My name is Sherlock Herms. It is my business to know what others don’t know. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure my business is all in my head and I might be borderline schizo. I have no idea what’s going on.
As I lay in the dark on my attic office sofa, my mind replayed what I had to assume was a nightmare.
I’d dreamed we’d lost our home when I allowed a teevee celebrity ghost hunter named Ghost Guy into our house and he’d summoned enough demons to force us to flee. Okay. It was really Dori who did that, but I accept the blame. I could have scratched the dood and sent him on his way, but I didn’t.
We’d moved north to a town called Welcome Home located in the Mitten State. There I met a pretty ghost named Dottie Kiss who loved to wear polka dots and had been murdered by her sister Patty who buried her in a grave with their grandmother, Violet. When confronted with proof Patty retaliated by setting our new home on fire.
“This is your fault, Sherlock,” Dad had snarled at me in my dream. “If you hadn’t poked your pink nose into Patty Kiss’s business, our home wouldn’t be on fire. You’re responsible for this.”
“You took playing detective too far,” Peaches said and Chauncie Marie added, “What a failure you are, Herman.”
I’d buried my face in my paws while all around me were the sounds of my life going up in flames. “I never meant for this to happen,” I’d cried. “I didn’t want to be a purranormal detective, but everyone said I had to help Dottie.”
“You’re a failure,” Frank growled. “Because of you we are now homeless!”
Dori howled. “We are homeless. All because of yoo, Hwermie. All because of yoo!”
“All because of you, Herman,” Mom said, her voice heavy with grief. “All because of you!”
Sobbing my little heart out, I ran to my Guardian Angel, Charley Feeble. “The h-house is b-burning and everyone blames me,” I’d wept in my dream. “I didn’t know Patty would b-burn the house down. I didn’t know.” I pawed away my tears to look into his eyes, but what I saw wasn’t the kind squinty Charley eyes I’d come to know and love. Now his eyes were hard and angry.
“It is your fault,” he told me. “You messed up. You put your family in danger.”
“But I didn’t mean to,” I yowled, heartbroken that my mentor had also turned on me. “Oh Charley. Not you too. Everyone is mad at me. Nobody loves me any more.” As my family and Charley surrounded me with mad faces, I’d hid my face in my paws. “This is a nightmare! A horrible, horrible nightmare!”
I felt a kick to my shins and with a gasp I stared into the squinty eyes of my sweet little sister and partner in the Wonderpurr Detective Agency. “Just like hoomons…you dissy-point me, Hwermie.” Dori kicked me again, and punched my arm. Even in my dream she packed a wallop. “Yoo did a bad thing, Hwermie. Bad, Hwermie!”
As I watched her prepare for another roundhouse punch, I gasped and fell backwards. As I fell, I realized that I was falling into a deep dark pit, about six feet deep. There I lay looking up at the stormy sky at the top of the pit. As the faces of my family crowded around the opening, I realized I was not alone. I was inside the grave with Violet and Dottie, and both were wearing mad faces.
“You are a failure as a hardboiled detective,” Violet told me. “There is no grit in your blood.”
“You are a bad kitty,” Dottie agreed. “You let me down. Now I will never find the Light.”
“No! No!” I howled. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt anybody!”
“Bad Hwermie!” Dori kicked dirt down into the pit on top of me. “Bad bad, Hwermie!”
“I didn’t want to be a purranormal detective,” I sobbed as my family joined Dori in kicking dirt on top of me. “I want to go home. I want my old life back. I want my old life back!”
Gasping from the recall, I lurched off my attic sofa to walk in circles while I waited for my pounding heart to simmer down. “It had been all a dream,” I mumbled over and over. But it hadn’t felt like one. It had felt real!
As my heartbeat calmed, I sat at my huge desk with lots of nooks and crannies. It came with my attic office. Actually, it came with the house. It’s too big to get through the door without chopping to pieces. Mom always said our home was built around an older house that refused to be torn down. In my dream I’d taken the case of Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost where I discovered our house had belonged to Charley, a detective who got murdered by Vivian Shallowford who was so mean, she’d turned into Demon Loud Lady and lived behind the bookcase here in my office.
Remembering this, I jumped up to pull a few books off the shelves only to see nothing but a wall. Then I remembered the Smoke Monster that liked to steal Dori’s treats and knelt to peek under the couch, but he wasn’t there.
Back at my desk I picked up the receiver on my 1940’s black Bakelite with a rotary dial. It wasn’t plugged into anything, and yet in my dream I’d received a phone call from Roland Blunden of the Chelmsford Blunden’s who lived in 1943 and hired me to prove the abandoned house he’d purchased wasn’t haunted…although it was and I had to figure out a way to get rid of the ghosts in order to earn two huge quarters (since they’re bigger than pennies and dimes). The Case of the Dancing Ghosts had been my first paying case as a hardboiled detective with grit in my blood. Spying my smiling piggy bank, I shook it, expecting to hear the quarters jingle, but my bank made no sound.
My gaze then drifted to the vacant spot on the wall over my desk where I’d hung a picture of me, Dori and Charley, taken after Charley got a promotion in heaven to become my Guardian Angel. I stared at the spot pretty hard, as though willing the picture to return. I was having a really hard time believing everything I’d been through had been a dream.
But what if it all had been a dream? Maybe that was a good thing. I’d been a huge failure as a purranormal detective. I’d let Dori run the show while I stood around with my paws in my pockets, wondering What The Friskies was going on most of the time.
I’d not made myself proud as a detective, purranormal or otherwise. Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade would have made me turn in my deerstalker hat and trench coat if they’d seen what a poopy job I’d done of detecting. Of not taking control like a master detective should, but rather allowing Dori to lead me around by the whiskers.
If I had the chance to do it all over again, what would I change? Well, for one I wouldn’t allow Dori to shove me into ghost hunting. In fact, I would take Mosey and travel to Baker Street to meet Sherlock Holmes and ask him to teach me how to be a Master Detective like him.
Thinking my attic office smelled stuffy, I abruptly recalled thinking the same thing in my dream while picturing my mom writing in her air-conditioned office with sunlight warming her African violets. Like in my dream, I put my nose to the door crack to inhale the fragrance of lemony sunlight puddling on the buttery carpet in front of her desk. I loved that sun puddle. So much! I also loved air conditioning.
In my dream I’d sniffed hard, hoping the A/C in mom’s office would chill my insides and make me comfortapurr. I snuffled now at the crack. That’s when a faint fishy odor seeped into my nostrils, followed by a loud burp. Just like in my dream! But how could this be?
With my paw on the door, I fought squirrely feelings in my tummy. In my dream I’d thought my first client had arrived, but I knew better. I knew it was my little sisfur Dori on the other side wearing her rainbow pawty-collar with a box of her favorite treats in her paws. I opened the door and sure enough, there she was. She even broke into the same commercial.
“Smittens tweats are cute, heart-shaped and crunchy,” Dori told me. “They are made from wild, line-caught Haddock from the pristine waters off the coast of Iceland.”
Instead of saying my line in the dream: “Are you going to share with me, or snarf them all yourself?” I stayed silent, just to see what would happen.
At first Dori stared at me, expecting me to ask the question. But when I remained silent, she hugged the box to her chest and said her next line: “Mine.”
What the Friskies was going on? Okay, maybe I’d been a purranormal detective in my dream, but that didn’t make me born yesterday while awake. Something fishy was going on, besides Dori’s breath, and I planned to get to the bottom of it.
I knew what Dori wanted me to say next, so I deliberately didn’t ask “What do you want, Dori?” which again tripped her into saying her next line, “Meowmy said I can pway detective, too,” without prompting.
“Sure you can play detective,” I told her, which wasn’t what I’d said in my dream, and that blew her performance rhythm. Waiting for me to say my lines about not playing detective, she stood in the doorway with worried eyes that grew more anxious when I flung myself onto my couch.Something fishy was going on, besides Dori’s breath, and I planned to get to the bottom of it. Click To Tweet
“Dibs!” Dori jumped onto my desk, knocking my cup of purrrple crayons to the floor. Several disappeared into the cracks, never to be seen again. I was supposed to snarl, “That’s my desk,” and grab my piggy bank before it crashed too, but I didn’t. “Maybe I should sit on the storage bin,” she murmured. I just shrugged. As she crawled on top of it, clutching her bag of treats, she said, “Hwermie, why do you have a piggy bank on your desk?”
My line was, “To remind clients to pay me.” Instead I said, “It’s junk I plan to throw out. You can have if you want it.” The shock on her face was priceless.
Shouting “What’s that?” a little louder than necessary, Dori pointed to the corner where I was lying on the couch with a nearby chair and table with a lamp along with several copies of my favorite magazines. I was supposed to say, “That’s where I will interrogate suspects,” but instead I skipped ahead and said her line for her, “No. I mean that box thingy sucking on the wall plug,” which totally freaked her out. I could tell by the way her eyes dilated, her ears flattened and her tail fizzed. So freaked, she said, “That’s your CritterZone Air Naturalizer. Yoo got it when yoo was at Blogpaws in Vegas.”
I yawned pretty loudly and picked up a magazine to browse, abandoning the conversation altogether. Dori still tried to perform her part by leaving her treats on the storage bin, and going to sniff the CritterZone. “What does it do?” she asked, but when I didn’t answer she said my line: “It attacks germs, bacteria, dust particles and neutralizes the coughy, sneezy, itchy-eye stuff in the air,” followed by her line: “Is that a good thing?” Skipping over my reply, she said her next line: “What are con-tammy-ants?” but I had no intention of answering. I could see her whiskers bristling with frustration, and hid my smirk behind my magazine.
“Dad’s gardening shoes,” she bit out between clenched fangs. “Wet towels. Garbage. Litter box poo.” In her frustration I’d noticed she’d abandoned her trademark lisp. Then she widened her eyes with forced amazement and the lisp returned: “Weally? Maybe we should plug it into Fwank’s pa-tootie.” As she giggled behind her paw, she sounded more psychotic than cheerful.
From behind my magazine I watched her gaze travel to the door, then upward and around the room, as though she knew she had lost control of the performance, but didn’t know what to do next. I knew there were more lines about the CritterZone that would remain unsaid, including my line: “Why does the Wonderpurr Detective Agency have a CritterZone Air Naturalizer? Because, Dori… Crime stinks!” but I refused to say it.
Silence filled the room broken only by me turning a magazine page. A glance told me my little sister was about to explode with nerves, so I wasn’t surprised when my phone suddenly rang and Dori did a back-flip into the air and sunk her claws into the wood ceiling beams. Meanwhile I answered the phone myself.
Instead of saying “Wonderpurr Detective Agency. Sherlock Herms speaking. How may I help you?” I said, “Is this Dino’s Pizza? I’d like to order a one-inch vegetarian mushroom pizza with PUP-purroni, pigs knuckles and Fruity Pebbles.” As I hung up, Dori fell off the ceiling.
“Despurrate is good,” Dori murmured, more to the floor than to me. “We chawge fifty cents.” She was still determined to say her lines, although the conversation had veered way off course.
The phone rang again. I knew it was Roland Blunden of the Chelmsford Blunden’s trying to hire me to solve my first purranormal mystery, as he’d called in my so-called dream. But before he could speak, I again answered with, “Dino’s Pizza? I want to order 52 PUP-purroni slices prepared in a fractal pattern as follows from an equation I am about to dictate. Do you need time to grab a pen and paper?”
“Hwermie!” Dori howled. “What are yoo doing?”
“Hold on,” I told my sister, then said into the phone, “I’d like a pizza with the following toppings: enriched bleached wheat flour (flour, reduced iron, “b” vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate (b1), riboflavin (b2), folic acid)), water, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening (soybean, cottonseed and/or canola oil, beef fat), whole eggs, dextrose, contains 2% or less of: soy lecithin, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, cornstarch, and monocalcium phosphate), whey, modified corn starch, glucose, soy flour, salt, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, cornstarch, sodium stearoyl lactylate, natural and artificial flavor, sorbic acid (to retain freshness), polysorbate 60, soy protein isolate, calcium and sodium caseinate, yellow 5, red 40.”
I felt Dori’s paw on my arm. “Hwermie, yoo is scaring me. Why are yoo ordering Twinkies on yoor pizza?” She pulled the phone from my paws, but didn’t say anything. She just gazed into my eyes with worry. So I said, “Is this where we’re supposed to get bound together with the telephone cord like a couple of yo-yo’s?”
At that moment Jack and Opie burst into my office pushing my mint chip-colored Gen7Pets Regal stroller with Jack saying “We heard you got your first case and needed transportation to get there.” He screeched to a halt. “Uhhh, aren’t you supposed to be tied up with the telephone cord?”“Hwermie, yoo is scaring me. Why are yoo ordering Twinkies on yoor pizza?” Click To Tweet
“Hwermie’s not playing by the wules,” Dori mumbled as she wandered into the corner where our mom kept her research library. There my sister began to paw through books, just like she’d done in my “dream” that I now knew for certain wasn’t a dream at all. While I had no idea what was going on—why my fursibs were attempting to re-enact my first case–I knew it was time for me to take control and start being a Player instead of a Patsy.
Jack was saying his lines according to plan. “We took the liberty of adding a few gizmo’s to your buggy.” He unzipped the hood and flipped aside the mint chip cushion to reveal the control panel with a scary array of buttons, including the notorious pink button that would delay our destination by ten days with every push. I watched him then turn to glare at Dori pawing through the bookcase. “Don’t you want to come over here and paw the pink button?”
She shook her head, then started to sing ‘Purrrple Underpants’ under her breath. Hearing the song put the exclamation point on my suspicions that everything I’d been through over the past year had not been a dream. I’d never heard Dori sing that song until my second case entitled Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost.
Casually I bent down on the pretext of examining my foot claws in order to whisper “Hello Mosey.” My stroller whimpered like a puppy. I then peeked into the compartment under the seat and saw the Smoke Monster swirling happily. “Shhh,” I whispered to them both.
Feeling superior that I now knew my family was trying to pull something over on me, I pretended interest while Jack removed the nylon ring from my stroller’s storage compartment. He pulled a string and it popped open into a tunnel.
“Jack, thanks for the toy,” I told him as per my lines in the script, “but I don’t have time to play. I got my first caper to solve.”
“It’s not a toy, Herms. It’s a trans-portal. An Energy Gate. I’ll explain later…if you return.”
I laughed instead of swallowing hard, which caused Jack to arch a brow in question. After a moment when I didn’t say my “If?” line, Jack gestured to the H on my collar. “Your bling is the key to your Ride.” He pointed to the H impression on the right of the panel. “Touch your charm here. Then meow the address and paw the button that lights up.”
I decided now was the time to take action. I jumped into Mosey and touched my H charm to the control panel. The buttons lit up. Pale at first, then gradually stronger with dazzling brightness. Then, instead of meowing the address, I punched 221B Baker Street, London, U.K. into the control panel.
I was gonna do it! I was gonna go find my hero and ask him to teach me how to be a Master Detective like him. Beg, if I had to…although cats don’t beg as a rule.
Dori ran toward me howling, “What are yoo doing, Hwermie? I’m supposed to go with yoo!”
As Mosey began to shiver, then quiver, I told her, “Not this time, sweetheart.” When he started to shake like a wet dog I shouted, “I’m doing what I should have done a year ago. I’m taking charge!”
If you like what you’re reading, here are more stories by Kimberley Koz and Herman, her mews: