Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Case of the Absent ATV Key

There are some cases that befuddle even me, the world`s foremost farming detective. They are rare and I do not say this to bolster my ego nor to try to attempt to draw unwarranted praise. It is simply a fact that my skills in rudimentary deduction and consumption of caffeine-rich beverages are unparalleled within the confines of our country estate. This case, which should have been a most simple one to reason out left me, the chief inspector (Upon whom the pinching was perpetrated firstly) and my clever and winsome companion Miss Yodeling, utterly perplexed. I shall endeavor to explain with more detail.

It began on a very pleasant fall day just last year. The leaves had tumbled from the trees that dot our simple farmstead and the winds carried a tint of the winter to come. I was deeply engrossed in a particularly spicy romance novel and my companion was enjoying a lively game upon her video game system. Our domicile was warmed nicely by the wood stove. My freshly brewed mug rested upon the oval table that rests before our sofa. The canine`s were slumbering as they are want to do and a peaceful silence and tranquility enveloped we two ladies. Suddenly, our front door was tossed open and Chief Inspector Yodeling came blustering in with some of the spent leaves swirling about him.

“Please do hasten to close the door,” I commented lifting my sight from my novel.

“Have no worries! I have only come back to retrieve the key for my all-terrain vehicle,” said the good Inspector as he tugged the screen door closed behind him.

His cheeks were ruddy from the blustery wind I noted. He did close the portal directly and I lowered my gaze back to the upcoming spicy scene. When a few tense moments passed and the inspector began to bluster much like the chilly zephyrs I once more looked from my reading, to gauge what was befuddling the man so.

“Do you know where my key is?” he queried of me.

“The last time I saw it was when it laid on the counter,” I responded. It was then I saw that he now stood at said counter, his hands on his hips and a frown forming. “Did you by any chance return it to the key rack?”

I knew before I poised the query what his reply would be.

“No. I placed it upon this shelf because I knew I would need to use it. Did YOU put it somewhere?” he inquired of me. It is known that I do come along behind the man and tidy. It is a small foible of mine I admit most honestly, but in truth I had not seen nor touched the sought after key and I informed him of this.”Well!” he huffed,” It didn`t just pick up feet and toddle off! Someone must have-“then he froze mid-sentence and leveled a rather disapproving look at me.”Where is your kitten?”

“Now just a moment my good man,” I countered, coming to my slippers with defiance in my tone.”I shall not brook such accusations being tossed about willy-nilly regarding Lu-Lu! Perchance you merely stuck the key into one of your coat pockets!” I argued, although a small nugget of suspicion did blossom in my breast. He then began patting himself down, and doing a most professional job of it if I do say. Sadly his search of his person left us keyless.

We then called Miss Yodeling from her sleeping chamber to see if perhaps she had inadvertently mislaid the key. She assured us she had not. I padded over to the coffeepot and poured another toasty mug full then opened the cupboard door above my head. There resting in a small plastic Barbie glass from Miss Yodeling`s childhood days waited my bubble pipe. I heard the sharp intake of breath from my associates as I placed the stem between my teeth and turned to look at them.

“It appears we have a mystery to unravel,” I announced placidly.

“Great Scott! Do you think we`ve been burgled?!” Miss Yodeling asked and I shook my head.

“No, I do not. I think that this is simply a case of the Inspector misplacing his key.”

“I did not misplace the key, it was stolen and hidden by that kitten of yours and I shall see justice done!” the Inspector said with great veracity.

I saw then that I had to find this missing key and quickly! The reputation of my kitten was at stake! Granted the little tortoiseshell feline was into everything we owned and had been found red-pawed swatting other assorted sundries about. A small key with a sturdy round black plastic cap may have lured the curious cat. It was a possibility that I had to consider as much as it galled me to do so.

“Now now my dear Chief Inspector let us not get ourselves into an uproar before we conduct a thorough and precise search of the premises. I shall take the kitchen area, Miss Yodeling shall scour the living room and you my good man shall check beneath our beds,” I said as calmly as I could. One cannot deduce well if one is riddled with anxiety or low in caffeine, this is proven scientific fact.

“Off we go then!” Miss Yodeling said cheerfully.

Each of us found a portable light and began our respective searches. After a very intense hour had passed we found ourselves stupefied and empty-handed. Each nook and cranny had been gone over. Lights had been cast beneath bedding and into closets. Kitchen appliances had been peeked under. Recliners and our heavy sofa had been pulled out yet no trace of the missing key had been found. I was greatly flummoxed and stood amid the carnage of my misplaced furniture chewing on the stem of my pipe in great concentration.

“What could she have done with it?” Chief inspector Yodeling asked on a tight breath.

“I cannot say,” I muttered and removed my pipe so that I could sip some of the invigorating brew that had chilled in my mug.”It is simply….gone.”

My companions merely gaped at me, yet there was nothing more I could say. There was not a single clue to be had and the accused could not be questioned. Surely I thought we must have overlooked something-some small and innocuous dark cubby-hole that the minx could have knocked the key into? Yet I knew this was not the case. It seemed as if I had been out-foxed or out-catted as the case may be.

Admitting momentary defeat I watched as the Inspector stalked over to our glass-fronted cabinet and tugged out a large clear plastic bag. He then reached into the bag containing the manual for the all-terrain vehicle and removed the spare key, which he then proclaimed he would hang in the shed. It was a most logical idea and I said as much to him. As he re-entered the brisk winds and swirling dried leaves with the spare key in hand, I resigned myself to being once and truly stumped. It was, to say the least, most disconcerting and I knew I would not rest until I had come to a satisfactory conclusion.

A fortnight passed and the alleged perpetrator carried on with her daily activities while I would keep a sharp eye on her, lest she emerge from a hidden spot with the missing key. Over the two weeks she did trot by with a sock, a furry pink mouse, a disposable razor and a ball of silver paper made from Hershey`s candy wrappers, but alas no key. It seemed that my kitten was indeed larcenous and try as I may I could not locate any other explanation! Lu-Lu Light-Finger had become her new and rather unsavory moniker.

That morning I stood at the kitchen counter, the same counter upon which the infamous key had purportedly been laid upon, and sipped some Folgers. Although the others had moved on I for some reason could not seem to let the mystery or the blight upon my skills go. As I lingered and sipped I ran my astute vision over the living room thinking that perhaps I should run the vacuum cleaner to try to dislodge this nagging unsolved crime from my mind. It was then, as I cast my sight to the clutter of chore boots behind the taupe recliner that I saw it. The key!!

I hastened over and dropped to one knee, careful not to disrupt the scene. There on the mauve carpet it lay. My brows knitted and my mind raced. How could this be I wondered. We had moved this chair the night the key had first been noted as missing! Surely such observant and well-trained people as we three goatherders could not have missed it! Most perplexing this development was I had to concede.

As I rose with the key in my palm I simply admitted that this case may well and truly be the one that I could not solve, as humbling as that admission was to make. It was then, as I stood awash in no small amount of shame that Lu-Lu walked past with her fluffy tail high.

“So, you think you have outwitted me do you?” I asked and the feline merely glanced at me with a most superior look. Whoever or whatever happened to the key and however it came to be where it was found would never be known. “Perhaps we should now call you Miss Moriarty?”

A soft purr was her reply.


Nezzy said...

You are quite the hoot! I loved being right there with ya'll as ya solved the mystery of the missin' key!

It totally reminded me of the case of the missin' lawnmower key we had here on the Ponderosa during one of my famous Camp Grandmas. The perp ended up being a toddler grandson and the dog water. Go figure!!!

Have a fun day full of blessings from above!!!

houndstooth said...

Oh, I love these mysteries that happen at your house! I was laughing out loud in the coffee shop as I read it!

Pssst! Lu Lu! Way to keep them on their toes!


Brenda said...

Once again ... a very good story! Very enjoyable! I'm sure you keep a close eye on Lu-Lu these days.

Feral Female said...

Lu-Lu is indeed well watched and yet somehow she manages to out-fox us still! =)

Chai Chai said...

Cats are notorious for not leaving things where they find them. Do they all have phobias about leaving items items resting peacefully on flat surfaces off the floor?