Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 24-128
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.
Also, I’m an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my personal recommendations on cat things, writing guides, books, and wellness supplies.
Where We Left Off:
We have encountered a multitude of monstrous creatures right out of fairy tales. The toads are huge and produce toxins. The cats seem unaffected so far, but they’ll have to be monitored for any adverse effects.
The Strange Affair of Sergeant Burrows:
Oliver called a morning briefing before the coffee was even brewed. He told all of us to meet upstairs on the observation deck before patrol hours. The moon was waning. The bats were keeping to themselves more and more. All I knew was that it was early. My body felt like it was so early that I hadn’t actually been to sleep. The descent of our daylight tells all kinds of animals to hibernate — including me. But here we are in mid-October and the cats have more energy than ever. The gusty winds made Gus damn near able to fly. He would run and climb trees with the vigor of a Spartan. Then there’s me, the sluggish human dragging her feet like a zombie trying to keep up.
Gus did his usual dance of going in and out and in and out the door before trying to escape through the railing multiple times. Oliver reached through and gave Gus a gentle swat telling him to knock it off and get back on the right side of the railing. Gus complied while crawling over a pot of catnip at the base of a Tuscan style column. The briefing was called to order.
I reported that there were plans for development in Gnome Grove. There’s no project timeline yet, but someday the slate from Oliver’s patio will be relocated to Gnome Grove to make way for new pavers. We had to make plans to reach out to the residents of both of those neighborhoods and at least hear any concerns (not that it would stop the development). If anyone were to say… act up, Gus and I were supposed to isolate them for questioning.
Sgt. Burrows has been spreading out his coverage of the border areas to include the east side along the busy road. This is the neighborhood where Ada Holestein keeps her office space under the front porch. It’s noteworthy that Ms. Holestein would be socializing with Sgt. Burrows since both are critical parts of the Moretti crime family’s organization. If the two of them are a romantic coupling, that’s curious news indeed. Burrows isn’t exactly high up enough for a union such as that to be blessed by Cheeks Moretti, but for some reason, female chipmunks are in short supply around here. To keep them going, Moretti might have to keep quiet about his opinions as long as Sarge and Holestein are a happy couple.
Gus and I noticed Sgt. Burrows moving around from his old HQ of operation, the propane tank bunker, to the other border and all the way over to the other neighborhood. I expected him to encounter Tami Sneakers there since she lives pretty close by, but so far, Tami seems to be keeping to herself. She appreciates the offerings of peanuts delivered to her door.
Since Sarge was moving around, I’ve been changing his peanut offering locations depending on the day. One thing is certain — Cheeks Moretti wants his peanuts delivered on time. I tried skipping a day since I hadn’t personally seen him come out and didn’t want the blue jay gang to keep feasting off the snacks meant for Cheeks. Well, Cheeks came out of the fortress wall and let his voice be heard. He ran over from one empty snack nook to his front door where I was standing. Yikes! I put Gus in the garage for five minutes and ran back to fill the snack bucket and gave a speedy distribution.
Gus did not appreciate being closed into the garage even though he goes to work there almost every single day. It was just one more thing to piss him off. That meant he had to take his bad attitude out on patrol. We made our way over to the patio having taken a scenic route.
Gus homed in on something I assumed to be a mouse based on the high-pitched squeak. Definitely not a snake unless Gorgon babies squeak. Gus dove to the back of one of the sets of stairs. His hands reached and dug through dried leaves to get into the tiny space where a critter was wedged. By this point, I was positive it had to be a mouse.
Alas, I was wrong.
Gus snapped something into his jaws and headed across to the exit at the taller staircase. It looked like he had a mouth full of leaves. All I saw were the various shades of brown. Then I realized it was one of the chipmunks! The body cam abruptly stopped here. I was horrified. This isn’t Gus’ first chipmunk attack. He and Tamas Marmotini rumbled several times out by the trails. Tamas was a tough badass and bore the scars of their fights like tattoos on a prison gang member.
Gus managed to keep me from getting a good look at his victim. He hauled ass across the neighborhood and I managed to catch up to him at Fort Winchester. He had paused to look back to see if I was still in hot pursuit and that’s when I was able to grasp his harness. He growled in a quiet rumble as if he was forcing himself to remember who it was that him by the cajones.
“Drop it! Let go!”
Slow, quiet growling continued. His jaws were set. I wasn’t going to let Gus go if there was any chance in saving the chipmunk. If it was something smaller, even then, I’ve tried my best but they don’t usually make it. Our mission is witness relocation if the target ends up being a nuisance. It must have been a sight. National Geographic cameras were nowhere around. I held Gus close to me and reached my right arm over top of him. I had to let go of the harness in order to use both hands. I wedged my thumbs gently behind his teeth and struggled with him to pry open his mouth.
The chipmunk plopped to ground. Then it bounced and flipped and bounced like a kernel of popcorn popping. When it first landed, it was on its back and readied itself for another attack. I was fast enough with my hand to hold Gus back while the two of us eyed the target critter. Its belly was fluffy snow white. Its eyes were solid black like a shark’s.
The Point Where I Look for Chipmunk Testicles:
The other good thing about the critter immediately rolling into a ball on its back was that I had gotten a second to see if there were testicles. I think there were. I’m no expert. Late summer is the second chipmunk mating season of the year according to Naturally Curious with Mary Holland. Like I said, it was a second maybe two before the critter bopped, popped, and pounced up in the air. Gus tried pulling away from me, but I held on.
Then the target righted itself and sped away faster than any chipmunk I’ve ever seen! I think this was Sgt. Burrows and I think that he may have some super powers!
As you may recall from the previous two and a half years of case files, Gus gets into a bloodlust. He can’t turn it off. He had the need to sink his teeth into something. If it wasn’t going to be Sgt. Burrows, it would be something else. And it was.
We were around by the junkyard where Gus has been doing a significant amount of hunting and patrolling. His job is to keep critters out of the workshop and out of the mobile command unit. He’s not particularly gifted at the specifics of this assignment. He wants to catch anything that moves even if it’s a mouse living a peaceful life in a tiny rodent rock quarry. He dug through a couple of areas moving his way along the length of the junkyard. I thought he was going to give up, but he did not.
Right before we reached the boulder where the weeds are now overgrown (again) and you can’t see the smaller of the large rocks anymore, Gus targeted something else. He pounced. Sometimes it stops there. He gets some exercise and maybe causes 5 points of hit damage, but this time he kept on going. I was surprised when he pushed his face through the weeds.
“Dude, must you? Is it that important? Whatever it is, it is not inside the workshop.”
He pulled his head out and had a shrew in his teeth. It was small and did not stand a chance. Gus was proud, but not running to make sure I don’t catch him. He must have realized that I’d let him keep that one. Normally he spends a good half an hour or so throwing bodies in the air and jumping on them when they move. He put this one down and was simply done with it.
Basically, it was Gus communication for, “There. I killed a thing. I’m ready for breakfast.” We went back inside to bring Oliver up to speed.
Oliver had some stark theories for us. If and when this redevelopment of his patio and gardens happens (the Grumpy Old Man is not known for deadlines or finishing things), the Moretti organization feel the need to protect what they see as theirs. Are we in for peaceful protesting or something more sinister?
Then It Happened Again!
It was drizzling outside when I came home from the yoga studio. I had promised Gus a walk and I knew that kind of rain wouldn’t bother him. Fortunately, it wasn’t bitter cold out either. He seemed bored for a while. He sat in front of the garage bay waiting for something to happen. Time ticked. Nothing.
We turned back and headed down the road where he found a cricket. I told him it was okay to eat crickets. They’re good protein (for him). As loud trucks went by, Gus would lie on top of his treasured cricket then let it go. After a couple times, it hopped too far from where I would let him get near the road.
We began to head back up inhaling that particular scent of fresh rain on pavement. It’s not petrichor exactly (I don’t think) because it wasn’t woodsy or mossy which what I associate with petrichor. It was that specific rainy asphalt on a crisp day smell.
We got up to the first break where one can enter the yard and go around the back porch. Yesterday, I had left some peanuts there for Sgt. Burrows. He clearly appreciated them since they were all gone. However, he was also still hanging out in burning bushes and Gus noticed.
In. Out. Around.
Gus had Sarge between his jaws again. He wanted to bring his prize inside to impress The Cook and the Grumpy Old Man.
“No, Gus. I don’t think they wan that inside. No. Wait! Come back.”
At least this time, I had Gus by the leash so as he proudly pranced away, I kept up with him. I was able to kneel down on the leash to use my hands to pry open his jaws and free Sgt. Burrows again. This time I was prepared and got footage of the release.
Sgt. Burrows has been expanding his domain which could mean that some chipmunks have moved out already. We haven’t seen Lil’ Chip Amunko all year and we’ve covered the case files of Joey Bag O’ Peanuts and Frankie Costello. Sgt. Burrows may be overseeing a much larger expanse of Moretti territory now. Sgt. Burrows and Gus had an altercation. All parties walked/ran away from the encounter.
Case Status: Closed pending further development