Morning arrives too early for the party cat I am. I could feel the martinis and wine still punching my brain cells. It took several cups of thick Cuban brew and a mix of sardine/veggie shake to get me started. I could still smell Kitty’s perfume as I padded around the kitchen, deciding if I should go to the office first, or just relax until my appointment. Sarah didn’t like me smoking cigars in the house, so popped a piece of gum in my mouth. Women, I thought. Always controlling my life.
I took a quick shower and flea dip, then took a while blow drying and combing my silky fur. Yeah, I said silky. I’ve got to keep the babes satisfied. Then I picked out a nice purple Pierre Cardin with a floppy hat, the brim decorated with a pheasant feather. Damn right I was pimpin’.
At ten I met up with Kitty, and she directed me to her old man’s joint. Not much to talk about, for a noted archeologist and scholar. She unlocked the door and I was immediately struck by old-man smell and ancient artifacts, as if the home was itself a tomb. Particles of dust swirled about in the slatted light that filtered in from the unwashed windows. Kitty clearly felt uncomfortable, as if embarrassed to acknowledge any relation to the man who ended his life here. Someone had straightened up the front parlor and kitchen. She led me back through a narrow hallway. “This is his office.”
A chalk outline graced the scuffed wooden floor, a throw rug scrunched up below the desk, covered with detritus and ephemera from a life of scholarly pursuit. Obviously he had fought hard for his life. Claw marks of different depths were scored on the floor planks, the desk edges, and mantels. Closer examination seemed to indicate the possibility that two perps were involved. “How did they get in?” I asked Kit.
“There was no sign of forced entry. All the windows and back door were locked.”
“Hmm. He must have known them. Did he ever mention any of the cats he had dealings with.”
“No.” But I had the distinct feeling that she was not telling me all I need to know. I looked at her, but she cast a glance to the back wall. Someone had completely destroyed the paneling, ripping the veneer and sheetrock in jagged patterns. A hidden alcove had been exposed, obviously the hiding place for the onxy statue. I reached over and pulled on the throw rug, and as it unfolded I heard a clatter as something slid to the floor. I leaned over and picked it up.
It was a key, one usually partnered with a safe-deposit box. Perhaps in his struggle the professor tossed it on the rug and then pushed it all under the desk, hoping the assailants might not notice. Or it fell out of a pocket during the melee, the sound of its fall muffled by the fabric. Perhaps the killers were more focused on getting the artifact that they forgot the key, or it simply wasn’t important to them. But it was a clue. Then I saw a small clump of hair attached to a triangle of cat flesh.
“What color fur was your father?”
“Light Persian grey.”
The good doctor had bitten or ripped a small portion of an ear in his losing battle. I picked it up with a pair of tweezers and sealed it in a small ziplock bag, part of a kit I always kept with me on investigations. How had the police missed it? I was beginning to wonder if they had investigated at all, if they were satisfied just to remove the body and turn a blind eye. I decided then to call my buddy on the force, Detective Tom Felis, a Maine Coon who sometimes slipped me info, while I returned the favor at other times. I decided not to mention this fact to Kitty.
“Anything else seem out of order or missing?”
Kitty batted her lovely eyes and scanned the room. Her eyes came to rest on a stand behind the door, and she gave a little gasp. “His mahogany cane is gone. His bulldog cane. Ivory handle, the carved dog embellished with glowing sapphire eyes.”
The scene was providing me with wonderful clues. The game was afoot.
As we were leaving I looked at the pictures on the wall. Papa had been a busy boy. There were fifteen litters displayed, averaging six per photo. It was easy to pick out Kitty, though she was quite plump in her kitten days. And it looked to me she dyed her hair now. I wondered why that would be."
[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]