Mystery Man, Revealed (short story)

Language warning. You’ve been warned.

He put on his coat and hat and quietly made his way down the stairs toward the back exit. Relieved to have made it to the congested city sidewalk without being noticed, he joined others making their way home or to a pub on a Friday, late afternoon. He fell into the pace of the crowd, but he did not blend with the crowd. Those paying attention to the moving mob, would have noticed the unique character dressed in dark grey; there was something different, something mysterious about the tall man. Listening to conversations with each step, the man stayed with the pulsating crowd for five city blocks before cutting through an alley – a shortcut to a nearby park. He had a nagging feeling when he passed a homeless man who was tossing trash can scraps to a skinny cat.

He was still bothered by the man and the cat when he stepped onto the park path. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, but earlier that day he overheard two ladies talking about a strange man approaching women in the park and he wanted to investigate for himself. He took his time walking along the path, looking and listening and venturing off the path in a few locations. The few rays that shined a light on his walk had disappeared and other than two joggers and a couple kissing on a park bench, the park was empty and quiet. He made it to the edge of the park without noticing anything of concern, except for the absence of any constables. Curious, he thought. He would return tomorrow in the daylight to continue his investigation; it was now time to make his way to Baker Street – home. Not one to eat while working, his preoccupation with an alley cat and a strange man in the park was now replaced with thoughts of dinner – lentil soup and pork followed by a few calming puffs from his pipe. He could already taste the delicious meal and smell the black shag smoke.
………………….
“Sherman, is that you?” Harriet shouted down the hallway when she heard the door shut.

“Yes, unless you are upset, then no, it’s not,” he said. He immediately regretted saying that.

“It’s about damn time. Where have you been? Clearly not at the market picking up diapers and cat food like I asked you to do earlier today.”

“Oh, shit. Sorry, it slipped my mind. Busy day at the office. You should have reminded me.” He immediately regretted saying that.

“So, it’s my fault you can’t remember to do the one thing I ask of you?” she scolded.

“Never mind, I will take care of it myself,” she said while thrusting Junior into Sherman’s arms.

“Hold on, let me take my coat off,” he said as calmly as he could muster.

“You and that damn coat. It’s not even that cold outside!”

With his coat and hat now hanging on the hat rack, his arms were free to hold Junior, who was noticeably heavier than when Wilbur had left that morning. I am in deep shit, Sherman thought.

“You had another book delivery today. It’s on the counter. You sure don’t have a problem remembering to buy more detective books!” she said before slamming the door behind her.

“Your mum is mad at me,” Sherman said to his now fussy son as he carried the smelly boy into the nursery.

“First, let’s get you out of this disgusting diaper,” he said to his son while laying him on the changing table and removing the explosive foul mess. “What the hell did you eat today?” Remembering that he had put a diaper in his backpack when he took Junior to the park last weekend, Sherman’s recoiled face changed to victory. Sherman carried his naked babe, first to the trash can to dispose of the lethal package, then to his backpack. Giddy, Sherman unzipped his backpack and to his horror found only an empty pocket.

“Oh, shit! We really are in a mess now, little man. Please promise me you won’t take a piss until mum comes home with a box of diapers.” It didn’t hurt to ask, defeated Sherman thought.

Holding his son on his left side, Sherman opened the brown padded envelope and pulled out a shiny new hardcover copy of The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. “Well, let’s read until your mum gets home, then we will get you into a fresh diaper and see about dinner, which, for me, will probably be a bowl of cat food.”

Sherman kicked off his shoes, then father and son settled into Sherman’s favorite chair. He cracked open his new book. Sherman loved that sound. He was only two sentences in when Princess, the hungry cat, found them and began meowing incessantly at the foot of Sherman’s chair.

“Be quiet, damn cat. Make yourself useful, go find a fat rat to eat.”

The cat not only ignored Sherman’s demand, she began to meow louder. He thought about searching the fridge for anything to quiet the cat, or the trash for scraps, but that would mean getting up from his chair and digging under a dirty diaper and he did not want to do either of those things, so he began reading, loudly, to his son. Saving his mind, he lost himself in the story. So lost Sherman was, he forgot to cover his baby boy’s resting missile. They made it to page three when the tiny missile sprung to action, spraying everything in range, including Sherman’s new book.

Just like the funny Nelly character found me for my story, Honeysuckle Heat ep. 3, the featured photo in this post found me when I was looking for something unrelated, then this story tumbled forth – the shell of it anyway. As a fan of the unconventional character, Sherlock, and the Sherlock mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a reference to him found its way into one of my posts, however, I am surprised by the shape (and smell) this story took. The imagination is a curious creature.

I am sending prolific writer and blogger, Jaya Avendel a special and heartfelt thank you for recently nominating me for the “Awesome Blogger Commendation Award.” Although I do not participate in awards I want to recognize Jaya and share some thoughts about how her words enrich my world, through her stirring and delicious poems and through her unique and perceptive comments. Jaya is the type of writer and thinker who would have made an entire semester of teaching worthwhile if I had the good fortune of having her in a class. She sets the pace with her published pieces and she is generous with her posts on writing and publishing tips. I am honored by her moving words about me and my writing, that you can read here. If you are not familiar with Jaya’s writing, please take a moment to visit her site, Nin Chronicles ~ May the Words Flow. Thank you for visiting, reading, and listening. 💗 Be well. Michele

Find my photos and micropoems on Instagram ~ @mlsefton

Photos (man & cat): Pexels

© 2021 Michele Lee Sefton

63 thoughts on “Mystery Man, Revealed (short story)

      1. Poetpas

        I think it’s one of the few things I do know-book wise. I did also see the series with Jeremy Brett, the best Sherlock 🕵️ Welcome 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, you’ve chosen a good one to know. 😄 I have only seen a few shows, but I’ve seen enough to know that Brett’s portrayal is an excellent one and one that I could lose myself in, sans a cat or baby. 😆 Thanks. 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Well, what’s gonna happen when Sherman’s wife gets back home??? 🧐 Hmmmm….that’s of course “if” or “when” his wife gets back home as long as she is not approached by that strange man in the park!!!! 🕵🏻‍♀️ 🤔 🕵🏻 Could that man be the “cat-man?” 🙀

    Thanks Michele for our mystery plot this morning. 👮🏼 You’re leaving us hungry for more!!! 😋 😛 😝

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I shudder to think… Sherman should take shelter. She won’t be the least upset about the book., but I doubt she’ll be serving him lentil soup and pork. 😆 Oh no! A twist. 🤔 You’re taking the story into true detective work, maybe a true crime! 😱 It seems I may have another series on my hands, and in my brain too. Too fun! Thank you, Kym. 😄

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh girlfriend, this story can take some unexpected twists, from detective work to SciFi mysteries. 😲 I think dear Michele, you may have a series on your hands like Anne Rice or James Patterson. 🤔 Just sayin’. 🧐

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amusing and intriguing 🧐 will be waiting for the next part, hope it doesn’t end here. The poor book, will the Mrs. make it home?

    I also just want to add, I agree with your assessment of Jaya. I can’t add anything more than what you’ve already said.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Elle. I am glad you enjoyed the story. I thought this would be one and done, but I had similar thoughts last night when I finished the story. We shall see how these love cats proceed. 🤔 😆 Jaya is amazing! I am truly grateful for her mention. Thank you. 🙏🏼

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A pleasant read though foul experience for both Sherman and book. Will he manage to make amends with Harriet? Does he unravel the park-mystery, and might the villain be the homeless man from the alley? A wonderful creative work of fiction, Michele – I’m looking forward to what comes next. ✍🏼 BTW, you certainly do take a nice picture. 😉 A very nice shoutout to your friend, as well. 🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Phil. Yes, this story is not without its casualties. Comedy, drama, and tragedy. Such is life, and as they say, “shit happens.” 😆 Great questions! We shall see how this story unfolds… I certainly can’t leave Sherman and Junior in that mess! My selfies are a bit blurry – I need a remote shutter release, or a photographer. 😆 I do thank you. Very kind of you to say. 🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      1. D’oh. Yes, it happens. 😆 I do hope you come to the rescue, sparing each any further aggravation. 😂 I also think your smile looks wonderful with or without blur. ✅

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Timothy Price

        The first video The Cure made of that song when it first cam out was wonderful. They had stuffed cats and it was really playful. I can’t find that video. I remember it was really fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah! A fantastic tale, Michele. So funny, I was thinking about Sherlock Holmes at the beginning – the way the stage was set, the characters, the pipe…how fun. I also love the ending…so real, and human. Of course I adore you used the term mussel. Haha. 😁 Well crafted and delivered, my friend. I cannot wait to read what happens next. 😃 A beautiful Saturday to you. 🌻🍁🌺🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeff, I found this in my spam folder, along with other attempts that I deleted. How rude of WP to drop your comments in spam! Weird. You were spot on with your initial hunch, and as a dad of two boys, I am sure the ending was no surprise. A fun write for me. Thank you for your comments. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhh! You found me, well done! Hahaha. No, no surprises there. Indeed, WP can be very rude at times. You’re most welcome. Always. Have a lovely evening and beautiful weekend. 🥰

        Like

    1. This was a fun write! 😆 I had a different ending in mind that involved an exploding diaper and kitty paw prints, but that was just gross. 🤢 For Harriet’s sake, I revised my thinking. 😂 Thank you for reading and enjoying (the language). 🤣 Just life, right? ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a fun (and funny) read, Michele: I think you could extend this into a longer story. You captured those tense couple moments with a baby so well. What I find especially funny is Sherman’s reaction to the soiled diaper, when we both know that mum has already dealt with three or four of these that day 😝

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ingrid. I am so glad you enjoyed my story. 😄 I do agree with you – this has potential to evolve into a longer story about real life moments with an investigative twist. Not my original intention, but I could have fun with these characters, including the cat. 😆 So true, Harriet has been a busy mum while Sherman is out following in the footsteps of his favorite sleuth. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Michele, your story is atmospheric and engaging! From the homeless man with the skinny cat to the mewling little lady, the pictures stay in my head in as welcoming a manner as his daily observances bothered Sherman.

    Your mention means so much to me! Thank you for your kind words, your reflections and gratitude. ❤

    Like

  7. Pingback: Mystery Man, Revealed (short story) – Gobblers / Masticadores // Editores: Manuela Timofte / j re crivello

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