Sheryl put down the newspaper and let out a satisfied grin. The headline of the article that she was reading said, "Private Detectives Help Catch Weapons Smugglers", and the article described how Sheryl and Marlowe had helped the police round up members of a weapons smuggling ring. It didn't go into much detail, of course, since the witnesses had to be protected, but the important thing was that Sheryl had some positive publicity going for her now.
"The cases should start rolling in!" she thought to herself as she ate a piece of candy.
The doorbell rang, startling Sheryl. She walked to the door and stared out the peephole to find a little girl outside her door.
Puzzled, she opened the door. Smiling at the little girl, Sheryl said, "What are you doing here, little girl?"
The little girl held up the newspaper, showing the very same article that Sheryl was reading earlier. "Are you Ms. Sheryl Holmes?"
"Yes, I am, but you can call me Holmes."
The little girl put the newspaper back into her bag. "Why would I call you that?"
"Well, because that's what everyone called Sherlock Holmes."
Sheryl stood there for a moment as she was taken aback by the fact that the little girl didn't know who her idol was. Finally, she said, "He is one of the greatest detectives in the world, and my idol."
The little girl pondered this information for a moment. Then she said, "Oh, then maybe I should go to him instead, do you know where he lives?"
Sheryl paused again, realizing that she should have explained things a bit better, "Oh, sorry there, I should have been more clear about this. He's just a character in some stories that I love."
"Oh..." The little girl looked disappointed, but she perked up again with a renewed sense of determination, "Then will you help me, Ms. Sheryl?"
Sheryl sighed again at yet another person refusing to call her by her surname. "Alright, what do you need help with?"
"I would like to hire you to find my cat!" The little girl then fumbled around in her pocket and took out what was probably her total savings at this point, "I have twelve dollars!"
The two of them stood in silence for a moment, as the girl eagerly waited for Sheryl to take her money and help her.
"Well," said Sheryl, "my fee is usually a lot higher than twelve dollars."
Tears started showing at the bottom of the little girl's eyes. "So you won't help me?"
Sheryl panicked a little as the little girl's eyes started to swell up. "No, no! Of course I'll help you!"
The little girl sobbed, "But this is all I have!"
"Well, this case is on me, okay?" Sheryl patted the girl's head.
The little girl dried her tears and smiled, "Really? Thanks, Ms. Sheryl!"
"Well then, come inside and tell me about your case."
Sheryl and the little girl walked into the living room and sat down onto the sofa.
"Would you like a piece of candy?" asked Sheryl, pointing to the bowl of candy on the coffee table.
"Yes!" The little girl excitedly grabbed one of the pieces of candy. She then unwrapped the candy delightfully and put it into her mouth.
"So, what's your name?" asked Sheryl.
"Samantha!" the little girl replied with a delighted voice.
"So, Samantha, tell me about your missing cat."
Samantha dug into her bag and pulled out a poster. The poster was headlined with the word "Missing", underneath that was a picture of the cat and an address and phone number."This is Annabell! We named her that because she wears a bell!"
Sheryl smiled at the innocent pun. "So, what happened?"
“A few days ago, I was playing with Annabell in the front yard, when her collar broke, I went in to get her a new one. Then as I was coming back out, I saw a stranger through the window and I looked outside. She picked up Annabell and drove away in her car.” Tears welled up in Samantha's eyes again as she remembered what happened, “I ran out, but they were gone by the time I got out.”
Sheryl grabbed a tissue and handed it to the little girl. “This stranger, what did she look like?”
“I don't know, she had short blonde hair, that's all I could really see.” Samantha said while sobbing. She wiped her tears and snot with the tissue that Sheryl had handed her.
“What did your parents say?”
“They didn't believe me, they just thought that Annabell had run off.” Samantha was calming down again. “We made these posters, but the kidnapper won't give Annabell back so easily. So while my parents weren't looking, I snuck out to find you!”
The girl then turned to face Sheryl and smiled as she said this. Sheryl stared back with a bewildered expression as it sunk into her that a missing child was now sitting beside her while the parents were probably worried and running around everywhere, trying to find their child.
Finally, Sheryl reacted, “Samantha, let's get you home first.”
“So that you can take a look at the crime scene?”
“That's right! But first, let me call your parents.”
Sheryl dialled the number on Samantha's poster. Unfortunately, no one answered, so Sheryl left a message saying that she was bringing Samantha back to her home.
Sheryl sighed and put down the phone. However, it was then that Sheryl's phone rang. “Sorry, hang on for another minute, Samantha.”
Sheryl picked up the phone and answered, “Hello, Sheryl Holmes' 221B Ba-”
“I have a case for you, Sheryl.” Mike's voice came through the phone.
“Oh, hi Mike. Sorry, I kinda have a case already.”
After a brief pause filled with disbelief, Mike replied, “Okay, well, my detectives can handle it without you then. What sort of case is this?”
“Well, it's a case of the missing cat.”
“Oh, so you were hired by some rich old lady to go look for a cat?”
“... No, it's just a little girl.”
There was a pause on the telephone. Sheryl could feel Mike's anger through the phone, she quickly said, “Well, at least having a case is better than having no case?”
There was another pause before Mike's voice came through the phone again. “Goodbye, Sheryl.”
The call disconnected and Sheryl put the phone down, still feeling the aftereffects of Mike's suppressed disappointment about the case.
Samantha tugged Sheryl's sleeve. “Can we go now, Ms. Sheryl?”
Snapping back to reality, Sheryl got up. “Alright, let's go find your cat.”