“Still skeptical, Mr. Tuff?”
“Semi-impressed.” Most dogs have a favourite treat and if the dognappers did not intend to return Huggie when the ransom was paid, they would take him to Ultima Thule or Timbuktu.
I drove home, mulling over these details. One possibility flashed through my mind; it was too crazy, but I had no other ideas, so I decided to check it out.
I don’t usually resort to disguises, although once I had worn an outfit for a case at a costume contest, but in this instance, I decided, it might be useful, so I ransacked my closets and eventually, wearing a blue plaid shirt, overalls, work boots, and a baseball cap over a wig, I knocked on Ms. Turge’s door.
“Blandsville Power Company. I’m here to check your electricity.” I held up my wallet and flashed a card, hoping that she wouldn’t notice that it was for membership in the Blandsville Numismatists Club – and was long expired.
She was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt that said “Psychics are far-sighted.”
“I don’t have any electrical problems.” And as a psychic, you’d see that coming, I thought.
“And I’m sure you don’t want any. Where’s the fuse box?”
“In the basement.” She led me to the cellar stairs. As I stared down, I heard a high-pitched bark.
“You got a dog?”
“I’m keeping him for a friend.”
“I like dogs. What’s his name?”
“I’d like to meet him.”
“He doesn’t like strangers.”
“Too bad.” I opened the fuse box after several tries, stared at it, and jiggled a few fuses, trying to look expert. “Seems okay.”
“Your face is familiar.” My heart skipped a beat.
“Could be. I’ve had it all my life.”
I left as quickly as possible and returned to my car which I had parked two blocks away because, of course, it lacked a Power Company logo. I drove home and shed my disguise. Hmm, did I look better with a wig? Then I went to the Cains’ house.
“I think I may have found Huggie.”
If the Cains were dogs, they would have been jumping on me and licking my face, but they were puzzled as we drove to the psychic’s house and I knocked.
“May we come in?” I asked, barging through the door with atypical aggressiveness. The Cains followed.
“I don’t know why we’re here,” said Mrs. Cain apologetically.
Perhaps “Hugo” recognized her voice because at that moment, luckily for me, unluckily for Ms. Turge, he began to bark excitedly.
“Huggie!” screamed Mrs. Cain.
“I was about to call you…” said Ms. Turge.
After a long reunion with a lot of hugging and tail-wagging, we sat down for the most important explanation of any crime: Why?
“The world is full of skeptics like you, Mr. Tuff, people who don’t believe in my psychic power. I wanted to prove all of you wrong by finding a stolen dog.”
“So you kidnapped my darling Huggie and then volunteered to help find him. You despicable woman!” Mrs. Cain cuddled Huggie more tightly.
“If I had succeeded, my reputation as a psychic would have soared.”
“As it is,” I said, “you are just another unsuccessful con artist.”
“Thank goodness. And Mr. Tuff,” said Mr. Cain.
“And thanks to the fact that your power failed to penetrate my amateurish disguise.”
As we left, Ms. Turge said: “I know you won’t believe me, Mr. Tuff, but you have a good chance to remarry. You have already met the woman. “Was she talking about herself?
The Cains wanted to pay me, but I declined my fee. “Use the money to buy treats for Huggie.”
I’m a sucker for a cute dog.