THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY

Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

AMBER LOVE 21-AUG-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. That means a new short story for backers.

ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

Where we left off…

Detective Inspector Guster Nabu took on a couple of small cases that he was able to solve without the help of Professor Oliver Winchester.

THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. EXTERIOR. BUNNY HOLLOW.

bunny

There was debate among the factions of wildlife on what to name this area. The snakes lost the vote in a landslide to the Council of Rabbits. Instead of Garter Snake Ridge being the name for the entire trail from the driveway to the northern trail, it would be designated as Bunny Hollow with a sign reading, “Snake Crossing” planned for the future to be posted halfway. The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency got the final say in the matter.

The steamy dampness of humidity saturated the late afternoon air. The temperature was fortunately low, but that didn’t mean it always felt comfortable, especially after walking with Detective Inspector Guster Nabu for thirty minutes. My blank pants clung to my thick legs.

Gus

The grounds needed to be inspected though because the jungle next to the Fairy House was deforested. It doesn’t look attractive yet; hopefully the plans for a gazebo will come to fruition sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, a plot of dirt with mowed down stems exudes melancholy and an end rather than the hope for growth. We’re typically opposed to deforestation for the sake of urban sprawl. It seems like a small section of habitat, but it was lush with ferns. I reminded Gus that the ferns are even more abundant only a short walk to the north.

Gus and I traversed the vast open area of the grounds and headed towards Bunny Hollow’s corner entrance in the northwest. He hasn’t been seeing as many bunnies as Oliver for some reason. Perhaps it’s just the timing of their patrols.

tree stumps

The detective took his time going from one end of the trail to the other. He even doubled back and covered it more than once. His tail was low. His whiskers were forward. He wanted to take something down tonight and he didn’t care what it was. He had energy to burn and someone would pay.

After another thorough sweep through Bunny Hollow, we finally ended up in the southwest on the grassy knoll. The hedges provided deep cover for all who entered. Gus was forbidden from going more than hip distance into the brush. It wasn’t the Afghani kush, but the wild berry bushes were covered in prickly thorns that caused their own level of danger. Even though Gus was able to slide through like a seal in a coral reef, his leash wasn’t as lucky. It repeatedly got caught. The detective was already on edge and every time the leash snapped through a branch, Gus showed just how skittish he really was.

There’s a magnificent black walnut tree at the end. Under it are the nuts encased in what looks like tennis balls or small green apples. They litter the knoll. The tree branches extend out over one of the parking areas and if you hear a “THUNK” when nothing is around, it’s one of those walnut casings dropping onto a car or Oliver’s vacation camper.

I stood around looking at the walnuts. Some had been cracked open and the broken pieces of chocolate brown nuts were crushed into the grass. Plenty were still in tact. Gus had already been hunting for a while and digging low in hedges, so when he did it again I didn’t think much of it. I figured, as his biographer (aka secretary) I’d better be safe and take the camera out — just in case. I let it roll for about thirty seconds and didn’t see anything important. Hit the stop button. Waited a second. Saw that he might have had something in his grasp so I hit record again.

He pulled out a small garter snake, I’d say about ten inches long. They’re fast and several had escaped him in the past so this momentous. Just like with the bird, Gus put the snake down and let go of it a couple of times. When it moved, he’d press down on it with a paw or take it up in his jaws. It coiled up in the grass and stopped moving. I knew better than to trust it, but I’m not sure what Gus was thinking. He turned his head for a moment and the snake made its way back towards the hedge. Gus tried to catch for a third time, but it got away. Fortunately, he had it long enough for me to take pictures and to call over the Grumpy Old Man for a look.

When Gus got back into the house, he was ramped up from the excitement. He was given treats and immediately chowed down on dinner. He bounced around and even practiced more hunting skills chasing toys or the Red Dot before he gave in to the fatigue.

Yoga Gus

The next morning I think Gus found a new appreciation for the cycle of life because he even participated in the daily yoga. I can’t say he was a particularly good student. He rolled around, chewed the mat, clawed me and tried to bite one of my breasts. Eventually he stretched out in “guster nabuasana” style and then got in his tower to watch the world out the window.

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