Case 2 - The Case of the Missing Cat
Sheryl put down the newspaper and let out a satisfied grin. The headline of the article that she was reading said, "Private Detectives Help Catch Weapons Smugglers", and the article described how Sheryl and Marlowe had helped the police round up members of a weapons smuggling ring. It didn't go into much detail, of course, since the witnesses had to be protected, but the important thing was that Sheryl had some positive publicity going for her now.
"The cases should start rolling in!" she thought to herself as she ate a piece of candy.
The doorbell rang, startling Sheryl. She walked to the door and stared out the peephole to find a little girl outside her door.
Puzzled, she opened the door. Smiling at the little girl, Sheryl said, "What are you doing here, little girl?"
The little girl held up the newspaper, showing the very same article that Sheryl was reading earlier. "Are you Ms. Sheryl Holmes?"
"Yes, I am, but you can call me Holmes."
The little girl put the newspaper back into her bag. "Why would I call you that?"
"Well, because that's what everyone called Sherlock Holmes."
Sheryl stood there for a moment as she was taken aback by the fact that the little girl didn't know who her idol was. Finally, she said, "He is one of the greatest detectives in the world, and my idol."
The little girl pondered this information for a moment. Then she said, "Oh, then maybe I should go to him instead, do you know where he lives?"
Sheryl paused again, realizing that she should have explained things a bit better, "Oh, sorry there, I should have been more clear about this. He's just a character in some stories that I love."
"Oh..." The little girl looked disappointed, but she perked up again with a renewed sense of determination, "Then will you help me, Ms. Sheryl?"
Sheryl sighed again at yet another person refusing to call her by her surname. "Alright, what do you need help with?"
"I would like to hire you to find my cat!" The little girl then fumbled around in her pocket and took out what was probably her total savings at this point, "I have twelve dollars!"
The two of them stood in silence for a moment, as the girl eagerly waited for Sheryl to take her money and help her.
"Well," said Sheryl, "my fee is usually a lot higher than twelve dollars."
Tears started showing at the bottom of the little girl's eyes. "So you won't help me?"
Sheryl panicked a little as the little girl's eyes started to swell up. "No, no! Of course I'll help you!"
The little girl sobbed, "But this is all I have!"
"Well, this case is on me, okay?" Sheryl patted the girl's head.
The little girl dried her tears and smiled, "Really? Thanks, Ms. Sheryl!"
"Well then, come inside and tell me about your case."
Sheryl and the little girl walked into the living room and sat down onto the sofa.
"Would you like a piece of candy?" asked Sheryl, pointing to the bowl of candy on the coffee table.
"Yes!" The little girl excitedly grabbed one of the pieces of candy. She then unwrapped the candy delightfully and put it into her mouth.
"So, what's your name?" asked Sheryl.
"Samantha!" the little girl replied with a delighted voice.
"So, Samantha, tell me about your missing cat."
Samantha dug into her bag and pulled out a poster. The poster was headlined with the word "Missing", underneath that was a picture of the cat and an address and phone number."This is Annabell! We named her that because she wears a bell!"
Sheryl smiled at the innocent pun. "So, what happened?"
"A few days ago, I was playing with Annabell in the front yard, when her collar broke, I went in to get her a new one. Then as I was coming back out, I saw a stranger through the window and I looked outside. She picked up Annabell and drove away in her car." Tears welled up in Samantha's eyes again as she remembered what happened, "I ran out, but they were gone by the time I got out."
Sheryl grabbed a tissue and handed it to the little girl. "This stranger, what did she look like?"
"I don't know, she had short blonde hair, that's all I could really see." Samantha said while sobbing. She wiped her tears and snot with the tissue that Sheryl had handed her.
"What did your parents say?"
"They didn't believe me, they just thought that Annabell had run off." Samantha was calming down again. "We made these posters, but the kidnapper won't give Annabell back so easily. So while my parents weren't looking, I snuck out to find you!"
The girl then turned to face Sheryl and smiled as she said this. Sheryl stared back with a bewildered expression as it sunk into her that a missing child was now sitting beside her while the parents were probably worried and running around everywhere, trying to find their child.
Finally, Sheryl reacted, "Samantha, let's get you home first."
"So that you can take a look at the crime scene?"
"That's right! But first, let me call your parents."
Sheryl dialled the number on Samantha's poster. Unfortunately, no one answered, so Sheryl left a message saying that she was bringing Samantha back to her home.
Sheryl sighed and put down the phone. However, it was then that Sheryl's phone rang. "Sorry, hang on for another minute, Samantha."
Sheryl picked up the phone and answered, "Hello, Sheryl Holmes' 221B Ba-"
"I have a case for you, Sheryl." Mike's voice came through the phone.
"Oh, hi Mike. Sorry, I kinda have a case already."
After a brief pause filled with disbelief, Mike replied, "Okay, well, my detectives can handle it without you then. What sort of case is this?"
"Well, it's a case of the missing cat."
"Oh, so you were hired by some rich old lady to go look for a cat?"
"... No, it's just a little girl."
There was a pause on the telephone. Sheryl could feel Mike's anger through the phone, she quickly said, "Well, at least having a case is better than having no case?"
There was another pause before Mike's voice came through the phone again. "Goodbye, Sheryl."
The call disconnected and Sheryl put the phone down, still feeling the aftereffects of Mike's suppressed disappointment about the case.
Samantha tugged Sheryl's sleeve. "Can we go now, Ms. Sheryl?"
Snapping back to reality, Sheryl got up. "Alright, let's go find your cat."
***Sheryl and Samantha got out of the bus. As soon as the two stepped off the bus, Sheryl saw posters of Annabell.
Or at least, what looked like Annabell. Some of the posters were of Annabell, however, there were also some that were of another cat. The name of this other missing cat was Shirley, and the address was one that was in the same neighbourhood that they were in. As far as Sheryl could tell though, the two cats were nearly identical. The only difference was that Annabell was wearing a bell.
"I guess someone else is missing their cat too."
"Yeah, these posters were up a couple of days before Annabell went missing too." Samantha paused for a moment, then, an idea popped into her head and she gasped. "Maybe she was also kidnapped by the same person that kidnapped Annabell!"
"Maybe..." Sheryl replied as she stared at the poster of Shirley, noting down the address, phone number, and other details on her notepad.
The two girls headed to Samantha's house. They walked up the front porch and Samantha pulled out her key. As soon as they entered the house, a woman's voice came rushing down the hall. "Samantha! Samantha, is that you?"
A woman ran down the hallway. As soon as she reached Samantha, she gave her an intense hug of relief. "Don't run off like that again! I was so scared!"
"I- I'm sorry, mom." Samantha said, her voice full of guilt.
"Samantha! You're alright!" A man walked down the hallway where the woman came from, carrying a squirming cat in his arms. "Look who we found."
"Annabell!" Samantha yelled out her friend's name and her eyes gleamed.
The cat squirmed out of the man's arms and ran away. Seeing this, Samantha chased the cat down the hallway and into the living room. "Wait, Annabell! It's me!"
"You must be Sheryl Holmes." The man extended his hand. "I am Nick, and this is my wife, Jean. Thank you for looking after our girl."
Sheryl shook Nick's hand.
Jean then grabbed Sheryl's hand and held it gratefully. "Yes, thank you very much for bringing her back, we were so worried."
"Oh, it's no problem, I'm just glad that Samantha got Annabell back."
Jean gestured towards the living room. "Please, come inside and have some tea with us."
Sheryl agreed and the three headed into the living room, where Samantha was holding a collar with a bell attached to it. The cat, on the other hand, was hissing at her in the corner.
"C'mon Annabell, it's me, Samantha!" The little girl pleaded with the cat, with tears welling up in her eyes.
Jean walked over to Samantha, "Oh honey, don't cry. Annabell must just still be in shock from getting lost. She was squirmy too when your dad and I found her."
Sheryl thought for a moment, "Is your cat usually squirmy?"
"No!" said Samantha, "Annabell usually isn't like this!"
"Hmm," Sheryl looked at the cat. "Does Annabell have any distinctive features?"
"What do you mean?" ask Jean.
"Like something to tell her apart from the other cats of the same breed."
"Well, she does have a scar on her left side, but you can't see it under the fur though."
"Could you make sure that she still has the scar?"
"Well, of course she does." Jean walked over to the cat and grabbed her. The cat tried to squirm away, but Jean held on as she checked for Annabell's scar.
Jean parted the fur and tried to locate the scar, but after a few minutes, she realized, "There... isn't a scar. This isn't Annabell...."
"What?!" cried Samantha, "Where's Annabell then?"
Samantha's face fell, and she started sobbing.
Sheryl knelt down so that she and Samantha were at eye level, and she wiped Samantha's tears with her hands. "Don't worry, Samantha, I think I know where your cat is."
Samantha opened her eyes, "You do?"
"Yes, just let me make a phone call."
Sheryl got back up and Jean went over to comfort Samantha. Taking her phone out, Sheryl dialled the number that she saw on Shirley's missing poster.
The phone rang a few times before a woman picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi, this is Sheryl Holmes, are you Shirley's owner?"
"Yes, yes I am."
"Well, I think we have your cat."
"That's not possible, I have Shirley right here."
"Has she been acting differently since you brought her back?"
The woman paused for a bit before replying, "Well, she has been acting uncomfortable."
"Where did you find your cat?"
"She was on someone's lawn in my neighbourhood."
It was obvious, now, that Shirley's owner must have been the one that Samantha saw take Annabell away. Without her bell on, Annabell looked just like Shirley, leading Shirley's owner to think that Annabell was Shirley.
Sheryl explained the situation, and the woman on the other end of the phone confirmed that there was indeed a scar on the cat that she had.
The two cats were each returned to their proper owners, and a few hours later, Sheryl finished the cup of tea that Jean had made while Samantha played happily with Annabell, who now had her bell back on.
Sheryl got up to leave, "Well, thank you for the tea. I should get going now."
At the door, Nick and Jean thanked Sheryl again, and Samantha held out the twelve dollars she had offered earlier, "It's for you, Ms. Sheryl!"
"Oh, don't worry about it, this one's on me."
Samantha shook her head, and with a huge smile on her face, she said, "It's to help you become a great detective!"
Sheryl looked at Samantha's earnest face and smiled. "Okay then, thanks."
She patted the little girl's head and received her payment. Then, she placed a piece of candy in Samantha's hand and walked out the door, waving goodbye.