Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Curse of the Baskervilles

SUMMARY: In which Holmes follows a 12-hours-old trail and discovers the culprit.

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up in the night to let Boost out, was seated at the breakfast table, staring at a large orange blot upon the doormat.

"Well, Watson, what do you make of it?"

"I think," said I, following as far as I could the methods of my companion, "that the doormat is soiled."

"Ah," said Holmes, "but in what manner?"

I knelt to better examine the offending stain, and the color and odor soon enlightened me. "It seems to be dog excrement, perhaps transferred from the sole of a shoe in passing."

"Good," said Holmes, pushing back his chair and standing, "though elementary. Pray tell, did you notice any additional soiling?"

Taken aback, I looked around me. Sure enough, another blot, perhaps a stride away from the first, on the kitchen floor. And another. And another.

"What further inferences may we draw?" asked Holmes. He began to pace slowly and methodically, following the trail of blots into the hallway. I hurried so as not to be left behind.

"Perhaps," said I, "someone stepped in the offending substance in the yard, failed to notice it, and trailed it into the house?"

"Ah, yes, the leavings of the Hound of the Baskervilles," said Holmes. He said no more as he followed the trail down the stairs to the laundering room, back up to the front hall, up the marked main stairs to the carpet on the upstairs landing, into the master bedroom, across the carpet to the far closet, back and into the lavatory, back out across the carpet, and to the small closet, where the stains ended at a large pile of shoes.

"The thing takes shape, Watson. Might I ask you to hand me that brown shoe, and we will conclude this matter anon."

I did so with alacrity, and sure enough, a large wad of poo remained embedded in the arch of the shoe. The mystery remains, however, how the wearer of the shoe walked all that way the prior evening without smelling or feeling or seeing the soft gooey stuff underfoot.

All we can say is, thank goodness for the dog owner's best friends, the dust buster and the spot lifter. And there went half an hour of the morning, cleaning. What a curse.

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