Sunday, December 10, 2017


Murder most fowl

I don't normally work for chicken feed or bird brains, but times were hard and I ended up doing both. The name's Deadbolt, Hasp Deadbolt, and I‘m a P. I. with bills to pay. I can only bear to sponge off my girlfriend for so long, so I was once again looking for work.

"I'm innocent I tell you; I wasn't even shooting at that crow, honest!"
He said his name was Robin. That seemed a little self referential, given his redbreast and all.
"Robin à bobbin -- that's French isn't it?" Turns out he was pure Anglo-Saxon. I should give up trying to figure out names. The bird shuffled his feet, like he didn't know quite what spin to give his statement.
"It’s true I didn't like that crow. I don't like any of them. Nasty ghouls! But the pigeon and I go way back. We were best friends once. We did everything together. I’ve got yearbook photos to prove it. Senior year everything changed. Trouble began as many things do, with a woman. Not exactly a woman; worms are hermaphrodites, each one having all the equipment a couple needs (at least if that couple is a segmented tube). But Charlene was all woman where it really counted. We were in love. People said we were too different, that our worlds could only connect in an alimentary way, but we had such good times. Spring afternoons we could be found after school at the ice cream parlor, walking together in the park, or grubbing in the dirt for food.” He sniffed. "I'm sorry, the memory is still fresh."
It seemed to me this bird was never going to get to the point. Otherwise employed or not, I didn't have all day. I could be cleaning my fingernails, or doing something else constructive.
"So, let me get this straight: the pigeon ate your girlfriend? And not in the biblical sense?"
He said she tasted good.” The robin scowled ferociously. “He needed killin’. So, yes, I went after him. I used my hunting bow and I shot at him with intent to kill. But I missed him. I hit the crow, and I had had no intention of doing him any harm. He hadn't eaten my girlfriend. So that’s my story.” He seemed relieved to have gotten to the end.

At last the tail hung together. The bird was going to claim that the whole thing had been an accident. Yes, he wanted revenge for his girlfriend’s life, but he had been aiming, not at the crow, but at the pigeon. If this was true, the worst we could get him on would be attempted homicide on the pigeon and accidental death of the crow. Of course Lehrer v. the people of New York proved that, widely publicized claims notwithstanding, it is in fact against several religions to want to dispose of a pigeon, but federal law is silent on attempted pigeonicide, and no one really cares about accidents involving crows. If the story was true. I was not sure. There was something that I just couldn't put my finger on.
I paid a visit to the mockingbird. He had gone to school with the robin and the pigeon. The bird corroborated everything Robin had said. "He even used his little bow, and he carried his little arrow in his little quiver, which were all given to him by his mommy," the Mockingbird sneered. There was just one problem. People said the mockingbird would do anything for a handful of holly berries. I wondered if the copycat was just singing the robin's tune.

Lasagne was the fattest possum I ever met. She was so wide she barely squeezed through my door. Sideways. I had The Fat Man in here once, for Gods' sake!
"Hey there, big boy," she breathed hoarsely. "A year ago the two lovebirds, we called them that as a joke, I can't make that joke now, more’s the pity...."
"Please try to keep to the facts, ma'am," I said. What was it with the graduates of Aerosol High and their conversational tangents?
"Well, Robin and Charlene were dining al fresco in a sweet little Italian bistro down at the lower end of Prospect Street, where the biscotti are simply fabulous, and the coffee will keep you up all night, if you catch my branch...but I digress.
"The weather was warm and they were sitting out on the patio, drawing some stares, as they usually did. I was there, and I had a good view of their table (it's one I've sat at myself more than once, the view is great). Robin got up and went inside; I figure he either went to order drinks or to use the bathroom.
"While he was gone, the crow went over to the table. He and Charlene seemed to be talking, but I didn't hear what was said. I wasn't really paying that much attention, because just then a couple of really hot marsupials sat down pretty close to me." Here she licked her lips in a way that made me glad to be a placental mammal. "When I looked back over there, no one was at the table. Not long after that, Robin returned. He looked all around, flitting about the patio in a truly demented fashion, and I just waited. I knew he would come to me. Men are drawn to me. Very soon he came over to ask if I had seen anything. He was distraught, and he said that Charlene was gone. I told him what I knew, and he flew out of the place like he was missing the first day of Spring." I quizzed her for a while to check out her story.
"So the pigeon didn't kill her? That's what I heard."
"The pigeon?! Who the hell told you that? Pigeons are seed-eating birds. They have no interest in worms. I would have snapped her up without a second thought, but Robin is a friend. No, there’s no way the pigeon would have been interested, he being a vegetarian and all." She made a moue of distaste at the very thought.
I had never thought of that. No one had examined the crow's gut contents and now it was far too late. Who had told me that the pigeon had poached on Robin's turf? Why, it was Robin himself! I had my answer, but I wasn't talking. I sure wasn't sharing my fee with a marsupial. Then I remembered. There wouldn't be any fee. My client had just bought a long trip down a short rope. Maybe Alma was cooking something good for dinner.

Reprinted from Nursery Rhyme Noir --

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