Officer Maddie Specht's strangest case.
| The Sick Case Of The Cat Lady's Neighbor
“See the man at 12 Strathcona Drive,” squawked Officer Maddie Specht’s two way radio.
It was one of the 911 operators that Maddie knew, so she hit the sirens the whole way while speeding to the address. As she got out of the car, a sweaty, nervous balding man in baggy shorts and no shirt, rushed toward her.
“What’s the emergency, sir?” Maddie asked as she took the man’s arm and walked him up to his front door.
“It’s my neighbor, Simon Brogan. That’s his house across the street; number 11,” the man said, talking a mile a minute.
“Slow down, sir! Start at the beginning. Like with your name,” Maddie soothed as she pulled out her notebook with a pen clipped to it from her uniform pocket.
“Oh, I’m sorry, it’s just so upsetting, you know? My name is Tom Beals. Simon is my best friend; he’s veritable eidolon on this block, let me tell you! Especially compared to some of my other neighbors!”
“We walk down to the coffee shop in the other block two or three times a day. When I knocked on his door about an hour ago to ask if he wanted to make a coffee run, I got no answer.”
“Since his car is still in the driveway, I naturally decided to try the back door, but Simon has been keeping it locked lately. I even attempted to call him on my cell, but I got no answer even after trying ten times; it went to voicemail every time.”
“Well, let’s check it out, shall we?” Would you have a key to Mr. Brogan’s house, Mr. Beals?” Maddie wanted to know.
“Oh yes, of course. We have keys to each other’s homes for when we are out of town or on vacation. I’ll see if I can remember where I put it.”
“Simon hasn’t been out of town for some time since all the trouble escalated with our crazy cat lady,” the man said conversationally as he searched his pockets.
He finally even went into his house to search for the keys in question, closely followed by Maddie. Because, until this whole set of suspicious circs got sorted out, she wasn’t about to let this guy out of her sight! When keys were finally unearthed, literally, from the soil of a dying potted house plan, Maddie escorted Tom Beals to his neighbor’s front door, watching warily as he opened it.
“That’s far enough for now, Mr. Beals. Could you do me a huge favor? Go out to the street so that you can direct my backup to the right house, thanks,” Maddie instructed as she ushered the man unceremoniously off the porch and down the steps.
It was eerily quiet. Maddie didn’t like to borrow or make any assumption of trouble, but nevertheless, she unsnapped her gun flap, putting her hand on the gun ready to draw it if necessary. The whole house was painfully neat with no sign of disturbance until she came to the partially opened door to the master bedroom on the second floor.
What she could see through the small opening made Maddie snap on a pair of rubber gloves that she always carried on her belt. She also got on her radio to emergency services before she even crossed the threshold. Officer Specht swallowed convulsively when she saw what was left of Simon Brogan.
The entire room resembled nothing less than a slaughterhouse. There was blood mixed with raw tissue everywhere! One look at the body on the blood-soaked bed told Maddie she wouldn’t need an ambulance, just the coroner.
But as per protocol, she tried to find a pulse in the man’s ankle anyway. When she leaned over the body to do so, something amazing caught her eye. An absolutely huge paw print marked the bottom of the bedspread that had been missed by blood spatter.
Intrigued, Officer Specht looked around. More prints led across the floor and stopped only to reappear again on the sill of the half-open bedroom window. Maddie looked out of it, trying to gauge the drop from the sill, only to shake her head in awe.
Careful not to touch anything, Maddie went down to the front door to wait for the coroner who would bring along the division’s crime scene investigation unit. Surprisingly, bloody marks on the lawn crossed to the house next door.
Before she could make a move in that direction, she heard the coroner’s van pull up. There was certainly no mistaking the sound of that old rattletrap!
“Well, Doc. What’s cause of death?” Maddie asked half an hour later after the body was put in the van.
“Seems to me, at first glance, like something with some pretty sharp claws and teeth made a mincemeat meal of that poor man! I’ll know more when I get him on my table,” the coroner replied as she started climb into the cab.
Officer Specht leaned on the frame of the open window of the driver’s side door while she exclaimed: “Are you tell me that some kind of animal did this?”
“Sure looks like it. But if the media gets wind of this, I’ll officially deny it!” the doctor told her.
As she watched the van pull away, Maddie decided she definitely needed a much longer chat with Tom Beals.
As she turned to find him, she saw that a sizable crowd of people had gathered. She watched as Tom Beals argued heatedly with a woman of indeterminate age who seemed to be decorated in live cats on the front edge of the crowd.
Officer Specht raced over as Tom began pushing the woman violently.
When she managed to separate the two combatants, she pulled Tom Beals away to sit on his front steps with her and calm down. When she gently broke the news of his best friend’s death, he proved inconsolable.
“It was that crazy cat lady, I just know it! That witch, Georgia Pike, killed Simon!” he screamed repeatedly until he broke down in ugly sobs. Maddie handed him a handkerchief and waited for him to cry himself out.
“What makes you say that?” Officer Specht asked calmly.
“Those two have been going at it like prize fighters for years. Her cats dig up his prize-winning rosebushes, he traps them then takes them down to the shelter so she has to go all the way downtown to recover them. Stuff like that goes on regularly between them. I’m surprised that this is the first time you guys have been called!” Tom explained in a tearful voice.
“None of those cats have licenses or tags, did you know that?” he finished after a pause.
“I’ll be back to talk to you again later. Maybe an introduction to your cat lady is in order,” Maddie told him.
“You better watch out for those felines of hers, they’ll attack you like as not. The old girl is kinda losing it. She lets them run wild,” Tom warned.
When Maddie arrived at Ms. Pike’s front yard, the woman herself was standing at the top of her porch steps obviously waiting for her. Her short figure was colorfully decorated in a drape of cats, all sizes and not to mention colors.
“What did that old poop Tom Beals say about me?” the lady demanded as Maddie climbed the steps.
“Not much, except that you own attack cats,” Officer Specht replied with a grin as she reached the top.
“They only attack people who don’t like them, in my vast experience. Much as that man pretends to like animals, they know he doesn’t,” the oldster said tartly.
Maddie hid a smile.
“I also hear you were feuding with Simon Brogan. The way I heard it, it was worse than the Hatfield/McCoy debacle,” the officer said smilingly.
“Call me Georgia, young lady,” the older woman suggested as she carefully removed the cats one at a time, patting or cooing to each one as she did so.
“You might as well sit; this could take a while, Miss…?”
Officer Madeline Specht, you may call me Officer,” Maddie answered, aware that keeping her professional attitude was important. The old lady smiled as she patted the wicker chair beside hers on the porch.
“It’s true that we didn’t get along. That man was an old-fashioned Irish swindler of the worst kind! He was a big idea man with no money, but he sure had the blarney about him, I can assure you.
“He tried to get me involved in some weird exotic cat breeding scheme. To my shame, he almost had me talked into investing in it. Then I found out what he was doing with them!”
“What was that?” Maddie asked as she continued making a written record of the conversation.
"Breeding them for their fur! Can you believe that? I called the SPCA on the wicked beast!”
Georgia paused as if in thought.
“You know, I think he got Tom Beals mixed up in it too. I heard he got raided, lost almost everything he had,” she confided conspiratorially.
“Is that so?” commented Maddie.
She thanked the old lady for the information, patted a couple of friendly cats, and then started for Tom Beals’ house. There was no way that such a genteel, slightly scatterbrained and fey old lady could have done what Maddie had seen to anyone! As for her cats, none of them looked either hungry or interested enough to have done it either.
Before the interview with her now prime suspect, Officer Specht went around to the back of his house on a wild hunch. Bloody traces leading to his basement window convinced Maddie she was about to make someone pay unexpected dues.
When she knocked on the window, a giant ocelot-like wild cat sprang at it, snarling viciously with bared fangs. It happened so sudden and unexpectedly, Maddie went for her gun.
“Noooooooo! Don’t hurt her!” she heard as she did so. Tom Beals threw himself in front of her to bar the way to the window.
“Majesty is my pet. She’s the last of best of all the cats I bred for Simon! He had a vision that I liked, at least in the beginning.
“I agreed to finance part of the venture, as well as do all the work to get us started. He put it all in my name because he maintained it would be easier for me to access all the money we were going to make when I wanted to expand or go out on my own. Uhhuh, sure!
“He took me for everything I had plus more; then threw me to the SPCA when it turned out I needed licenses that would clear me to breed wild cats in my home. He swore he’d care of it.”
Tom was sobbing loudly now.
“They found my cats and took them away, all but Majesty. She was just a kitten, so she was easy to hide in the basement. She’s clever, you know. She learned how to open that basement window before she was even a year old!
“I told her everyday how much I hated Simon for what he’d done to me. Lately, I haven’t been able to feed her much because a cat her size eats a lot; with my cash flow problems I’ve had to cut her back. Is it my fault she went to see Simon when I accidentally forgot to double-lock her window last night?”
Maddie looked into the mad, empty eyes that reflected the sick, twisted brain of what used to be Tom Beals. She recited his Miranda rights as she cuffed him. She called both the local zoo and animal control before she led the murderer away.
“Let’s hope the justice system comes up with a condign sentence that fits the crime,” Georgia opined in a ruthless tone.
"More than likely they psychohaste him from jail to the hospital for the criminally insane in Penetanguishine,” replied Maddie.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a kitty?” asked Georgia, passing one of her lapful of cats over to Maddie.
“No thanks, to be truthful I’m not home enough. Besides, my dog is severely allergic. But I’ll come to visit often. Let me know if you need or want a cat sitter, OK?” Maddie said as she leaned over to kiss the powdery cheek of the old woman, then got up to leave to back to work.
Eidolon: ideal, phantom, an unsubstantial image.
Condign: deserved, appropriate
Psychohaste: a made up word you need to define. A fast move to a psycho ward was mine.