When you've spent decades filling a house with Sherlock Holmes memorabilia, sometimes it surfaces at the oddest times.
Take this morning, for example. The usual morning routine, getting one's self fed, cleaned-up, and appropriately wardrobed for another day of work. And then, at the last, that bit of conversation with one's fellow lodger about the evening's activities, tonight involving a dinner gathering whose last occurrence featured a herd of canines having a fabulous rumpus through the main social area.
"Hopefully, you won't be attacked by a pack of dogs this evening," I say to the good Carter, who responds with a look best described as a smirk, as she remembers being pinned to the wall in a desperate attempt to find non-dog space.
And then I look down at the T-shirt she's wearing: a light blue shirt with the logo of Hugo's Companions, a Chicago-based Sherlock Holmes society. As we aren't members of that club, nor have visited Sherlockian Chicago in an incredibly long time, I can't really say where the shirt came from, or how the good Carter came to be wearing it this particular morning. But a shirt centering on Sir Hugo Baskerville, being present when the question of dog rampages comes up?
Not a good omen. Not good at all. You remember . . .
"But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-devil roisterers, but it was that, standing over Hugo, and plucking at his throat, there stood a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which, as it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life, still screaming, across the moor."
When evening came and dinner followed, all dogs had been exiled outside, and good company and merry talk made us forget all about the morning's omen. I sat cross-legged on the floor, enjoying a fine muffaletta sandwich the hostess had favored us with. Gooey butter cake followed, and life was good. But then someone opened the patio door . . .
Bounding into the house came a great black beast of a size that could easily take down a Baskerville, a dog so the color of pitch that they named him "Onyx." And as I rose, his great muzzle turned my way, and his dripping jaws layed their slime across my shoulder.
"Ew, gross!" I cried, as my companions gazed in horror. Because that's the really bad part about giant black moor hounds. It's not the glowing eyes. It's not the great jaws and sharp teeth. It's the slobber.
The disgusting, disgusting slobber.
And so I commend and counsel you, as Baskerville legend did so long ago. Pay attention to omens, my friends, and forbear crossing the moor in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted (or sitting on the floor to eat your dinner).
You might get slimed by giant black hound slobber. Because it's gross. Really gross.