Posted by Megan
This latest Monday Megan was inspired by that famous story written by Ludwig Bemelmans. I’ve been having a bit of trouble figuring out what to name it. Your opinion?
I knocked on the door a bit harder.
It was a door in France, Paris France. It belonged to an old house that was covered in vines.
My name is Stencil. It would have been Tracer, but my brother got lucky instead of me. That’s him, always taking the best of everything, including the best cases, but this time I hadn’t let him. I had nabbed what looked to be the most mysterious mystery of all time.
I heard a footstep, so I pulled myself together to meet whoever the heck it was answering the door.
It turned out to be a plump, pleasant looking woman of about forty. “Hello ma’am,” I said in perfect French and with the perfect suavity that leads every woman I meet to eventually throw a heavy blunt object at my head out of sheer desperation.
“I’m here to see a certain Miss Clavel, who I hear runs this place.” She looked at me in a manner that anyone else would have thought was distasteful, but I knew she was only trying to hide her true feelings, so I forgave her. “Who shall I say is calling?” “Stencil. Stencil Bullet.”
I sat in the lobby, pretending to read a magazine, while I mulled over what I planned to say.
I was here to figure out how this Clavel woman, always afraid of disaster, knew precisely when to run fast and faster. Fishy, isn’t it?
I heard a titter, and looked up. She was standing right in front of me, and had been for who knows how long. She was remarkably pretty for a nun, and I could only surmise that she had simply despaired of finding the perfect man, namely me and thus taken the veil.
The titters had come from twelve little girls. They weren’t in two straight lines, but they were still recognizable.
I stood up quickly, spilling my magazine out of my lap to the floor. More titters. “Ah, h-hello Miss Clavvil,- er Miss Clavel…Uh, I’m Detective Stencil, I’m here to investigate.”
She gave me a look that almost bored holes straight through me. In retrospect, I suppose that may not have been the best approach. I mean, what woman likes to hear it insinuated that her nefarious plots are being picked up on? But I digress. She asked me “Do you have a warrant?” Blast. Why are women so unreasonable? I tried to dodge the question. “I just need to ask you and the children a few questions-” “Mr. Stencil I repeat, do you have a warrant?” “Well, not exactly, but–“”Then I must ask you to refrain from asking myself OR the children any questions until you obtain one.” She opened the door. “Good day sir.” I tried once more “My dear Miss Clavel, please do be reasonable-” She turned to the shortest girl, a squarely built little thug with red hair. “Madeline, go fetch the dog. Mr. Stencil seems to be rather reluctant to leave.” “Oh no, I assure you Miss Clavel, that is completely unnecessary, I was just leaving-” I backed out as fast as I could, and the door shut firmly in my face. I cast a baleful look at the Madeline brat who was making faces at me through the window, and turned my back.
As I walked away, I glared back at “The old house that was covered in vines.” It was so innocent sounding! Bah!
I shook the dust from my sandals, so to speak. She was obviously hiding something, and I wasn’t about to comply with her fiendish wishes and get a warrant. She had probably poisoned the authorities against me anyway.
So, I would sneak in tonight, and get some incriminating evidence. I scouted the building and soon found the window that would be easiest to climb into. It was right over a particularly strong tangle of vines, and would be exremely easy to enter. I hung around for a few hours after dark to make sure they were all asleep, and then I struck! I mean, climbed. It wasn’t quite as easy as I had anicipated,but it was manageable. When I reached the top, I pushed the window open, or at least it SHOULD have opened. I pushed harder a few times, and then decided to climb down before my fingers got too cold to hold on.
When my extremeties were thawed, I decided to have one more go at it, and climbed up to the window again. It opened easily, and I told myself that I must have loosened it just before I had given up, so I climbed in and carefully closed it before turning around and getting the biggest scare of my life. Standing there in front of me was the odious little thug Madeline. She was bradishing a shoe much in the way one might imagine old Beezelbub himself to brandish his trident. “Uhm, ah-Hello M-madeline,” was all I could manage. Then suddenly an idea struck me. “Would you like a peppermint?” I fumbled in my pocket for a moment, then held it out to her. For one, long, desperate, minute, I thought she might accept the bribe, but then, without taking her eyes off mine she opened her mouth, and in the most syrupy sweet voice I have ever heard, she called “Oooohh, Genevieve.” I was doomed.
I threw my bag of peppermints; she threw her shoe. She had a fine throwing arm, and a good aim. It hit me in the nose. I danced like a madman, half blinded with rage and pain. Then Genevieve came. She was without a doubt, the largest dog I have ever seen, a lean rangy mutt that looked to be half irish wolfhound. I only got the briefest glimpse of her before she cannoned into me with a flurry of claws and gruff snarls. She knocked me backwards into the drapes, and I grabbed them desperately and tried to wrap them around the beast’s head. They were longer than I’d calculated, and they fell over me instead of the hound. I was trapped. Just then, Dame Clavel entered. You see, having been afraid of disaster, she had run fast, and faster. But this time, instead of being afraid of appendicitis, pillow fights, or birthing dogs, she was afraid of burglars. So she had taken the time to grab her cattle prod out of the dresser. Now, where a gentle young woman – and a nun at that – in charge of a boarding school filled with little girls would get her hands on a cattle prod, is more than I can say. But there it was. I recovered, and stood up dusting of my pants, and trying to regain a modicum of dignity. She smiled sweetly as if I were visiting for tea instead of burgling her home and assaulting the children in her care with bags of peppermints. I had made an ass of myself, and we both knew it. “This way, Mr. Stencil, if you please.” She waved the cattle prod threateningly, so I went along.
Which pretty much explains why you found me barefoot, and stripped to my underwear on the street, begging you to untie the pink silk handkerchief knotted around my wrists.
The Moral Of This Story: Never burgle a house full of women.