Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 03-107
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Where We Left Off:
The backyard squirrels have taken vandalism and heists to a whole new level.
Sometimes, we just have to wonder if we’re seeing things — as in hallucinating. Okay, this mostly pertains to me. Anyone with a cat knows about the ability for cats to see things we don’t. They’ll stare up at a ceiling or stalk an invisible imaginary “friend” at playtime. People don’t think it’s weird at all. It’s part of cat behavior and their supernatural skills which we don’t always get to share. When it’s a human that swears something was there one minute and now it’s gone… well, they call the men in white coats.
When Oliver takes his strolls up the hill to check on the cottage, it’s pretty much the only time Gus wants to go up there during the warmer weather. He’s fine in the backyard and immediate surrounding woods because there are so many critters and things that require his attention like the nesting starlings and finches or the many rodents. We were lucky that Oliver led the way up because something fishy was going on at the tail end of April.
Gus, as you know, thinks everything belongs to him and that includes the house and property which are not ours. Nonetheless, he quite enjoys his time visiting the cottage on the mountain and exploring the porch and property. He frequently looks in the windows and checks all the doors for anything suspicious. It was alarming when he found something.
On previous visits, there had been a step ladder set up on the ground at the end of the wrap-around porch. Yet, on April 24 when all of us were up there, the step ladder was mysteriously on the porch itself! I stood frozen in place on the top step completely disbelieving my own eyes. Gus had no problem going forward to investigate this suspicious clue. How was the ladder moved? Why was it moved?
The only people I’ve seen go up there in recent months are oil delivery trucks. They’re odd in their own way because they seem to take far too long up there. Anyway, since the nephew in charge of the estate hasn’t been paying anyone to maintain the grounds, no one has been going up there since winter hunting season (no one besides us). Even though we have the keys, we haven’t sensed the urgency to go back into the house since some time last fall. Regarding those deliveries though, Gus observed that they would stick notices in between the glass door and inside door located at the back of the house which serves as the main entrance. Those notices had been removed too.
The veranda is in desperate need of repairs like the rest of the place, but its cozy and welcomes a wide view of the hills. The traffic below can be heard but not seen. There’s a picnic bench, an old clothes line, a round thermometer gauge, large wind chimes, and small wind chimes. It’s easy to notice if something is out of place. That’s why when I ascended the one set of stairs close to the edge where the yard steeply drops off, the step ladder alarmed me. It was right there in plain view rather than around the corner at the other end of the stairs and on the ground. There’s nothing I can think of that would require needing the ladder unless someone had to change a light bulb. Even so, when would that have happened and why? The porch lights aren’t getting turned on.
Gus wasted no time poking around. His inquisitive nature and the Super Smeller told him to get to work immediately. He searched around for more clues while I stood close behind him. He checked all the doors. I wouldn’t let him in to his vocalized disappointment. He checked around some of the windows too and seemed to pay particular attention to a couple of spots. One of the doors and one of the windows held his focus for a considerable amount of time. He begged even more, but I still wouldn’t let him inside. Besides I hadn’t even brought the key with me that day.
By that point, I was feeling spooked. Gus wanted to get inside the house and kept letting me know, but I was ready to bail on the mission. Too scary for me. I don’t mind ghosts if they keep to themselves and don’t cause a disturbance, but the way Gus was acting around the ladder and the house itself gave me goosebumps. On this trip Oliver didn’t come up on the porch (he’s only done that with the Grumpy Old Man). He got to see the view and hear a little about what Gus was finding, but then he and the elder human went back home. Gus and I would have to bring him up to speed once we met up later.
Getting Gus to leave was no easy task. He assumed that if I was encouraging him off the porch, it meant that we were going mountain climbing. Nope. I wasn’t in the mood that day. Sometimes he takes the most precarious routes over rocks and through thorns. Unless he was willing to stick to the trails, I overruled him. He was absolutely not interested in trails so neither of us got our way. That meant it was time to circle around the parking area, check the garage, and then go back to our own property where we would linger outside before heading back to the offices to talk with Oliver.
Oliver agreed with Gus that the ladder’s movement was indeed suspicious. Both of them attribute it to paranormal activity. Whether it was Mrs. J or another spectral being, we aren’t sure.