"First, I want to thank you all for coming," Mews said stepping away from the window. All eyes were on him and yet he felt a certain calm washing over the room-everyone, even the guilty, seemed to be relieved that the truth was about to come to light. The innocent looked confident that they would not be wrongly accused and the guilty had the countenance of a prisoner in a courtroom-while being judged and eventually condemned at least they no longer had to bear the burden of their dreadful secret. Mews took a deep breath, exhaled and began walking slowly around the room with authority and resolve. "I want to assure you that after several weeks of investigation and careful consideration I believe I have solved the case of the nasty notes." At this some shifted uncomfortably in their seats-a cry went out and and a burst of applause was cut short when Horst knocked Jean Claude's tea off the table.
"Pardon me," he said looking embarrassed as Jean Claude wiped down his seat.
"Order, order!" Quigley said hopping excitedly on the back of the couch. "Order in the living room!"
"Yes, thank you Quigley," Mews said giving him a look. "But I'll have to remind you and everyone that this isn't a courtroom-no one is on trial. No arrests have been made and no arrests will be made because no crime has actually been committed."
"Mon dieu, Mews! What are you saying?" Quigley asked as the others looked on with eager concern.
"What I'm saying is that the case of the nasty notes is not a cut and dry, black and white case of dogism. No, friends, it turns out that there really is no dogism at work here. It's rather quite the opposite I should say."
"Mews, what on earth are you getting at?" Beauregard said. His jowls jiggled as he spoke. "Really, get on with it my man. We're all getting tired and hungry here. Constance's cheese souffle is surely going to be ruined." At this Mews turned towards Constance.
"Perhaps we should move things along, shall we Constance? I believe things will go faster once you admit to the fact that you are the one responsible for the second nasty note-the one with the letters cut from this magazine?" Mews pulled a copy of Home and Garden from his bag and as he shook it small pieces of glossy magazine letters fell to the floor. Beauregard stood up as Constance looked on.
"That proves nothing, Mews. Anyone could have cut those letters out," she said narrowing her eyes.
"Anyone-with your address printed on the cover?" Mews said walking towards her. "Found in your recycling the day after the note was discovered?" Constance raised her head and then stood up.
"Very well, Mews. You're right. You caught me. I am a dogist and I did assemble that note and I did stick it to Horst's door." She turned and looked at Horst. "It's true. I don't like you because you are a dog." She then returned to her seat and casually sipped at her tea.
"Ha! I knew it!" Quigley exclaimed as his feathers fluttered. "Once a dog-hater, always a dog-hater!" Quigley yelled this as the rest of the room chatted amongst themselves with concerned faces. Mews stood up and asked the room for his undivided attention.
"I'm afraid things are not as simple as that," Mews said as he approached Constance Snodgrass. "And I'm afraid that you are in fact lying, Mrs Snodgrass."
"Rubbish," she said turning a nose at Mews.
"A liar and a dogist," Quigley added. "Shame on you Constance."
"I am no liar Mr Mews. I just admitted that I was responsible for that note," Constance said in her defense.
"Yes. Yes, you are responsible for that note. But not because you are anti-dog. No," Mews said turning to the rest of the group. "You see Mrs Snodgrass, my friends, is no dogist at all. In fact, she is quite the opposite. She is, in fact a dog lover!" The group gasped and Constance hopped off of her seat.
"I'll have no more of this slanderous dreck Mr Mews. Beauregard, fetch my coat. I have a souffle that is about to collapse and guests to prepare for." Beauregard walked across the room and then suddenly stopped.
"Your souffle, Connie, is not the only thing about to collapse," Beauregard said looking doleful. "It is my heart that is ready to collapse," he said pressing a paw to his wrinkly chest. "I can't continue with this charade-anymore," he said walking over to her. He sat beside her, grabbed one of her paws and turned to the group. She looked anxious.
"Beauregard. What are you doing?" Constance asked trying to wriggle away from him.
"Mr Mews is right. Constance and I have had a relationship for over a year now. I love her and she loves me-she put that note up in order to hide our relationship because she's embarrassed to love a dog like me." Beauregard's eyes welled with tears. "But it's all out in the open now Connie. Our love is no longer a dirty little secret. Now we can proudly walk down the street hand and hand, cat and dog." Mrs Snodgrass looked at Beauregard and gave him a wistful smile.
"Well this just dills my pickle!" Jean Claude Reveneau shouted above the noise. He strutted over to Beauregard and shook his hand. The Swedish twins were giggling and conversing rapidly in their mother tongue. "Now if we're all done here," Jean Claude said walking to the door, "I'd like to hit the hay-I've got an early morning tomorrow." But Quigley hopped over to Jean Claude and stuck himself between the rooster and the door.
"Oh no, but we aren't done here at all!" Quigley said. "Mews, there is still one nasty note that hasn't been accounted for. The first one. Is Snodgrass responsible for that one too?" Mews smiled and then shook his head.
"You are right Quigley. There is still one more note that goes unexplained," Mews said taking Jean Claude's hand away from the door. "But Mrs Snodgrass had nothing to do with it."
"Well, why don't you explain it to us Mews so we can all get on with the rest of our holiday," Jean Claude said with an exasperated tone. Mews looked around the room and then settled his eyes on Horst.
"The first note was the easiest to identify. Since it was handwritten, all I had to do was compare handwriting samples," Mews said. "And it made things even easier when the first sample I compared the note to was a distinct match. Isn't that right Horst?"
"Say it isn't so!" Quigley exclaimed. "Horst? What do you have to say of this accusation?" Horst turned away and then, he slowly nodded.
"It's true. Yah. I wrote the first note," Horst admitted as he frowned. He tried to hide his eyes under his bunched eyebrows.
"But why?" The twins asked together.
"Yes, why Horst? Why put us through this interminable quagmire for the last two months?" Quigley asked.
"For the same reason that Constance Snodgrass lied," Mews said interrupting. "For love."
"For love?" Jean Claude Reveneau asked.
"Yes, it's true," Horst said. He was beginning to cry. "I wrote the note so that Magnus would return to me. I thought that if he found out that I was being harassed he might leave Berlin and come back to me. I lied, Mews-and to you Quigley. It wasn't me that ended things with Magnus. You see, he broke up with me. Oh dear, I was so desperate. Pathetic really." Horst looked around the room. "Looking back-it was all so silly. I became more and more embarrassed-it became harder and harder to admit what I'd done and so I just let you all believe that someone was harassing me. And then when that second note went up-I, I didn't know what to think. I got scared and realized that perhaps I was in over my head. Oh, goodness. I'm so terribly embarrassed."
"You're not the only one who ought to be embarrassed," Quigley said looking at Constance Snodgrass.
"Why are you looking at me? He's the one who created this whole state of affairs!" Constance responded looking put upon.
"And you took advantage of an opportunity to protect yourself at someone else's expense," Quigley fired out.
"Well, I never admitted to being perfect Mr Quigley," Snodgrass said taking Beauregard's paw into her lap.
"I think we've had enough accusations for one day Quigs," Mr Mews said. "I think it's safe to say that I've never accused anyone in this room of being perfect. And I think we can all agree that stranger crimes have been committed in the name of love. So I say, in the name of a New Year, that we put this all behind us and call the case of the nasty notes a case closed with this bottle of bubbly!"
As Mews' guests lined up for a glass of Champagne Quigley stepped up to the detective, shook his hand and whispered, "A job well done Mews. And just in time because I've already got a new case for you my good friend."