Storytime: More Than Could be Chewed.

July 5th, 2017

The mayor’s office was a mess. Old fast food wrappers strewn across the floor. Pictures knocked clean off the walls. Papers sliding off every surface. Torn hair scattered over the chair.
And now that he’d been kidnapped, someone had punched a big hole in the window, too.
“Motive,” I muttered to myself for no reason.
“Oh no, not very much,” the secretary told me. “His doctor said he should lose weight but he said he was much too busy. You know, with the board meeting and all.”
“No, no; the kidnapper’s motive.”
“You think he needed exercise too? Funny way to get it.”
“I’ll need your name and phone number and address,” I said, and that put the conversation back on acceptable lines until I could escape out the door.

In ten minutes I was back in an office, as different as night and day from the first. Spotless. Speckless. Dust-free. The windows gleamed brighter than the actual sun. It hurt to look anywhere except at the commissioner’s moustache which was just the way he wanted it.
“This is bad,” he said.
“Sort of. He was sort of stupid, sir.”
“Cruel, detective.”
“He called us in last month to check his car for bugs, sir. Said he was worried he’d been abducted by aliens.”
“There’s no law against being a kook, detective. If there was, we’d have no time to sleep or eat. Now, go do whatever it is you do out there until this is all fine or whatever.”
I shrugged. “Fine. I’ll go ask around.”
“Right. I’ll have your badge.”
“Oh come on.”
“You heard me.”
“NOW, detective.”
I sighed, pulled out my badge, and put it on the table. The commissioner picked it up with tweezers and whisked it into a basket, slid his desk drawer open, and passed a plastic-sealed package to me with a second set of tweezers.
“This is still really unnecessary. And wasteful.”
“Those things are germ magnets and you know it. Now go make me proud and don’t breathe on anything on your way out.”

I needed answers and I didn’t have any and I needed questions and I was too tired to think of any. I needed the bare minimum of effort to cover the illusion that I was doing my job. I needed dead-end leads.
So I went to the highschool across the road from city hall and asked the teenagers.
“So, what’s your name?”
“Great. Were you outside the school yesterday between the hours of 3:30 to 9:00 PM?”
“Fantastic. Do you know anyone who was?”
“Excellent. Did you see anyone drag the mayor out of his office window?”
“Wonderful. Thank you.”
“Hey, did you say the mayor?”
“Dunno I mean yes.”
“You didn’t mean the other guy?”
“The other guy that was dragged out of his office window?”
“Yeah, him.”
“WHAT other guy that was dragged out of his office window?”
He beheld my face.
“I mean it! Look, you’re a cop. You should know this. Everyone in my class knows about it.”
“Right. Look. Do you know where this other guy that was dragged out of his office window was?”
“Du – uhhhhhh kinda.”
“Okay, good. C’mon.”
“Am I being detained?”
“No, you’re giving directions. I’ll let you turn on the lights if you want.”
His scanty neckbeard shifted as he considered this; a pine branch bobbing in the breeze. “Siren?”
“Oh whatever sure let’s just go.”

It wasn’t an office. It was barely an apartment.
“It says it’s an office on the door. A couple of my friend’s friends came in here; they said he was a doctor.”
“It says he’s a doctor of spaceology. It says several things and the only one that’s true is the name and I only trust that because the landlady confirmed it, and she’s got one of those lie-detecting faces.”
I glared at the not-office in angry defeat. The third desk of the day. This one was occupied by hundreds thousands or possibly millions of pages of painstakingly tiny handwriting. Written in pencil. On post-it-notes. Multicoloured ones.
I couldn’t call this in to forensics; they’d put formaldehyde in my lunch and make it look like an accident.
“Why didn’t she call this in?”
“She said she was going to just put his stuff on the curb tomorrow and get a new one in and an investigation would slow things down. New window was easy though, her son was home for the weekend and put one up, she knows someone who knows the local glazier’s wife. It was really nice of him, they got a great deal.”
“Where the hell did that come from?”
“She gave me a cookie and said her boy wasn’t around enough and it just kept rolling.”
I sighed. “Wonderful. Well, since you’re such best friends, how about you ask her where the next clue was.”
“She says she hasn’t seen that angry man on the corner in two weeks. Y’know, on Paul and Frank? The one with the muttonchops who screams about devil music and got kicked off’ve the university’s property for life?”
“How big was this cookie?”
“This big.”
“Jeez. Did she have two?”
“No, it was just the one.”
This was exactly why I didn’t go into work with kids.

The crazy corner guy’s apartment was actually nicer than the spaceologist’s, uncleaned glass shards from the broken window aside. It had a giant mobile made of silly string and newspaper clippings dangling above the bed – just in case he woke up in the middle of the night with a good idea, probably – but it was well-swept and had no originally-written material.
“Maybe he stumbled on the truth?”
“What truth.”
“Y’know. The conspiracy.”
“What conspiracy.”
“To control the uh, world? History?”
“They’re doing a shitty job of it then.” I pinched my nose and dearly wished coffee still worked on me. Or tea. Maybe a bit of caffeine into my arm in a needle, that’d do it. Right in the vein. But no. I was standing around with Shaggy’s younger, less-motivated cousin, following the mysterious defenestration of the loopiest people in town.
Well, three out of four wasn’t bad. There was still

Oh damnit.

“Hey Andrew, do you live near here?”
“Within walking distance?”
“Public transit?”
“I got no change.”
Neither did I.
“Hey, tell you what: you ever wanted to see the inside of a police station?”
“Last summer me and Ricky and Conner got wasted and a cop drove us home and said next time he was taking us in.”
“Well, it’s your lucky day!”

It was quiet when we pulled in. Not a whisper of movement disturbed the still, heavy July air as the car squealed sideways into the parking lot and stopped in the middle of all four handicapped spaces.
“No time,” I said to the front desk as I kicked the doors open.
“No time,” I said to the commissioner as I kicked his door open.
“No time,” I said as I violently yanked the window open and waved my gun around outside it.
“DON’T MOVE LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPON OR I WILL oh you’re a squirrel never mind.”
I shut the window and turned around, face to face with the moustache.
“False alarm. But you should probably go home and stay away from windows.”
“Give me your badge, detective.”
“Well, it’s been a long day, but I’ve only pulled it out like four ti-”
“Oh come on, I was in fear for your life. Listen, the kidnapper’s after you, I can say that for sure. His victims all fit a profile: they were sitting near a window in a predictable and relaxed stance, and they were all completely batshit.”
“You’re not giving.”
“Look sir you KNOW I mean that in the most friendly possible way. A UFO abductee, a professor with a degree that doesn’t exist, a conspiracy theorist, and the most germophobic policeman in the world – you’re all completely nuts.”
I blinked. And something outside the window kept fluttering, even as my eyelashes stopped moving.
“Completely nuts,” I repeated.
“Well, one of us is, the other’s just concerned with basic hygiene. Here, you can put your own badge in the trash this ti-”
The window exploded inwards at the same moment as I opened fire. Six shots, and I’m not too proud to say all of them hit the target’s abdomen which was extremely hard because he was about a foot long and most of it was a large fluffy tail.
This was a good moment to be pithy in.
“MotherFUCKER,” I said.
“Woah,” said Andrew.
“I told you to wait outside.”
“You were talking really fast. Lady, you just shot a squirrel.”
The commissioner was still holding the trash can when he vomited. Very tidily.

We had to break out the K-9 unit to track them down in the end; our perp may have left a clean trail, but his victims stank of urine and panic-sweat. They were wedged in an old oak just outside of town, crammed in place as much by each other’s own squirming as by main force. The mayor was in good shape; the professor was a bit dehydrated, and the crazy corner man could barely say ‘illuminati’ without passing out. He was on fluids in the hospital.
No fatalities but the kidnapper himself. He was an older specimen, and the vet said in his old age it’s possible he got a bit confused. And literal.
After all, it was the middle of summer. He wouldn’t have needed those nuts for months.

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