Tarragon Is Vital
Officer Corinne Souvakis knocked on the weathered door with trepidation. If the smell was anything like last time, she wasn’t sure if she could hold her lunch. The neighborhood’s “cat lady” owned more than just 16 cats. Her hoarding behavior insured her house would eventually be condemned, but that was for another department. Souvakis’ interest lay in the welfare of the animals.
“Think she found homes for them all?” said Officer Witten, standing beside her. He’d been there with her for the first visit and witnessed the incredible clutter. Cats gave birth in boxes half-filled with Life magazines. Some used a rusted skillet as a litter box.
“Doubt it,” said Corinne. “In cases like this, the follow-up inspection is just a formality before confiscating all the animals.”
The door opened, and a young woman peered out. She dressed in neatly pressed capris and a spaghetti-string top. She gazed at them disinterestedly with grass-green eyes. “Yes?”
Corinne held up her Animal Control Police badge. “Officers Souvakis and Witten. We were scheduled for a follow up visit today.”
The girl looked bemusedly at the badge. She batted the lower half so that it swung back and forth. She watched it intensely, then batted it again.
Annoyed, Corinne put the badge away. “May we come in?”
The girl stepped away and sashayed into the house. Her strides were so graceful her steps made no sound.
Inside, Corinne gasped right along with Witten. The house was virtually spotless and the smell was gone. In place, of all the clutter, there were people. Lots of them. One man sat in a chair staring into a mirror, meticulously grooming his hair. Most of the others napped on the couches and chairs in tight fetal positions. One woman lounged on the kitchen counter, her svelte body wrapped around a plate of fish bones.
“My God!” said Corinne. “The change is remarkable. Did all of you help Mrs. Henretty with the cleaning?”
“Uh huh,” said the girl, laying across the top of the couch back.
“May we speak with the owner, Mrs. Henretty?”
“She’s not here.”
Corinne sighed. Must I get all this piece by piece? “She should be here. Our arrival was scheduled.”
The girl yawned. “She’s visiting her sister. She’s very sick.”
“I see.” Corinne looked around. Not exactly a flight from police if the house had been cleaned. And she didn’t see cats anywhere. “Your name is…?”
Corinne blinked. “Well, I’ll need to inspect the rest of the house.”
The remainder of the house looked equally spotless. They found only one cat. It was a strange though. It meowed insistently when it saw them. The dark-eyed gray cat constantly batted at their arms, trying to get their attention. Eventually, Corinne followed it to a computer table. The feline pounded its paw on a sheet of paper. On it, written in horribly childish scrawl, was the word, “Tarragon.”
When Corrine shrugged in confusion, it batted it’s paw on the computer screen. Corinne and Witten chalked it all up to curious feline behavior. They decided the case was closed. One cat, albeit an odd one, was perfectly acceptable. They departed, feeling successful.
Back in the house, the gray cat heaved a sigh. She maneuvered the mouse and went back to the web page entitled, “Spell-Casting: Cats Into People.” She scrolled down to the comments section where one user noted the following:
Tarragon is VITAL in the potion. Without it, the spell also reverses people and turns them into cats! Took me forever to get that sorted!