Storytime: King of Beasts.

November 15th, 2017

“He’s very well-trained, you know. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Isn’t that right?”
A tawny, half-toasted sort of day.
“Oh yes dear. Not even one of those big fat ugly flies, the ones we get in August. Ugh!”
A tawny, half-toasted sort of cat. Big and sleek until the mane ruined everything, obliterating the smooth line of the back in a furry explosion of fluff.
It yawned in the August sun. The tongue was surprisingly red.
“Can they pet him?”
“Oh they may, they should, they must. Go on, give him a tickle. He loves a good tickle. Good afternoon officers, may I ask what’s the matter?”
“Murder,” said Constable Bell, who’d always wanted to say that. Murr-durr. Sonorous, like a whale. Except Constable Bell had a voice like a chickadee, so instead it came out as meer-deer.
“Oh no!” said Mr. June. His pale shocked eyes stood out in his pale thin face. “You little kids had better move along, this is grownup stuff. Murder!”
“Oh no!” agreed Mrs. June.
“Oh yes,” said Constable Drum, who had a deep sonorous voice like a whale and wasted it. “Just down the road. Horrible. Just horrible. Blood everywhere, very awful. We’re taking witness statements, do you want to make one?”
Mr. June and Mrs. June considered one another. They had their own language, made entirely of meaningful and meaningless glances.
“Yes,” said Mr. June, “we must. We’re brand new here.”
“No,” said Mrs. June, “we really musn’t. We’re brand new here.”
“Oh fine.”
“All right then.”
“If you insist.”
“No, no, no, have it your way.”
And Mrs. June turned to the two police officers once more.
“We are appalled and horrified and can’t believe our ears or eyes,” she said. “My goodness. What an awful thing to happen in such a nice neighborhood.”
Constable Bell swore.
“Goodness me!”
“No, no, it’s fine. I broke my pencil. Could you repeat your statement into this recorder?”
“Certainly. We are appalled and horrified and can’t believe our ears or eyes,” she said. “My goodness. What an awful thing to happen in such a nice neighborhood.”
“It wasn’t on.”
“Oh dear. We are appalled and horrified and can’t believe our ears or eyes,” she said. “My goodness. What an awful thing to happen in such a nice neighborhood.”
“Hang on, the switch is stuck.”
“Alright. We are”

“Quality people, they are,” said Constable Bell as their car started. We’ve always needed more quality people like that about. Not like the bums that grow up around this place.”
The Junes’ lion swished its tail indolently in the mellow sunlight, ears barely-prickling as the officers sped down the road. It yawned once more, with lazy satisfaction. And it belched.


September. The trees were ready to shed, but remained very fat.
“Those trees are very fat,” observed Constable Drum.
Constable Bell swatted Constable Drum’s hat.
“Eyes on the murder.”
It was a messy thing. Half the man’s face had been chewed off, the other half had been spat out. The abdomen had been gutted, and what had happened to the guts was simply abominable. It made Constable Bell’s skin nearly crawl right off and go home early.
“I think it was a tiger,” said Constable Drum.
“Astute observation, Constable Drum,” said Constable Bell. “What makes you say that?”
“The big teeth marks and the big claw marks and the saliva and the way half of the body was buried in a shallow pit,” said Constable Drum.
“Very nice theory,” said Constable Bell.
“Thanks. I read it in a book.”
“Well, get a refund. Because, Constable Drum, there’s two tigers within five hundred miles and they’re both at the city’s zoo, and they’re both toothless and very much secure.”
“Shucks. Ooh! Ooh!”
“What’re you waving at?” snapped Constable Bell.
“The Junes! There they are!”
“Over there! Walking their lion.”
“Oh. That’s nice.”
“Wave back!”
“No need. Hello, Mrs. June, Mr. June.”
“Hello, sirs,” said Mr. June. “Geez that looks nasty. Any idea what could’ve done it to him?”
“Not an idea,” said Constable Bell.
“A tig-ugh,” suggested Constable Drum and Constable Bell’s left elbow.
“Could be, could be,” mused Mrs. June. “I don’t know what’s happened to this neighborhood. We bought a house here because of the good property values. I love good property values so very much, you know that? Anyways we bought a good house with good property values that I loved so very much, you know that, and after we’d bought that good house with good property values that I loved so very much, you know that, what’s gone and happened? Bodies everywhere.”
“That was an impressive breath you took there,” said Constable Bell. “Do you sing?”
“Oh, no. I just like talking.”
“Me too,” said Constable Drum.
“Yes,” agreed Constable Bell, with Constable Bell’s left elbow seconding.
Mr. June pursed his lips at the dismembered corpse. “These days,” he mused. “So much violence these days. Well, a rising tide belts all lifts.”
The lion leaned against his legs, seeking love and skritches. It received them.


“Trick or treat.”
“Scram, kid,” said Constable Bell, gently.
“Here, he can have a kidney.”
“Put it back, Drum.”
“She won’t be needing them anymore, surely.”
“It’s for the sake of procedure, doorknob. And besides, it’s HIS kidney.”
“Oh. Whoops. Wait, that leaves him with three. Was this one from the person behind the door?”
Sometimes you just want to sigh and rub your forehead. Constable Bell was elbow-deep in blood and therefore did not have that luxury.
“Five people. Three kidneys. Just put it down somewhere, we’ll figure it out later. God, I’ve always hated jigsaws.”
“Trick or treat.”
“Scram, kid,” suggested Constable Bell.
“It’s the Junes!”
“Coo-ee,” said Mrs. June. “Oh my goodness, that’s a new trick. I’ve never seen the Morgans turn themselves inside out before.”
“They had help,” said Constable Bell.
“Or a very bad prank,” said Constable Drum.
“Or a very bad prank,” said Constable Bell. “Never know what the damned kids’ll pull off every year. Keep a hand on your lion, people. They could try and run off with that next. They’ll steal anything, these types. Low-lifes. Not quality folks like you and me.”
“And me.”
“And Constable Drum.”
“Don’t worry,” said Mr. June. “We’ve got a good tight chain on him. See? They’d need to bring bolt-cutters.”
“Hang on, I’ve got to phone the SPCA,” said Constable Bell. “That’s blood on its neck, that is.”
“Oh, it’s not the lion’s,” explained Mrs. June.
“Whew,” said Constable Drum.
“Whew,” agreed the Junes.
“Damnit,” said Constable Bell, stepping on the fourth kidney.


November forever, for ages and ages. Colder every day.
“Give me the coffee.”
“I can’t. My hands are full.”
“Of the coffee.”
“But I need a free hand to pass you it.”
“Just reach towards me and I’ll take it.”
“If you say so.”
Constable Bell took the coffee, then dropped it.
“Oh nooooo.”
“Hush up, you! It’s the Junes’ cat!”
“There! In the leaves! It’s lying low and the colours match – clever kitty. Here, kitty kitty kitty kitty. Here, kitty kitty kitty ki-ty-ty-ty-. GET IT!”
The scruffle was brief, but intense. The lion was groggy and rolled over, batting at the air and snoring.
“Help me out here, Constable Drum.”
“One moment Constable Bell. I’ve discovered a murr-durr.”
“What? Where!”
Constable Drum pointed.
“Buried in the leaves, see? Good job the lion was here, we never would’ve found him. And look, it put him to good use – big teeth marks! Poor hungry kitty.”
“Poor hungry kitty,” said Constable Bell. “Let’s take it home. It’s done enough detective work for one day. Hey, is the body Shaun or Sean?”
“How’d you know it was Shaun or Sean?”
“Because they’re the only two yobbos left in this burg.”
“Oh. It’s Shaun. I think. He’s got no face.”
“Only an improvement then. Miserable punk. C’mon, kitty kitty kitty ki-t-y-y-y-y.”


“I’m puzzled,” admitted Constable Bell.
“Wit’s end,” agreed Mr. June.
“Completely stumped,” said Mrs. June, loyally.
“Two-hundred and eighty-four murders,” said Constable Drum sadly, “and not one little murderer! It’s sure a sad new year’s day, this is.”
“Here,” said Mr. June. “More champagne. That always makes me feel better.”
“Aw thanks. You’re nice.”
“More than nice,” said Constable Bell. “You’re quality people. What kind of other folk would take time out of their holiday to let us know their cat found a body? Constable Drum, could you please grab the other goddamned leg and pull.”
They pulled. They struggled. But the lion wouldn’t let go. Its ears flattened, its eyes narrowed, its throat made interesting and alarming sounds. But it wouldn’t let go.
“Well, piss,” said Constable Bell. “I don’t know how this lousy drunk stumbled into your cat’s mouth and then forced it to chew up and swallow him, but I guess he was the murderer. And much good it did him. Good thing he went in head-first or getting his fingerprints would be a real bitch. Got any more of that champagne?”
“Here you go,” said Mrs. June. “And thank you so very much, officers, for solving this case. It’s good to feel safe around here again.”
“No problem,” said Constable Drum. “I think we’ll get promoted. I’ve never caught a murderer before.”
“Yeah,” said Constable Bell. “Yeah, I guess so. Hey, you mind if I ask you folks a question?”
“Go for it,” said Mrs. June.
“Do you know where I could get a lion like that? It’s real nice-looking. Real quality. And it makes you feel safer, to know that kind of money’s in the neighborhood.”

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