Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 42-250
AMBER LOVE 28-FEB-2022 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, Year Three, Year Four and previous Year Five 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 PayPal.me.
Where We Left Off:
The team worked together and got rid of one of the most notorious rodent gangsters in history.
The sun was periodically bright while Gus and I ventured outside. The birds were fed loose seeds and peanuts in many places around the property. The loose seeds smelled like fruity trail mix which is basically what it is. I got a strong whiff of cranberry. The blue jays still preferred the peanuts but if they didn’t find one, they would take several of the small seeds and load up their beaks. I don’t know what their eating process is after that. With the peanuts, they utilize some fine engineering of nature to hold the peanuts against branches and peak at them until they crack open.
This week, we also had a ton of grackles. It was only one day, but it looked like hundreds of them. At one point, there was a remarkable moment when all the squawking stop instantly. It was like the best, most well-rehearsed chorus in the world. And for a few seconds they were silent. Then one bird made a call and all of them were back to their loud cackling.
There was barely any snow left, but enough that on the northern side, Gus and I still had tracks to investigate. New ones. There were a lot from the grackles. I saw what I think are squirrel marks with a hopping gait. The tracks showed all four feet with the back one pointed out slightly. The only squirrel I saw in person was one in a tree between two neighbors’ yards. That bugger was yelling at us the other day! I don’t know why.
After the loss of Lady Effie Gray, I was worried that squirrels might find our property too dangerous. New Jersey’s groundhog, Mel, died; but Staten Island Chuck said spring would be early. So far that’s true. With the birds coming back, I’m hoping we have the chipmunks, deer, bears, and squirrels have a great year too. And with any luck, the sneaky bobcat will show itself again and feel safer here since all those damn developments have gone up. Senior housing, my ass. What seniors can afford single family homes starting in the $400-thousands?
At the edge of the woods, Gus looked around for underground critters. He ignored the juncos and chickadees. Gus detected something, but he remained calm. I watched him and the birds — mostly the birds since Gus was in front of me and there was less chance of him sneaking off to the neighbors’ yard as he tends to do when he’s behind me. He climbed up the embankment and gave quick look into the Pit of Lithodom. Seeing nothing of note, he turned around and continued following the tracks.
We walked by the entrance of the Fire Trail. He always looks down the trail almost as if he sees something at the end where it makes a sharp right. I heard birds all over. They can sound like huge creatures when they rustle leaves and branches. I didn’t see anything else. Gus appeared satisfied that things were in order and continued.
As we got into the bordering land of the Woodlands, something on the ground caught my attention. I snapped a couple pictures. Gus came over as soon as I squatted down to get a closer look. He was intrigued by the fluffy thing I found. It was a tail. It was very clearly a tail — the end part of one anyway. Not from a wolpertinger or cottontail. This had the coloring and shape of a squirrel’s tail.
Gus and I conferred. He pointed out that we had seen the tracks start all the way back near Gnome Grove. They went north then west for only a little while. Then the snow ended so we can’t be sure where the squirrel went from there. But it’s only a few yards/meters from where the snow ends to where I found the piece of tail. We agreed that the squirrel would likely be one of our residential squirrels rather than from the Woodlands. Now, did it survive?
There was no visible blood at the scene. No bones or organs left behind. All we had was this clean piece of tail. Was the critter attacked and taken nearly whole to a secondary location? Signs point to yes.
Nearly every kind of creature around here eats squirrels. I checked what I know about the creatures (mundane ones) of this area against a list found online. Some of the animals listed don’t live around here. The ones that do include: various owls, Northern Goshawks, domestic dogs and cats, Peregrine Falcons, Great Blue Herons, and bobcats. Those are all things I’ve seen or heard. Red-tailed Hawks should be on that list too. We’ve seen them in the area and they are known to include squirrels in their diets along with other small rodentia and rabbits.
Gus and I took the evidence back to the detective agency offices. He gave it another inspection with his Super Smeller before turning it over to Oliver.
Our victim was the Duke of Squirrels aka Duke Chandler. We never knew much about him. Gus was never compelled to chase him or request a meeting. This squirrel preferred the smaller trees like Japanese Maples, but he didn’t avoid the evergreens if it became necessary to use them, especially in Gnome Grove. The Duke had wily nature and kept to the tree branches whenever we got close. It wasn’t Gus, but someone definitely got the Duke.
- The elusive bobcat whose tracks have been noted near the primary crime scene.
- A Great-Horned Owl
- An Eastern Screech Owl
- Mr. Valentine, the free-roaming tuxedo feline
- The Stranger, the free-roaming white & tabby tomcat
- A raptor, possibly a Red-Tailed Hawk
We haven’t seen The Stranger in a while so he’s not high up on our list. Mr. Valentine’s tracks have been seen, but those tracks are normally around congregations of bird tracks except for the one time we found a whole menagerie of tracks at the front of the house.
As far as the winged creatures, there have been a lot more sightings than in past years. The raptors aren’t sticking to the utility wires on long stretches of road. They’re more frequently coming to the backyard. Then there’s the largest suspect of all, the bobcat. It all boils down to there being a lot more competition at the Winchester-Nabu estate than there used to be.
What about the cryptids?
While the Jersey demons are omnivores, the hybrid devil-deer are more like this embarrassing label humans invented called “flexitarian” where they are most vegetarian but will eat a fish or chicken once a week. It’s as asinine as saying “plant-based” when what companies mean is “we’re tricking vegans and meat-eaters by making it look like there are no animal products but really there could be and the USFDA doesn’t make us list that.”
So… demons and the hybrids go on the list of suspects.
In all of these theories, none of them have a malicious motive. They’re about Duke Chandler being a food source. When I took Oliver outside on a stroll, he chatted with one of his bird contacts in the Blue Jay Gang, Richie “The Boot” Cyano. The Boot confirmed that no one had any ill will towards the Duke. The Duke might not have been the most gracious of fellas and didn’t always treat his peers right, but he wasn’t a jerk 24/7 nor any kind of abusive shit stain. He was just a regular bloke who made some mistakes.
With no malicious motive, this was the kind of case that could leave ordinary detectives stumped and shuffling their papers over to the cold cases. Oliver and Gus wanted results. They weren’t about to let the case get taken away by some turd who gets all the credit from their (my) hard work!
“Hey, guys,” I said. “Do we have any chupacabras here in New Jersey?”
Gus rolled his eyes. “Of course we do. Do you think only Mexican humans come up here? Their beasts and legends were here before the humans were. We have all kinds of tasty wildlife, farm animals, and domestic pets for the chupacabras to drain.”
Oliver said, “Wow, you managed to say that with barely any racist undertones.”
“I’m not racist, Ollie!” Gus said.
“I’m not! I just like to keep away from other animals unless they need to be vanquished.”
I interrupted this erudite (extreme sarcasm) debate. “Guys, focus!”
Oliver finally got to the point. “Chupacabras don’t take the bodies. They drain their snacks and leave the bodies behind. Sometimes dead, sometimes not. It depends on the size of the creature and the size of the monster.”
Okay, so it wasn’t a Mexican goat-sucker that killed Duke Chandler. Gus and Oliver got together to seriously study the tail remains. They were able to detect the most subtle odors left behind. We studied the photos again. Since the footprints stopped away from where we found the tail, we deduced the perpetrator was a winged creature who could swoop and nab the Duke or only touch down for a moment without disturbing the ground in such a way as to leaving the spot rustled.
“Do you think we could have the first ever encounter of a Tue Tue in America?” Oliver said out loud not specifically to either of us.
“Excuse me, a what?” I said.
“It’s a monster bird. They’re in South America, but as Gus pointed out, living creatures can migrate and move around the globe easier than ever. A Tue Tue or Chonchon is one of the most dangerous beasts with wings,” Oliver said.
I immediately went to the internet and found this:
“The Legend has it that there is a rare species of bird that cannot be seen by the limited human eye. It always comes out at night and is very fast, maybe you hear it in one place and instantly it is in another. It is impossible to locate. His name is Tue Tue or Chochon (sic): the result of the transformation of a cursed sorcerer who flies at night. According to the Mapuches, whoever sings the Tue Tue is irretrievably condemned to die.” https://monster.fandom.com/wiki/Tue_Tue
“Well that sounds even more lethal than a Great Horned Owl. Yikes,” I said.
This new discovery explains why Oliver and Gus couldn’t quite place the scent that something like an owl, but still wasn’t.
Oliver and Gus cracked the case of the death of Duke Chandler the Duke of Squirrels. It’s a shocking revelation that somehow a bewitched owl like monster called a Tue Tue has come from South America to our own backyard. We have to figure out how to banish a monster that humans can’t see clearly. At least for now, we solved the murder and Duke Chandler’s spirit can rest in peace.
Case Status: Closed