Mystery Drama Crime

I leapt into the backseat of the taxi cab and took extra care not to slam the door on my long, pink rat tail. 

“Follow that car!” I demanded, pointing ahead at the jet black sedan that was presently speeding away of us.

The cabby, a weasel, looked back at me and twitched his whiskers. “Ya, serious Mack?” he asked. 

“Damn right I’m serious, there’s a nice tip for you, but hurry up, they’re getting away!” 

The weasel twitched his ears and faced front. “Alright! Buckle up, Mr. Rat.” 

I buckled up as the weasel - who I could see was named ‘Otis’ from his ID on the back of his seat - sped off after the black sedan through the darkening Manhattan streets. Night was falling fast, and I couldn’t risk losing the last piece of the puzzle for this case I’d been hired to solve. 

The engine suddenly revved and Otis swerved us into the suspect’s lane, barely missing some motorist on their way to the bar and earning us several angry honks. Otis made a rude gesture in the rear view mirror while I held onto my lucky hat. 

Guess I should back up and explain a few things. If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m a private investigator: Been one ever since I resigned from the force. Back in the old days I had made a hell of a homicide detective. But - as with most things in this world - there were things that just didn’t sit right with me, and so I had to resign. 

I’m a brown rat and I’m starting to slip past my prime, but I still have some good years left. What’s the old saying? ‘It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.’ On this auspicious Monday I happened to be investigating a case of insurance fraud. 

One of the big name insurance companies had a suspicion about one of their repeat customers. The stoat was supposedly from an old money family - a family that had some sizable insurance investments on their property. 

Ever since a fire at their upstate manor earlier this year it seemed the Birdscabs were having a spate of bad luck. A curse even, some might say. A yacht sunk, a car totaled in a hit and run... But the strangest thing about these incidents always just seemed to happen without injuries. The Birdscab estate would always just happen to be away when the misfortune would befall them.

The thing that took the cake for my newest employers was the theft of a rare white diamond from a supposedly secure deposit box. The “Moonstone”: so famous and huge - the size of a clenched paw - that it had its own fairy tale: Supposedly, the milky white gemstone had been formed from pure rays of the moon. 

Gone without a trace. 

No evidence of tampering or footage of anyone performing the heist. It stunk of an inside job. This coupled with the recent incidents had wound up getting me hired. 

“Watch it, Otto!” I yelled as the cab squealed around a corner, barely missing a curb and a possum mother and child.

“You told me to follow, so I’m followin’!” He yelled back. Fair point.

“As long as they don’t know we’re following, Otto, I’ll make it worth your while!”

More tire squeals. More darkness spreading, more neon and electrical lights being lit. The sedan speeding ahead of us, gaining distance.

Suddenly, Otto turned down a blind alley.

“WHOA!” I yelped as I flopped onto the seat from the momentum.

“Shortcut!” Otto replied as he barrelled down the alleyway, only hitting one metal trashcan before they reappeared on a neighboring street, ending up just down the street from the sedan, which had just parked outside a townhouse.

“Thanks for the ride,” I muttered, giving the cabby a rather generous tip. 

Otto just shrugged, counting the bills. “Sure thing palie.” 

I left the cabbie behind as I wound my way towards the townhouse, keeping close to the shadows. It was a swanky little neighborhood: I certainly felt out of place there. A rat like me was used to the dingy parts of the city and the worst of society, although the rich parts of town were probably the worst anyhow: Beneath the shiny facade was something just as rotten. 

I ran as stealthily as I could up the street toward the townhouse. The car sat empty as the stoat driving it, presumably a Birdscab had entered the house. Now that I was there I had to figure out my next move. 

I needed solid evidence. The house's blinds were shut and not a light shone from the interior. Twitching my whiskers I made my way around the house, working my way to the back where I found a tool shed lay just behind the house. Examining it, I noticed that there were no signs of common use: no handcarts, shovels or bags of sod - no dirt trails leading in or out - just a spartan little shed with a heavy lock. This place was not used by the help... what was it?

As I approached I examined the large padlock on the front of it. Flattening my ears I set to work on the lock with my pickset. I had bolt cutters on me, but I wanted to be as less invasive and obvious as possible. 

My tail was twitching as I worked the lock, my eyes darting back to look at the house on occasion as I could feel sweat beneath my fur from excitement. After a few tense moments I heard a rewarding *CLICK* as the tumblers moved out of place to allow the lock to be opened. 

I swung the door open and my ears went up in surprise as I marveled at what I had discovered: The shed was full of jerrycans, rags, road flares, and various other bottles of chemicals.

An arsonist’s workshop. 

Quickly I took my camera out and snapped away. This wasn’t bad for a start.

Carefully, I shut the door and redid the padlock. I started to head back when I heard the door swing open and slap against the side of the house with a loud *CRACK*. Quickly, I sprang for the nearest place of concealment I could find - the hedges growing alongside the house. 

Had they seen me? I stayed as still as possible. 

“We know you’re back here! Come on out!” a male stoat called, an expensive cigar in his muzzle and an over-and-under shotgun in his paws. A female stoat in a nightgown with folded arms and a pearl necklace stood next to him, just as surly. 

It was then I decided to make a gamble. I rarely gamble, but at the moment I could see it paying off. Either I got shot, or I didn’t. 

“Alright,” I yelled out, stepping out of the bushes into the dark - paws up in surrender. “Don’t shoot mack, I didn’t mean any harm.” 

The stoat turned startled but quickly regained his composure as he aimed the shotgun at me. That confirmed to me he didn’t actually know where I was. 

“What are you doing on our property?” the male stoat demanded as he scanned the night for me. 

I did my best impression of a bumbling thief. “I-I was just looking for a quick score, mister, honest! Didn’t know anyone was home.” 

The female stoat turned her nose up. “Hmph, he’s just a dirty thief. Call the police.” 

Well this was going to be awkward. Still better if I got handed off to the authorities than getting shot while they claimed self defense or some such nonsense. The male stoat flattened his ears as I could see something going on behind his eyes. 

“Shut up, Irene,” he growled. She glared indignation back at him, but he continued to scan the backyard. “Step into the porchlight so I can get a better look at you!”

Grudgingly, I obeyed.

“Looking for a quick score, eh rat?” He said, leveling the shotgun at me.

I nodded. 

The stoat seemed to keep contemplating before he lowered the gun. “Maybe we got off on the wrong paw here. I think I might have use for someone like… well, like you.” 

“Oh,” I asked with my tail twitching. “What exactly would that be?”

“Why don’t you come inside for a bit?” the stoat asked.

A loud sound of disgust from Irene again. 

“This a set up?” I asked. Not that he’d give me an honest answer. Still I felt more confident indoors than out in the open with a shotgun against me. I made my way inside, expecting to be clubbed or shot at any second, but nothing of the sort happened..

“Wipe your shoes on the mat!” Irene ordered. I obliged, wiping the wet mud of the backyard onto the little rug. She sighed again. The interior was certainly swanky, plush carpets, oil paintings and expensive-looking vases.  

“A proposition,” the stoat replied as I made my way to the little kitchen table. 

The male stoat set his firearm back in its place over a fireplace in the parlor room. I couldn’t help but notice something else eye-catching in the room: A giant diamond necklace displayed proudly on the mantel.

Irene saw what I was looking at. “You can forget about that buddy boy.”

The other stoat was busy fixing himself a glass of brandy. 

“Drink?” he asked. I shook my head. “Probably too rich for your taste anyway.” the stoat replied smugly. 

Irene leaned against a wall, her usual scowl on her face. The male spoke again. 

“Now then. You wanted a score? Well. Here’s my proposition.” He tossed me a car key and I felt the weight of it in my paw. I recognized the logo from the car outside. 

“You can steal our car.” 

My ears twitched. “Er, what now?”

The stoat made a dismissive gesture. “You heard me. Steal it. You can have a nice headstart before we report it missing. I want that car gone, and you want a score.”

“Edgar?” Irene grunted, concerned. 

“Quiet Irene. It’s a perfectly mutually beneficial arrangement.” 

This was good. Really good they were handing me their sedan, and I knew just where to drive it too. 

I stood up and nodded. “I’ll do it.” 

“Of course you will. Off with you!” Edgar barked.

I scampered out of the house, the car started up and I floored it out of there. They had handed me a piece of evidence and I was going to drive it to my employer’s headquarters. I also had the photos, to prove that they were, in fact, guilty.

The claims office was closed except for a single window up at the very top that was lit with a dim yellow light. I parked the fancy car across the street and marvelled at it once again.

“Maybe crime does pay,” I thought before walking up to the dim front doors and knocking. I saw an old raccoon in a dirty uniform come up to the door with a flashlight.

“We’re closed!” he said. 

“Sure you are, get your boss. Tell him the rat’s here. He’ll know what I mean.” The raccoon still seemed unsure. I sighed. “If I’m wrong you’ll get a chance to hit me with that nightstick.” 

“Humnph.” the raccoon scoffed as he made a call. I saw his ears twitch and his muzzle open in surprise. 

Next thing I knew he was letting me inside the building. 

“Top floor.” 

I murmured my thanks before taking the elevator up to the top floor, nd shoving open the opulent office door. 

The otter was there behind his large mahogany desk in his usual brown and beige double-breasted suit. His shoes were off and a couple of empty highball glasses were scattered on his desk. 

“Mr. Snickertooth. This is a surprise.” 

“I got photographic evidence for you. Also I may have driven in here on a hot car.” 

The otter looked confused. A quick check on the police scanner confirmed there was a stolen vehicle report out already. So much for the ‘headstart’ I was promised. 

“They just gave you the car?” 

“They thought they had a disposable pawn.” 

The otter shook his head. “It just makes no sense. Why are they resorting to these scams?” 

I twitched my whiskers. “Perhaps they’ve made some bad financial situations recently. I do seem to recall a lot of billionaires making large investments that turned out to be a massive conjob.” 

I suppose some folks don’t know how to be frugal. 

“That’s pretty thin, Snickertooth,” he said as he approached. I could smell the old fashioneds coming off him.

“Well I wasn’t hired to delve into their finances, I was hired to uncover evidence of insurance fraud. I’ll probably look into it anyway.” 

The otter folded his arms, “I suppose we’ll wait and see what happens with the car. If they file a claim then I think we have all we need.”

“Don’t forget the photos,” I reminded him.   

“Leave the keys,” the otter said. I tossed them to him, but they flew over his left shoulder.

The next day I got a call from his secretary: the wheels were in motion. I had a feeling that this wealthy family had a few excons on the lookout for me in the meantime.

Opening my brochure for Barbados, I began to pack: I think I was overdo for a long vacation.

January 27, 2023 20:38

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Cajek Veilwinter
14:23 Jan 30, 2023

Skreet's one of my faves


00:30 Feb 02, 2023

I know he is.


Cajek Veilwinter
02:47 Feb 02, 2023



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