Can I Take a Moment of Your Time to Discuss Crime?

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my fur. Slow evening shadows make my sidekick shiver. Up ahead in the distance I see a shimmering light. Think this might be my destination. Hope this time that I’m right.

“Ok, Max? Just remember the reason we’re here.”

An you rememba da reasoin fer da reasoin we’re here.

I shoot him a glare as the engine cuts off. He doesn’t see. But sure, I can do that too. My schedule is wide open.

The Concierge hopes Sly can take care of this quickly, as he has a roadrunner to catch.

Oh, I knew it! I knew the two of you were up to something! Sneaking about in pairs always! It had to be nefarious!

We were already in the southwest, so when I heard through the grapevine that… somebody I wanted to see had been spotted in a hotel in the Utah desert, I figured it was worth a detour. Max disagreed, but the day I start listening to him is the day I hang up my badge for good.

Sir if you’d just listen-

Oh you’d like me to listen wouldn’t you! You’d like that! You’re good at talking! You only want a moment of my time! Well now you can have a moment of YOUR time! In JAIL!

At first I think someone’s making tea, but no, that’s just the coyote behind the desk. He’s screaming at what looks like a pair of Maxes that have each swallowed another Max that had itself previously swallowed a fifth and a sixth Max, respectively. Except they’re dressed better than Max has ever been.

Just you wait till I get the police in here!

“Wow, that was quick,” I say, “Our response time is really amazing. So what’s the screaming about?”

Officer, Elder Mac and I-

Shut up! Arrest these two, they intended to rob my guests!

“Oh well then, come quietly boys, now that I’ve had a random bystander point at you and say you did something,”

Everyone blinks at me.

“That was sarcasm.” They keep staring while I try to pinch the impending headache out of the bridge of my muzzle. Ok, let’s start this over. Ahem. What is going on here?”

I have reason to believe that these two, purportedly religious gentlemen on some kind of evangelical trip, are in fact intending to rob guests!

“And that is?”

What is?

“The reason?”

For what?

“What is the reason that you have to believe that they are going to rob anybody?I’m gripping him by the lapels so hard that my claws are pushing through the material. Fuuny. When did that happen? It’s a cheap suit, anyway.

Oh! Well, officer, a heh, and he’s suddenly all eagerness to cooperate, their suitcase is empty! Surely that makes them guilty? What other reason could they possibly have for bringing an empty suitcase to a hotel?

Sir, that is where Elder Mac and I keep our pamphlets and materials for the day and we’d just handed out the last ones!

Nonsense! Furthermore, detective, I got a tip!

I let go of the suddenly-much-less-smug bastard and he slumps back, like he’s just collapsed into a chair except that he’s still standing up. “You got a tip.”

Yes.

“No idea who it was from?”

No, but what does that have to do with

“Oh nothing, I’m sure, though it goes a helluva long way toward explaining why you expected me to arrest them on charges of Aggravated Being Pointed At By A Hotel Employee.” And I think I might have a little more idea than this moron who that tip came from.

And right on cue, I look up and there she is, just watching.

“Max, make sure nobody leaves the room, I gotta take care of something.” If he has a comeback, I don’t listen, I just pull her out of the elevator–her hand darts toward the buttons, but I’ve got her by the wrist before she can reach them–and into the hall. It’s maybe not as private as I’d like, but it’ll have to do. She just looks at me. Gotta break the ice. Well, nothing works like a cliche. “It’s been a while.”

Oh has it. I hadn’t noticed.

“Cassie, before I ask what you’re doing, why did you phone in a fake tip?”

She smirks and inspects her manicure. Why would I do that? Because I was planning to seduce and rob one of the guests, obviously, and I wanted a patsy ready made. Really, Foxy, I though you were supposed to be a detective.

“So I’m taking a shortcut. Why them?”

Any reason you like. I’ve got a subconscious instinctual drive to attack rodents? Religious types bug me? Or they were just convenient. She shrugs. I hate the way she shrugs. None of these are the questions you want to ask, Foxy.

“Fine then. What are you doing out here, Cassie?”

I’m getting by. After the… mess, I just wanted to get away. I hopped a flight to Frisco and I’ve been working my way south. You’d be surprised at the opportunities you come across. I don’t have anything to say. So, you going to arrest me? Drag me back across the entire country? Is that your idea of a healthy rel-

“Hey, don’t kid yourself. There’s been no crime here yet, and anyway this is way outa my jurisdiction.”

Then why did you come looking for me?

I’m already turning away. “Never occurred to you I might just be worried?” There’s a sigh, not sure which of us it was. “Just… be careful, Cassie.”

Holy Smokes!

Ugh. “What do you want, Max?”

Dis red catgoil wuz Cassie da whole time?

“What do you mean the whole time?”

Well she wuz standin behin me watchin youze yell at the guy behing da desk, figgered she wuz just some… red broad?

I look at Max, then at Cassie, then back at Max. “That’s obviously her, how can you not tell?”

She wuz red!

“Have you seriously never heard of the concept of fur dye before?!” We say in chorus.

Welllllllllll, Max mutters, maybe I jus wuzn lookin as close as SOME people.

“Shut up Max.”

When I get back into the lobby, everyone’s staring at me. Crap. Forgot these people were still here.

“You,” I point at the desk jockey, “you can’t accuse people of crimes they haven’t done yet, so don’t waste the police’s time anymore. You two,” I point at the God jockeys, “I’d say you haven’t made yourselves popular around here, I wouldn’t waste my time coming back, if you get the hint. And all three of you…” I glance over my shoulder, but Cassie’s already gone. “You’ll probably be happier if you forget I was here.”

And that’d be the end of it, except that while I was waiting in the car one of the gophers taps on the window.

“Yeah? Make it fast, Max’ll be finished in the bathroom, and soon as he’s back I’m going whether you’ve finished your pitch or not.”

No, no, I… he trails off, looking at the horizon, Sir, I’ve got a confession.

“I think you might have mistaken my profession, then.”

You don’t understand, sir. Elder Tosh and I, we… we called in the tip ourselves. It was a lie. Your… he squirms visibly, Your lady friend had nothing to do with it.

Huh. “Huh. Well there’s a first. And you calling Cassie my ‘friend’ is another one. Thanks for the laugh, kid.”

He blinks. You’re not angry? You forgive me, then?

I shrug. “Sure. Not like it hurt me at all. Well, maybe a bruise to the ego that I didn’t see it coming, but no skin off my nose. Might want to talk to your… priest? Pastor? Minister? Whatever it is you’ve got.”

Bishop, he mumbles. It’s just… so discouraging! Nobody listens!

“That’s the story of life, kid. And I aint any different, so if you’ll excuse me.” I reach over to open the passenger door. “Sweet Aslan, Max, you took long enough. Did you fall in?” Out of the corner of my eye I see the gopher wince. Guess he doesn’t like blasphemy. Imagine that. I start pulling out even before Max shuts the door, and we’re gone. I can see the hotel for a few moments in the rearview mirror, and then it’s nothing but desert and night. I don’t like it. No streets, no streetlights. It’s not home, and I’m wondering how long it’s going to take to get home. I wonder where Cassie vanished to. I wonder how long it’s going to take her to get home.

I’ve got a feeling that both of us will. Is that faith?

I wouldn’t know. I’m just a detective. I don’t ask that kind of question.

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