Something is amiss at Maus Haus. Not just the mystery of an unsolved "suicide" which hangs over the old mansion, but something ominous in the present-day residence.
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January 01, 2003
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Excerpt from The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun
Jim Qwilleran slumped in a chair in the Press Club dining room, his six-feet-two telescoped into a picture of dejection and his morose expression intensified by the droop of his oversized mustache.
His depression had nothing to do with the price of mixed drinks, which had gone up ten cents. It had nothing to do with the dismal lighting, or the gloomy wood paneling, or the Monday mustiness that blended Friday's fish and Saturday's beer with the body odor of an old building that had once been the county jail. Qwilleran had been stunned by bad news of a more vital nature.
The prize-winning feature writer of the Daily Fluxion and the newspaper's foremost connoisseur of sixteen-ounce steaks and apple pie ' la mode was reading -- with horror and dismay -- a list printed on a bilious shade of green paper.
Across the table Arch Riker, the Fluxion's feature editor, said: "What's everybody going to eat today I see they've got potato pancakes on the menu."
Qwilleran continued to stare at the sheet of green paper, adjusting his new reading glasses on his nose as if he couldn't believe they were telling him the truth.
Odd Bunsen, Fluxion photographer, lit a cigar. "I'm having pea soup and short ribs and an order of hash browns. But first I want a double martini."
In silence Qwilleran finished reading his incredible document and started again at the top of the list:
NO CREAM SOUPS
NO FRIED FOODS
Riker, who had the comfortably upholstered contours of a newspaper deskman, said: "I want something light. Chicken and dumplings, I guess, and coleslaw with sour cream. What are you having, Qwill "
NO SOUR CREAM
Qwilleran squirmed in his chair and gave his fellow staffers a vinegary smirk. "I'm having cottage cheese and half a radish."
"You must be sick," Bunsen said.
"Doc Beane told me to lose thirty pounds."
"Well, you're reaching that flaky age," the photographer said cheerfully. He was younger and thinner and could afford to be philosophical.
In a defensive gesture Qwilleran stroked his large black mustache, now noticeably flecked with gray. He folded his glasses and put them in his breast pocket, handling them gingerly.
Riker, buttering a roll, looked concerned. "How come you went to the doctor, Qwill "
"I was referred by a veterinarian." Qwilleran fumbled for his tobacco pouch and started to fill his voluptuously curved pipe. "You see, I took Koko and Yum Yum to the vet to have their teeth cleaned. Did you ever try to pry open the mouth of a Siamese cat They think it's an outrageous invasion of privacy."