The mystery of the deaf bird

I have lost my share of items over the years — pens, keys, girlfriends — but nothing distressed me more than losing one of my hearing aids. When it failed to turn up after I tore my place apart, I called the world’s foremost detective, Sherlock Holmes.

“Come at once if convenient — if not convenient, come all the same,” I implored.
He arrived in a trice.

“What were you wearing the night you lost the hearing aid,” Holmes asked me.
“Why is that important?,” I asked.

“Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

I still didn’t understand the relevance of the question but I told him I was wearing gray slacks and a black V-neck sweater.

“And were you wearing your hearing aids when you donned the sweater?”
“Yes, I had been wearing them all day.”

“Aha, it is obvious that in the act of pulling the sweater over your head you dislodged the hearing aid. It became trapped between your body and the sweater and somehow slipped out while you were moving about.”

It made sense. Then Holmes had me place my other hearing aid on the floor.

“It is quite easy to see, even without using a torch. You’ve obviously searched your quarters and your motor car without success. We need to retrace your steps and we should find the hearing aid.”

The night the hearing aid went missing I had attended the theater in Carmel with a lovely female companion. We drove to her place. Holmes used a huge magnifying glass to examine my friend’s driveway, as well as the walkway to her door. There was nothing except an empty bird’s nest that had fallen on the ground. Then the great detective noticed a bird bath and several feeders on my friend’s patio.

“Hmm,” he hemmed.

“What are you thinking?”

“I do not like to create mysteries, and at this present moment, it is most impossible to go into long and tenacious explanations,” Holmes said, “but I have a theory your hearing aid is close by and will turn up soon.”

“It is so little I don’t see how we will find it,” I fretted.

“To the great mind, nothing is little,” Holmes replied.

We had no luck at the theater either. Yet, Holmes urged me not to be despondent when I began losing faith in his theories.

“The theories which I have expressed and which appear to you to be so chimerical, are really extremely practical — so practical that I depend upon them for my bread and cheese.”

Then two weeks later my friend called to tell me she found the hearing aid near her front door in an area we had searched thoroughly and, of course, where she passed every day. It was grimy, but when we cleaned it up and replaced the battery it worked.

Holmes was not surprised when I told him.

“It bears out my theory,” he said, “I knew that a bird had found your hearing aid. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure where the bird would return it when the battery died.”
I didn’t understand.

“You see,” Holmes explained, “birds have a relatively narrow hearing range and poor hearing at high frequencies. The similarity in hearing performances between birds and humans in the frequency range of 1-5kHz is striking.”

“You mean a bird was using my hearing aid?”

“Yes, and when the battery ran down it emitted a steady beep, which was undoubtedly annoying; so in the name of maintaining peace in the nest it discarded the hearing aid, quite conveniently I may add, at your friend’s front door.”

“That sounds neither possible nor probable.”

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Besides, my name is Sherlock Holmes and it is my business to know what other people don’t.”

“I guess I am fortunate it was found by a local bird and not one that flies south for the winter.”

“It wouldn’t have taken yours with him,” Holmes smiled enigmatically.

“How can you possibly know that?”

“Elementary my dear Gervase. Why carry it all that distance when there are plenty of hearing aids in Florida.”

Author’s note: Except for the assistance of Sherlock Holmes, and a few other flights of fancy, how the hearing aid was lost and where and how it was found is a true story.

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