At This Rate, I’ll Be Solving Lasagna Thefts Next.

It was cold. A mean sort of cold, the kind that squeezes through the seams of your clothes like some kind of thick, viscous syrup and then sticks to you, so you stay covered in cold even when you go in where it’s warm.

It Would Help If I Read Pearls Before Swine.

I’d just gotten off a seriously messed up Gaslighting case. The perp was a rabbit, first name Pietro, last name unknown, with four or five crippling inferiority complexes. He’d pick a target, usually a kid, always with a Scottish last name, and then stalk them for sometimes as much as a year. Then he’d start doing things; nothing big at first, but slowly he’d get more and more outrageous.

The last case, for example, he built a snowman overnight in this kid’s backyard. Nothing pernicious about that, right? Maybe the kid wondered where this snowman came from, maybe not. Except the next night, the rabbit came back, razed the snowman, and then rebuild it in a slightly different position. I’ll say this for him–he was fast, and he was thorough. After a week and a half, he had the snowman ten feet closer to the kid’s bedroom window, and looking less happy and more like he was gonna dig out your soul with an ice pick to drag it to hell. The plan was to have the kid convinced he was insane just in time for Christmas.

But the whole thing backfired, because our perp didn’t count on the kid having a webcam show that recorded all night. Little Bobby MacHinery knew all along that the neighbor was building increasingly disturbing snowmen in his yard every night, and he loved it; he was getting more traffic than he’d ever dreamed of. His parents were less enthusiastic; they called me.

So now I was headed back stationwards, and hoping that they aint gonna put me on the case of the snake-oil salesman claiming his skateboards let you levitate. Max uses that stupid thing often enough as it is, I don’t want him getting any ideas.

So when I wander into the suburban domestic disturbance version of Hatfields vs. McCoy’, I have to admit I’m less than thrilled.

He hit me!

Did not!

Yes you did!

“One at a time!” I shout, trying to stave off an hour of listening to three hours of high-decibel Did Not Did Too, and then I realize I have no idea where to go next. So I say the first thing that pops into my head: “Did you hit him?”

Did Not!

Did Too!

Did Not!

Did Too!

Did Not!

Did Too!

Well, that worked.

“Ok, why did he hit you?”

Cause he’s MEAN.

Nuh uh! It was revenge! I give him a searching look, For his setting my lawn on fire with kerosene last month!

That was payback for the naked photos of me you put on the internet!

That was only cause you cut my power lines!

That was only cause you painted over my windows!

That was only cause you put cherry bombs in my mailbox!

That was just cause you SUCK!

“SHUT UP! I’m arresting BOTH of you!”

They stare at me blankly.

What for?!

“I’ll think of something, don’t worry. You, maybe for clubbing yourself in the back of the head to try to implicate your partner in this stupid one-up game, and you for WASTING MY TIME!”

At least their neighbors’ll be happy.

The Final Word.

Max stands on the corner, watching Slylock drag the two antagonists off, still shouting. A similarly-dressed rodent approaches him.

Hey, it worked!

Tolja it would, Cuz. Sly can’ stand people wastin his time.

Heh. I bin trying to get rid of those two fer ages! I never figured on beatin one of em and letting him think the other did it! You must be some kinda genius!

Max flicks an invisible dust speck from his bowler, and smirks. All in a days woik fer a genius detective.

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