My name is Sherlock Herms. It is my business to know what others don’t know. At least that’s what I hoped for once I got more experience as a private investigator. I had just completed my first job, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts, and was now on my way to my second case.
Dori and I huddled together with our paws over our ears to block the wind-whooshing sound created by my Ride—a mint chip colored Gen7Pets Regal stroller—as it zoomed through the kitty play tunnel-slash-trans-portal energy gate.
I deliberately kept my back to the control panel to keep from staring at it. The dazzling display of button lights captivated me unlike catnip or any feathery toy, but the control panel hated to be stared at. It was kinda scary.
I also blocked Dori from touching the panel. She had a thing about a particular pink button that would delay us from reaching our destination by ten days per push. On my first case we should have arrived in June, but because Dori pawed it repeatedly, we didn’t arrive until May—nearly a year later! Dori forgot to bring her treats, and our client refused to feed us, and Dori got so starvy, she became sick. Which reminded me…
“Did you remember to bring your ‘wefweshymints’ this time?” I asked her.
She looked at me with horror. My heart squeezed with dread. “Dori, no!”
She giggled behind her paw, then pulled back the edge of the cushion we were sitting on to reveal six fresh bags of Smittens cat treats. “I never gonna be starvy ever again!”
I saw her gaze drift over my shoulder to the panel. I didn’t want to spend another year waiting to arrive at our destination. I had to distract her. “You hurt my feelings.”
She looked at me with wide eyes. “I’m sowry.” She went back to gazing over my shoulder.
I shifted to block her view. “Aren’t you going to ask me what you did to hurt my feelings?”
She actually had to think about it. Sometimes my sisfur is so frustrating! “Okay. What did I do?” One eye drifted over my shoulder.
I grabbed her chin to make her look at me, not at the control panel. “You snickered at me with Opie because I didn’t know England biscuits are called cookies in Ameowica.”
She blinked. “But…it was funny.”
“Not to me. You made me feel stupid.” I had to get this off my floofy chest. Opie was my arch-nemesis, and Dori was my detective partner. And next to my mom, she was also my best furend. I didn’t like her being furends with Opie, but I didn’t want to come off like I was telling her she couldn’t be furends with me if she was furends with Opie…even though that’s what I wanted to say. “I don’t like Opie. I really don’t,” I told her. “I—”
My Ride rocked and rolled from side to side. Then it flipped upside down, then right-side up. I hated this part. Made me want to barf my brekkie. Around us the kitty tunnel glowed with bright colors. Dori clung to me…and reached past me toward the control panel.
She was reaching for the pink button!
“Dori!” I shoved her back. The fur on her neck flared and she pounced on me. We rolled around inside my Ride, biting and fighting until the sound around us abruptly changed from whooshing to sucking, kinda like we were being squeezed from a tube of Laxatone. Only then did we stop cat-fighting and pulled the mint chip cushion over our heads.
My Ride stopped shaking. In fact, it stopped moving. We peeked from under the cushion to see my huge desk with lots of nooks and crannies right where I’d left it. Except my snake-necked lamp was missing. I needed that lamp to see my suspect’s expressions when I questioned them. My white piggy bank with the happy smile was gone too. So were my two huge quarters! But my 1940’s black Bakelite phone with the rotary dial was still there. And I could see my pocket watch lying beside it, even though I don’t have pockets and I can’t tell time, plus the watch doesn’t work. I’d found it in one of my desk’s drawers, but I liked it because it added to my mystique as a hardboiled detective with grit in my blood.
“Uh oh,” I said to Dori. “We didn’t go anywhere. Maybe while we were fighting, we accidentally pushed a button and something went wrong.”
Dori unzipped my Ride’s mesh hood. “Nope. We’re in the right place.” She crawled out.
“What do you mean? We’re still in the attic— I mean, my office.”
“This isn’t your office, Hwermie. It won’t be for another seventy years.”
That didn’t make sense. I crawled out of my Ride, noticing the corner where I’d arranged a couch and chair with a lamp and table spread with much-read copies of my favorite magazines looked different. My American Trucker magazines were gone, replaced by LIFE, YANK and detective magazines.
“What the Friskies!” I yowled. “Who stole my magazines?”
“It’s okay, don’t be afwaid,” Dori said to the bookcase that held my mom’s research library.
“He looks mean,” the bookcase whispered with a shaky voice. “I bet he bites.”
Dori looked at me. “Do yoo bite?”
“No! Who are you talking to?”
I looked at the bookcase. Mom’s research library looked different. It should have books on the top shelf about authoring mysteries, the second shelf should have books about detecting stuff, and the bottom shelf should have books about ghosts. They were gone. Instead the shelves held a mish-mash of clutter from law books, to phone books. It also had paper road maps, old-fashion cameras, a bottle of scotch, and a dozen cigars in a fancy box.
“Who is Charley?” I asked, just as a high-pitched screech exploded outside my office door.
“Where is it?” the screech demanded. “Where did you put my diamond necklace?”
“I did not touch it, Mrs. Shallowford,” a woman replied. “I would never touch your jewelry. You hired me an hour ago. This is my first time in your home. I’ve not left your side.”
“Well, someone stole it,” the screech screeched. “Get out! You’re fired.”
“That isn’t Mom,” I said to Dori. “She sounds scary.”
Dori grabbed my paw. “We need to get out of here. This way.” She pawed the bookshelf, and it swung wide from the wall to reveal a hidden doorway. She then pawed the door open to reveal a staircase. I followed her down the stairs and out the door at the bottom that led into the yard.
I expected to see my garden with the blooming vine of purrrple flowers where I liked to nap, and the three tired water fountain filled with the stones my mom collects while on vacation, and the shelf on the top of the fence where my tabby brofur Frank likes to patrol without actually moving his fat patootie. But I didn’t see any of that. Everything looked different.
To begin with, there was a swimmy pool in my yard. And a pool house. And the huge, hundred year-old shagbark hickory tree that was dying from being hit two years ago by lightning looked to be about thirty years old.
What the Friskies was going on?
Dori pulled me past the pool house and around to the front yard. I didn’t recognize anything. The street where my mom pushes me in my stroller looked strange. The cars were different, and there were trees and bushes I’d never sniffed before.
Meanwhile Dori rang the doorbell to our house…except it didn’t look like our house at all. Strange windows, strange bushes… Strange smells.
A moment later a strange woman with painted eye brows, bright red lips and white hair answered the strange door. She wore a floaty pink dress and said “Go away,” to my sisfur. “You don’t have a pedigree.”
Dori pointed to me. “He does.”
She looked at me. As her painted eye brows rose with interest, I felt my sphincter shrink.
“Dori, we gotta zoom.” I had no idea who this woman was or what Dori was up to, and I wanted it to stay that way.
“Come in,” the woman said more to me than Dori, and opened the door wide.
Dori pulled me into the front hall where I had a weird sense of déjà vu—more déjà than vu. The room kinda looked like my house, except everything looked different. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that, mostly because Painted Eye Brow Lady was stroking my fur with her blood-red dagger nails. I’m not a touchy-feely kind of kitty; only with my mommy. And this lady was not my mom!
Dori handed the lady a business card. “We heard yoo are missing jewels.”
She looked at the card. It said:
“I didn’t tell anyone my jewelry is missing,” the lady said to Dori while still stroking my fur. “How did you know?”
“We are detectives,” Dori told her. “We know evewything. We chawge four huge quarters.”
“If you want to find my jewels, go right ahead. But I’m not paying you a dime. I didn’t call a private detective agency.”
“Okay, that’s fine.” Dori took back her card.
I stepped away from Painted Eye Brow Lady’s reach. “What do you mean, that’s fine? She agreed to pay us three huge quarters!”
“No, she didn’t,” Dori told me. “Chawley did.”
Again, Charley. “Who is this Charley?”
“Stay out of my way,” the woman said to Dori. “I’m having guests over and I don’t want to be interrupted. When you find my jewels, leave them on the dining table, then let yourself out. Be sure to close the door behind you.” She looked at me. “What is your pedigree, puss?”
I couldn’t find my voice. She scared me that much. Finally I choked out, “I’m a mixed breed.”
Her expression flicked from interest to disgust. “Don’t touch anything.”
I watched her float away into what would have been the living room at my house.
I was so confoozed. I needed to lie down. I needed a hug from my mom!
What was going on?
Where were we?
Why did we zoom through the kitty tunnel-slash-trans-portal energy gate, but didn’t go anywhere?
What happened to my white piggy bank with its happy smile and my two huge quarters? What happened to my collection of American Trucker magazines?
Where did the secret door behind the bookcase come from?
Why did my attic office look kinda familiar with its huge desk with its nooks and crannies and the pocket watch, but nothing else did?
Where did the pool come from? Where was my flowering vine with its purrrple flowers? How come the hundred year old dying shagbark hickory looked like a youngster?
Why was Painted Eye Brow Lady living in our house? Where was my mom?
Who was Charley?
And most of all – Could I make Dori stop being furends with Opie?
Tune in next Friday for …
Read Sherlock Herms’ first case, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts.
Hey pals! What do you think I should do about Dori’s furendship with my arch-nemesis-brofur, Opie? And what do you think about who Charley is? Please leave a comment below. Thanks! Herman!!!!