Previously on Sherlock Herms – The Case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost
When Herman’s 1940s black Bakelite phone summons him to his second case, he again climbs inside his Ride – a tricked out Gen7Pets Regal stroller – and is sucked into the kitty play tunnel-slash-trans-portal energy gate to travel back to the 1940s.
Herman expects to arrive at a strange house like he did on his first case, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts. And he does! Except the strange house is his own home, seventy years in the past. It looks nothing like the house he lives in with his mom, dad and eleventy-billion fursibs.
He’s freaked about the changes, but his detective assistant-slash-sisfur, Dori, isn’t. She isn’t even surprised when a loud screechy lady with painted eye brows answers the door and tells them they can find her missing jewelry, but she won’t pay them to find it. Dori is okay with that. She tells Herman it wasn’t Painted Eye Brow Lady who hired them. It was Charley.
Who Charley is Herman has no idea. He also has no idea what’s going on with his sweet little sisfur who is acting like she’s the hardboiled detective with grit in her blood, and he’s her meek little detective assistant.
And now…Part 2.
“Let’s get to work.” Dori headed for the stairs.
“Wait.” I stopped her. “Where are you going?”
“To chat with Chawley.”
“Who is Charley?”
Dori rolled her eyes. “Our client, Hwermie.”
I stared at her. “Did you just roll your eyes at me?”
I saw regret flash across her face. Then she said,
She scampered up the stairs, leaving me in the front hall. I thought about following her, but didn’t trust myself not to whackypaw her little tail for being such a sasspuss.
What had happened to my sweet lil sisfur? The one who followed me everywhere–including the litter box–because she adored being with me? I didn’t care for this new Dori. She reminded me of… I gasped. She reminded me of my arch-nemesis ginger-furred brofur, Opie!
Jack said Opie was jealous of me. I kinda already knew that. He wanted to be First Cat to our mom, but that was my place. Mom and I did everything together. We had a tight bond. We co-mew-nicated in code. And Opie would never crack that code.
Opie also knew Dori worshipped me. I say that with modesty because I am not full of myself, despite my extraordinary good looks, super intelligence, and knack for charming complete strangers into falling in love with me. Dori bonded with me from the moment she was rescued as a little kitten from our yard.
At first I didn’t like her following me around like my shadow. But then I got used to her. She was nice. Funny. And she needed me. She was always falling and breaking stuff. She didn’t mean to, it just happened because she was clumsy. I’d noticed she used her rear right foot like her front paw and sometimes that made her off-balance. She would fall and drag stuff with her to the floor. And stuff broke. I helped her by example, showing her how using her back foot like her front paw created problems. She still did it, but not as much as she used to as a kitten.
My superior feline instincts told me Opie was behind Dori’s abrupt purrrsonality change. That business card she had shown Mrs. Shallowford, for example.
I knew Dori well enough that she would have made the card pink, not yellow. Dori didn’t design that card. Opie did.
Feeling less aggressive about the change in my little sisfur, I turned my attention to solving my case. Mrs. Shallowford’s jewelry was missing. I was hired to find it. Except it wasn’t Mrs. Shallowford who had hired me to find it. In fact, she clearly stated she would not pay me a dime to find it. If I found it, I was supposed to leave it on the dining table, and then let myself out. Without a dime. Or those three huge quarters Dori charged.
Dori said Mrs. Shallowford didn’t hire us. Charley did…whoever Charley was. I needed to find out, but first I wanted to explore the downstairs to get the lay of the land. Mrs. Shallowford had left for the living room, so I headed toward the kitchen to avoid her. I also wanted to see how my house looked seventy years in the past.
Dori said the office in the attic wouldn’t be my office for another seventy years. Yes, the kitty play tunnel-slash-trans-portal energy gate had once more taken us back in time. My estimate was we had been transported back to the mid-1940s. Ah-gain.
I passed through the dining room filled with a heavy dark wood china cabinet, long table and hundreds of chairs. Or maybe six chairs. Cats can’t do math. The chairs had padded cloth that made my paws itch to scratch it. To avoid hoomiliating myself by destroying furniture, I scampered into the back hall. There was the laundry room where my litter box was located at my house. I peeked in, but didn’t see my box.
I padded down the hall into the kitchen. At my house, there are two litter boxes in the huge closet under the staircase. My sisfur, Chauncie Marie, never goes upstairs so Mom put an extra box in the closet for her to use. But then Jack and Opie and Frank and Peaches and Gidget all got their tails twisted in knots because they were supposed to use the boxes in the upstairs cat apartment.
“What if we have to widdle realllly bad?” Peaches yowled to Mom. “Am I expected to make a run for it all the way to the cat apartment?” So Mom put in two boxes.
The closet door was cracked open. I peeked inside. There I saw brooms, dustpans, a vacuum, and other cleaning stuff, but no litter boxes.
From watching the historical docmewmentaries starring Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Sherlock Holmes, I’d never seen them need to use the hoomon litter box room. Maybe hardboiled detectives didn’t widdle…but I had to. Realllly bad.
You know how it is when you get this idea in your head, and you just can’t get it out? Like craving a can of Starkist toona? You think about it, and then you just can’t get it out of your head until you nom it? Needing to widdle is the same way.
Wait. What if Mrs. Shallowford didn’t live with cats? That would mean there were no litter boxes in the house. Okay, now I really had to widdle. Despurrrately so!
I zoomed through the kitchen, barely noticing the room looked different than my house seventy years in the future. The fireplace had a carved wood front, and the sunroom where in the future I enjoyed the best sun puddles was gone. Instead there was a glass wall with a door leading outside to the swimmy pool, and beyond that the swimmy pool house. But no litter boxes.
“You look despurrate,” someone said behind me. I whirled to see a floofy white Persian and a floofy red Persian.
“Oh sweet Meow Mix!” I yowled. “May I use your litter box?”
They exchanged looks, then the red one nodded. “Follow me.”
He led me through the house and up the stairs. To the right was a long hall that didn’t exist at my house in the future, and at the end of that hall was a brightly lit room with a glass wall overlooking the yard. The room had dozens of potted plants. “Use that one,” he told me, pointing to a rubbery-looking tree in a giant blue pot in the corner.
I thought it strange he told me to use a potted plant instead of a litter box, but my bladder was full and beggars can’t be choosers. The red Persian left me to do my business in private. I made it just in time. I would have never lived down my shame. Hardboiled detectives with grit in their blood just didn’t widdle their britches.
When I was finished, I joined the red and the white Persians waiting for me in the hall. “Thank you. I appreciate your help. I’m Sherlock Herms.”
“I’m named Pambeh,” said the white Persian. “But call me Kitty.”
“And I’m Shirrin,” said the red Persian. “But I answer to Tiger. Those are the names the housekeeper calls us.”
“Is Charley the housekeeper?” I asked.
They again exchanged looks. “You know Charley?” Kitty wondered.
“No. But my assistant, Dori, said he hired us to find missing jewelry.”
Again, the Persians exchanged looks, making me wonder what they knew that I didn’t. “No,” said the red Persian. “Charley isn’t the housekeeper. Bonita is the housekeeper.”
“No, Tiger. Bonita left us weeks ago. Remempurr? The Loud Lady made excuses about paying her for work.” Kitty looked at me. “Loud Lady loves money and jewelry, and has lots of both. But she doesn’t like to share. Bonita took care of us from the time we came here as kittens.”
“She would feed us, and clean our litter boxes,” Tiger told me. “And she would brush us, and clip our nails when they got too long. And she would love on us. I liked that part the best. Loud Lady never did that. In fact, she ignores us. Bonita named us Kitty and Tiger. We heard the other fancy names so rarely, we didn’t know to answer to them.”
“We are possessions,” Kitty explained. “One day we heard Loud Lady screeching at Bonita. All Bonita did was ask for the money owed to her for cleaning and shopping for noms. Loud Lady said she was… What was the word she used, Tiger?”
“Dinking,” said Tiger. “The Loud Lady was dinking Bonita’s pay for damages she did to the house. There were no damages. The Loud Lady just didn’t want to pay Bonita what she was owed.”
“So Bonita left,” Kitty said with sad ears. “She patted our heads and said, ‘If I could take you with me, I would. But your owner would accused me of stealing you.’ She put down two bowls of food for us, and then she left.”
“And never came back.” Tiger’s ears were also sad.
“You said Bonita left weeks ago?” I asked. “Who fed you?”
Both Persians stared at me. “No one,” Kitty finally said. “Loud Lady left for The Coast that night. She didn’t return for a long time.”
“You mean you didn’t eat for weeks?” My stomach twisted in knots just thinking about going without noms between breakfast and dinner.
“We pawed open a cupboard and found a box of crackers,” Tiger said. “We made them last for a few days, but…”
“When Loud Lady returned, she still didn’t feed us. Instead she got very loud,” Kitty told me. “She realized Bonita was gone. She screeched at someone on the telephone that Bonita had stolen her jewelry.”
“Bonita would never do that,” Tiger said, and Kitty nodded.
“Who do you think stole her jewelry?” I asked.
“The police arrived,” Kitty continued as though I hadn’t asked my question. “And then they left. And Loud Lady called a restaurant to have food delivered since Bonita was no longer here to cook for her.”
“Loud Lady never cooks. In fact,” Tiger looked at Kitty. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen her in the kitchen.”
“I don’t think she knows the kitchen exists,” Kitty agreed. “But the restaurant said they would not deliver any more food unless she first paid an overdue bill. Loud Lady got really loud then, and said she had found rat hair in her food and planned to sue them.”
“She had to call another restaurant that night,” Tiger said. “One she had never used before. She did not tip the delivery boy.”
I eyed the Persians’ bodies, unable to tell if they had eaten. Their floofy fur made them look fat, but I knew fur could be deceiving.
“We’ve been eating the noms Loud Lady doesn’t want,” Kitty said, as though she read my mind. She had me follow her downstairs to a room that didn’t exist in the future where I saw numerous food bags thrown into a corner.
I was relieved to know they had eaten. “Why does Loud Lady want you to live with her when she doesn’t feed you, or brush you, or call your names?” I wondered. “And who do you think stole the jewelry?”
“We are possessions,” Kitty said for a second time. “We are worth money. She likes money. Her husband had money, but then he left and never came back. She was mad at first. I overheard her tell Miss Elouise…. Hm. Tiger? What did Loud Lady say when Mr. Max did not come home?”
Tiger thought about it. “She said, ‘The bastard better be dead, because if he thinks I am leaving this house and going back to living on pennies as a showgirl, he’s mistaken.”
“What do you think happened to Mr. Max?” I asked. When they continued to look at me with blank expressions, I asked, “Who is Miss Elouise? And who do you think stole Loud Lady’s jewelry?” I figured if I kept asking that question eventually they might answer me.
Suddenly the doorbell rang. It didn’t sound soft and nice like our doorbell in the future. This one sounded harsh and scary. It flattened my ears. It also scattered the Persians in separate directions. Watching them flee as though the hounds from hell were on their tails, I wondered if they were not only running from the doorbell, but also from me and my questions.
Tune in next Friday for…
To read Part 1, click here.
Hey pals! Thanks for stopping by to follow me on another Sherlock Herms adventure. So, what do you think about the Persians? Why do you think they had me widdle in a rubber tree plant? So embarrassing! But better than me peeing my floofy britches.
And why do you think they won’t answer my questions about Loud Lady’s stolen jewelry? Those two are acting purrrty strange.
As for Dori…do you think I’m right about my ginger-furred arch-nemesis brofur, Opie, being behind Dori acting snotty to me? She’s impressionable. Maybe Opie has filled her head with visions of fame and fortune. What should I do?
Thanks again for stopping by. Please leave a comment below.