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Lake Sherlockbegon Revisited
Well, it was a slow week in my hometown, Lake Sherlockbegon. I ran into Mary Sutherland on my way to the Battered Tin Box Café. She was coming out of Bertha’s Kitty Winter Boutique. She proceeded to tell me about her cat, Hosmer, peculiar habit of throwing up red hairballs, so she had stopped in at Bertha’s in hopes of finding a remedy. She had tried feeding Hosmer a dose of castor oil but ended up with more on the front of her twice-stained smock than down the cat. Before I could wish her a compliment of the season and be on my way, Ralph Musgrave joined us. He was walking to work the same way he has for the past fifty years. Ralph Musgrave is the owner of Ralph Musgrave’s Pretty Good Grocery at Elm and Ritual Streets.
Before either Mary or I could say good morning, Ralph started ranting about somebody defacing the Statue of the Unknown Norwegian Explorer over in Oldacre Park on Lower Norwood. Someone spray painted little dancing figures. Ralph was so worked up; I thought he might be suffering from brain fever. Dr. Lysander Starr, who was mayor in 1990, had his office just across the street but Ralph soon calmed down so we did not have to bother the good doctor. He spent most of his time these days reading the Racing Form online pretending to be researching medical issues. Ralph was explaining how the recent rash of vandalism coincided with those new immigrants from the Andaman Islands. Anyone low enough to deface the Statue of the Unknown Norwegian Explorer, would be capable of doing just about anything.
Now that Mary had a new set of ears, she began again re-telling Ralph about Hosmer’s red hairballs. I saw my opening and took it, slipping around the corner of Bertha’s Kitty Winter Boutique. If I knew Mary, she would hold Ralph in conversation for the next quarter of an hour. I walked briskly down Baker Street to Elm, crossing Ritual Street. I walked right past Ralph Musgrave’s Pretty Good Grocery. I stole a quick glance toward the store, where Jack Spaulding was sweeping up out front. I’m sure he was beginning to wonder where Ralph was this morning. When I reached Church Street, I turned back left toward Main. I crossed Main entering the Battered Tin Dispatch Box Café through the side door. As I hurried, I caught sight of poor Ralph slowly edging away from Mary Southerland and her woes of Hosmer.
Business was brisk inside the Battered Tin Dispatch Box Café. The café is located next door to the World’s Largest Pile of Carpet Bags. At last estimate, the mound was nearly two-hundred and twenty-one feet tall and draws hundreds of tourists to Lake Sherlockbegon each year. These tourists naturally stop into the Battered Tin Dispatch Box Café for a brace of cold woodcock or pheasant or the pate foie gras pie. The Tentative Fixed Point closed last year leaving the Battered Tin Dispatch Box Café as the only real dining spot in town. The Gold Bar at the back of the café is where the loungers have their drinks mixed. I decided that I needed a drink so I called out to the bartender, Ted Baldwin, my request. It arrived before I knew it and I took a table that allowed me to survey the entire room. There were pockets of conversation, mostly about the dancing figures on the Statue of the Unknown Norwegian Explorer or Hosmer’s red hairballs.
Just another day in Lake Sherlockbegon, where the men smell strong, the women are good, looking down on others, and all the children are different.
Past 2009 Columns