Previously on Sherlock Herms…The Case of the Dancing Ghosts…
When we last left our hero, Herman TattleCat – the dashing hardboiled detective with grit in his blood, and his beautiful yet sated sisfur/assistant, Dori, they had come to the conclusion that the Throckley mansion was contaminated with ghosts, and the CritterZone Air Naturalizer that Dori had pulled from the wall when they were sucked into the kitty play tunnel-slash-trans-portal might eliminate the ghosts. But before they did that, Herman wanted to find out how the ghosts got dead in the first place.
Dori wanted to hire a Medium to connect with the ghosts by letting them inside their bodies to talk, but Herman couldn’t afford one. Plus he didn’t like the idea of Old Man Throckley inside him, all drooly and stinky.
Suddenly the ghost party returned, making Dori and Herman run upstairs to the third floor where Throckley appeared, holding a hammer. Herman was afraid he would hit them, but then Throckley walked through them, through the wall. When an explosion of violent hammering burst from beyond the wall, Dori zoomed back downstairs, but Herman remained behind, determined to solve the mystery. With his sensitive whiskers tingling with feline intuition, Herman put his paw on the wall. It felt cold. Really really cold.
Then, it hit him!
I zoomed down the stairs to the first floor, past Dori curled up inside my Ride sucking her dewclaw, out the front door and across the street to Broom Lady’s yard. There I looked at the Throckley mansion. As I already knew the floor plans for the first and second floors, my gaze went to the third floor with its door balcony on the left, and the three windows on the right. Except…
Except inside the house on the third floor, there was only Throckley’s bedroom with the door balcony. There wasn’t a room with three windows on the right. There was only a solid wall. I stroked my sensitive whiskers. They were tingling with my super-sensitive feline instincts. Throckley owned a construction company. He built houses. He built this house. He could easily build a wall to conceal a bedroom.
I stared at the three windows. Dori said cats can see ghosts. Maybe they could also talk to them. I crossed the street to stand inside the iron fence. I looked up at the windows where I saw a woman looking back at me. Christina.
She looked sad, not happy like when she was dancing with Gorgeous George. I had to find out what happened. I had to know before we plugged in my CritterZone Air Naturalizer and eliminated the ghosts contaminating the mansion.
Back inside, I saw Dori had fallen asleep. I decided to let her rest while I answered a few burning questions on my own. In the kitchen, where the lone place setting with its mummified food kept company with the greasy black frying pan, I went to the cupboard where I reached past the tins of tomato soup, and steak and kidney pudding for the jar of pineapple. I tried to paw it open, but the lid had rusted shut. I gnawed on the lid, but it wouldn’t budge, plus it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Determined to get the answer to my question, I did what us cats do best: I pushed it onto the floor where it broke open. The vinegary-bite of spoiled brown fruit stung my nose, but lying among the pineapple I saw a packet. My whiskers vibrated with warning not to touch it. What was inside that packet? I had to find out.
I scanned the cupboard, but didn’t see anything that made my whiskers tingle. My gaze skimmed the kitchen where it snagged on the man’s hat and coat hanging by the back door. My whiskers told me to investigate, so I did.
The coat smelled sour. I couldn’t reach the hat, but figured it did too. I thought the door they hung on lead outside, but when I sniffed it I didn’t smell grass or sunshine. I smelled a sweet, foul, damp dirt odor. Kinda reeky. Definitely moufa. It made my tummy feel wonky.
I dropped to my knees to peek under the door…and smelled something far worse than Frank’s litter box. What would Sherlock Holmes do? I had one quarter left and I didn’t want to give it back to Blunden, or owe him the one I’d spent on Dori’s chicken leg.
I clawed at the door, working it until bits of wood flaked off the corner. It would take me forever at this pace. I returned to the front hall where Dori sat in my stroller. My Ride was whimpering, as though afraid. Dori’s eyes looked strange. Feverish. Had Broom Lady fooled me and put garlic in the chicken, knowing it would kill kitties? “Honey, are you feeling barfy?”
“I didn’t want to marry him. Mama told me to. I didn’t have a choice,” she answered in a strange, breathy whisper that reminded me of the actress in one of Mom’s favorite mew-vees, Marilyn Monroe.
Uh oh. Dori was Medium-ing Marilyn Monroe’s ghost!
“Mama always gets what Mama wants.”
Oh wait…she was Medium-ing Christina’s ghost.
“George wasn’t rich like John Throckley,” Dori-slash-Christina continued. “But I loved him anyway.”
The more I stared at Dori, the more I saw a pretty human girl’s face. Christina!
“Mama had ambitions to marry a rich man, but she knew John would never look at her even though they were the same age, so she arranged for him to meet me. He offered me a job as his secretary at his construction company, even though I couldn’t type. Two weeks later, he proposed. Mama arranged for us to marry the next day, and we moved into this house. John was upset. He didn’t expect Mama to live with us, but she threatened to have our marriage annulled if he threw her out.”
“I hated her!” someone shouted from the front door.
I spun with a hiss to see my client, Roland Blunden of the Chelmsford Blunden’s. Like Dori, he looked strange. I could see an old man’s face over Blunden’s.
“She was pushy. Loud! She embarrassed me with her drinking and smoking.” He slammed the door, making the house shake from the force. “She rearranged my furniture! She opened my curtains! She was always drunk. Always playing piano and caterwauling loud enough to wake the neighbors. I hated her!” His face turned a scary purple as he growled, “Soooo much.” He looked at my little sisfur wearing Christina’s face while she sat in my trembling-with-terror stroller. “When I found out you were seeing George behind my back, I didn’t blame you. I blamed your mother. That’s when I decided to get rid of Gladys. And George, too. Then I would have you all to myself.”
“Never!” Dori/Christina cried breathily. “I loved George.”
“And that’s why he had to die!” Blunden/Throckley roared.
Realizing I had reached the Denouement portion of my case where the killer confesses, all the secrets are revealed and loose ends were tied up, I moved to sit at the bottom of the staircase. I had a feeling it might take a while.
“My plan was to leave town for one day, but really sneak back and kill them. I spoke to that gossipy girl across the street so she would tell everyone I was out of town when they were murdered. But then… Then I felt ill from your cooking and couldn’t leave my hotel room for one week. When I returned I found my house filled with strangers. I hate parties. I hate people! I looked into a window, but I didn’t see you. There was music and drinking, and so much noise!”
The party ghosts suddenly appeared, along with the scratchy squealy music. I saw Gladys at the piano, drinking from a bottle. “How I hated her,” Blunden/Throckley snarled to Dori, who stared at him with Christina’s wide eyes. “When she finished caterwauling, I watched her enter the kitchen. I decided to carry out my plan to kill her by using the back stairs so no one would see me.”
Gladys floated past me toward the kitchen just as my client, Blunden, collapsed onto his Oriental. Realizing Throckley’s ghost had left his body, I felt my tingling whiskers pull me toward the kitchen. There I saw Throckley looking really mad and really sick, while Gladys, cooking chicken, laughed at him.
“You’re dying,” Gladys told him. “I’ve been poisoning your food with Rough on Rats.” She held up a box of rat poison. “Christina will marry George after you’re dead. And we will live happily ever after here in your house, having parties and spending your money.”
Drooling and snarling, Throckley grabbed Gladys’ arm. He then dragged her to the door holding his coat and hat, opened it, and threw her down the stairs. I heard her scream. And then I heard nothing more. Throckley’s ghost then opened a door inside the closet, and disappeared.
With my whiskers tingling, I crept on my belly to peek inside. There I saw a crumbly, damp old staircase leading down into the black hole that was the basement. I also saw the door Throckley had opened. It lead upstairs. A secret staircase! I followed Throckley’s ghost. Upstairs I found another door that I easily pawed open. It led into the room with the three windows on the third floor. The smell inside the room had me grabbing my floofy tail to cover my nose.
Holding a hammer, Throckley’s ghost stood over Gorgeous George’s body, lying on the floor with a sheet wrapped around his hips. In the four poster bed, Christina’s ghost wept breathily into her pillow. Throckley tied her hands to the bed. Then he opened a door and walked through it. I went to the door and saw a solid wall instead of the third floor hallway.
I scampered back down the stairs, through the kitchen, and into the front hall where Dori sat inside my stroller, talking with our client. “I’m sowry, but I have to chawge you extwa for the ghost talking inside my body.”
Blunden looked so dazed, he didn’t seem to care she was parked on his Oriental rug. “It’s worse than I thought. How will I ever sell this house?” He handed my sisfur a quarter.
“Don’t worry,” she told him. “We have a plan to bust ’em.”
Just as she said that, the ghost party returned, laughing and drinking. But this time the ghost mama, Gladys, wasn’t among them. Neither were Christina and Gorgeous George.
“Get out!” Old Man Throckley stood on the stairs, looking like death. “Get out of my house!” he screamed at the ghost party.
The party vanished. My stroller dumped Dori on the rug, and then hurled itself toward the front door. “Well, my work here is done.” She raced after it.
I hurried to grab her tail and my Ride’s handlebar. “We aren’t finished.” I saw Throckley’s ghost had disappeared. A moment later violent hammering on the third floor raised the fur under our collars, and had Blunden running past us out the front door.
“Throckley killed the mama ghost,” I told Dori as I reached for the CritterZone Air Naturalizer inside my stroller. “He pushed her down the basement stairs. Then he took a secret staircase up to Christina’s room on the third floor. He found her with Gorgeous George and killed him with a hammer. Then he tied Christina to the bed.”
The hammering abruptly stopped.
“He sealed Christina’s room with a fake wall. And then I think he returned upstairs through the secret staircase to die in the room with her. The ghost mama was poisoning his food.”
“Eek!” Dori pointed at the staircase where Old Man Throckley was leaning on the banister, looking like the end was near.
And it was. At least for his ghost. I plugged the CritterZone Air Naturalizer into the closest electrical plug.
“Walk into the light,” Dori told Throckley’s ghost, and he did, floating past us and out the open door to where sunshine had returned to the mansion’s front lawn.
Next we saw Gladys, the ghost mama. “Walk into the light,” I told her, and she did.
“Look, Hwermie!” Dori pointed up the staircase to where Christina and Gorgeous George were dancing. They looked happy now that they were free from Throckley’s ghost holding them captive. We didn’t have to tell them to walk into the light. They seemed to know. As they danced past us, we saw beautiful angels waiting for them on the front lawn. And then they were gone.
I unplugged my CritterZone. “Now we can go home.” I helped Dori into my stroller and pushed her out the door and through the iron fence gate. I saw Blunden sitting with Broom Lady on her front porch, holding her granddaughter. I waved and they happily waved back.
As I pushed Dori down the street, I wondered how we were supposed to return home, especially since we had traveled twenty-five hundred miles and seventy-some years into the past. I wondered if Mom had forgotten all about us. I wondered if she had replaced me as her writer’s mews with my chunky-butt arch-nemesis brofur, Opie.
“There it is!” Dori pointed to where the kitty play tunnel-slash-trans-portal waited for us on the sidewalk. I could feel the stroller pulling me instead of me pushing it. The tunnel was working. It was sucking us toward it. I jumped in and pressed the H charm on my collar to the H on the control panel with a scary array of glowing buttons. Then I zipped the mesh hood into place while Dori meowed our home address and pawed the bright green button that lit up.
As my Ride began to shake like a wet dog, I saw my sisfur reach for the pink button. I grabbed her paw. “Remember what happened last time. Don’t touch the pink button. Don’t even look at it. I want to go home.”
Before us the kitty play tunnel looked like it was growing bigger…or maybe we were shrinking. Either way, my Ride was being sucked inside. Recalling how mad the control panel got when I stared at it, I deliberately turned my back on it. I also pushed Dori to the rear of my stroller to avoid her accidentally on purrrpose touching the pink button.
As my Ride rocked and rolled from side to side, then flipped upside down, then right-side up, I thought about home, and helping my mom write mystery stories. I’d learned so much from my first case. I couldn’t wait to tell her about it.
“You okay?” I asked Dori. She lay curled around the CritterZone Air Naturalizer.
“I wonder if Opie ate my Smittens tweats.”
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 contented sigh. We peeked from under the cushion to see dark shadows surrounding us. I unzipped the mesh hood, and my heart leaped to see my huge desk with its nooks and crannies. It came with my office. Actually, it came with the house. It’s too big to get through the door without chopping to pieces. Mom says our home was built around an older house that refused to be torn down.
Happily, I ran to paw the snake-necked lamp I intended to shine blindly into suspect’s eyes during interrogation. And I nuzzled my old 1940’s black Bakelite telephone with a rotary dial that I’d found inside one of the desk’s cubbyholes. The bell I’d hung over my door so no one could sneak up on me, and the measuring tape I’d tacked from top to bottom to tell how tall my clients were in case they turned out to be suspects were right where I’d left them. Even the talcum powder I’d sprinkled on the floor to trap paw prints was there, along with my couch and chair with a lamp and table spread with much-read copies of my favorite American Trucker magazines.
“They’re still here!” I turned to see Dori’s eyes brimming with tears. In her paws she held her treasured Smittens treats. “Opie didn’t eat them.” She offered me one, and because my tummy was roaring from having no food in…um…seventy-some years…I ate it.
I approached my piggy bank sitting on my desk. It’s white with a happy smile. I dropped my single quarter into it. Just hearing the clink of real money made me feel like an official private detective. I couldn’t wait to show Mom. Maybe I’d let her shake my bank to hear the quarter jingle inside.
Dori reached out to hand me the extra quarter Blunden had paid her for letting Christina’s ghost talk through her. “No,” I said. “That’s your quarter. You keep it. You earned it.”
Her eyes turned teary. “You don’t want me to pway detective with you anymore?”
“Of course I do! It was your idea to eliminate the ghosts with the CritterZone. I couldn’t have solved this case without you. You’re my…” I swallowed hard. “You’re my partner.”
She began to cry, but in a sweet way. “Then I’m investing in our Wonderpurr Detective Agency.” She dropped her quarter into my piggy bank.
The door to my office opened. “You’re back.” Jack looked please, while Opie looked disappointed. “How’d your tricked out Ride work for you?”
I patted my stroller’s bonnet, and felt it nudge my paw with affection. “Pretty good,” I said, deciding not to mention how we had done everything he had told us not to do, what with Dori pawing the pink button—every push delayed our arrival at our destination for ten days…she’d pawed it enough to delay us eleven months—and me staring at the control panel that hated to be stared at.
“Opie! Jack!” We heard Mom call from downstairs in the kitchen. “Time for supper!”
I caught Jack’s arm before he could zoom off with Opie. “What did you forget to tell us? Right before we left you rushed in, saying you forgot to tell me something.”
Jack looked confused. “I don’t remember, Herms. That was like…an hour ago.” He bolted for the kitchen.
An hour ago?
After traveling twenty-five thousand miles to British Columbia, circa 1943, to find out why Blunden’s house was haunted and bust his ghosts, we had only been gone one hour?
“Dori! Herman!” we heard Mom call. “Come on, kits! Come eat. I want to get back to work. I’m plotting.”
The aroma of roasted chicken floated past the fusty-brunky air of my closed up office, into my nostrils. My tummy yowled with happiness. As Dori zoomed down the stairs, I plugged in my CritterZone Air Naturalizer and then, leaving a nightlight on for my stroller, I closed my office door. I’d done it! I was a pawfessional hardboiled detective. A paid one! Now I could confidently help my mom plot mysteries cuz I’d solved one myself.
“Hey, Monkey Boy.” I turned to see my mom standing behind me. She gave me the nickname ‘Monkey Boy’ way back when I was Dori’s age, and climbed stuff. “Come eat. You can help me plot my mystery after dinner.”
I scampered to her and she picked me up. So not what hardboiled detectives like Sam Spade or Sherlock Holmes would do, but I wasn’t either of them. I was me, and crawling into his mom’s arms after solving his first case is exactly what Sherlock Herms would do.
If you missed Part 1, click here.
Read Sherlock Herms in Mrs. Shallowford’s Ghost.
I hope you enjoyed Sherlock Herms’ first purranormal mystery: The Case of the Dancing 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.