￼THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY
YEAR TWO: CASE FILE NO. 20-72
￼AMBER LOVE 24-SEP-2018 Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.
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Where we left off:
We have examined the symbology of feathers and learned more about enchanted tree lobsters.
No Country for Old Cats
In a different part of New Jersey, there lies the swanky apartment building of our friends, the mighty Plucks. The humans, Sarah and Tom, are vivacious and hardworking folks. The felines, Charlie and Louie, are equally as badass.
I’ve worked with Tom on writing projects and he’s a solid friend — the kind of guy you can turn to when shit hits the fan and you need to bend an ear. Not to mention, I’d absolutely have him on my apocalypse team if needed. As writers, of course we also bond by talking about our cats and posting plenty of photos.
Charlie is a Siamese so he immediately won me over because I’ve always wanted one. Caico was a Himalayan (a Persian breed mixed with Siamese) and she definitely had the voice of her Siamese ancestors although her purrs were barely audible. Back to Charlie. He’s dark and elegant. The type of chap who looks out for his human companions and his big brother Louie.
Louie isn’t called Big Boy Louie for no reason. He’s an oversized snuggler with an addiction to reading the newspaper. He tries to keep his humans from leaving by lying on their clothes or simply begging for more snuggle time. He’s hard to resist and knows what works.
Since Louie is a newshound, he always knows about crime and disturbances in the area. He does his level best to keep his humans from leaving the house and walking into danger, but unless the felines can figure out how to make a living inside, their people will have to leave for work and adventures like Bouchercon, an important networking convention for crime fiction writers.
These frisky boys have been known to wander down the lengthy corridor passing all their neighbors’ doors. They have to make sure the building is a safe place for their humans since they can’t do anything about the dangers of the outside world. Being cats and great investigators, it was only natural that Louie and Charlie were noticed by Professor Oliver Winchester and Detective Inspector Guster Nabu who wanted to team up with them.
Louie and Oliver may have secretly video chatted. I’m not entirely sure how they communicated, but somehow, the feline network prevailed. Oliver filled Louie in on some of the more recent discoveries relating to cryptids and creatures that most humans have ignored. Paranormal spirits and magings were other subjects requiring a lot of information exchanges.
The Pluck boys are in the same geographic region but far enough away that there are some cultural and earthly variations. Montclair is a essentially a small town, but it’s much more dense than our small town. They have sidewalks and a charming downtown business district for shopping. This means that their magings primarily stay hidden except for the talented shapeshifting varieties. They have plenty of pigeons, squirrels, and domesticated pets like dogs and cats. The mountains skirt through allowing for some serene spots of nature overlooking nearby cities and giving Manhattan commuters a posh, nurturing oasis. Parks are a staple of suburban life for humans. Where there’s a park, there are chipmunks.
Cheeks Moretti controls a pretty large area of our county’s chipmunk mafia. He has managed a peaceful working relationship with the other mob bosses. What Cheeks lacks in number of soldiers, he makes up for with cunning wits. He’s one of the world’s best thieves and scammers out there; and he knows how to keep his organization in line. That’s how it is over here in Warren County.
As for the sophisticated Montclair rodentia, there’s a powerful regime led by Simunk Rizzo DeCavalcante. He’s called The Count. Since the legal side of The Count’s enterprise was plumbing, these rodentia ranks know everything there is to know about the sewer systems, tunnels, and watery outlets. They can come and go from any dwelling or business. It’s a little known fact that chipmunks can swim. Yes, they freaking do (however I suggest you do not look up the YouTube videos where you will find assholes not helping chipmunks out of swimming pools or intentionally throwing them in water because people are awful).
The Count got word that Big Louie and Charlie the Siamese were gathering intel on his organization’s loansharking, fencing, and hijacking operations. If the Plucks knew too much, that meant it was only a matter of time before the government sought them out too. The Count sought out his old friend Cheeks Moretti and asked for backup. Cheeks knows what it’s like trying to coexist peacefully alongside domesticated and stray cats. He couldn’t spare many soldiers but provided what he could.
We’re not entirely sure which one came up with the plan, but a rat on the inside of the DeCavalcante family hid coded messages in the newspaper for Big Louie. Louie and Charlie decrypted the text and were terrified to learn that a hit had been put out on them. Surely, they would be safe up high in their apartment. Right?
The Count sent his best brawler, a rat, and one of Moretti’s goons after the Plucks. The timing was perfect. The humans were away at a writers’ conference. The cat sitter came a few times during the day for feedings, giving Lou the daily newspaper, massages, and designated snuggle time. That meant there were multiple opportunities to breach the building especially at night.
Charlie heard the disturbance. He left Louie to enjoy his loafing on the bed. Charlie had ample fighting spirit and didn’t think he’d need backup. He was seriously mistaken that fateful night. Charlie turned a corner and couldn’t believe his eyes: two armed chipmunks and a huge rat swinging a chain were staring right at him. The fright was almost enough to use up a life, but Charlie was strong enough not to back down.
Big Louie heard the commotion and sat up. It wasn’t the television because the sitter turned that off as she left. He recognized the distinct growl of his brother Charlie, louder than he had ever heard it before. Hissing. Thumps of bodies against the floor and furniture. Lou’s sleepiness immediately exited him as he dashed from the bedroom.
The scene devastated Big Lou. He hadn’t arrived in time to help his brother. Charlie was alive but badly injured. The rodents took a beating. The two chipmunks survived, but their rat assassin was extinguished. Lou ran after them as the two bushy-tailed soldiers carried the rat’s body up to the kitchen sink. They dropped it down the drain and pushed it through. Lou leaped up for the countertop, a feat he didn’t regularly attempt much anymore, but he landed safely with his back feet and claws catching the edge just enough to propel him forward. The garbage disposal and kitchen pipes wouldn’t be their escape route. Not if Big Lou could stop them first.
His long arm barely reached one of them. Lou shredded fur but didn’t get a clean grasp on the last assailant in line. He was not going to let them win. They would not get away after what they did to Charlie. The veterinarian might think Lou is too big, but his size was an advantage. He reached up to a switch and pulled down easily. He was a strong brute and that was the night he was able to use it. Someone got chopped up in that garbage disposal, but it’s possible the two chipmunks managed to scurry around the rat body before Lou got to that switch. They were out of his home and wouldn’t likely return if they did survive.
The sun was coming up over the horizon. It was time for the human friend to come by and give them breakfast. She found Lou snuggled up around Charlie. Tufts of hair were missing and floated on the floor like tumbleweeds. Poor Charlie had a mangled arm. Fortunately, the rest of his body was in tact. He was immediately rescued and his life saved, but they couldn’t save the arm. His whole life he had a wonky limp because of a growth inside that arm. He never considered himself disabled until that wonky arm was no longer there.
Charlie was afraid he looked like a bad Frankenstein experiment. He was shaved along his belly. His torso was covered in stitches where his arm used to be. He was medicated and felt like crap. He doesn’t remember much though. There was a brawl and then he was waking up to his favorite loving humans and his adoring big brother.
The next time Big Louie and Oliver chatted, the story seemed surreal. Like it happened to some other family. But Charlie’s new tripod physique was a constant reminder that it really happened. The world was a dangerous place even when you think you’re perfectly safe in a high rise apartment.
Gus and Oliver collected photos that Lou sent. They documented the account in their chipmunk mafia case files (or rather had me do it). All of us worried for poor Charlie. We kept glued to Instagram for updates. He’s a resilient fellow and adjusted to his new three-legged life quite well.
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