Humbled by my inability to stave off the surprise encounter with Aesop, and chastened by my failure to solve much of this mystery and find out where Honey might be, I saw no option other than to continue to her father’s home in the hope that some inspiration might strike. It had been a good suggestion by my bartender friend to return to the original crime scene in hope that some clue might emerge to help me figure out what was at stake and who may have wanted to silence the old professor. Clearly he knew what he had might be a hot potato and needed to be hidden.
I slipped into the house via a key that Honey had provided before she disappeared. The house was eerily silent without its owners and the fur along my spine tingled and stood on end. I must have looked like a puff ball. I couldn’t have gotten those lights on any faster. Even with the lights the house seemed like a mausoleum, or that I had snuck into an ancient tomb in search of gold or mummies.
Methodically I started searching through each room (crypt), trying to find a solitary scrap or piece of evidence that might advance my investigation. I will admit to you, my faithful readers, that I was somewhat aroused by the pink room that had been Honey’s when she was young, but I didn’t find anything incriminating in there. Still I lingered, looking over the pictures on the wall of Honey as cheerleader, pageant contestant, Miss Cat-Toure, and a model on the catwalks of Paris and New York. She had pics of her with famous actors and musicians, and even a pic of a visit to the White House. I was amazed, and jealous at the same time.
It was creepy being in his house alone, his ghost surely observing my every intrusive move. If only he could direct me to some clue, I thought. In his back bedroom I searched the closet and dresser, and then I was on all fours searching under the bed, when I heard the slightest creek, like the whine of a mouse under a grasping paw. My hair was stiffer than a fifty-year-old man after downing five Viagra. I was frozen in place when I felt the slightest tap on my left side---once then twice---and I practically exploded and sprang up like a newborn fawn accidentally stepped on by a predator, and I sprinted out into the living room, fumbled to get my piece out and aimed, and stood riveted to the floor as I waited for my assailant to come out of the bedroom. Surely the walls of the bedroom were now embedded with thousands of pin-like daggers of hair that had shot off of my pelt.
After a tense few minutes I crept forward back to the bedroom door and peeked in, and upon doing so I burst out laughing. I must have accidentally kicked one of the side tables, which had one of those quiet swinging doors, and it had swung open and tapped me. I looked to make sure I hadn’t peed myself. What a silly goose I was. This story was definitely not going back to the pals at the poker game! Thank goodness I was here alone. After I retrieved my heart and scratched off one of my nine lives, I returned to the under-the-bed search, but didn’t find anything but dust motes and nail clippings. I checked out the bathroom, guest room, and other areas of the house, including the laundry room and storage closet. Nothing. I think I checked every volume on his bookshelves and carefully recanvassed his office, the lines of his corpse still clear on the floor. Nothing. No secret doors or hiding places were evident, despite the torn up wall area that originally housed the statue.
Defeated, I went into the kitchen, grabbed a beer from the still-working fridge (thanks, Doc) and sat at the table. It wasn’t much of area, little more than an efficiency. It wasn’t well stocked either, the professor clearly a Spartan when it came to food. I sat there and stared at the surroundings, ready to hit the road after finishing the drink, in utter defeat. After downing the last few sips, I took a quick look in his cupboard cabinets, when I found his pantry, filled with cans of food. Friskies, about one hundred cans. He surely liked his Friskies, probably every flavor represented. And then it hit me like a drunken driver on the interstate. FRISKIES IS NICE, BUT NEWMANS IS BETTER. I immediately began sorting through the stack of cans, and sure enough, there was a lone Newman’s Own, Chicken & Salmon. I lifted it out, and was not surprised to find it was clearly lighter than it should have been.
I took it back to the table and played with it. I prodded and probed, peeled off the label, and used a claw to try to lift off top or bottom, and then wondered if I should pull the pop top. What scared me a little was the possibility that he might have put some biological agent in there, or some explosive that might rip off my paw and mar my incredibly handsome mug. What a loss to the Kitties of the world. I tried to twist the can instead. . .and suddenly it plopped open. There was no cat food mess, just a small 16mm film, maybe ten minutes worth of celluloid.
Was this what everyone was so anxious to find? Had this little film cost at least one life, and maybe more? My heart raced and I chuckled at how ingenious the hiding place had been. Hiding in plain sight. Amazing. And now I had to find someone who owned a projector so I could find out what was on the film.