Concatulations, you made it to Friday!
In case you aren’t aware, Friday is Sherlock Herms Day when I invite you to join me on one of my purranormal mystery adventures.
Sometimes my phone doesn’t ring, and that means I’m in-between cases.
So, while I wait for my phone to ring, my new friend Charley has volunteered to teach me about the private hardboiled detective business. And also about purranormal investigating.
You’re welcome to join me. Today’s Lesson with Charley is on the Art of Surveillance.
I hurried from my mailbox—empty handed—back up the driveway, into my house. Five weeks ago I’d mailed a business correspondence to my hero, Sherlock Holmes, to introduce myself. I had high hopes that if he liked what I wrote in my letter, he would want to meet me in purrrson. And maybe invite me to solve a case with him. Not that I’d want to exclude Dr. Watson. He could come along.
Or maybe he could go do something with my little sisfur, Dori.
In my letter I’d mentioned I was a huge fan of his, and I’d watched his hissstorical doc-mew-mentaries on television to pick up tips on solving cases. I’d also mentioned that if he had an extra picture of himself lying around, maybe he could pawtograph it for me, so I could hang it over my desk and look at it all the time for inspurration.
So far, I hadn’t heard back from him. He was probably super busy solving crimes with Dr. Watson. Or…
What if my letter had met with an untimely end? I’d heard about how sometimes mail carriers get all worked up over stuff and go ‘postal.’ Had my carefully worded business correspondence ended up in the river wearing a cement overcoat? I hoped not. I’d started over eight times when writing it. Mom always says first impressions are lasting impressions. I’d wanted my letter to my hero to be purrfect.
I couldn’t get the idea that something nefarious had happened to my fan letter business correspondence. (Nefarious is a ten dollar word for evil. I’m my author mom’s mews. I help her write stuff, so I read the dictionary a lot.) If my letter never reached Mr. Holmes, he would never know about me, and would never invite me to solve a case with him.
Back in my office, located in the attic next to my mom’s office, I sat at my desk and pulled out paper and pen. Should I write my first letter all over again? I had a copy, so that would be easy. But what if my letter wasn’t snuffed out by a crazy postal worker? What if it had decided to take a detour? Instead of going from my mailbox straight to the airport and flying all the way to 221B Baker Street, what if my letter took a leisurely Trans-Atlantic cruise to London? Maybe it stopped along the way to enjoy several ports of call? If I wrote him a letter identical to the first, and both letters arrived on his doorstep… He wouldn’t take me as a serious colleague in the field of private detection. He would think I was nothing more than a pushy fan, especially because I requested a pawtographed photo.
Even worse…he might think I was an ordinary cat. Of which I’m not. Never have been. Take a look for yourself:
Clenching a pen in my paw, I stared at the blank sheet of paper, uncertain about what to do. Should I not write a second letter? Or, wait awhile…maybe a year? I rubbed my nose. It felt colder than usual. I frowned at my pen. There should be a law about mail carriers getting our letters to wherever they were going in a timely manner. And if there is a delay, we should be notified. Promptly!
“Careful,” said a voice. “That frown could cause permanent wrinkles.”
I turned to see Charley sitting on my sofa, smiling so wide, his eyes disappeared into folds on his face.
“You’re being silly,” I told him. “Cats don’t get wrinkles.”
“Why the frown?”
“I think the mailman stole my business correspondence to Sherlock Holmes. I wrote to him five weeks ago, but I haven’t heard from him.” A sudden thought made me gasp. “Unless he got my letter, but threw it away because he wasn’t interested in sharing detective tips with me.”
Or pawtographing a photo.
Charley said nothing a first, though he looked at me as though he was thinking something serious. Charley was once an almost famous private detective, but because he’s super shy—he has something called Anthropophobia, an extreme form of shyness and timidity—he used the fake name, Maxwell Shallowford, and hired an actor from Nova Scotia to pretend to be Shallowford to meet with clients and the public. Things didn’t work out because the actor got involved with the mob and disappeared. He also got married and his wife, whom I think was part demon, scared poor Charley to death, which is how he got to be a ghost.
Yeah. Charley is a ghost. That’s why my nose was cold. Ghosts make the room real cold, even to us cats who wear our fur coats all the time.
“Perhaps Mr. Holmes is away from Baker Street,” Charley now said, “on a case with Dr. Watson. He hasn’t yet read your business correspondence.”
“I didn’t think of that.” I put down my pen. “You’re early. I thought class was scheduled for after lunch.”
Charley died in 1945, but had traveled seventy-some years into the future in order to teach me how to be a private detective. And because he was a ghost, he said he would also teach me about purranormal stuff. He had also invited my sisters, Dori, Peaches, Gidget, Chauncie Marie, Candy, and my brofurs Opie, Jack, Jesse, Nikolas, Frank and Noah to attend his classes. Charley said the Wonderpurr Detective Agency needed the participation of the entire Wonderpurr Gang in order to be… Well. Wonderpurr!
“I returned early from exploring your wonderful new world. Today I discovered Costco. Have you been? No? It’s better than Disneyland. By far the happiest place on earth. They give you any kind of food, hot or cold. And everything comes in huge quantities. You can’t buy just one roll of toilet paper. You have to buy thousands. Where do the consumers store so many rolls of toilet paper?”
I use a litter box, so I just shrugged.
“You may purchase your eyeglasses there. Your medication. You may gas up your automobile, as well as have it serviced for a dead battery or flat tires. I wandered Costco for hours, mesmerized by the enormity of such a place. Do they allow people to live there, you think? I’d want to live there. They have a place called a Food Court. Pizza. Hot dogs. Potato chips. Amazing selection, although at $1.50 I think the hot dogs are overpriced, but why would you want to pay to eat when you could become quite stuffed by eating the free samples?”
Cats aren’t allowed inside Costco, so again I just shrugged. “Sounds like a Wonderpurr place. You were having fun. We could have rescheduled class so you could have stayed.”
“I had to leave,” Charley said. “I was becoming depressed. Unable to smell the free samples. Unable to purchase liquor. Although, I must say, with a 24-pack of beer priced at fifteen dollars, how do they expect anyone other than the very rich to afford such luxuries?”
Cats don’t drink beer, and cats can’t do math. I had no way of knowing if fifteen dollars for a case of 24 beers was expensive…so, I shrugged.
“Do you want me to call my fursibs to come to class?” I asked. “It might take a while. Frank and Nikolas took off on neighborhood patrol after breakfast.”
“Actually, I arrived early to give you a one-on-one lesson. A lesson Sherlock Holmes could teach you himself. However, with him away on a case, I would be honored to teach you myself.”
Intrigued, I left my desk to join Charley on the sofa. “What kind of one-on-one lesson? Does it involve deciphering secret codes? Oh. Speaking of codes. We have a problem with the code names my fursibs picked out last week.”
Charley’s sparse brows rose toward his sparse hairline. “What kind of problem?”
“Well, we were telling my pawrents about our code names, and when Jesse and Nikolas told them their codes names were Toxic Twins 1 & 2, Dad asked which of them was called Number 2, and he had a smirk on his face. That’s when the trouble started. Jesse said he was Number 1. And Nikolas said he was Number 1. And Dad said he thought they were both Number 2’s, and he was laughing, and Mom was trying not to laugh. None of us understood what they thought was so funny. Even when Mom tried to explain to me a little later about Austin Powers, I still didn’t get it. Do you?”
Charley shook his head. “I have no idea. Who is Austin Powers? Is he related to you?”
“He’s a spy who time traveled from the 1960’s. I watched his ‘Spy Who Shagged Me’ doc-mew-mentary with Mom. But I still don’t get this Number 2 business. Anyway, now Jesse and Nikolas want to pick new codes names.”
Charley smiled. “I’m sure they will pick out perfect code names, and everyone will be happy. Now. The lesson I would like to teach you concerns surveillance. Do you know what that is?”
“Watching stuff? Like the squirrels raiding the bird feeders?”
“Surveillance is more than watching, Herman. It is the act of collecting information pertaining to your case. There are three types of surveillance. Moving, perhaps in an automobile or on a bicycle, where you are actively following someone. Stationary surveillance is, perhaps, sitting on a park bench or in the food court at Costco. And on foot, where you follow someone who has perhaps exited his vehicle and entered a public building.”
Surveillance sounded like fun, but I had a problem. “I don’t have a car. Could I surveillance from my Ride?” I gestured to my tricked out Gen7Pets Regal stroller parked in the corner, sleeping. When awake, it tends to follow me around like an excited puppy. But unlike a puppy, it doesn’t piddle on the carpet.
“Yes! With the top up, your stroller would be excellent for surveillance. You just need to be sure to move every few hours, especially in a neighborhood as residents may become suspicious if they see you parked in front of their homes for too long.”
I pulled out a notebook just as my lil sisfur, Dori, arrived. As usual she was wearing a pink tiara and carried a package of Smittens cat treats. “Am I late? I thought class was after lunch?” She shoved a pawful of treats into her mouth.
“Charley is giving me a one-on-one lesson about surveillance,” I told her. “You can come back after lunch when class for everyone else begins.”
“I wanna learn about surveillance too!” Instead of leaving, Dori climbed onto the sofa into Charley’s lap. Except with Charley being a ghost, his lap has a sub-zero temperature that caused Dori to leap to the floor, and then scamper to me to warm herself in my floof.
Charley again explained about moving surveillance and stationary surveillance, and how we could use my Ride with the top up. He cautioned to keep a litter box in the back of my Ride because we may sit for hours while waiting for a suspect to go someplace, and there was a risk that we could be seen if we needed to leave our stationary spot to widdle.
At which point both Dori and I both excused ourselves because all that talk about needing to pee gave us the urge. When we returned, Charley talked about foot surveillance.
“When following a suspect, there are rules you must be aware of,” he told us. “Always stay far enough behind that the suspect doesn’t notice you, yet stay close enough that you don’t lose your suspect. If seen, avoid making eye contact with suspect. Use the reflection in store windows to observe your suspect, rather than stare at them directly. If you are following a suspect into the woods, the use of a ghillie suit would be most beneficial to hide your appearance.”
Dori and I stared at Charley. “A what?” we asked in unison.
“A ghillie suit,” Charley explained, “is a body suit that appears to have been made from leaves and twigs. Deer hunters typically use the suits, as does the military and some police units for concealment purposes. It is imperative to match the ghillie suit to the season. You cannot remain concealed wearing bright autumn leaves of burnt orange and canary yellow when it is spring and the woods are green.”
Charley concluded his lesson on surveillance by saying, “The use of surveillance equipment like cameras, audio recorders, disguises and such are all necessary, but they will never supersede the use of your own eyes. Being aware of everything around you is imperative to being a successful private investigator, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. You never know if the person who accidentally knocks over their cup of coffee is creating a deliberate distraction for another, or if that casually discarded Popsicle stick has a secret message burned into it. Always keep your attention focused on your surroundings when on surveillance.”
Dori thought the lesson required a rousing applause, and I joined in. His eyes squinty with delight, Charley stood to take a bow.
“And now for your assignment,” he said to us. “Next Friday, I want you to go into the woods. Take all of your fur sibs. Enjoy a picnic, if you wish. But, your assignment is to find me.”
Dori shoved a pawful of Smittens into her mouth. “Yoo playing Hide ‘n Seek wif us, Chawley?”
“In a matter of speaking, my little princess. I will be there with you in the woods. All you have to do is look for me. Are you up to the challenge? Are your observation skills sharp enough to detect me among the woodland leaves and branches?”
A quiver of excitement skittered up my spine at the thought of going on my first surveillance case. I couldn’t wait till next Friday.
So tell me, have you ever had the opportunity to do surveillance on someone who didn’t know you were watching them? Like… if you’re a cat, you watch where your meowmy hides the treats so you can paw open the cupboard later after she’s asleep? Or, if you’re a dog, have you ever caught someone, say—that neighbor cat who pees in your bushes—staring at you from the top of the fence when you’ve been busy playing ball in your yard?
Join me next Friday when me and The Wonderpurr Gang heads out on a field trip to the local woodlands to find Charley. Until then, Have a Wonderpurr Week!
If you’re new to Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mysteries and want to catch up, here are the links to my first case, The Case of the Dancing Ghosts, and my second case where I met Charley Feeble, Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost. Also, you can click on the links located on the sidebar of this website.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I’d love to hear what you think of my series, so please leave your comment below. Thanks so much! Herman!!!
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the books me and my mom write, visit our Author Page.