleeeeze tell your friends. All of them. Even the ones you don’t like. Until next time…