Previously on Sherlock Herms in Will Dori Forgive Sherlock Herms
“Dori, wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be condescending with you. I’m just frustrated. How am I supposed to find a dead lady who doesn’t know she’s dead? Especially when my clients refuse to answer direct questions about who she is. I didn’t even get a chance to ask her name.”
“Why don’t yoo ask me who she is. I know.”
I stared at my little sister. “What? Who? Tell me!”
“Now yoo sound bossy.” She walked to the door leading to the stairs to my office.
I growled, “Dori!”
Her paw on the doorknob, she narrowed her eyes at me. I’d seen that look before—right before I got a headache. Dori claims she can give migraines just by thinking one into your head, and I believe her.
“Dori! Stop right there. Tell me the granddaughter’s name. I’m your boss.”
Her eyes brimmed with hurt. “I thought yoo were my pawtner.” A tear trickled through her whiskers, making me feel like a two-headed monster.
I ran to throw my paws around my little sister, but she closed the door between us. By locking it, she put an exclamation point on her feelings.
I felt wretched. I hadn’t meant to growl or be condescending. I loved Dori with all my heart. And while she could overwhelm and exaspurrate me, she’d also had a big impact on solving my cases. Our cases. She was my partner. My bestest friend.
I covered my eyes with my paws and moaned, “I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. But I did. I’m a baaaad kitty.”
“Youse not a bad kitty kitty,” said a sparkly voice. “Youse a good kitty kitty.” The high-pitched baby talk triggered a memory of the day we’d arrived at our new home. “Youse just need to a-poly-gize to make Dori feel awwww better.”
I lowered my paws to see the blonde lady in a pink polka-dotted dress.
The lady Dori called Evie Pees.
And now… Evie Pees
I had no idea who she had been in life, but in death Evie Pees captivated me with her charm. She reminded me of a bubbly Elle Woods with Oprah’s knack for warm compassion. And while her Jennifer Tilly-like baby voice kinda grated on my last nerve, she drew me to her like a moth to a flame.
At a glance she looked as alive as my pawrents, but then I noticed how the moonlight turned her pale skin almost translucent. It didn’t take a pawfessional purranormal detective to realize that meant she was dead. Despite that, I felt comfortable with her. I guess that was the Spirit Counselor in me that Charley mentioned.
Midnight had come and gone, and the air had turned chilly. Still, we sat on the roof talking, mostly of my frustration to present myself as a hardboiled detective with grit in my blood, while my little sister innocently undermined me by playing at being a detective instead of acting like a pawfessional.
“Dori isn’t deliberately trying to embarrass you,” Evie told me. “She thinks the world of you. She is very proud to be your partner.”
After a solid hour of listening to her baby talk, I’d found the courage to explain to Evie that my pawrents speak to me and my fursibs like intelligent equals—never newborn pets. She’d found this bit of information interesting, and had stopped using the high-pitched nonsensical cooing that had made Frank want to spray stuff when we had first arrived at our new home.
“I don’t mean to be cross with her. It just comes out of my mouth.” I plucked at the fur in my floofy tail. “Maybe I’m not cut out to be a detective.”
“Why do you say that, Hwermie?”
“It doesn’t come naturally for me. I struggle with detective stuff. I kinda stumble onto the clues. Sometimes I don’t even see them. But Dori… Dori is a natural. She acts like she’s got fluff between her ears, but she always comes up with the right answer. I guess I’m…”
I nodded. “And I’m ashamed of myself. Especially for growling at Dori when I’m actually disappointed in myself.”
She patted my head. “You’re a good kitty kitty. Sorry! You’re a good cat. You recognize what is bothering you, and how you’re projecting your frustrations onto Dori.”
“How do I stop being jealous?”
“It’s not a matter of being jealous, but more your ability to realize when you are feeling disappointed in yourself so you don’t take it out on someone else. We all fail at one time or another, Hwermie. It’s a part of life. You’ve taken the first step by being aware of what is frustrating you enough to growl at your loved ones. Perhaps your expectations aren’t realistic. You’re setting yourself up for failure.”
This revelation knocked me on my floofy tail. “What do you mean, my expectations aren’t realistic?”
“You’ve set them too high. You want to be like Sam Spade for his hardboiled detective lingo, and Sherlock Holmes for his use of logical reason to solve cases. Plus you like his hat.”
I blinked. “How did you know that?” We’d just met. How did she know my secret ambition?
She looked as stunned as I felt. “I… I don’t know. But it’s true, isn’t it?”
I felt my ears warm with embarrassment. “Yes.”
“Only Sam Spade can be Sam Spade. And you don’t need to copy Sherlock Holmes. You’re Sherlock Herms. Not the same. Different.”
I seemed to recall Charley and Dori saying pretty much the same thing back when I was going through my initial Inattentional Blindness freak out.
“Life is funny,” I told Evie Pees. “Here I am, wanting so badly to solve cases with all the smooth cool confidence of my heroes, but I kinda suck at it because I’m highly distracted and lack the ability to focus on one thing at a time. Dori, however, kicks tail as a detective, effortlessly figuring out clues. Yet all she cares about is whether a can of tuna will be served for lunch, and if she has an adequate supply of Smittens, her favorite treats.”
Evie Pees again patted me on the head. “We can’t all be Sherlock Holmes, Hwermie. Someone has to clap as he walks by.”
“But you know what? I look forward to clapping when you walk by.”
“That’s very kind of you, Evie. It lifts my spirits. So much! I want to do the same for Dori. I need to apologize to her.” I noticed my new friend was looking at me with confusion.
“Who’s Evie?” she asked.
A light went on in the third floor window next door, drawing our attention. The shadow of a plump woman wearing a big hat appeared behind the drawn shade. I recognized the strong-featured profile as Patty Kiss, the realtor who sold Mom and Dad our house. When my parents had gone out of town for Spring Break, they’d asked someone else to look in on us because Patty Kiss was allergic to cats.
Seeing Patty took me back to the day we had first arrived and how Mom told Dad something important about the house. “The For Sale By Owner ad claimed the house is only vaguely haunted. No big deal.”
“What entails ‘no big deal?’” Dad had wondered.
“Unexplainable foot stomps on the stairs, as though something big and bad is coming for you. An eerie tapping on the third floor windows from the outside. A soft, whisper-like scream in the kitchen around six in the morning, once or twice a week. Also, angry faces are said to appear in the house mirrors. Other than that…”
“No big deal,” Dad had finished for her.
“That’s what it said on the For Sale By Owner website,” Mom told him. “But when I called to inquire, I was turned over to Patty Kiss, the realtor. She danced around the idea of the house being haunted until I pressed and she said she didn’t like to gossip, but perhaps the seller had a drinking problem when they posted the ad and we should ignore her. She then told me the seller had purchased the house with the intention of turning it into a bed and breakfast, and had only been open a short time before they abandoned the property. The house went into foreclosure, and voila! We bought it. I love the idea of turning it into a bed and breakfast. I think we should do it. Sounds like fun.”
“Sounds like a lotta work,” Dad had grumbled, and he was right. Since the day we moved in he had been painting over the pink walls and ripping out the pink carpet while Mom joined the MBBA and Googled 10 Tips for Running a B&B.
Charley had told me I was supposed to be a Spirit Counselor, but since we’d moved in I hadn’t heard the foot stomps, eerie tapping, whisper scream or seen any angry faces in mirrors. I wondered if Evie Pees was one of the spirits doing the stomping or tapping, but when I turned to ask, I saw she had disappeared.
Watching Patty Kiss’s shadow remove her big hat and shake out her hair made me feel like a peeping tomcat. The night had turned cold and I wanted a snack before I went to bed. But first I needed to figure out how to pick the lock on the door. Otherwise I’d have to slide three stories backward down the side of the house. Grateful Mom had been too busy to clip my claws, I went to work on the lock.
My career as a lock-picker had launched, but with sketchy results. Dad would have a major meltdown when he saw what I’d done to the door, but I knew Mom had my back and would save my floofy tail. Moms are like that, yeah they are!
The full moonlight lit up the windows and the Grandma clock had just struck one-thirty when I entered the kitchen. Mom doesn’t free feed, but there are always a few stray kibbles underfoot. Sure enough, I found several scattered where Frank usually ate. I could always depend on Frank as he’d been voted Messiest Eater by the Wonderpurr Gang.
I quickly cleaned up after eating, and then headed to the solarium where I had my bed. Sunny and warm during the day, at night the bright moonlight lit up the glass wall-and-ceiling room, making me feel like I was sleeping under the stars.
As I entered, I was surprised to see no one else there. Usually there were five or six other fursibs in the room, but not tonight. Then I saw my bed. More specific, the sign on my bed:
I searched the house for Dori, eventually finding her on the second floor window bench, pretending to be asleep. I licked her cheek. She flicked her ear with annoyance, but didn’t open her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I’m ashamed of how I behaved. You didn’t deserve that.”
When she continued to ignore me, I said, “I’m jealous of your detecting ability. I’m disappointed in myself for not being like my hero, Sherlock Holmes. I know you’ve told me I can’t be like him. I’m not him. I’m Sherlock Herms. I’m different.” Still no response. “Evie told me my expectations aren’t realistic. They’re too high. She says I’m setting myself up for failure.”
Dori opened her eyes. “Yoo spoke with the lady in the pink dot dwess?”
“Yes. She’s very nice. I asked her not to use baby talk any more and she understood. Evie told me we can’t all be Sherlock Holmes. Someone has to clap as he walks by. She also told me she looks forward to clapping when I walk by. I thought that was very kind of her. It lifted my spirits. So much! I—” Dori was squinting at me with disapproval. “What?”
“Yoo talked all about yourself, didn’t yoo?”
“Did yoo ask her anything about herself? Did you intermew her for clues?”
My mind went blank. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.
“Did you ask her name?” Dori wondered.
“I… No. You said her name is Evie Pees.”
“It’s not. I asked her. She said her name is Dowothy. Dowothy Kiss. But everyone calls her Dottie cuz she likes polka dots. And the color pink. And kitties.”
I sat back on my tail. “That’s why you were asking Violet and Isobel those questions about their granddaughter?”
“Yes.” Her eyes watered. “Why do you have to talk with a stwanger about yoor problems, Hwermie, and not me? I’m yoor sister. I’m yoor pawtner. I thought I was yoor bestest furend.”
“You are, Dori. I love you so much! I’m sorry. I feel a lot of pressure to run the Wonderpurr Detective Agency. Especially now that I— I mean, we have employees. We only have a few quarters in our piggy bank. Not enough to pay them.”
“They don’t want quawtahs, Hwermie. They just want to play. To be a part of our fun. And they want wespect. Yoor wespect. I want that, too.”
“I respect you! I couldn’t have solved any of our cases without you.”
“Sure, yoo could have.”
“No, honey. You’re really good at seeing clues that I miss. Maybe I need glasses, huh?”
“Maybe yoo just need to stop twying so hard to be like Shewlock Homes. Stop twying to be someone yoo awen’t. And stop being so humorless. We are Finalists for Blogpaws Best Pet Humor Blog. Our furends aren’t stopping by on Fridays to soak in yoor melodwama. They got enough of that at home. They visit us to laugh. Yoo used to be fun before yoo became a detective, Hwermie. Yoo need to be fun again.”
I nodded. “Okay. I guess maybe I’m putting unnecessary pressure on myself.”
“Ya think? I’m pwetty sure Shewlock Homes didn’t sit around on Baker Stweet bending Watson’s ear about his fear of failing or how he feels inadequate.”
“I just don’t want to fail, Dori.”
“Hwermie, failure is a bwuise, not a tattoo.”
“And yoo gotta stop growling at me when I don’t measure up to yoor high expectations. Blowing out my candle doesn’t make yoors shine any bwighter.”
I sat back, stunned by her articulate reprimand.
“Don’t blame me for disappointing yoo, Hwermie. Blame yoorself for expecting too much.”
“Dori, I’m so sorry. I had no idea you felt this way.”
“Don’t apologize yet. I’m not done.” She moved to look beneath her paws. There I saw Mom’s phone with the screen filled with motivational memes. She read, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how its supposed to be.”
I pointed to the next meme. “I like that one.”
She pointed to another. “This is a good one, too.”
“I like this one the best.”
“Dori, I would not be who I am without you by my side. And I couldn’t be more pleased that you are my sister, my partner, and my bestest furend.”
She touched her pink nose to mine. “Yoor my he-woe, Hwermie. Tomorrow yoo need to start being the he-woe of yoor own stowry. I know yoor overwhelmed by Mom having too much on her plate… twaveling for Grammy’s 90th birfday pawty, designing new mawketing material, writing a new novel, writing a workshop on 3D-characterization for the DeSoto Writers Alliance mini-con on May 6th …not to mention gearing up for Blogpaws later in May. Just cuz Mom is burning her candle at both ends doesn’t mean yoo have to absorb her daily fweak out and make it yoor own.”
“Got it. Let Mom freak out on her own.”
“And go back to being funner, Hwermie. Sewriously, yoo stawting to get fwrown lines.”
“Sounds like the formula to a great detective team, Dori.” I crawled onto the bench and lay with my head on her tail.
As the moon rose high in the night sky, I released the last of my self doubts. Life is too short to live in fear of making mistakes. Or getting frown lines.
You can quote me.
TO BE CONTINUED FRIDAY, APRIL 28th.
Welcome to Season Two of Sherlock Herms Purranormal Mysteries starring me, Herman @TattleCat and my lil sisfur, Dori @Adorapurr on Twitter. If you’re new to us, you’ll find my Season One Case Files located in my Case Note Archives . You can also Subscribe to this Wonderpurr blog by email. See the side column. Go on, I’ll wait while you look.
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