They call me Donald the Duck. Ronald’s my name and detecting’s my game. I’ve been keeping the streets clean of trouble in Maryville, dirtiest ditch in Southern California. Twelve years now I’ve had the tough task of finding lost dogs, lizards and husbands for birds of all shapes and sizes. Nothing has been too much and lately the dough was coming in painfully slow. At least that was before yesterday.
Yesterday I was snooping in the alleyway of Seventh and Forester where I knew I’d find that final piece of the puzzle to the Morrison case.
“Gotcha!” I cried with smug satisfaction as the shredded bank details were unearthed. I returned the remains of the trash bag to the dumpster and made to stash my findings and then ditch the gloves.
“Catch that cat!” cried a voice, a broad of maybe mid-twenties. Three men, heavyset burst down my alley. Like lightning they flashed past the dumpster with one skidding to a halt.
“Hey mister?” he asked, moe wiggling like a hairy worm as he spoke in a squeak. “Seen a cat recently?”
I shook my head and he ran on after the other two.
Not even a second after the trio had vanished around the next corner there was a sound like leaves in winter. Next thing I got the shock of my life. Out of the pile of black bags that filled the dumpster to the brim crawled the sootiest feline I’d ever laid eyes on. It gave me a look as if to suggest I not say a word before it jumped to the nearest window sill and made for the roof. As any good detective would I followed, curious. I lost track a couple of times but tenacity helped me pick up the trail. After a couple of hours weaving in and out of dingeville we ended up at the old slaughter house. It was the kind of hangout the kids loved at Halloween. The cat had found a crack and slipped inside. I was sniffing around for my own way in when the trio caught up.
“Thanks Mack for keeping an eye on the flea bag but we’ve got it from here!” called the heavy with the moe.
“Call me curious, but I think I’ll stick around,” I called back, casual.
Moe didn’t like that and neither did his chums. As one they rushed me. I danced the dance and scored a lucky blow or two before I copped one on the chin and dropped hard. A few boots in the wrong place and the boys knew I was down and not getting up in a hurry.
“Leave him to lick his wounds,” the old man amongst the three growled before the three took off.
I waited until I’d heard the tinkle of glass before I gingerly got up and checked myself over. Those boys played rough and I’d stuck myself square in the middle. I’d be purple by morning and I considered bailing to cash in on a certainty. Morrison had promised three grand if I could prove his brother was a crook and I now had enough evidence to paint quite the pretty picture. The cat was an enigma though, a story I’d only gotten a sniff of and my radar was telling me I needed to know more. I doubled back to a shady hole on Francis and Devlin, somewhere I could watch but not likely be seen. There was something about that cat I couldn’t let fly. The three stooges must have felt the same. They spent the rest of the day hunting with nothing to show.
“Hey George, what da we tell the dame?” I heard moe mumble as the three ambled by.
“Shut up Fred and let me think,” spat back the old man. All three seemed worried.
By the time the moon was high in the sky joined by a few thousand stars the boys had gone and I was ready to conduct a search of my own. It was almost like the flea bag knew I had only the best in mind for him. The moment I cleared the last of the glass and eased my way in the cat stepped out from one of the shadows and greeted me with a friendly “Meow.”
“What trouble you in friend?” I asked, stretching out a hand, expecting the cat to shy away.
Instead it slunk closer and sniffed my fingers. In no time flat it was in my arms, head poking out from the flap of my jacket.
I took the long way home in case Fred, George and slim were still hanging around. I’d done my fair share of trailing and been trailed just as much. I knew a trick or two that guaranteed I was semi safe by the time my key slipped into the lock. The sun was just peeking through the clouds and I had to hit the hay. I found an old shoe box and a bag of sand. This would have to do for litter. A tin of tuna accompanied it along with an old shirt and a scrap of blanket the cat could use for a bed.
“See ya in a few hours,” I told my new pal before I crashed.
It was almost twilight when I finally awoke.
I switched on the box and tuned in. The reporter was deep in the midst of explaining the value of a jewel heist I’d missed. Two mill in fresh cut stones destined for Europe to be fashioned into chokers and studs for the famous few. Those stones had vanished yesterday with no clue of how.
I went through my morning routine, stretch, coffee followed by a shower. I debated dressing for the day, even though evening was now settling in. Still tossing around the idea of what to wear I was reminded I had a guest when I was hit with a stink worse than yesterday’s dumpster. Ever the detective I went to investigate.
“I’ll be damned,” I cried in disbelief.
There, buried in the sandbox were eight sparkling diamonds. I’d cracked the case without even knowing I was on it.
The payday was triple anything Morrison could offer. I was on easy street and best of all I got to keep the cat. Now life’s breezy and sweet. Now it’s the Duck and Paws keeping the streets clean.