I sat brooding in my attic office with my back to the seething bookcase. My snake-necked lamp splashed weak light onto my huge desk, causing eerie shadows to surround me. The atmosphere fit my mood. It had been weeks since my Bakelite phone with the rotary dial last rang. Was I a washed-up has-been after only two cases?
My name is Sherlock Herms. It is my business to know what others don’t know. But since my phone isn’t ringing, clearly everyone knows everything so I’m not needed for nuffin’.
Actually I think Charley unplugged my phone until I got my focus issues under control. No sense taking more cases if I can’t see the clues right under my whiskers.
Thinking back a few months to my first day on the job…The Wonderpurr Detective Agency had been open all of twenty minutes, but I’d been impatient to get my career underway. My mom wanted to write mysteries and as I’m her mews—I inspire her to write novels—I’d wanted to help her solve crimes. But since I knew nuffin’ about capers, I was worried I might fall down on the job and Mom might fweak out and ask my chunky-butt orange tabby brofur Opie to be her mews. You know how high strung those overly creative types can be.
Then my phone rang and I scampered off to solve The Case of the Dancing Ghosts with my little sisfur, Dori. I hadn’t planned on taking her. I mean, Sam Spade didn’t drag his kid sis along on capers. But Dori’s crying gave me a headache, so…. Turns out she’s a natural at solving mysteries. I’d paid her one of the huge quarters I’d earned from my first client, but instead of spending it on treats, she’d invested in my agency. Now it was our agency.
A low growl from the bookcase made the fur on my neck stand up, but I refused to react. I wasn’t some pampurred scaredy cat. I was a hardboiled detective with grit in my blood!
“Meowch!” I bent to push my Gen7Pets Regal stroller off my foot. Whimpering like a frightened puppy, my Ride refused to leave my side and was constantly running over my tail. I felt bad that I had to keep it in my attic office, but Dad claimed it freaked him out and Mom said she didn’t have time to throw balls for my Ride to chase.
Watchful for whatever lurked under my couch, I pushed my stroller into the corner farthest from the possessed bookcase and covered it with a blanket. I then nuzzled the hood until it fell asleep with an exhausted sigh.
As I returned to my desk, my gaze fell on a large brown envelope.
It had arrived days ago, but I hadn’t opened it. I didn’t want to find a note inside saying Sherlock Holmes was too busy to answer my pawthetic fan letter.
“Did yoo open it?” Dori stood in the doorway. Her golden-green eyes sparkled with ill-concealed anticipation. In her paws she had a box of treats.
“Not yet. What are you eating?”
“Come in. We’ll test them together.”
She flicked a wary glance at my couch, and then my bookcase. “Maybe they’ll taste better downstairs in the sunroom.” Dori hadn’t set paw in my office since we’d suspected Demon Loud Lady from Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost lurked behind the bookcase. And no telling what was hanging out under my couch. It had yellow eyes and indigestion. It also burped a lot.
“They can’t get you, Dori.”
“Yoo don’t know that fur sure.” She had one paw on the doorknob with her body tensed to flee. “Besides, it’s stinky in here.”
Whatever was under my couch also had gas cuz my office smelled like rotten eggs. I didn’t like to see Dori afraid. If there was one thing I’d learned from Charley Feeble it was to show no fear. “I’ll open the envelope if you sit with me on the couch to eats the treats.”
It took her awhile to decide. A long while. Meanwhile I did light housekeeping, flicking my floofy tail across my desk and the single window overlooking our front lawn. I even dusted the bookcase, aware Dori watched me.
“Awren’t yoo afwaid, Hwermie?”
I faced her with my back to the books. “Scary stuff thrives on fear and gets stronger.” Even as I said it, I knew it to be true. Felt it to be true. The more calm I forced through my body, the quieter the bookcase behaved. As for the couch…
I grabbed the envelope and went to sit right over where we’d heard the couch monster burp the other day. “Have a seat.” I used my dewclaw to slit open the envelope. As Dori still hugged the door, I teased her by peeking inside the envelope, then gasping and fainting with surprise. It worked. She scampered with a laugh to join me.
“Yoo first!” She clutched the box of Wishes in her paws. Under normal circumstances she would have had the box gnawed open and treats swallowed with barely a taste. That she was willing to wait said volumes about how much she wanted me to read the letter from my hero.
Boldness seeped out of me like a leaky pouch of Fancy Feast Broths. I’d read somewhere that the devil unknown is better than the devil known. If the letter inside broke my heart, would I be able to keep from reacting so Dori wouldn’t think it bothered me? How could she respect me if I sobbed into my paws that I’d been dissed and dismissed by my hero?
With closed eyes, Dori placed her paw on the envelope. “I sense there is something good inside. I sense it will make yoo happy.”
I smiled at her play-acting as a psychic medium. “Okay! Here goes…” I slid the correspondence out. For a moment I stared without comprehending. It looked like a page clawed from a book of celebrity mug shots.
It was autographed ‘To Hwermie from Shewlock Homes’ in purrple crayon.
Either Sherlock had just been sprung from the drunk tank and couldn’t recall how to spell his own name, or my little sisfur had made me a pawsent.
I went with the latter.
“Wow!” I meowed with forced delight. “A picture of my hero. And he pawtographed it!”
From the corner of my eye I watched Dori gaze proudly at her creation. She can be a frustrating little minx, but has a huge heart and loves me dearly. Despite the uneasiness that seeped through me since my mentor, Charley Feeble, disappeared, I gave myself purrmission to celebrate. Not that my hero hadn’t answered my fan letter after all, but that my sisfur loved me enough to fib.
“Are yoo gonna hang it on the wall?” Forgetting about the couch monster and bookcase demon, Dori scampered to my desk, climbed my chair and stood on her back legs to paw the empty frame from the wall. I had hung the frame with anticipation of Sherlock Holmes inspiring me. Now…
I framed the mug shot and hung it over my desk, then stood back to watch Dori admiring her pawsent. Truthfully, the love that went into that fake photo made me leaky eyed. Did I deserve that much love from my little sisfur? Would I think to do something like this to make her happy?
“I wish Chawley was here to see this,” Dori said with a sniffle. I slid my arm around her. Charley had been missing for two weeks. At first I thought he might be off doing ghost stuff. I’d never asked what he did with his time when he’s not with me. But then Dori discovered something freaky-deaky lurking behind the bookcase that made me fear something bad had happened to Charley.
The last time I’d seen him was during my lesson on selective looking. When he was alive Charley had been a private detective. Now he was a ghost thanks to Mrs. Shallowford aka Demon Loud Lady, but he still had skills and wanted to pass them on to me. Except I sucked at detecting. Dori, however, was a born natural. I’m pretty sure she could find Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa and D.B. Cooper over one weekend if she was fed enough Smittens to keep her tummy full while she investigated. I, on the other paw, had trouble detecting my way out of a litter box.
Charley to the rescue! After pointing out my inability to focus on any one thing at a time was due to inattentional blindness—a full-blown epidemic as there were 162,000 results on Google (62,500 more than the last time I’d checked)—he reassured me I didn’t have a fatal disease, and gave me a lesson on selective looking to help train my brain to focus.
By gazing through a window at the birdbath outside, then shifting my focus to the window’s reflection to observe my new little sisfur Candy lying asleep on the couch behind me, I no longer saw the birdbath. Excited that I was able to perform this trick, I’d practiced while Charley and Dori exchanged opinions as to why I should give up my dream of being like my hero. Then something caught my attention. In the window’s reflection Charley had looked solid to me, not ghost-like. I also saw something Charley hadn’t mentioned. I’d seen a bird-like lady with wings in the reflection. Also some cool guy with shades.
I was afraid to mention what I’d seen. If my eyes…or my brain! was playing tricks on me, it might reveal my inattentional blindness disease had taken a turn for the worse. I didn’t want Charley to give up on me. I was determined to be a successful hardboiled detective with grit in my blood—not soft boiled with kitty litter in my paws.
I still wasn’t sure what that vision meant, but now with Charley missing I wondered if I’d had a premonition. Shortly before my lesson on selective looking, Charley and I had been here in my office when suddenly the bookcase lit up like Michigan Stadium with brilliant light seeping from around the edges. Slowly it had creaked open to reveal the secret staircase I’d discovered when I traveled back in time.
In 1945 the stairs led to a yard with a swimmy pool that no longer existed. Seventy some years into the future the bookcase had been sealed shut. But there in my office it had opened and was having quite an effect on Charley. “No!” he’d shouted. “Not yet. I’m not ready to go.” Someone beyond the light had called to him. “I—I didn’t expect to be summoned so soon,” he’d later admitted. “I thought I had more time.”
Then Dori discovered the demon behind the bookcase. I recognized her as Vivian Shallowford aka Loud Lady who had frightened Charley to death, then took his house for her own. I’d known right away she was a demon. My gut feeling now told me she was out to get Charley. Possibly Dori and me, too! We had helped him trick Vivian to get her out of his house (our house seventy years in the future) and now she was pounding on the back of the bookcase, wanting revenge.
This ‘no’ came from Dori.
“Nooo!” she howled. Tears wetted her whiskers.
“What?” I ran to her. “What’s wrong?”
She pointed to the couch. “My tweats are gone. The couch monster eated them—again!”
We stared at the darkness under my couch. Then…
Dori flung herself at the couch. “Yoo gimme back my tweats! I need to review them for Chewy.com.”
I went to pull Dori off the couch. No telling what kind of mood the couch monster was in. He’d been pretty passive, but…
From the corner of my eye I saw something move, and turned just as Evil Paranormal Stuff fell to the floor from the third shelf on my bookcase. Frozen with fear, I forgot Dori and her couch nemesis as I watched the bookcase shake like it was under attack.
Oh My Cod! The demon Loud Lady was trying to escape!
I felt Dori’s claws in my neck as she wrapped herself around me. Together we widdled our floofy britches. That was a mistake. Before our eyes the demon grew scarier and stronger from our reaction. I had to take control.
“Where is Charley?” I yowled. “Give him back!”
Demon Loud Lady howled from behind the bookcase, causing Dori to climb onto my back and sob.
“You give Charley back,” I snarled. “He wants to go to Heaven!”
“Heaven can wait!” Loud Lady screamed. “I have your precious Charley in Hell!”
And then she stuck her arm right out of the bookcase!
Hey pals! Are you freaking out that Demon Loud Lady might escape from behind the bookcase? And what about the pawsent my little sisfur made me? Do you think I should be upset that so far my hero Sherlock Holmes has rejected me?
Be sure to come back next Friday to find out whether Loud Lady gets out from behind the bookcase.
Need to catch up with my Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mysteries? The links to all the Season 1 Case Notes are listed on the Archive Page (see upper tab on far right).
Until next Friday…Have a Wonderpurr Week.
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