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Where We Left Off:
The cat detectives investigated a peculiar death of a member of the Blue Jay Gang.
My Name is Asher:
No one at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency witnessed this tragedy, but we found the body and opened a case file immediately. Gus and I were on a morning patrol. He doesn’t always cover the front border because of the noisy and endless traffic. Sometimes he does feel compelled to go there and inspect the area especially in the flower beds.
After following a scent in the grass and searching through the pansies, around the hydrangea, and looking for activity at the front steps—that’s when we saw the body in the street. Left all alone.
Due to the traffic, we could not approach the body for a close inspection, but it was easy to see that it was an Eastern Grey Squirrel, the larger variety of squirrels in our neighborhood. We needed to seek out eyewitnesses for this case or we wouldn’t get anywhere with solving it.
Gus launched into action immediately. He spotted a tiny bunny creature near the front border close to the high-traffic road. He chased the little rabbit who was clearly much faster.
“Hey! Stop! I only want to talk,” Gus yelled out. He’s only into short sprints which are considerably shorter than a sprint than most animals his size.
We watched as the bouncing white fluff of a tail came to a halt. The scared critter looked back at us and decided we weren’t going to cause any harm.
“What do you want?” the little fella said.
Gus and I approached slowly and stayed at a respectful distance even though that rabbit could outrun both of us. I introduced us to him once we reached him.
He said, “My name is Roland Berigan, but people call me Bernie.”
Gus allowed a little bit of slack in his leash as he sat down in the grass studying the micro-movements of Bernie, a critter that he would consider prey. “Ok, Bernie. Do you know anything about the dead squirrel in the middle of the road?”
The diminutive bunny twitched nervously and continuously sniffed at the air. Perhaps this was how he could detect invisible energies or pheromones divulging where danger lay.
“I’m not sure. I didn’t know him. I think he was important though,” the rabbit said.
“Do you know his name? Where he lived? Anything at all useful?” Gus wanted the critter to be direct as if our time would be wasted. We were still outside getting to work on a case.
“You know him better than I do. I’ve seen you!” Bernie readied his little legs to run.
“I didn’t kill any squirrel,” Gus said. “Not in a long time anyway.”
Bernie got too scared and said he had to go as he bolted all the way across the open field.
“We don’t know that many squirrels, Gus. Ever since the Leverage team went underground, we don’t have a lot of contact with any of the squirrels anymore,” I said. Bernie had to be mistaken and seen us with a different critter.
Gus and I walked behind the residence to find Oliver at the railing looking down at us. We filled him in on what we had so far. The squirrel had to live close by if it was one that we knew. There was one from beyond Bunny Hollow that would run down looking for snacks. There were at least two in Gnome Grove—we could tell by the constant shrieking chatter. Gnome Grove wasn’t too far from the busy crossing border. That was our best bet as a place to check out next.
We checked in with the gnomes to see if any of them had reports with information on the squirrel activities. Sherlock Gnomes said he had a source who likely could answer our questions.
“He’s one of the Irregulars,” the fastidious gnome said.
“Does that mean criminal?” Gus asked.
“Doesn’t matter. He’s a hard worker with an impeccable record. Goes by the pseudonym, The Jackal.” Sherlock Gnomes adjusted the red cap sitting on top of his gleaming white hair.
I squatted down to be closer to our short employee. My parasol whisked against the leaves as I maneuvered. “How can we find this Jackal?”
“I can put out the word that you’re looking for him. He contacts you. You don’t contact him.” Sherlock picked up his wheelbarrow and started to clean his station.
The gnome said we would recognize the call coming from overhead. The Jackal had to be a bird or another squirrel, but more likely a bird. Sherlock usually included riddles or clues in his speech. Birds are known for their call and they would usually be overhead when perching or flying. We asked around to see if any of the lore about The Jackal could be parsed into an actual lead. Adding up what we had from our friends and informants, we determined The Jackal was a robin.
Robins seem unimposing. They’re welcome signs of Spring. “Robin” is a gender-neutral name for humans. It’s all-around accepted and not feared. The robin we needed to find was a criminal.
Sherlock was correct. As soon as word got out that we were looking for The Jackal, a robin flew passed us and perched on a utility wire. I had no idea how we would broach the subject of a dead critter without spooking the robin and sending our only lead into hiding. As it turned out, my trepidations didn’t matter because Oliver walked to the end of the observation deck and started yelling out to the bird. I still don’t know if Ollie and The Jackal were acquainted prior to this meeting. Before I could say anything, the robin took off.
“Ollie, what the heck? We needed to ask that bird some questions,” I said.
“I already did. I don’t know who the human is, but the vehicle that killed the squirrel was a 2019 white Subaru BRZ with modifications.” Oliver had his head through the railing and pulled himself back after dumping that information on the rest of us. It was clear that he was satisfied with that answer.
Before giving in to the feeling of being dismissed by large orange tabby several feet above, I asked if there was anything else we should know.
“Manual transmission,” was all he said.
Gus and I complete our rounds and went inside for brunch and research. The car that was identified as the instrument of the manslaughter is the type of car that rides fairly low to the ground. Unlike the many pickup trucks that zoom by on this street, it would be hard for any small critter to feel a hundred percent confident in being able to scurry underneath. Plus, if there were after-market modifications, the car may be even lower than its engineers intended it to be.
We compared the photo taken at the crime scene to ones taken days prior to see if it was a match. The victim was not Judge Will B. Woods, Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of Squirrels. We ran the photo through our own database of local critters to see if we could come up with a match. The source photo wasn’t great for this, but the results gave us a four-point match to a young squirrel named Asher. Our only notes about him state that he was born in 2021 and spent his time studying art in secret. He frequently had feuds with his father.
The squirrel (Asher) hit and run investigation led to unexpected sources of information. The detectives met with Sherlock Gnomes and a mysterious robin with the street name, The Jackal. That’s where we got the information on the type of car that killed the victim—2019 white Subaru—a low-riding car.
Oliver and Gus agree that the best guess about Asher is that he was running away after fighting with his father. As he ran across the road, he could not sploot low enough to avoid his head hitting the undercarriage of the Subaru.
The body was gone by the next day.
Case Status: Closed