“Dori! Candy! Frank! Opie! Hey guys, where are you? I brung ya presents.”
Dragging one of the KATRIS modular cat tree pieces through the front door, I was disappointed no one was there to welcome me home from Blogpaws. My friend Kate Benjamin had given me the cool cat tree to share with my fur sibs, and I had stuffed mousies and Meowijuana catnip to pass out. But where was everyone?
Leaving the heavy KATRIS piece in the hall, I checked the kitchen, the litter box room and the other rooms downstairs before zooming upstairs. I’d been gone a week. Didn’t they miss me? Weren’t they excited to welcome me home?
As I arrived on the third floor I heard the familiar clicking sound of my brothers playing on top of the chase-ball-with-sticks table, while my sisters lounged on the comfy chairs and couches. “Hey everyone, I’m home!”
I expected a rousing cheer, but all I got was a few stink-eyes while the others totally ignored me. What the Friskies!
Maybe they were jealous that I got to travel to Blogpaws with Mom and Dad. I know Opie has jealousy issues. Maybe the rest of them did, too.
I then realized someone was missing. “Where’s Dori?”
Peaches stopped licking her nether region to tell me, “Upstairs,” before she resumed grooming.
I didn’t understand the strained vibe I was getting from my fur sibs. Maybe Dori would explain.
I found her in my office, seated at my desk, writing something with a purple crayon.
“I’m baaack!” I purred from the door.
Like the others, she ignored me.
The fur on my neck bristled. “Okay, what’s going on? Why is everyone treating me like I have round worms?”
I saw Dori’s crayon pause, but then she resumed writing. I noticed her back was stiff, like she was angry. She hadn’t been angry when I left. What did I do while I wasn’t here?
I crept up behind her to see what she was writing, and before she covered her paper I saw it was a resume. Her resume.
“Why do you need a resume?”
Although her crayon stilled, she continued to stare at the paper. Then I saw a droplet splash the word PWINCESS and realized she was crying.
“Dori! What’s wrong? Honey, tell me.”“Okay, what’s going on? Why is everyone treating me like I have round worms?” Click To Tweet
As she turned to face me she wiped her paw across her tears. “I gotta go find another job as a pwincess because I’m so dissy-pointed at yoo, I can’t work with yoo no more.”
I drew back with surprise, then hustled Dori to the couch to talk about this shocking revelation. “You’re disappointed in me? What did I do?”
“Yoo left and then Dottie did, too.”
“What do you mean Dottie left? Where did she go?”
“Not heaven,” my little sister sobbed. “Chawley told me she’s not in heaven.”
“I don’t understand. Start from the beginning.”
It took Dori a moment to stop hiccupping, then she said, “I was born under a bush to my mom, Annie and my daddy, Nikolas…”
“Not your beginning. Tell me what happened before Dottie left. I remember she had just climbed the Catipilla climbing frame to the doggy door energy gate, and had cried out at how beautiful it looked through the door. You were up there with her. What did you see?”
“Nothing. It was a dark tunnel. But Dottie saw something beautiful. Then yoo scampered off to pack for Blogpaws, and I followed to bring yoo back so we could end this idiotic, nonsensical, not-going-anywhere not-much-of-a-mystery. But yoo left and when I went back to Dottie, she was gone. I asked Chawley where she was, and Chawley told me—”
“She’s not in heaven.” I turned to see my Guardian Angel seated at my desk that had belonged him when he was alive. Charley always had squinty, smiling eyes, but this time his eyes were sad. “Sometimes when souls depart their human bodies under shocking circumstances, they are too confused to find the Light. They wander aimlessly. Sometimes for all eternity, unless they find peace. Sometimes just understanding why they died gives them peace.”
“Yoo shouldn’t have gone to Blogpaws,” Dori growled. “Yoo should have stayed and solved the mystery of how Dottie got dead so she could go have peace in heaven. Now she’s wandering aimlessly…much like this Welcome Home mystery.”
Anger washed through me. Knowing I couldn’t speak without hissing, I got up to pace my office. That’s when I saw the rest of my W.A.D. team hovering in the hall outside my door, their pusses sour and their eyes accusing.
“This isn’t my fault,” I yowled at them. I turned to yowl at Dori and at Charley too. “I never wanted to be a ghost hunter. I never asked to be a spirit counselor.”
“Helping ghosts is your calling,” Dori told me. “Chawley says so. He’s your Guardian Angel. That means he knows everything and yoo gotta do what he says.”
“I don’t care what Charley says. Sorry, Charley, but I don’t want to be around dead people. It upsets me. Besides, this was your idea, Dori. You turned my Wonderpurr Detective Agency into a ghost hunting business. You thought detecting ghosts sounded funner than detecting cheating spouses or missing purrrsons.”
“I still do,” she whispered, and that really set my tail on fire.
“Well, I don’t! Charley, you should understand how I feel better than anyone. You were murdered by Mrs. Shallowford before she turned into a demon and destroyed my home so we were forced to leave. I didn’t want to leave. I loved my home.He's your Guardian Angel. That means he knows everything and yoo gotta do what he says. Click To Tweet
“I loved my office in the attic with the bell over the door so no one could sneak up on me, and the measuring tape tacked to the door from top to bottom so I could tell how tall my clients were in case they turned out to be suspects. Sure, the floor was chip board and the walls weren’t finished, and it was airless and hot as hell—but it was mine!
“I also miss Mom’s air-conditioned writer office with the sunlight warming her African violets, and lemony sunshine puddling on her buttery carpet in front of her desk. I loved that sun puddle. So much!”
Charley asked, “How could you miss your old office when you now have something better? I went to a lot of trouble to get my– I mean, your desk up here. It’s ridiculously heavy. Even for an angel.”
“I’m sorry, but this office isn’t better. It’s too big and…” I hung my head, ashamed that I, a hardboiled detective with grit in his blood, was about to admit… “It’s lonely being in here all by myself while everyone else hangs out downstairs having fun.”
“Awwww,” my W.A.D. team said from the doorway. I wasn’t sure if they really understood. Probably the girls understood, and the guys were being snarky.
I said to Dori, “You said you’re disappointed in me and won’t work with me anymore. Why am I being blamed for Dottie not being in heaven? I didn’t kill her. I don’t even know if she was murdered. Her sister Patty said she left town with a boyfriend two years ago. What if they had a car accident? What if she got a cut on her finger and died from gangrene? What if she died from old age? She was what—forty?”
“She didn’t die of old age,” Charley said softly. “I know. I have…connections.”
“We have to help her, Hwermie.” Fat tears pooled in Dori’s pleading eyes.
I felt myself giving in. I didn’t want to dissy-point my baby sister. “But I don’t want to be a ghost hunter. I was never trained. I wasn’t even trained to be a detective. Maybe that’s why I’m struggling through every case. You can’t just solve mysteries by winging it. I bet even Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade went to detective school before they got their business cards printed.”
“Then why did you open the Wonderpurr Detective Agency?” Candy asked. She’d been adopted a month after I got my first case.
“I’m Mom’s writer muse. I thought if I opened my detective agency, I could know how to help her write mysteries. After we watched a detective documentary on teevee, I thought all I had to do was want to be like Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t realize you just can’t want to be like someone–especially if you aren’t anything like them in the first place. Heck, after all I’ve been through, I can see I’ll never be like my hero, Sherlock Holmes. Not when I’m more like Ace Ventura. But I never–not for a single moment–want to be another Ghost Guy.”
“How about Jennifer Love Hewitt?” Opie asked. “Maybe you can be like Jennifer Love Hewitt.”
I didn’t bother to even look at my brother. I know he was being snarky. Instead I continued with my melodramatic, self-revealing soliloquy. “I was naive to think detective work would be fun and games. I thought detective work was all about wearing cool hats and trenchcoats, and having spy gadgets like a catnip mouse that could listen in on conversations when left innocently in a suspect’s house.”
Jack–my lead W.I.D.G.E.T. wizard–gasped from the door. “I’m so on it!”
“Don’t bother. I’ll never be a real detective.” I sighed with defeat. “I wish I’d never watched that detective documentary with Mom that made her decide to write mysteries. I would be happy just being a floofy, incredibly handsome housecat, sitting in a sun puddle in her office while she wrote children’s stories with happy endings starring me. It isn’t my nature to be sad, and trying to help dead people figure out why they haven’t gone into the Light makes me sad. I want to detect happy mysteries.”
“Is there such a thing as a happy mystery?” Peaches wondered.
“Probably for little kids,” Gidget told her. “Or for members of Generation Cuppycake who can’t handle the harsh realities of life.” She deliberately looked at Dori as she said this.
“Hwermie, yoo gotta help Dottie,” Dori said. “Yoo gotta find out who killed her. It’s important for her to know so she can have a happy ending. Yoo can’t just let her wander for all eternity. Have yoo any idea how long that is? I don’t. Just wondered if yoo knew.”
I swallowed hard. A week ago I was at Blogpaws enjoying my quiet hotel room sun puddle, sniffing my Yeowww! banana catnip toy and nomming a bowl of farm fresh shredded chicken in gravy supplied by Only Natural Pet from the exhibit hall. Now I was back in hell. My home had become my own purrrsonal hell.
“Herman.” Charley approached me with his sad eyes. “My heart breaks to hear you think of your home that way.”
“Get out of my head, Charley. I don’t care if you are my Guardian Angel. You have no right to listen in on my private thoughts.” I flexed my claws, wanting to scratch something—or someone. “I wish I had my old life back.”
“Be very careful what yoo wish for, Hwermie.” Dori looked at the W.A.D. team. “Did I sound appwopriately omy-mouse?”
My team exchanged confused glances. Then Candy said, “She means ominous.” The team gave her 8 out of 9 dewclaws up. As Gidget didn’t like Dori, she didn’t vote.
“I want my old life back,” I growled with frustration. “But I might as well wish for tuna fishes to fall from the sky. My old life is gone. Gone to the devil—literally!”
I straightened my spine as clarity washed through me. “I can’t do this anymore. I just…. can’t! You’re right, Dori. I need to find out how Dottie got dead so she can go to heaven and find peace. But then… I’m out of the detective business.”
Shocked silence filled the room–except for the quiet chewing sound of Dori munching a pawful of Smittens cat treats.
“How come you never share?” Gidget growled.
Dori squinted at her sister as she hugged the Smittens box to her chest. “Mine.”
Charley said, “You don’t mean that, Herman.”
“I do, Charley. I don’t care how many times you tell me it’s my destiny to be a spirit counselor, or how cute and adorable you look, Dori, when you tell me we have another ghost hunting case to solve. My heart is just not in helping dead hoomons to find the Light.”
“Yoo weally think I look adorapurr?”
“But…” Gidget’s green eyes watered with disappointment. “If you close the Wonderpurr Detective Agency, I won’t be President of Miscellaneous Stuff no more. And I just ordered business cards.”
Nikolas asked, “What about all the trouble we went to to create an org chart?”
“I finally got the right color of salmon with tar tar sauce for my box,” Frank said.
“And I ordered W.A.D. tee shirts for all of us,” Chauncie Marie added. “Black for the boys, pinks for the girls.”
“I’m sorry about your business cards, your org charts and your W.A.D. tee shirts, but I don’t think it’s fair for me to be forced to do something I don’t feel comfortapurr doing. I could have been happy playing at being a detective. Solving cases like who drowns the toy mouse in the kitchen water bowl every morning…”
Everyone looked at Jack.
“Or how does the food storage container end up on the floor every night with kibble scattered all over the place…”
Everyone looked at Opie.
“But those mysteries will have to go unsolved, because if I can’t be a good detective, then I don’t want to detect anything. Especially why hoomons got dead.”
“Hwermie, yoo can’t give up being a detective. This is caweer suey-cide. Would yoo feel better if I wrote yoo a song called ‘Ghost Hunter Blues?”
“No, Dori. Sorry, but my mind is made up. The minute Dottie sets foot in heaven, I’m closing the Wonderpurr Detective Agency. Closing it for good!”
To Be Continued.