by Zeke Drummond from Sketcher in the Rye, a Portrait of Crime Mystery by Sharon Pape
It took a while before an elderly lady opened the door. She was small and hunched from the weight of her years, but there was no mistakin’ life’s fire in her eyes. Rory introduced herself and inquired if her cat had gone missin.’ She didn’t mention right off that the feline was a ghost. I guess she didn’t want to scare the woman if she wasn’t aware there was a spirit in her house.
“Not exactly missing,” the lady replied. “From time to time, Purrsey takes off on a little adventure It’s hard to blame him, don’t ya know. It’s pretty dull around here these days. But he always comes back home,” she beamed. “In fact he’s here right now.” She said her name was Frances and asked if Rory would like to come inside. “I don’t get many visitors anymore,” she added. She looked so eager for the company that I knew Rory wouldn’t be able to refuse.
Inside, the furnishings looked as old and worn as Frances, but she kept it all tidy and clean. Rory took a seat on the couch, and Frances settled into her easy chair. A split second later, Purrsey appeared out of the ether and hopped right into his owner’s lap where he curled up. Frances had some fine yarns to spin about her younger years, but I was findin’ it mighty peculiar that she didn’t mention the fact that her cat was a ghost. Rory must have been wonderin’ the same thing, because at the first break in the conversation, she asked how old Purrsey was.
Frances laughed. “I’ve lost track, but he’s been my companion for a long time. Keeps me from being lonely, don’t ya know. I’d be lost without him.” Rory picked up a framed photograph from the end table between the couch and the easy chair. It showed a boy and two girls sitting in a semicircle on a rug. The younger girl was holding a cat that looked exactly like Purrsey.
“Is this you with one of Purrsey’s ancestors?” she asked.
“That’s me all right, but Purrsey is the only cat I’ve ever had.”
Rory chewed on that for a moment. “If you don’t mind my asking, when did he pass away?”
“Let me see.” The old woman’s brow furrowed as she picked through her memories. “To the best of my recollection, I believe I was in my early twenties at the time.”
“Did he come back to visit right away?” Rory asked.
Frances shook her head. “No, and I had no reason to believe I’d ever see him again. Between you and me, I didn’t believe in ghosts back then,” she said with a laugh. “No, I didn’t see Purrsey again for a long time, not until after my husband George died. A few days after the funeral, Purrsey just showed up. Maybe he could tell how lonely I was. George and I were never blessed with children, don’t you know.”
After meeting Frances, I guess Rory decided not to complain about the way Purrsey had tormented Hobo. Instead, she asked if she could stop by to chat again. Frances said she’d be delighted to have the company. She was showing Rory to the door when the gun shots rang out.
That’s it for today. Hope you’ll stop by next month when our adventure continues.
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