The door swings slowly open, like a rusty bear trap just praying that you’ll think it’s too old to go off. From inside wafts the scent of five different kinds of expensive perfume.
I guess somebody knows how to interest a canid.
Well well. Look what I dragged in.
“With prank calls.”
It worked, didn’t it?
Several things smell funny, and I’m not talking about the candles. First, while I admit it’s the way we usually end up doing things, committing a crime just to get my attention isn’t Cassie’s style, usually she gets my attention as a way to keep my from paying attention to the crime. Second, making prank calls isn’t Cassie’s style, so if she wants me that bad, why is she getting into kid stuff. Third, she didn’t notice when Max braged in her door and started breaking shit.
Sorry bout dat, he says to noone in particular above a spreading pool of molten wax.
“I can’t help but feel that there’s something devious going on here.” I look her in the eyes. They’re like two limpid pools except somebody forgot to add the chlorine and PH balancer.
Foxy, I’m standing here in nothing but a bathrobe surrounded by scented candles with a double-sized bubble bath in the next room.
“My highly trained deductive skills had already picked those facts up, yeah.”
What about that is devious? What about that is even subtle?
I was really stuck for a moment. But there’s nothing I want more than to get to the bottom of things, which has made my life a whole heap of fun on numerous occasions and saved it once or twice.
Make that thrice, I guess.
“The part where I still don’t know why you’re suddenly not being subtle. You’re never not subt-MMMPPH!”
Wow, I hear Max say. I make a mental not to kick him, seeing as how I can’t exactly yell at him at the moment.
The next thing I know is my mouth is free and someone’s whispering in my ear If we don’t get into the same room as the running water right now, Foxy, we’re both gonna be dead!
Like I said, she knows how to get a guy’s attention. “Max, take a walk. I’m gonna be busy for a while.”
Yeah, I knowz da drill. He rolls his eyes.
She shuts the bathroom door and turns the tub up as high as it will go. We haven’t got much time. He’s gonna hit this room as hard as he can as soon as he thinks we’re busy!
“You should really face the other way if you want my full attention to be on what you’re saying.”
I shake my head clear. “Ok, who is it that’s got your tail all frizzed out?”
“That must be… some mailbox.”
With my head inside it.
He’s got listening devices all through the house, and he’s got his car up on the hill right now. He said something about ‘crushing the scum that shut me in in his moment of-‘
“No need to be so articulate, I get the picture.”
Foxy, I’m scared. You have got to think of some way out of this.
She’s got a point there. “Well, when in doubt, go with what works.”
“You’re a pretty good actress, right?”
So after the bathwater’s shut off, I’m in the living room with my 32 drawn and my eyes glued on the far wall. Cassie’s backed into the other corner holding a Derringer I’m not gonna bother asking if she’s got a permit to carry. And I’m hoping that The Roadkiller is a lot more gullible than I am, cause what we’re coming up with by way of a cunning diversion sounds just about as hot and heavy as a seminar on insurance claims.
‘Can’t you sound like you’re enjoying it at least?!’ I try telegraphing with my eyebrows.
‘Sorry, I’m kinda distracted thinking about the monster truck that’s about to flatten my house! And who said anything about enjoyment?‘ she says with a combination of a glare and a shrug.
I almost forget about our impending death, I’m so insulted.
But then I get good and reminded by the sound of breaking glass and splintering wood.
Yesss! shrieks a voice that sounds like it comes from golf-ball sized throat nodes, Revenge! At last! Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time Detective Fox!
I nod to Cassie, and burst through the only door still standing. “Nope! We were actually starting to get worried you were gonna be late as a matter of fact!” He’s still in the car, leaning out the open door. At a guess, I’d say he’d been about to check his tires for pulverized bits of me and Cassie. “Might as well get those hands up, while you’re here.”
I really should have said something about the feet. His hands go up next to his antlers, but then he smiles and stomps on the gas pedal.
There’s the sound of wood tearing again, and I’m rolling to the side and firing, and I hear Cassie scream, and then his car’s out in what used to be the living room. I look up in time to see it do a 180, and then all I can see is headlights.
Sorry, detective, he cackles, but I’ve got to hit the road. Guess you do too.
The engine revs, and I know I’m not gonna get my gun up in time but I pull anyway. There’s two shots.
Then all is quiet except for the sound of an idling motor.
I crawl out of the lights and blink my eyes back to working condition. The windshield is shattered in a beautiful spiderweb pattern, and so is the driver’s side window. The Roadkiller, with an expression like a man who just found out his birthday cake is curry flavored plastered across his face, is slumped back in his seat, which is slowly turning deep, arterial crimson. From here I can see two wounds–one to the forehead, and one to the temple.
Behind me I hear Cassie give a sort of strangled half-gasp, half-sob.
I dove out the window when I hear the engine, she says, staring blankly at the smoking gun in her hand, and then… I don’t know. She swallows so hard I can feel it at the tip of my tail. I’ve never killed anyone before.
Dunno if I believe her. Dunno if I care.
“If it helps, go ahead and think I shot first,” I tell her, straightening up and seeing where I’m hurt. Few scrapes, nothing serious. Good.
Why didn’t he… I mean… you’re… She shakes her head. Her eyes have that limpid pool look again, but this time they look clean. I heard the engine rev, I thought you’d be-
There’s a waxy sheen on the tires. I don’t need to sniff it to tell where it came from. “Max saved our butts. Guess he couldn’t get any traction with your voodoo display spilled all over the floor.” Then of course I realize what she was about to say. “Cassie, did you fire cause you thought I-”
Then her paw’s on my mouth, shushing me. My house is in ruins, the only clothes I’ve got is a filthy terrycloth robe, and there’s a dead hunk of venison sitting in my living room.
“You’re saying this isn’t the time?”
I’m saying I could really use a drink right now.
I blink. “That sounds like a plan.” I consider offering her my cape, but I don’t think I want her to get the idea I trust her. Not that much. Even if we did just save eachother’s lives, she’s still Cassie.
Max is standing where the front door used to be, surveying the wreckage with his mouth hanging wider open than the atlantic. Ho-lee cheese! Did you two… how… where… what sorta twisted ting wuz you doin?!
That’s gonna take either a week’s explanation, or none. I give Cassie a sideways glance, and just say “You’ll understand when you’re older, Max.”
Time for that drink.