by Branston, P.I.
It was 2:30 AM by the clock at my bedside and I’d awoken with a sudden start. Lightning briefly flashed outside my window. Something felt terribly wrong.
We were staying at the country estate of Kincaid Eblowster, the world-famous art critic. He’d hired me to find the jewels that had been stolen from an art installation during a performance piece the previous weekend. Naturally I brought Boris along in case any manual labor was required.
Why was I sure something was wrong? Granted, the decor in the guestroom was not of the usual sort but was that really enough to give me pause?
After all, it was not everyone who could have the pleasure of sleeping on a hard cot with an egg-crate table in the same room as Damien Hirst’s Ode to Rene Magritte and Francis Bacon and I was quite tickled by the experience. An honor indeed.
It came to me in a flash what was wrong. Boris was gone. But where? And why?
I knew it was an impossibility that he was anywhere in the house for he could always be heard within one-quarter mile with that snort-like way he had of breathing that had been caused in his youth by trying to swallow a pigeon (grilled with plum sauce) whole one glorious Autumn day while playing eating games with his mates.
Grabbing my flashlight I ran through the house. No Boris. He must have been kidnapped.
As I approached the kitchen there was a small funny noise. It sounded like a little slurp. And as I heard it I realized there was an even worse problem than Boris being kidnapped – I was hungry. Really really hungry.
The large gleaming surfaces of the kitchen looked too clean and perfect to actually have any food around and upon searching the cupboards indeed it was true. This was a house where nobody cooked.
I heard the noise again, and thinking that perhaps it was Boris laying half-unconscious from lack of nutrients I followed the sound. Out the door and towards the lake house. A scratching noise seemed to be coming from behind the dark windows. Approaching carefully I raised my flashlight and prepared to crash it down on the head of whomever was lurking there. Hopefully it would be the perpetrator of the jewel robbery and I could be on my way to the next case or to the Fat Duck, whichever happened first.
Kicking open the door with a loud scream, I viewed the scene.
There he was! The thief, caught in the act! Jewels were strewn all over the floor of the tiny lake house interspersed with piles of catnip. The perpetrator had obviously settled down for a drink to celebrate his dreadful criminal accomplishment when I’d burst into this pretty little scene.
He mewed dreadfully and started to draw close. Unsure of whether he was armed or not I crouched on the floor, preparing to defend myself.
He jumped on my lap, rapidly knocking his head into my tummy and as he did so I noticed a carton of cereal on a nearby table. Food. I was so hungry.
As he continued to batter at me with his little claws it came to me that perhaps if I were to be his friend he would share the cereal. Granted this was going over the line of professionalism but after all one never knows where the next bite will come from. I petted his head and he purred. Okay. I could deal with this.
We shared the cereal and milk and when he fell asleep on the corner of the old battered couch I gathered up the jewels to return to Kincaid. The case was solved. Except for Boris. Where was Boris?
Tripping up the lane to return to my guestroom it came to me. Boris was not there because he’d gone to visit his poor old mother the evening before and had decided to not return till morning, preferring his childhood home to sleeping in art installations.
He’d missed a fine snack. I hoped he wouldn’t regret it.