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CSI Wellington | April 17, 2012

Picture the scene: I entered the house and there was something peculiar afoot. A bag of shopping that I’d brought home earlier had been knocked over. My assumption was that some feline interloper had been in through the cat flap and knocked it over while trying to rub against it, the way cats do. Must have been a big cat, I concluded, which discounted our borderline munchkin moggie.

Beware of first conclusions.

Awhile later I discovered a box of tea jammed into a corner of the room and the truth of the scenario dawned instantly. The tea in question wasn’t your average breakfast variety, but a relaxing tea, which counter intuitively contains catnip – and our cat loves em. Obviously, despite the tea being plastic wrapped, the cat had been desperate to get some, out of the bag she fished it; across the floor she chased it.

This was not the first time that returning home has posed a mini mystery to me but the previous incident was a lot, lot more disturbing.

My parents and I had been to my grandparent’s and by the time we returned home it was dark. Pulling onto the driveway everything seemed as it should, the lights were on as expected because my older brother had stayed home.

We hopped out of the car and approached the house. My dad twisted the key in the Yale lock and we entered.

“Hello,” someone called. No reply, came the answer.

So my brother had left the lights on but gone out. He’d left a lot of lights on, but maybe he’d only just popped out, most of his mates lived close by.

“That’s odd,” my dad said, “the phone’s off the hook.” And it wasn’t just off the hook; the receiver was completely off the hook and hanging off the side of the record cabinet that the phone sat on. I didn’t know what kind of struggle would only leave a phone in a moderately precarious state and touch nothing else, and clearly neither did my parents, so there was still calm.

Of the many lights that could be seen on form the outside, my brother’s bedroom light was one of them. I expect it was this that drew someone upstairs. There things became entirely filmic. There was a record on my brother’s turntable and it was still revolving, the needle tracing the infinity of the runoff groove.

Had my brother been listing to music while on the phone then simply vanished? Your own house isn’t meant to be like the Mary Celeste.

I expect my parents were freaking out, “Tales of the Unexpected” was a very popular TV show in those days, but they weren’t letting on.

Then my brother turned up. Not in a ditch somewhere, thankfully, but from next door.

He’d been listening to music when he’d wondered how loud it sounded outside. So he went out onto the street to find out. But he let the door close behind him – the latch clicked into place and he was locked out. He’d gone next door and had been furnished with a coat hanger. This he’d used to try to hook a set of door keys, all of which were conveniently hung up within close proximity to the letterbox. However, he’d failed to snare the keys and had only managed to dislodge the telephone.

Having failed, he’d returned to the next door neighbour’s house and awaited our return.

Obviously that was a mystery that didn’t need to be solved, my brother told us. If he’d been a cat I reckon we’d still be mulling it over now.

 

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