Monday, February 28, 2005

Finding Susie Beans: Ch. 2. Grendallian Logic

The story thus far: We meet Oliver Grendell, a cat of rare accomplishments, and his friends; they learn that little Lucy's doll, Susie Beans, is missing; Oliver vows to take up the search.

I practice what I am pleased to call Grendallian Logic. It can be simply stated this way: B must follow A, and C must come inexorably after B. Never shall B come before A and certainly C should never precede B. And so everything must go from A to B to C.

A theft occurred, that was manifest. There we have A. The person (or persons) who committed the theft would leave, however slight, clues behind. That I take as an incontrovertible article of faith and we may thus arrive at B. These clues, when carefully observed and sifted through the filter of cold reason, will lead to the identities of the guilty parties and, ergo, to the solution of the crime. A resounding C.

My first step lay in examining the scene of the crime. A close inspection of the grounds immediately surrounding Cool Jay’s house revealed nothing. I looked for footprints under windows, signs of forced entry, anything that seemed unusual or out of place and found nothing. I sniffed everywhere and, while I uncovered many intriguing scents, none were of much use to me. The next task involved entering the house. For that, I had to wait until the following morning when Mr. and Mrs. Dill (who were Lucy’s parents) would be at work and Lucy at school.

I will not bore the readers with all my ruminations as I considered the case, but suffice it to say they were of the highest order of reasoning. Motive occupied the uppermost of my thoughts. Who would want Susie Beans? And of that group, who could contrive to have access to Susie Beans? What made Susie Beans an object worth breaking the law for? Was she different from most other dolls? Did Lucy have a rival, someone who coveted Susie Beans for herself, who was perhaps jealous of Lucy? Human psychology, I confess, is not a particular strength of mine (although I found Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams” an interesting read). These were deep waters, and I told myself not to commit to any path before all the evidence was in.

The next morning began cloudy and threatened rain. Mrs. Swift, who is retired and not always regular in her hours, let me out at around 9:30, which was later than I would have liked, as I heard from Cool Jay that the Dills would be out of their house by 8:00. But 9:30 wasn’t bad, and it gave me time to devour an entire bowl of liver-flavored Meow Mix as a precaution against an uncertain meal time later in the day. I found Cool Jay chasing the same squirrel who abused me the day before. Cool Jay is quite skilled at scampering up trees, but no cat can ever rival a squirrel for it. I wondered, as I watched him rush the squirrel, then stop, stare, grow very taut and take another run at him, if Cool Jay had the slightest idea what he would do if he ever caught the squirrel. And the squirrel was taking great delight in his superiority over my orange friend, making those irritating sounds that drive most cats mad.

“Cool Jay!” I said at last.

Cool Jay looked at me, then turned back to the squirrel to give the little rodent a most withering stare, and finally came over to where I stood.

“That squirrel will get it one of these days,” he remarked. I let that pass. Any justice due to that squirrel would come from a source other than my agitated friend.

“Cool Jay, let’s have a look at Lucy’s room.”

“Yes sir,” said Cool Jay, and he lead me around to the back of the house to where the the Dills had a kitty door. (Mrs. Swift, God bless her, has never considered such a convenience for myself.) We entered, padded through the kitchen, past the living room and down the hall to where Lucy’s room was.

In my readings I have encountered the word “girly,” and I suppose Lucy’s room was the archtype for that. It was frilly and pink and smelled like lilacs. Ballerinas worked into the motif a great deal. Her shag carpeting was fuchsia. It was, perhaps, the most unnerving room I had ever stepped into.

“Over here, Mr. Grendall.”

Cool Jay sidled next to a tiny wooden rocking chair adorned with frilled, pink cushions for the seat and back. I walked up, scrutinized it from various angles for a minute or two, sniffed at it here or there, then stepped back and addressed my companion.

“Cool Jay, there is orange fur all over this chair and this entire area is redolent of your scent. Explain yourself.”

Cool Jay hung his head.

“I regret to say that I find that chair capital to sleep in, sir.”

“Regret to say it? Why regret? Because your providers have made it clear that this chair is out of bounds to you?”

“Yes sir. But it’s really very comfy.”

“Well,” I said, “that explains your fur being all over it, but you do realize it’s our duty to consent to the few demands our providers make of us? Those demands which are within reason, I mean?”


I couldn’t say much more about that. I may be so bold as to say that Mrs. Swift has few complaints about me, but she does have a settee that tests my resolve to the extreme.

“Very well. But you can see how this looks. Let’s look around at other parts of the room.”

We searched for I don’t know what for about three minutes when Cool Jay alerted me to a most peculiar discovery.

“Look sir,” he said, bringing me a small scrap of paper with printing on it. “It’s a ticket.”

He lay it down on the floor. “What sort of ticket?” I asked.

“To a sporting event. What the providers call ‘baseball.’ The city has a team called the Red Sox. Everybody talks about them.”

I inspected the ticket. “According to this, they matched up against the Yankees the day before yesterday.”

“Right. All the teams have the most absurd names.”

“So what do you make of this, Cool Jay?”

“Doesn’t it seem odd that such a thing as this would be in Lucy’s room? This game occurred the night of her sleepover, and I strongly suspect her hosts weren’t planning a ball game on a chilly April night for seven girls. Mr. and Mrs. Dill didn’t go to it, they were at home with me. And Lucy wouldn’t be interested in baseball anyway. At this age, girls aren’t supposed to like boy things. They’re not even supposed to like boys.”

The thought of Cleo shot through my mind for an instant. Possibly my thought dwelt ever so slightly on my pleasure at her not holding such an opinion. But the thought was fleeting and didn’t bear to the matter at hand.

“So you conclude that this ticket came from an external, possibly unfriendly source.”

“Ah, Mr. Grendall. You see everything.”

“Yes, yes,” I said thoughtfully, giving the ticket a sniff or two. “But look at the price! It’s prohibitive! $90.00!”

“That is a lot of money. Must be a very good seat. Hmmm…” Then Cool Jay was silent a moment. I could tell he was thinking of something.

“Well, out with it,” I said.

“Well, Hobo down the street — I know you don’t think very much of him, but we talk every now and again — his providers are college kids. Ones that go in for baseball games and the like.”

“So you think they’re the perpetrators?”

“Oh, no. They couldn’t afford this so it can’t be them. It’s well beyond their means. But Hobo explained to me once how season ticket holders have all the good seats like this one. You see, he’d know, because he enjoys listening to his providers. He thinks they’re a lot of fun.”

“Indeed,” I said. And then a flash of insight struck me. “A season ticket holder, one who would have the right to sit in this same seat for every game in a given season?”

“That’s right.”

“So the bearer of this ticket would likely be at this very seat the next time the Red Sox play?”

“I suppose he would.”

“Cool Jay, don’t you see? Obviously this ticket fell out of the criminal’s pocket! To discover his identity, all we need do is find that seat with him in it!”

“How wonderfully your mind works, Mr. Grendall! Surely there can be no other answer!”

I am not above receiving plaudits when I merit them and I thanked Cool Jay for his kind and astute assessment of me. But the next step was very plain. I had to log onto the Internet using Mrs. Swift’s computer as soon as the opportunity came. I needed two things: the Red Sox schedule and information on how to get their ballpark using public transportation. I told this to Cool Jay and he quickly replied, “No problem there, sir. The Dills have a Dell.”

“The—,” I began. “Confound it, Cool Jay, what does that mean?”

“Dell is a sort of computer. I’m merely saying that you can get on to the Internet here.”

“Ah,” I said. “Good thinking, Cool Jay. Sometimes you impress me. You really do.”


Next chapter: The Journey Begins


Blogger trinamick said...

I wish my cat used such logic. All I ask is that he stay off the table. Is that too much to request?

1:03 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

They like feeling tall...

1:25 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

You know, I thought writing a story about a cat who solves a mystery would be an original idea, but in the audio book section of the Boston Public Library this morning, I saw a whole series of books based on mystery-solving cats! But that's OK. This is more of a Mr. Pickwick kind of cat than a Sherlock Holmes cat anyway. He's fairly obtuse (as we'll see), while these other cats must be pretty sharp customers.

1:34 PM  

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