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Chen Lau Ling

and the mystery of the ring

By Mary Ann CallahanPublished 3 years ago 17 min read

Chen Lau Ling and the Mystery of the Ring

When it came to Siamese cats, Chen Lau Ling was the “Siamese-ezeest”. He was regal, but, all Siamese cats are regal. He had silky, sleek fur, but all Siamese cats have that. And the dark grey fur from his paws to his long, graceful legs made it seem as though he was wearing silk stockings. But many Siamese cats look like they are wearing stockings. What was different about Chen Lua ling was his face. It was wide and looked even wider thanks to the long dark grey ears that framed it. His long nose met a mouth that seemed to always express a solemn expression, which made him look grouchy, which was not true, at least not all the time. But the most distinguishing feature of Chen Lau Ling was his blue, piercing eyes. They were big, round, and very blue. Most of the time they could only be seen through the slits of his eyelids, as if he were trying to focus. And it seemed that Chen Lua ling was always focusing on something or someone.

Today it was the door of the apartment he shared with Miss Maddie. He had lived with her since he was a kitten. Miss Maddie waited upon him, anticipating his every whim. Chen was very happy with their arrangement, but on this particular day, it seemed that Miss Maddie was not living up to her end of the bargain. She had gone out after his lunch of fresh tuna and cream. As soon as she had gone, he settled into the fluffy throw in a corner of the couch for his usual nap. When he awoke sometime later, he was surprised to see the dimming light of the sun setting between the apartment buildings across the street. He jumped off the couch and went to the kitchen, expecting Miss Maddie to be there fixing his supper. The kitchen was dark, and the bowls from lunch were still where they had been. Miss Maddie was not home yet.

By the time the lights of the room came on, thanks to the automatic timers Miss Maddie had put in, Chen Lau Ling was past annoyed. He was now glued to the window. The street was dark. Where was she? He moved to the kitchen. His dish was still empty. This was not acceptable. He would make Miss Maddie know it as soon as she came home. He was angry, unsure whether he could survive this dilemma. He wandered back to the sofa and kneaded the throw. He eventually forgot about the absence of his dinner as he made a soft pile. He wriggled into the center of it, reminding himself that he was still annoyed, and promptly fell asleep again.

“Chen! Chen Lau Ling?!” The voice woke him with a start. He blinked and stretched just as a warm hand touched his head. “Chen! I am so sorry to be so late. Something came up, and……” the voice faded as he heard his dishes scrape the kitchen floor. He jumped down and sprinted to the kitchen. Miss Maddie was rushing about, sighing heavily as she cut up some leftover fish which she placed in his dish which was then dropped back onto the floor

Chen Lau Ling was about to arch his back in protest at the disrespect of his special dish, but something stopped him. Miss Maddie was now bent over the counter, leaning on both hands. Her shoulders began to shake and he heard a strange sound. Miss Maddie was crying.

As he ate his fish, Chen Lau Ling kept a watch on his lady. She was still weepy, but she had sprung into action. She moved from room to room. Chen Lau Ling heard the sounds of furniture being moved, shelves being cleared, drawers being quickly opened and closed. When she finally returned to the kitchen, she had a phone in her shaking hand and was punching at it with great force.

“Hello, police? I need to report a robbery.”

It Doesn’t Get Better

In the days after that bad afternoon when Miss Maddie had been so late and so upset, Chen Lau Ling pieced together what had happened. Insights came from conversations she had with police, who came to the apartment and ignored his presence, as well as friends who came and would not leave him alone. Chen Lau Ling now knew that a priceless heirloom that Miss Maddie had gotten from her grandmother, who got it from her grandmother, was missing and presumed stolen from the box Miss Maddie kept in the bedroom for it.

Chen Lau Ling knew the ring well. He often used its hard edges to rub against when cuddling with Miss Maddie. He was a cat, and could not be sure about things like the type of stone the ring had, but he could say was that it was long and square. Chen Lau Ling was also sad it was gone.

He was more upset, however, with the effect the loss had on Miss Maddie. She was devastated. When she was not on the phone, she was sitting at the window, sighing heavily. Even worse, though, was that she no longer cuddled with him and his meals were often late.

One afternoon as he sat on his throw on the sofa, it hit him. He would find the ring. Then Miss Maddie would go back to paying all her attention to him. There was only one problem. How would he do it? He thought and thought. When his head began to ache, he snuggled into the throw and fell asleep.

When he awoke, the thinking began again, This time an idea began to form. It was fuzzy but it did feature him, being a hero. He began to purr. He could do this. Now, however, he had to find Miss Maddie and remind her that she still had responsibilities. It was dinnertime. After all, even the loss of an heirloom must not stand in the way of supper.

The Plan Emerges

Chen Lau Ling always placed the needs of others ahead of himself. Even though he came from a royal feline line, Chen Lau Ling thought himself a humble creature. He would make the sacrifice. He would search the apartment, giving up his nap times to investigate.

He found nothing, except an old catnip mouse under the kitchen sink that he had lost. He concluded that the ring was not in the apartment. He would have to expand his search. He had to figure out where Miss Maddie had been on the very day she lost the ring.

That afternoon, Miss Maddie had a visit from one of her oldest friends. The two women sat on the ends of Chen Lau ling’s couch. He was forced to sit in the middle, where they had tossed his throw.

“Maddie, you must forget about this ring.”

“Angela, how can I? It’s a priceless heirloom. My great-great-grandmother bought it in Paris.”

Angela sighed. “I understand, but what can you do? I’m sure the police will continue to look into it.”

“The police!” Miss Maddie snorted. “They wouldn’t even listen. I tried to tell them about the man at the pharmacy. They just smiled and did nothing.”

As Miss Maddie refilled the teacups, Chen Lau Ling sat upright. He needed to listen to this.

“Maddie! What do you mean?” Angela asked as she took another cookie. “Are you saying that Floyd had something to do with this? We’ve known him for years. I won’t believe it.”

“You, too?” Miss Maddie sighed.

Then she explained. The last time she wore the ring was at the pharmacy. She chatted with Floyd, the pharmacist, as he checked her out. He commented on how beautiful the ring was. Miss Maddie thought it was no coincidence that the ring disappeared after that. She outlined her theory. Floyd and his assistant, Hal, cased the apartment, waiting for the right time. Then Hal broke in and took the ring. Angela did not seem convinced.

“Well, I guess it’s possible,” she said as she rose to leave. “But you’d better be sure before you go accusing them. They have been in this neighborhood forever. They have been our friends. Why would they do such an awful thing? She put on her coat and said, “Think some more. Maybe something else will occur to you that will be helpful.”

Miss Maddie nodded so absentmindedly that she did not notice that, as she let her friend out, Chen Lau Ling also slipped into the hallway. He hid behind the potted plant near the elevator. The game was on.

Looking for Clues

Chen Lau Ling hid behind the plant by the elevator outside Miss Maddie’s apartment to think. He was a cat, and able to curl up comfortably while thinking. Chen Lau Ling didn’t have a plan yet. He napped. But when a cart coming down the hall woke him, a plan formed.

A man was collecting the trash for that floor of the building. As the cart rolled in front of Miss Maddie’s apartment, Chen Lau Ling crawled into it, hiding between the bags. He stayed hidden as the cart rolled into the elevator. When it stopped, Chen Lau Ling lifted his head, saw the double doors of the front of the building, and made his move. Some of the people in the lobby thought they saw a furry flash. A lady coming in at that moment felt something brush by her legs, but people generally don’t pay much attention to little things like that because they are usually focused on themselves.

Chen Lau Ling was now out and had to rely on his cat powers. He moved slowly, hugging the sides of buildings. He moved quickly, finally reaching a place that smelled familiar.

The shop had a glass door and windows featuring merchandise displays. He picked up the faintest scent of Miss Maddie. When the door was opened by someone coming out, Chen Lau Ling slipped in. He was immediately surrounded by smells he had smelled in the bags Miss Maddie often brought home.

Chen Lau Ling’s new detective skills had found the very shop Miss Maddie and her friend Angela had talked about. He heard a small voice that said, “Can I help you?”.

Chen Lau Ling looked in the direction of the voice, which came from a wicker basket with a plaid cushion. A tiger cat lay in the middle of the cushion. He cleared his throat and said softly, “I am Chen Lau Ling. I am looking for clues.”

The cat in the basket did not move. Chen Lau Ling began to think he had mistaken the source of the voice. This cat was obviously not even awake. He looked around for another feline when he heard, “Well, Chen Lau Ling, what clue are you looking for?”

He moved closer, still not sure the voice had come from the lump in the basket. The voice said,” Yeah, I‘m talking to you. Name’s Doris Donbothame.”

Chen Lau Ling had always prided himself on being well versed in social skills, but this situation was unique. He wasn’t sure what to do. The lump in the basket still wasn’t moving. Chen Lau Ling wasn’t sure where to direct his next comment.

He looked into the middle of the furry mass and replied, “I am looking for something precious to my Miss Maddie. “

“What is a Miss Maddie?” The lump had not moved.

“Miss Maddie is not a what. She is a person. We live together in her apartment down the street.”

“How nice,” the lump said. “I am sure you both are very happy.”

Chen Lau Ling thought he detected a hint of sarcasm. He chose to ignore it for the sake of the mission. “Miss Maddie’s happiness is important, and losing this item has made her sad.”

Something in his voice told the lump the situation was urgent because Chen Lau Ling saw a pair of furry ears emerge from the lump. He was looking into the weary eyes of Doris Donbothame.

“Tell me the story,” she sighed.

As Chen Lau Ling related the events of the case, Doris sighed and adjusted her tail.

“So, you think maybe my person did something? You think he might have stolen this item? What exactly is the item?”

“It is round, shiny, and has a large sparkling square thing in the middle. Miss Maddie likes it…a lot. Now that it is lost, she is upset.”

“This makes you upset?” Doris resumed her lump profile again.

“Well, yes. She isn’t paying attention to my needs like she did before this happened.”

“Ah, I see,” said the lump. “Now it makes sense. I sympathize. I’d feel the same way if my person stopped caring for me.”

Chen Lau Ling almost laughed out loud. What care was needed for a cat like her? Making sure she stayed in the basket? Instead, he purred as a sign of empathy. “Thank you for being so understanding. Now, what can you tell me about the last time Miss Maddie visited”?

The Investigation Begins

Doris Donbothame said it was the day the boiler blew up. She remembered that Miss Maddie and the shop owner were talking when a loud bang came from the back room. She remembered much scurrying about and her basket being lifted onto the display window shelf. That was all.

“Look, Mr. Ling,” Doris sighed, “I don’t think my person had anything to do with this. But, you are welcome to check in the back for clues. Just don’t disturb anything. Some of the medicine back there is very expensive.”

Chen Lau Ling promised to be careful. He moved to the back, staying close to the shelves. He needed to be invisible if he were to get any good clues. Fortunately, the door to the storage room was slightly ajar. He squeezed through it and was confronted by shelves with boxes of all shapes and sizes. In the far corner, he could see the boiler, which looked like a round monster with a funny hat. Chen Lau Ling wondered what a boiler explosion looked like. If there was water, it could affect the boxes on the lower shelves. He reasoned that they must have been ruined. His heart sank at the thought of good clues gone but was comforted by the fact that they probably wouldn’t have been important. Chen Lau Ling was never discouraged for long and always bounced back. He continued the search.

His eyes were drawn to movement among the boxes. His sense of smell immediately identified the smell. He called out, “Hey, Rat, come here. I want to talk with you.”

“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen, Cat” came a squeaky voice. “You must think I’m stupid.”

Chen Lau Ling froze, trying desperately to control his tail, which had suddenly come to life. “I assure you, Rat, I am in earnest. I’m trying to solve a mystery for my Miss Maddie.”

“What’s a Miss Maddie?” the Rat asked. Chen Lau Ling sighed. Were there no intelligent animals in this place? “Miss Maddie is the person who takes care of me,” he said, trying to make hide his impatience. “She is upset. I am trying to help her.”

“Oh, I see,” said the Rat, as he moved closer. “I always wondered what it would be like to have someone care for me.” He sounded sad. Chen Lau Ling felt a momentary sympathy. His tail stopped twitching.

“Yes, it is nice,” Chen Lau Ling replied. “Hey, how about helping me? You have time?”

The Investigation Continues

Chen Lau Ling and the Rat searched one side of the storage room to the other for clues that might help. While they did, the Rat told him his life story. For Chen Lau Ling, it was an exciting tale of midnight raids on the bakery next door and narrow escapes from the bakery cats. Chen Lau Ling didn’t believe that cats could be outwitted, but he said nothing. The Rat sensed that Chen Lau Ling was more sympathetic to rats than most cats. He smiled. It was the moment they bonded.

“Look, Mr. Ling,” said the Rat, “This isn’t helping. He sat on his haunches, wiping his face with both paws. “Maybe it would be better if we unraveled the events of that day.”

Chen Lau Ling sat down and sighed. “Maybe you’re right. My information comes from what Miss Maddie told the police and her friend. And my conversation with that cat out front. It’s not much, I know,”

“You talked to that lump out front? I have never seen it move, much less have a conversation. You should be honored.”

“I don’t feel honored,” Chen Lau Ling said softly. “I’m not very good at this detective thing, am I?”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” the Rat said softly. “It is a remarkable thing you are doing. I don’t know many cats who would have done it. Most cats are self-centered. What you’re doing is noble.”

Chen Lau Ling sat quietly for a moment. This effort was less about helping Miss Maddie and more about getting her to pay more attention to him again. For a moment, Chen Lau Ling was embarrassed. It was a brief moment.

“Well,” he said as he stood up, “we need to re-think this, don’t we”?

“Think hard,” the Rat said. “anything you may have overlooked? Could you be missing something?”

Chen Lau Ling crouched down, closing his eyes. He saw himself between Miss Maddie and her friend Angela. He sat quietly. Suddenly, his eyes flew open. He reached out, putting a paw on the rat’s shoulder. The poor rodent jumped. He pulled it back quickly. Rats are sensitive about being touched by cats. Such encounters seldom turned out positively for the rodent.

“Oh, I was overcome. Won’t happen again.” The cat looked at the rat and smiled. “You, my friend, just cracked this case!”

Chen Lau Ling went to the window of the storage room. It was getting dark. He had to act quickly.

“Listen, my friend, I have to leave now. Please accept my deepest gratitude, and my undying friendship.”

With that, he left the startled rat. There was only one customer left, who was talking to the owner near the door of the storage room. Chen Lau Ling slid by them, stopping at the basket with the lump known as Doris Donbothame.

The Mystery Solved

“Uh, excuse me, Miss Donbothame, I wanted to ask you one more question. Do you have time?” Chen Lau Ling was being polite. It was obvious that one thing Doris Donbothame had was time.

He heard a sigh from deep within the mass of fur. “What is it?” The question floated up from the lump. “Please be quick about it. I am busy, you know.”

Chen Lau Ling smiled. “Yes, well, I just wanted to ask, when the boiler exploded, do you remember where my Miss Maddie was?”

The lump sighed. “Let me think…….” Silence followed and Chen Lau Ling watched the shadows in the street grow longer. He stifled the urge to hurry her. He was sure that she would not respond positively.

Finally, he saw two ears emerge and the green eyes of Doris Donbothame looking straight at him. “Yes, I do remember,” she said as her brow furrowed. “She was standing right where you are. Then the explosion and the sting, and then I was in the display window.”

“Sting? What sting?” Chen Lau Ling’s tail was moving quickly now.

“The slight pain I felt in my back when the people started to run around. I still feel it sometimes. It is annoying.”

Chen Lau Ling took a deep breath. The next question would be the hardest. He closed his eyes and asked, “Would it be possible to examine the cushion upon which you sit?”

He waited nervously. After a pause, Doris said, “This is highly irregular, but if it will help your person, okay. The head then receded into the lump, leaving Chen Lau Ling unsure as to how to proceed. He took another deep breath and extended his left paw.

“I will try not to disturb you,” he said as he slid his paw between the back of the wicker basket and the plaid cushion. He gasped as his paw hit something hard. His claws protruded from their furry hiding places. He turned his paw and the claws grabbed onto the hard thing like hooks. Slowly and carefully, he pulled it out from under the lump. He could not believe his eyes.

Hanging from his paw was a round, shiny thing with a large sparkling square sticking out of the middle of it. He gasped. “Miss Maddie’s ring!”

The lump moved slightly. “Was that what you came for? All done now?”

Chen Lau Ling would have hugged the lump if he could have. Instead, he asked a question that was insightful considering the excitement he was feeling.

“Would you do me the favor of moving around a little?”

The lump sighed heavily but complied with his request.

“Do you feel the sting now?”

The lump moved again, and once more. “Hmmm,” the lump said softly. “No sting.…”

Chen Lau Ling saw that the last customer was leaving and moved to the door. “Thank you, Miss Doris,” he said through his clenched teeth as he slipped out under the cover of the last customer’s shopping bag. “I think we have solved two mysteries I have found Miss Maddie’s ring and the source of your sting. It should not bother you anymore. Good evening, dear Miss Doris.”

He heard a grunt from the lump as he felt the door just miss his tail. He was outside now, triumphant. What a day this had been.

Life Back to Normal

Back inside his building, Chen Lau Ling found it easy to retrace the method he had used to escape. He found the potted plant near the elevator on the main floor and hid behind it. His jaw was getting sore from holding the ring and his paws were burning. He needed a bowl of cream and some rest. However, he had one more challenge. He crouched and waited.

Soon he heard the familiar ring of the elevator button. The doors opened. He slid into the car. Then it occurred to him that he had a problem going up that he had not had going down. How was he going to find the right floor? He sank into a forlorn pile in the middle of the car, still clutching the ring.

For the first time in his life, he was discouraged. The elevator doors opened.He heard a familiar voice. “Chen Lau Ling! Whatever are you doing here?” Gentle hands lifted him. It was Angela, Miss Maddie’s friend. He was safe.

Angela pushed a button. The elevator doors closed. She cuddled the cat, and as her hands reached his head, she felt the ring. He let it drop into her palm and saw the amazed look on her face. She looked at the ring and then at the cat.

“Oh, Chen Lau Ling, where have……. what have you done?” She nuzzled him with her head. “Maddie won’t believe this. Nobody’s going to believe this!”

In the days that followed, Chen Lau Ling became a hero. Miss Maddie made sure his dish was never empty. But Chen Lau Ling never ate everything in it. Instead, he left the best pieces on the plate, and late at night he would go into the kitchen, scratch at the cupboard door under the sink, and wait until he heard the muffled voice of his new neighbor, the Rat saying, “Thanks, Mr. Ling. See you tomorrow, okay? ”

Short Story

About the Creator

Mary Ann Callahan

I live in Upstate New York, one of the most beautiful places in the United States. But I also have spent many years working in some of the most broken places on Earth.

My hope is that those expereinces will produce great stories .

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    Mary Ann CallahanWritten by Mary Ann Callahan

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