Something For the Ladies.

We split up, Lupo growls like he was coordinating the final assault on the gates of Mordor. I will interview lifeguards and vendors and others who would have been in the same place all afternoon. Slylock, you-

“Go down and look through the crowd to see if I see anything suspicious, while trying not to look too ridiculous.”

If you would prefer that I were undercover-

“This is not undercover. This is the opposite of undercover. This is what a male stripper would wear if he were dressing up like a policeman. Even so, better this than forcing anyone to see you in a thong.” I get out of there before he can retort.

Lack of Muscle Beach.

Word is there’s some kind smuggling ring going on on the public beaches. The idea is that stolen items get taken down to the beach in picnic baskets, exchanged for a roll or three of hundreds during what seems to be an innocent if sandy meal, and then everyone packsup and goes home as normal. We’ve got no evidence as it is, so that means combing the beach looking to catch somebody with their paw in the cookie jar.

Which means trying to blend in. “Max, why aren’t you wearing a swimsuit?”

Whatchu talkin bout, Sly? I am!

“But it looks exactly like what you wear all the time.”

Least it looks more like sumfin I could go swimin’ in than your get-up.

“This get up was not my idea!”

Haaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwllllp!

“Max, did you-?”

HAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLP!

The commotion is coming from what I can only describe as a hogpile. Four pigs squealing at the top of their lungs, and a seriously old–as in he looks like an arm or leg is about to fall off–dog tottering away from them, apparently oblivious.

Haaaaaawwwwlp! Police!

We gonna sheck dis out?

“Might as well.” Nobody’s gonna try moving stolen goods with someone continually shrieking ‘police.’ Besides, it’ll piss Lupo off. “What seems to be the trouble, folks?”

Jabba the Dad squints at me. Yew a po-liceman?

“Yes, I am.”

Yew look more like that thur dancer whut Ah hired fer Sally Mae’s sweet sixteen party.

Cyrus Hogg, interrupts what I can only assume is the wife, Yew tol’ me that man was the caterer!

“Can we get back to the reason you were yelling for the police, please?”

Tell the stripper whut’s goin’ on, Cyrus!

“I’m not-”

That durn ol dog stole our lunch! He jes waltzed right in an took it right out’n the basket! Yew gonna have to bring him in!

Keep in mind, all this conversation is happening over the very enthusiastic impersonation of a foghorn by the two junior swine. The only one who doesn’t seem bothered is the suspect. His response to my “Can you tell me what happened here?” is a genial nod in my general direction and a low Eh? Then seems to forget I’m there at all, and reaches down and picks up a hermit crab shell to doodle on.

“They say you stole their lunch!”

Eh?

“You took the food out of their picnic basket!”

Eh?

“Did you do it or not?”

Eh?

“Can you even hear what I’m saying?”

Eh?

“CAN’T YOU SHUT THOSE BRATS UP WHILE I’M TRYING TO DO AN INTERROGATON?!”

Naow see here, mister, we down take none o that there guff from no stripper!

Uh, Sly? I glare at Max, and he gulps. I must look nearly as pissed-off as I feel. The dog left. You. Idiot. You let a suspect just wander off? But he gave me this.

It’s a box marked ‘Sammichs.’ It’s hardly surprising that spelling isn’t their strong point. “This is yours?”

Yeah, an I’ll thank yew to return it to us! Sally Mae an Bubba are gettin powerful hungered! Funny, they sound nervous all of a sudden. What are they afraid I’m gonna do, steal their sandwiches myself?

Unless.

So five minutes later, the whole family is being led away in cuffs. Extra large ones. The Sammich Box that was filled with stolen jewelry is safely in the evidence locker, and I’m back in halfway decent clothes.

“Shame your interviewin didn’t turn up any leads, Lupo.”

I wouldn’t say that. I had some very interesting hints about their contact.

“But I got my suspects.”

I didn’t come here to hear your self-congratulation, Fox.

“No, that’s a free bonus.”

Someone dropped this off for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, some of us have work to do.

Ass. I open the package asI get my tie straight.

Inside is a felt tipped marker, a hermit crab shell, and note: I despise those who practice my art so incompetently. Your assistance in disciplining them was greatly appreciated. See you around.

…eh?

P.S. You look very nice in shorts, detective.

…I am going to see him get the chair for this.

The Final Word.

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