Authors: Anna Kern
“There are many cat quotes: some are clever, some are funny, and some are true, but a true ailurophile knows that we are as unique as any human.”––
A Problem With the Security System
It was almost bedtime. The phone rang and at first, no one moved. Alyx answered on the second ring. “Sorry for the late call, Ms. Hille. I thought you’d want to know that there seems to be a problem with the alarm system at Antiques & Designs.”
Alyx sat up, and I scooted closer. “What kind of problem?”
“The alarm is malfunctioning at its location. Would you like to have someone take a look at it tonight or wait until tomorrow?”
She hesitated for an instant. “I think you’d better send someone tonight.”
“Alfred Simms is on call. He’ll be driving his own vehicle rather than a company car and will meet you there in about fifteen minutes.”
Alyx was still wearing the shorts and tee shirt she’d put on that morning. She slipped into a pair of sandals and quickly went out the door with me on her heels. We pulled up behind the shop and the second I saw the parked black sedan, I immediately recognized the heavy-set man waiting by the back door––the same man who’d tried to run her over at the train station.
Alyx parked in a lighted section of the parking lot. She opened the door, and I catapulted out of the truck. Hissing violently, I galloped ahead, and lunged at the man’s head. He raised his arms to protect himself and knocked me flat against the brick wall. Alyx quickly got the picture, but instead of running away, she started running towards me. He pulled out a gun that was tucked in his waistline, fired a shot and missed. Alyx ducked behind a cement light pole five feet in front of her.
“It’s your fault; you should have minded your own business. I tried to warn you but you ignored the note on the truck and you ignored what happened at the train station. Why didn’t you leave it alone? The old bitch never did anything for anybody.”
I recovered enough to creep behind him and plan my attack while he blubbered on. He almost sounded sorry when he said, “You should have stayed out of it. I have no choice. Now I have to kill you.”
He took a step forward, and at that moment, I leaped up and sank my fangs deep into the fleshy part of his right leg, right above the ankle. He repeatedly tried to knock me off with his gun and missed for the most part, succeeding only in making me determined to hang on. The rest is a blur until Tim Schaumburg, a private investigator and a friend of David Hunter said, “Okay, Murfy, you can let go now; I have it.”
I hate the taste of human flesh, and so I promptly let go. Tim didn’t expect me to understand what he’d said, and, as it often happens, that look of amazement mixed with doubt appeared on his face. It was like catnip to me.
Alyx made a fuss over me while she checked for wounds, and held me gently, careful not to touch the tender spots.
“Thank you so much for your help, Tim. How did you happen to be here?”
“I’m not here by accident; David asked me to keep an eye on you.”
“David Hunter asked you to do that?”
He nodded once. “I was watching your house, intending to leave when you went to bed––hoping it would be soon. When you drove away instead, I knew it meant trouble, and so I followed you. I called the police on the way, and I called David who’s going to meet us at the police station.”
“If a cat does something, we call it instinct; if we do the same thing, for the same reason, we call it intelligence.”
The Cat Genius
Alyx left with Hunter for a late breakfast. Trying to catch up on some of the sleep I’d missed, I lay flat on my back, feet up in the air in my favorite chair while my housemates paced the perimeter of the room, eager to discuss the events of the previous night. I reluctantly gave up my quest for sleep, stretched my sore body, and faced my inquisitors.
I explained that Carole Berth’s husband, Michael, had confessed to killing Althea, and also to trying to kill Alyx, who’d been on the right track from the beginning.
Michael was having financial problems worse than his wife knew. He and his son went to Althea to ask for help, but she refused because she thought he’d tried to talk Carole into declaring her incompetent and put her away in a nursing home and take control of her money. His frustration led to rage and he killed her.
At first, Carole didn’t know who killed Althea; the night of the murder, her husband and son were supposed to have gone to a basketball game. She became suspicious when Smarts questioned her about the pill case. Then, she questioned her son and he confessed that the pill case had broken off when his father was struggling with Althea. Carole and her son searched the condominium one last time before the estate sale. Her son was looking for the pill case, and Carole was looking for another will or codicil leaving the money to Althea’s son, Jonathan, intending to destroy it, if she found it.
Michael never wanted to kill Alyx, but when she showed up in Umatilla asking leading questions, he knew that it was only a matter of time before she figured everything out. He followed her to the train station to convince her of the danger she faced.
He was also the one who broke-into the store in an effort to throw suspicion on Jonathan Steele. Michael Berth sells and installs security systems, so getting into the store was no problem. He intended to push the theory that Steele believed Althea had made another will, leaving everything to him and he was looking for that will.
Misty didn’t consider that smart thinking on Michael’s part, and she had a good point. How would Jonathan Steele know what furniture was Althea’s anyway? The only answer I could give her was that desperate men don’t think smart, and consequently do desperate things. In this case, however, all of Althea’s things were marked ‘Burns Estate’ and mostly, all in one place, but no one knew that.
Pooky questioned how I knew that’s what happened. I could have said that according to my mother, I’m not an ordinary tabby and the
on my forehead is the proof. A simpler truth is that I’m pretty good at processing information. Misty wondered if that meant I was a
I don’t know the answer to that question and that makes it an excellent question. I venture to say that all animals possess some level of intelligence––humans call it instinct. Some humans agree with my observation and they will probably one day design an IQ test that is not human-centric and appropriate for animals in scope and scale according to their species. Maybe then, the age-old question of who’s more intelligent––a cat or a dog––now based on the number of words they recognize, will be forever settled.
In the small hours of the morning, I made my last trip to the abandoned shed. If Simon thought the group of about thirty cats would intimidate or persuade me to leave with them, he was wrong on both counts. I was right about his fake altruism––he was forming his own clowder, had heard about my tactical fighting prowess, and wanted me to help him conquer other clowders and territory.
I made it clear that I was living out my life with Alyx, to comfort her and protect her and those she loved, and, if possible, I intended to do it to the best of my ability.
Simon and I are bound to meet again someday, maybe under different circumstances. But that will probably be the last life for one of us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ANNA KERN grew up in East Pointe, Michigan, and lives in St. Johns County, Florida. Retirement allows her to enjoy every minute of her free time doing what she loves to do best––write. DEADLY DIAMOND is her second novel in the Murfy the Cat Mystery series and she is working on a third. A PAWS-IBLE THEORY is Murfy’s first adventure. Visit Anna at
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