THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY

Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

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ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: OF MICE AND MEN

Where we left off…

Though groundhogs have been alarmingly scarce for the past few years, chipmunks are a concern to The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency estate management. Detective Inspector Guster Nabu awaits orders to vanquish them. In the meantime, he’ll continue his stakeouts.

THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. AFTERNOON. EXTERIOR. 

As the chill of November crept into our mornings, I tried to delay Gus’ outdoor adventures. Both of us hate to miss the sunrise. Gus is also expected to adjust to one long walk per day rather than two. We’ve had to increase our indoor training which has shown heaps of improvements as well.

Gus usually begins his inspection of the grounds by circling from one back door to the parking pad to the side door and then looping around again. A lot of this bizarre pattern is due to the aforementioned chipmunks. When he’s ready to proceed, Gus gets to choose going up the hill or going over to Professor Oliver Winchester’s private quarters. Either way, we almost always end up on the trails of the back forty acres.

Sometimes I wonder about the boy’s vision because I’ll toss a crumpled paper ball into the air for him and he’ll let it bop him right on the nose. But having seen him on those energetic days when he’s driven to chase, I know he’s capable to leaping and catching things from midair. That sight combined with his powerful Super Smeller™ can cause him to try and run at breakneck speed after something or someone he considers a delightful trophy. Many times I’ll amuse him by running in my thundering human way (incredibly not graceful nor stealth) and then I’m given “that look” because he missed his target.

Gus in the woods

Since the leaves have fallen and the jungle quality of the woods dissipated into unkempt mounds of brown weeds over thorny branches, it’s much easier to see new places worthy of exploring. Gus has taken every opportunity to map and investigate those uncharted areas of the mountain. I’ll admit, a lot of it has been fun. We’ve found so many felled trees for climbing practice. The problem for me is still getting Gus to understand that I can’t glide through thorn bushes unharmed the way he can.

Adrian Monk

We were lucky to find a reasonably worn path created by the deer family. It’s not an official trail, but I didn’t have many branches to cut myself out of when my hair got caught. I didn’t realize there was more to our mission that day besides parkour practice on the trees and rocks. Gus detected something and there was no way he was going to let me tell him that the area was off-limits because of overgrown thorns stabbing me like a pin cushion.

The Super Smeller™ told Gus that something foul happened. The sight of hawks and vultures never give us enough clues about cases. The Super Smeller™ didn’t let us down.Gus

Gus jumped up onto a horizontal broken tree which intersected with some living trees and a web of branches. It’s the perfect climb for him. He can balance for several feet and then decide whether to try climbing vertically. This time, he kept leaning over the horizontal log and sniffing. Something was close. Whatever it was, it was on the move but wasn’t taking off for safer territory. Gus tested a branch, but it didn’t feel strong enough to support him. He kept looking all around the jungle gym of branches for a route.

I lost track of time because he was so focused. Eventually, the target came into my view as well. Gus tried to get close to it. It was a beefy field mouse. To get this size, this guy knew how to survive.

Fat mouse in tree

Gus had questions, but the mouse didn’t want to give the answers. “Look, we know there’s been a murder. Cough up what you know and maybe I’ll let you go.” No dice. The mouse climbed out onto a delicately thin branch. He may have been brave, but he was still scared at the close proximity of Detective Inspector Nabu.

Fat mouse in tree

Fatty Fielding wasn’t interested in being a C.I. for The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. He kept quiet, pretending not to know anything about the stench in the air. I straddled and hopped over the mound of thorny branches to circle around the tree. I got a good look at that guy. You could just see it in his eyes. Black eyes. Like doll’s eyes.

Nah. Fatty Fielding wasn’t gonna talk unless I turned the tables and gave Gus an unfair advantage. That’s not my place. I gotta stick to being the assistant and taking notes. Gus was ready to move on then and he found a relatively clear way to get to the second trail.

Gus

There was no denying the bounce in his step. Gus was determined to follow that scent. We got back to the asphalt and went up the hill again a different way. That’s when he stopped us. He was looking the wrong way, so I saw the body first. There it was. In the middle of the driveway to the master house.

Dead mouse

The body was a field mouse, but nothing like Fatty Fielding. It was tiny and had been dead under 24 hours. The sight of the little thing made me sad. Gus looked like he grew fifty percent bigger. The enticement of the mystery fueled his excitement. He smelled the little mouse’s body. He picked it up in his mouth and recreated the final moments of the mouse’s life as he envisioned it had happened. He roleplayed the vicious murderer, tossing the body around, carrying it away from the original scene, and then dropping it on the top of my boot.

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I took all the notes I could and we left the body in the grass instead of in the road. The next day, we searched and it was still there. Whoever wanted the mouse dead didn’t want it for food. The sick bastard just wanted to thrill of the kill.

Play dead