It’d been raining all day. Most of the beat officers were off with emergency crews, and the station was feeling pretty empty. Call me callous, but I kinda have a soft spot for natural disasters. Maybe they’re huge, unstoppable, tragedy-makers, but they’re honest. An earthquake won’t try to manipulate you. A flood doesn’t lie.
Which doesn’t mean there’s nobody trying to lie while a flood goes on around them, though.
It took a while to get all the way to the call: more than one of the streets we’d normally take were flooded. I figured that by the time we got there, everything would be long over. But no, there they were, screaming and pointing like everything had just happened two minutes ago.
“Alright, what’s going on here?”
Offishah, that Toad tried to rob my hourshe! While me and all my little kidsh were home! I’ve never been sho shcared in all my life!
“He looks pretty calm for a burglar.”
That’s because I’m not, he gulps with a voice that sounds like he keeps it well-oiled to hide the fact that it’s higher-pitched than most big fat ladies in viking helmets, I only asked if I could use her phone to call a wrecker. I have a flat tire!
Donchu b’lieve him, offishah! He’sh lying!
He gives an infuriating ‘isn’t she just too much folks’ smirk and waves a flipper. Now why would I have stuck around just waiting for the police if I’d tried to break in?
“Mind if I have a look at this flat tire?”
Oh, it isn’t flat anymore. I changed it when she wouldn’t let me use the phone.
“That’s awfully convenient, isn’t it?”
He shrugs. I’m really starting to hate him.
“Open your trunk.”
Officer, I really don’t see why-
“Because you’re a suspect in a home invasion and child endangerment case.”
Sly, when did dis toin inta child endagament?
“When I said so.”
The trunk contains a tire changing kit in some disarray, a spare tire, a collapsible bike rack, and a sandbag.
Unless your powers of deduction include the ability to tell whether a tire is flat just by looking at it-
“I’m still arresting you. The tire isn’t wet, so unless your powers of unctuous diction include the ability to change a tire in the rain without getting any of the tools wet.”
I’ve just put on the handcuffs when Max comes up. Dere’s a problem. We can’t get back ta da squad car, s’flooded.
So that was how I ended up in the beaver’s living room, with a frog tied to a chair, an a bunch of kids staring at me like I was there to make them all into hats.
Stupid sewahs, Max is muttering Got no dependibidility.
I know what you mean, Mrs. Beaver natters as she comes in with a pot of tea, every time it shtartsh raining heavily, the shewahsh all back up! One of daysh they’re going to get shtopped right up, and thish whole neighborhood will go under! I don’t know what we’d do!
“Well, in all honesty, you’d be alright. Aquatic mammals and such, right? It’s the neighbors that’d have a problem.” She hands me teacup and gives me a tense look.
Yup. Dis flood goes big, an all dat’ll be left here is your likkle brood an some fishs. Oh, an I spose dis clown over dere, all tied up and don’t even get some tea. He takes a sip. Dang, lady, dats tasty stuff!
The pieces all click together in my mind just before Max hits the floor.
“So what’s in the tea?” I set it down very carefully.
She sighs heavily. Damn. I think she knows I know. “Well, I didn’t really know what would do the job, sho I put in shome Shomineksh and shome Nyquill and shome of the teething painkiller for the baby.” Damn. She doesn’t mind admitting that she knows I know. That means she thinks she’s got an ace up her sleeve.
Well, so do I. Except it’s more ‘in a shoulder holster’ than ‘up my sleeve.’
“I have to admit, I didn’t see it right away. But it’s simple. You get this guy- is he your boyfriend? Is Mr. Beaver no longer in this world, or just ‘on an extended business trip?'” She goes beet-red, and he shouts How dare you? so I’m probably close, “to wait outside the house with an obviously false story, wait for him to get taken in, then you use the sandbag in his trunk to plug the storm drain he parked over. With him in holding, there’ll be nobody to move the car, so nobody will notice–or, heck, even be bale to get at–the thing that’s blocking the one working drain. Then you mysteriously refuse to press charges, and you’ve got yourself your own private pond, without all those pesky non-aquatic neighbors.”
How did you figure it out? he asks smoothly and shrilly from the corner.
“Oh, there were a whole bunch of little things. But the penny dropped when the kids weren’t afraid of the man who’d supposedly just tried to break into their house.”
And what makes you think, he rises to his, well, flippers, having of course been not tied to the chair at all, that you’re going to be able to get out of here to tell anyone what you know?
I draw. “This.”
Everyone stares for a moment. Then the Toad chortles Good bluff, fox, but you wouldn’t use that with all these kids here! Your carcass is mine!
“Do you feel like testing that little hypothesis?”
Hmm. Looks like he does. Damn.
But then her paw clamps onto his shoulder. Wait. There are tears in her eyes.
The squad cars arrived in about thirty minutes, after the rain was stopping. They said that there had been some street flooding, but nothing anywhere near as bad as had been predicted.
The Toad was tight-lipped as the hauled him off, which was fine by me. The Beaver–kinda wonder what her name is–looks at me for a moment. Her face is blank. What’sh going to happen to my children?
“That’s… not my department, ma’am. Foster care, probably.”
I shee. She swallows. Try to undeshtand, offishah. I’m a beaver. I build damsh.
And that’s the last I see her.
I drug Max home, and walked back to the office in the rain. Somehow, I don’t trust it not to lie to me anymore.