Previously on Sherlock Herms – The Case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost
After watching Dori make her singing debut at The Desert Galaxy nightclub, Herman wakes up to realize he’s had a bad dream. Not that Dori’s singing was terrible, but that he was inside the almost famous detective Max Shallowford’s body, and the mobster Sammy ‘The Squid’ Calamari was expecting him to shoot another mobster.
Upon waking, Herman finds himself back in his attic office seventy years in the past. And seated across from him is Charley Feeble, a ghost. Charley tells him he is the real Max Shallowford, but has a pathological form of shyness. Because he feared meeting his clients in person, he hired an out of work actor from Ecum Secum, Nova Scotia to pretend to be Max Shallowford.
The actor was really good. Too good. He fooled everyone, including Charley, by taking over and getting involved with the mob. That landed him in trouble and he ended up disappearing, along with the mobster’s money and his girlfriend. The Squid was more upset about the money than the girlfriend.
The actor also married a showgirl by the name of Vivian who was responsible for scaring Charley to death. He tells Herman, “I called you, Sherlock Herms, to retrieve the missing jewelry so Vivian will stop screaming. She still frightens me, even though I’m dead. However, I now realize that if I can get her to step outside of my house, I may have a way to prevent her from reentering. That’s why I needed you, Herman. I need you to help me get rid of Vivian Shallowford.”
And now…The Conclusion.
I sat in my attic office seventy years in the past, huddled in my floof beside my shivering sisfur, Dori. Seated across from us was Charley. A ghost. Ghosts act like sub-zero freezers by turning a room into a meat locker. Very unpleasant. But Charley seemed nice. At least he had stopped glowing like he had in my dream. The glowing had given me a headache.
“If you can’t scare her out of your house and you’re a ghost,” I said to Charley, “I’m not sure how I can do it.”
“I’ve come to the conclusion Mrs. Shallowford is half-human, half-demon,” Dori told us. “Demons have missing features, like no face or eyes. Vivian has no eyebrows. Plus her eyes are so light blue they look almost white. Demons also have deep voices, fast and angry. Sound like anybody we know?”
She opened the book on character traits she had brought with us from our mom’s author library. “I’ve also determined she is a Nawcissist. She accuses others of being envious of her. She sees herself as all good, while she sees everyone else as all bad. She needs to be the center of attention. All the time. She is inflexible and wigid. Tense and high-stwung.” Dori looked at me. “Sorta like our mom when plotting a stowry isn’t going too good.”
“Maybe we could put a giant mirror on the front lawn to lure Vivian outside.” I was kidding, but both Dori and Charley looked like they were seriously considering it. “Or we could find Vivian’s missing jewelry and throw it out the door. When she chases after it, we could somehow stop her from coming back inside the house.”
Charley looked at me with joy. “I know where her jewelry is. When Bonita the housekeeper quit, no one cleaned Tiger and Kitty’s litter boxes. The filth became intolerable. That’s when they started using the potted plants. They were extremely upset. They wanted to scratch Vivian’s face, but I suggested a less aggressive form of retaliation. I told them to hide her jewelry in their dirty litter boxes. And that’s where they still are.
A sudden memory flashed through my head. “No!” I shouted.
Charley blinked. “Yes, I assure you they are.”
“I followed Elouise when she left after taking money from the safe and the Persians. I saw her open the door to a round woman with braided yellow hair. She said she was Huldah, and was here to clean. Elouise told her she could begin upstairs in the cat’s apartment by throwing out the litter boxes.”
This time Charley shouted, “No!” Frost literally formed on my whiskers from the air turning arctic. “We have to stop her.”
“Too late.” Charley and I looked at Dori sitting calmly on the couch eating her Smittens. “Vivian’s jewels are in the litter boxes inside the twash cans on the curb.” She quirked her ears. “The twash twuck is coming down the stweet wight now.”
“Go!” Charley ordered me. “Go tell Vivian where to find her jewels. Dori and I will keep her from reentering.”
“How?” I asked, but Charley and Dori were already gathering bags of what looked like catnip.
“No time to explain,” Charley said. “Hurry! Get Vivian to the curb before the trash is collected.”
I scampered from the attic and through the fake Max Shallowford’s lounge room to the stairs. “Don’t come back, Herman,” I heard Charley shout. “Meet Dori across the street. Whatever you do, stay out of the house!”
A frisson of fear slithered through me. I must have stopped scampering because Charley again shouted, “Go!” and I felt a wall of ice literally shove me down the stairs.
Where was Vivian? Then I heard a terrible noise that sounded like demons were wrestling angels for possession of a soul.
It was Vivian, snoring on the couch.
I watched helplessly, uncertain how to wake her. Then I heard Charley’s voice in my ear shout Hurry! So I did what I knew to do to wake up my mom.
I scratched the couch.
It was leather.
Vivian woke up with an intensity that made me poop on the rug.
Bet Sherlock Holmes never pooped on a client’s rug.
Unable to articulate anything remotely verbal, Vivian resorted to pantomime and guttural moans to express her freak out. She also hurled a crystal ashtray at me.
I zoomed for the door. It was closed. How would I get out? How would I get Vivian outside when I hadn’t yet told her where to find her missing jewels?
I turned as she appeared behind me, spitting and seething like demonstrators at a political convention. With my back to the door, I desperately looked for a way to get past her. She frightened me to the point of widdling on the carpet. That sent her into another spasm of fury.
She lunged at me, her claw-like nails intent on wrapping themselves around my neck. I yowled with fear. I also pooped again.
Vivian’s eyes rolled back into her head as she turned a shade of purple not yet named by Crayola. I had to do something before she murdered me.
“I know where to find your missing jewels,” I yowled as her claws wrapped round my neck. I tried to swallow, but my Adam’s apple felt like it had been crushed into pomace.
And yes, cats do have Adam’s apples.
Also, pomace is the correct name for apple pulp being made into cider.
Look it up.
Vivian stared at me with her all white eyes and no eyebrows. Dori was right about her being a demon. I smelled sulfur. Or maybe it was the likker on her breath.
It took Vivian a moment to realize what I had said. “What did you say?”
“I caa taaawk.” I scratched her hand clamped around my throat. She let go. I coughed and wheezed as I told her, “I know where to find your missing jewelry.” I pawed the door. “Outside. Dirty litter boxes. Trash truck picking up now.”
Vivian kicked me aside, then flew out the door and down the lawn toward the street. The trash truck was already poised at the curb with the trash man hoisting crap-filled trash cans over his head and into the trash truck bed.
“Stop!” she screamed. “Stop!”
Since Charley told me to get out of the house and meet Dori across the street, I scampered after Vivian. I didn’t see my sisfur, but I kept running until I reached the curb on the opposite side.
While Vivian argued with the trash man, who refused to let her crawl into the trash truck after her trash-slash-jewelry, I scanned the house, searching for Dori. My heartbeat thrummed in my ears while fear skittered up and down my spine. I didn’t know what frightened me, but my seventh sense told me my little sisfur could be in danger.
A flash of sunlight caught my eye, drawing my attention to where a small gray tabby with a pink collar and shiny bell was pawing something around the front door. My heartbeat slowed down. Dori was safe.
Wait. She just scampered back inside the house. And the house had started to shake.
Shake like one of those videos of third world earthquakes.
Where was Dori? I frantically searched the front door and the windows for signs of my little sisfur. If she had gone back inside because she had forgotten her bag of Smittens I would do a freak out that would make a Kanye West meltdown look like a toddler’s temper tantrum.
I stepped off the curb to go after Dori when a flash drew my attention to the sidewalk behind me. There I saw my Ride—my Gen7Pets Regal stroller—and in it, nomming her Smittens like she was eating popcorn at the movies, was my sisfur. I climbed in and threw my paws around her, hugging her tight.
“Show is getting interesting,” she said, offering me her treats.
I joyfully accepted. Together we watched Loud Lady Vivian battle the trash man for possession of her trash cans. Trash spewed everywhere, mostly restaurant delivery containers.
“Why is he fighting her for it?” I wondered. “It’s her trash.”
“She told him her jewels are in it,” Dori explained. “Once it leaves the house and is on the curb, it’s up for gwabs.” She shoved more Smittens into her mouth. “Mrs. Shallowford doesn’t wecycle. This is unacceptable.”
On the other side of the trash truck, Charley’s house was shaking like a wet dog. Tiles flew off the roof. Glass windows shattered. Bricks popped loose and tumbled into the bushes.
“Why is it falling down?” I asked Dori.
“It’s not. Charley won’t let it. At least not the part that was his house before Vivian moved in and contaminated the rooms.”
“What were you pawing around the front door?”
“Dill, wosemary, and elder to pwevent evil from entering home. Holly to protect against bad spirits. Rue to clear hostility. Sage to dwive away negative energy and cleanse the home.”
As though we had front row vantage at a drive-in movie, we watched as Loud Lady climbed into the trash truck bed and the trash truck driver drove off with her, never to return.
Our house seventy years in the past then began to deteriorate into a dingy building slowly collapsing under the weight of time and despair. As the pool house where Charley died crumbled into the swimming pool, bulldozers arrived. They were able to clear away all the rubble, except for the interior shell that housed the attic office on the second floor.
Now I understood about how my desk in the attic came with our house seventy years in the future. Our house had been built around an older home—Charley’s—that refused to be torn down. Refused because Charley’s ghost wouldn’t let it be torn down.
“Yoo huwt my feelings,” Dori abruptly whispurred.
Her words mimicked my own, said to her at the start of our case when she laughed with Opie over me not knowing England cookies are called biscuits.
“I’m sorry,” I told her. “What did I do?”
“Yoo didn’t tell me you liked my song.” A tear rolled down her cheek, breaking my heart.
In my dream where I was inside the fake Max Shallowford’s body at The Desert Galaxy nightclub, Dori had stepped on stage to perform her song, Purrple Underpants.
“Dori, you sang beautifully. It was the best song I’ve ever heard.”
Her green eyes glistened with tears. “Yoo just saying that.”
“No. Honest! You have a Wonderpurr voice.”
“Then why didn’t yoo compliment me? It doesn’t feel as good when I have to ask yoo if you liked my song.”
I hugged her tight. “I’m so sorry. It’s not an excuse, but I was kinda freaked out by my dream. And also to see Charley, a ghost.”
I knew how she felt. My apology wasn’t good enough. I should have complimented her before she asked me if I liked her song. I should have understood this concept because I’m muse to my author mom. Writers, like singers and other artists, are creatively sensitive and immature.
I mean, insecure.
They can’t tell if something they do is good unless someone else tells them. Purrsonally, I have a hard time understanding this since I’m a cat and good at everything I do.
Except being a hardboiled detective. Hm.
Maybe I understood artistic immaturity insecurity after all.
I spied the kitty tunnel-slash-trans-portal energy gate on the sidewalk at the moment my mint chip-colored Gen7Pets Regal stroller rolled toward it. I pressed the H charm on my collar to the H on the control panel with a scary array of glowing buttons. As Dori meowed our home address seventy years in the future and pawed the bright green button that lit up, I zipped the mesh hood around us.
The kitty play tunnel looked like it was growing bigger…or maybe we were shrinking. Either way my Ride was being sucked inside. As it began to shake like a wet dog, the tunnel glowed and wind whipped around us. We huddled together in silence. Dori didn’t try to push the tempting pink button. That worried me. Her feelings were deeply hurt.
Dori is more sensitive than our mom. I’ve watched her run into Mom’s leg, then act like Mom deliberately kicked her. Mom tries to apologize even though she didn’t do anything, but Dori runs and hides like our mom was deliberately cruel.
As my Ride rocked and rolled from side to side, then flipped upside down, then right-side up, I slid my paw around Dori’s shoulders and hugged her to my side. I had to find a way to apologize. To reassure her that she meant everything to me. I would never deliberately hurt her feelings.
The sound around us abruptly changed from whooshing to sucking, kinda like we were being squeezed from a tube of Laxatone. We pulled the mint chip cushion over our heads.
My Ride stopped shaking. In fact, it let out a bark of joy. We unzipped the mesh hood to see we were back in my attic office seventy years in the future. My heart leaped to see my huge desk with its nooks and crannies.
I mean… Charley’s huge desk with its nooks and crannies. And his 1940s black Bakelite telephone with the rotary dial. And his pocket watch that only worked seventy years in the past.
“Do you think Charley is here with us now?” I asked Dori.
“He said he will be along shortly.” She approached my piggy bank sitting on my desk—it’s white with a happy smile—and dropped into it three huge quarters. Just hearing the clink of real money made me feel like an official private detective.
But I wasn’t. I was an ordinary cat pretending to be a hardboiled detective with grit in his blood. I hadn’t figured out how to solve my first case, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts. Dori had. And I hadn’t figured out how to solve this case because Charley already knew where to find Vivian’s missing jewelry.
“Charley should not have paid me,” I told Dori. “I didn’t do anything.”
She shrugged. “Yoo got Mrs. Shallowford out of the house. That’s all he hired yoo to do.”
And I realized she was right. Charley hadn’t hired me to solve any crime or mystery. He had just wanted Loud Lady out of his house. And I did it.
While Dori put mom’s book about character traits back on her bookshelf, I checked to see if Sherlock Holmes had answered my business correspondence. He hadn’t. I’d asked for an autographed picture to tape over my desk to inspire me. Maybe he was too busy. Maybe he didn’t care about inspiring an ordinary cat to be a private detective. Maybe I would have to cut his picture from a magazine and be satisfied with that.
I turned to see Opie, my ginger-furred brofur, standing in the door. I abruptly remembered my plan to take the High Road our mom was always talking about. It’s not actually a road to walk on, rather it’s a metaphor about making a choice to understand someone who has a difference of opinion.
Mom said, ‘Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean the other cat is wrong. You both just see things differently.’
“Yup!” I told Opie. “Case solved, thanks to you and Jack.” Not true, because I hadn’t used any of the paranormal stuff they’d invented because Charley didn’t need to be exorcized. But I wanted to make Opie feel special.
Abruptly I shook out two huge quarters from my piggy bank. I handed one to Opie. I would give the other to Jack when I saw him. “Thanks.”
Opie looked at the quarter with large golden eyes. I had never seen him speechless before. If I was still in the mood to hate him, I would have laughed. But I wasn’t. I didn’t want to hate my brofur anymore. Like Mom said, ‘Having a different of opinion shouldn’t mean you hate the other cat. Hate is wrong, whether you’re a Turkish Angora, an orange tabby, or a Siamese. Fur color should have no bearing on making friends. Life is hard enough without allowing others to make you think that by disagreeing, that means you should hate the other cat.’
“Dori! Opie! Herman!!!” We heard Mom call from downstairs in the kitchen. “Time for supper!”
Dori didn’t zoom from my office like she usually did when supper was ready. Instead she quietly left with her tail dragging. I needed to do something to make her feel better.
I noticed Opie hadn’t moved. He was still staring at the huge quarter in his paw. “So,” he said, “everything we invented for you worked out okay, huh?”
“Well, to be honest, the case had a ghost named Charley, but he didn’t need to be sent into the light. He actually hired us.” I explained the details of the case to Opie. We both shared a good laugh over not needing to stick the thermometer inside anything to get it to work.
Opie picked up one of the two tiny black box digital recorders. “You said you didn’t use the recorder? It shows something was recorded.” He turned it on.
The expression on Opie’s face was priceless. He said, “She sounds like our mom after inhaling from a balloon.” He played the recording again, smiling. “She’s pretty good. She should be an entertainer.”
I gasped. “You just gave me a great idea.”
I leaned forward to whispurr in his ear.
Read Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost from the beginning.
Read Sherlock Herms in The Case of the Dancing Ghosts.
I hope you enjoyed Sherlock Herms’ second purranormal mystery: The Case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost. Be sure to subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of new posts by email. Sherlock Herms, along with Detective Adorapurr, will be back to solve another mystery, so stay tuned. And be sure to tell your friends. Thank you again for your wonderpurr comments.
Sincerely, Kimberley Koz
P.S. If you’d like to read more of my stories, be sure to visit my Author Page.