Five days ago a country in Africa nobody had ever heard of before, except maybe banana farmers, erupted in civil war. It as one of those situations where Faction A says that the people demand that some person the people have never heard of be reinstated as monarch, and Faction B says that power will be returned to the people soon enough, and so Faction A goes and says that they’ll give power back to people a damn sight sooner. Picture a kid fighting with his mother about having dessert early, and you’ll pretty much have the picture, except that they’re executing political prisoners in between whining about a candy bar.
Four days ago, we got the heads up that a well-connected drug smuggler had skipped town. Joe “monkey” Green, known in some circles as “Tip-toe.” The best photo we had of him was a blurry black and white, but it’s better than nothing. Squirrel, middle-aged, looks to me like he’s sampling the wares, but you can’t really tell. We got tipped off just too late to snatch him before he got through customs. Best intelligence had him heading for the place that nobody knew the name of cause the name was changing just as fast as the cabinet, so if you went to take a leak you’d miss it. But he had connections to one of the players in the revolving door, and I guess he figured it was time to retire.
Three days ago somebody released a photo. He’s naked, hunched against a wall. They shaved his tail. Savages. There was a long list of demands attached, but as most of them seemed to be all about various triple-decker vendettas it’s probable that they were for the benefit of whoever he was trying to get to, and not meant for me. Folks really oughta be more careful about letting me see things that’re meant for other people.
Two days ago, things simmered down to a dull roar that’s close enough to peace as to make no odds under a glorified thug of a gorilla. The rumors say he makes all his appearances in this snakeskin headband. Then the rumors go all quiet and furtive and say that he made it himself from the skin of his biggest rival. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know who started it if it isn’t.
Yesterday they gave me a plane ticket, and told me to go on vacation.
Today I’m standing in the airport, getting bored. The ticket was a ruse, of course, you folks ought to know me well enough by now to have figured that one out. I’m not crazy, and I know I got no jurisdiction in a war zone, and I like being not-shot. But some people aren’t quite as clever as I am.
Sure enough, there’s a fracas at customs before long. I’m already reaching to my badge to make the arrest and close the case when it turns out it’s an old lady who doesn’t want to be told that she can’t take herjar of home-made herbal remedy onto the plane. False alarm.
Sly, I’m hungry.
“So go get something to eat.”
We’s in a airport. Ya can’t get nuttin ta eat here! Dey’ll tink youz tryin to bomb da joint!
“You don’t seriously think that, do you?”
…naw. I’ma go gets an apple.
Before he gets back, I hear the sounds of another heated debate from the checkpoint. Music to my ears.
This isn’t ma suitcase, it’s his! Dunno what yer tryin to pull here! The first voice sounds the way beer smells in expensive bars that are always too crowded to hear what you’re ordering. It’s the kind of voice that can get you to agree with it without ever noticing what you’re agreeing to.
Lies. My suitcase was misrouted. In St. Louis. He’s trying to get me arrested. And the second voice doesn’t sound at all surprised at that, doesn’t sound like it’d be surprised if they went ahead and arrested him, marched him right outside, and tossed him from the control tower.
This is where I step in.
“Don’t worry, officer Kilroy,” I say, flashing my badge, “There’s a very simple test here.” I point into the suitcase. “Behind that huge and hideous sausage, I think we can all see a toothbrush. And we all know what that means.”
Aw, Ah see what’s goin on heah, the Bear puffs himself up indignantly, This heah is special profilin’, and that is voilation of mah civil raights! Jes cause I got teeth don’t make that mah toothbrush!
“Actually, I was gonna say that the toothbrush meant that we were dealing with a real amateur smuggler here, because it means he put all his stuff right next to the money. He can’t change his clothes or shave without flashing a huge pile of cash. Complete amateur.”
That doesn’t help. At all, complains the turtle.
“I’m getting there, Koopa, hang on. Get someone over here with a fingerprint set.”
And you can guess the rest. The bear’s fingerprints turn up all over the handle of the toothbrush, he cracks and admits he was tapped to sneak Tip-toe’s cash hoard to his friends in the Republic of Whatever-it’s-called-now, and he’s on his way to the tank to testify against the contacts that Tip-toe can’t, as he’s too busy with being a hostage. All before Max finishes his apple.
Tomorrow, I’ll see if I can take a real vacation.