What suddenly became the biggest mystery, while we were standing there trying to calm Connie down and figuring out how we were going to dispose of the bodies, was how did the door get open. We had both seen to the locking of the door and there was no way to get in otherwise, even for a cat or whatever else might want to tear apart a frog for fun.
“Who unlocked the door?” I asked nobody in particular. “Didn’t we put the padlock on it last night?”
“What’s going on out here? What’s all the screaming about?” It was the older sister. Two years older than me and almost a teenager at 11 and a half.
“Mom sent me to find out what’s going on.” She added that as though it gave her some authority to be there, even though, most of the time, we didn’t want her to be there and Mom never sent her.
“Somebody killed the frogs,” Danny said.
Her surprise response, “What frogs?” So we showed her, and she screamed. It was a sissy scream. Which was fun. She didn’t stay in the Zooseum very long, in fact only a few seconds. Then she ran off to report to Mom what we were doing, which would surely be embellished although I’m not sure how much worse it could get.
Danny and I examined the clasp where the padlock was still hanging and locked. The other part of the clasp was on the open door.
Later, much later, after thorough discussion, we surmised that, although we had closed the clasp, we inadvertently had slid the padlock behind the hinged part of the clasp and locked it without really securing the door. So any bump against the door, or even the wind, could have forced it open easily. Maybe. It wasn’t concrete evidence, it was clearly circumstantial. (By “much later,” I mean, High School.)
The murder, though, was never solved. We suspected Connie’s cat, Muffin, but there was no blood evidence. Cat’s clean themselves pretty good so the lack of evidence wasn’t all that surprising. It would have taken her a while to commit the slaughter so we figured the time of death to be somewhere around 1:00 a.m and 8:00 a.m. when the carnage was discovered. Sammy, the bull snake, was never found. He probably took the opportunity to escape his captivity and headed back to the Gully where he lived to be eight feet long.
We shoveled and swept the bodies into the trash and closed the Zooseum for good. The summer went on and we moved on to other adventures.
Erma Bombeck once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” Back on those summer days, I think we should have saved up some of that talent to use later on.
…So that was Murder at the Zooseum. Hope you enjoyed it. Now on to other things…
A British medical report found that the fungi feeding on old paper might be mildly hallucinogenic. The report states that the “fungal hallucinogens” may cause an “enhancement of enlightenment in readers.” Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, who was clearly on some kind of hallucinogenic when he wrote “Alice in Wonderland,” might have just been reading too much and getting high on old books. Don’t go looking for moldy books, we don’t want to get them on the controlled substance list.
Today is the 125th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. The last time I visited Ms. Liberty, I was on the Staten Island Ferry at 3:00 in the morning. She was in her late nineties at the time. We kind of floated by from a distance, but it was a pretty amazing sight. Clarence, and I, and a janitor from the World Trade Center, or so he said, offered us a 16 oz. “Coors” from a brown paper sack, and we stood on the bow of the boat and toasted the Statue of Liberty. We were really on the stern, based on the direction of travel, but ferry boats don’t have a stern, they are boats with two fronts because they don’t turn around. Now, should you think I’m making this up, and I wouldn’t blame you, I have no proof and we had been drinking most of the night. Clarence, whom I was staying with in Long Island, and I, decided to take the ferry at the last minute just to see the Statue of Liberty, plus it’s a pretty cheap ride. The round trip cost 25 cents. It was increased to 50 cents in 1990 and in 1997 the fare was eliminated altogether.
You get some pretty amazing views of the harbor, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge, from the Staten Island Ferry. Of course, it was pretty dark the one and only time I have been on it. The five point two mile journey takes 25 minutes each way. Our janitor friend got off in Staten Island and we were one of six people on the boat for the ride back to Battery Park. So technically, I got to see the Statue of Liberty two times. I was the only “white” guy there. I mention that only because I kind of stood out wandering around a ferry-boat that can carry 3,500 passengers at 3:30 in the morning.
The statue, “Liberty Enlightening the World”, was a gift of “friendship” from the people of France and was dedicated on October 28th, 1886. President Grover Cleveland presided over the festivities. Tomorrow, the interior spaces of the statue will be closed for renovation to the 200-year-old fort base and the 125-year-old pedestal on which she stands.