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Posted 24 February 2014
Murder at the Chanticleer Club
By E.O. Costello, M. Mitchell Marmel, & Walter Reimer
(©2011 E.O. Costello, M.Mitchell Marmel, & Walter Reimer)

9 June 1937
A suspicious death at a very private male social club on Moon Island,
in the Spontoon Island Lagoon. Investigated by Sgt. Brush, Inspector Stagg,
& Rosalie Baumgartner, & others of the Constabulary
  and general Spontoon Island community.
(Mature readers - for adult situations)

Murder at the Chanticleer Club
By E.O. Costello, M. Mitchell Marmel, and Walter Reimer

(© 2011 E.O. Costello, M. Mitchell Marmel, & Walter Reimer)

(Characters © 2011 their respective owners)




        "So. We have one explanation for what Dr. Meffit found on Mr. Coyote . . ."
        We were back on the water taxi again, and Franklin was listening as Brush told him about what the bouncer had to say.
        My buck looked thoughtful. "And this would explain why Petty Officer Marten was evasive about his whereabouts that afternoon."
        "Wonder why he didn't tell us about it yesterday?" I asked.  "He seemed straightforward enough."
        "Selectively so. The truth, but not the whole truth."  He put his chin in paw and stared at his hooves for a moment. "Right. Change of tactics, then. Miss Baumgartner, once we finish our business on Casino Island, you and Sergeant Brush will go and question Petty Officer Marten."
        Brush's mouth dropped open. "Her, sir?"
        "Me?  Why?"
        Franklin smiled, and it was a grim look. "As I say, a change in tactics might be required."  He raised a paw.  "Now, some ground rules, Miss Baumgartner, since you are not . . . precisely acting in an official capacity." He leaned forward, and I gave him my full attention.
        This was business now.
        "No physical contact, period. No threats of injury. To his person, to his career, or to his reputation. The Sergeant will intervene if, in his judgment, you are sailing too close to the wind."
        Brush nodded.
        So did I, and I admit I was surprised.
        Brush looked doubtful.  "Kinda risky, Sir – I mean, settin’ a civilian after him."
        Franneleh’s smile now had a touch of acid in it.  "Quite right, Sergeant.  However . . . sometimes a person might tell . . . well . . ."
        "You mean he might be a sucker for a pretty face?" I asked, batting the ol’ eyelashes at him.
        When he smiles like that he looks just like a young fawn.  "Exactly."

        We found ourselves, all three of us, sitting at the Spontoon Mirror and waiting to have some chit-chat with the publisher.
        Two reporters, a short fat hamster and a tall thin mouse, walk by, headed in.  The hamster does a double take.  "Cor, D.M., the Chief gets some funny customers sometimes," he says in some sort of accent.  British, I think.
        The taller of the two says, "Shush. You’re talking too loudly again – "
        The door closed, mercifully shutting off any further conversation.
        "Inspector!" The office door swept open.
        Charles Foster Crane looked to be in fine fettle today (I hear his Spontoonie girlfriend’s keeping him up to scratch).  He shook paws with Franneleh and Brush, and bowed over my paw while I blushed.  "Miss Baumgartner! We're still getting fan mail from your tennis match last winter. I trust your tail has healed from the motorbike incident?"
        He ushered us in as I said, “I’m quite well, thanks.  Just don’t ask me to race again.”
        He grinned and waved us to chairs in his private office.  "It’s always a pleasure to see you, Inspector Stagg.  Do come in and have a seat.  I’m quite curious to see what is on your mind."
        Franklin must be feeling the heat as well as the constant trips back and forth, from the grateful sigh as he sits down.
        Poor dear deer.
        Guess who’s getting a hoofrub after dinner tonight?
        My beloved settles into the leather chair.  "Mr. Crane, you have heard, I take it, of the death of Truman Coyote two days ago."
        Crane looks a bit thoughtful, fiddling with a pencil on his desk. "Yes, indeed I did."
        "Not front page coverage, as I would have expected. Is there any particular reason for your . . . restraint?"
        The bird shoots his cuffs with a grin. "The Chanticleer Club, among other things, has a number of members who are friends of the family. One of the nice parts about my position is that I can play favorites. The Hollywood crowd, and some of the financiers, well, I can turn a Nelsonian eye to them. I am still answerable to my father, you know. By the way, I heard that you've already got a suspect in paw. Lover's quarrel, eh?"
        "Just as well you’ve been cautious, Mr. Crane. I am afraid that your sources are not quite correct.”
        A snort. "If they’re not quite correct, they’re no longer my sources."
        "The person held by the Naval Syndicate is only being held as a material witness, and we don’t know if it was a quarrel that caused Mr. Coyote to die. We are here mainly to ask you for some information."
        Crane sits down and puts his feet up.  "I’ll be glad to help. One good turn deserves another."
        ‘Course, we all know there’ll be a price tag on his ‘good turn.’
        Franneleh looks at his notes. "Tell us what you know about Mr. Coyote."
        "Successful author, born in Pennsylvania. A few novels to start with, nothing of real note until In Warm Blood came out. That got tongues wagging, and it won him the Purrlitzer in ’34. After that he wrote the screenplays for a few movies, and was setting one of his own books up for film treatment, last I heard.
        "Truman . . . well, bluntly, he was a bit of a nancy. Of course, no one would stay half the year at the Chanticleer Club if he weren’t.”
        Franklin nodded. "Did Mr. Coyote have many enemies?"
        A thoughtful look on the bird. "Hmm, the book editor at the Gnu York Sun, several film critics, . . . his ex-wife . . . some guy in Denmark named Kierkegaard . . . no, Inspector, I can’t say as there was anyone here in Spontoon that would wish Coyote dead." He gave a thin smile. "He was fairly likeable, so long as you didn’t criticize his writing or what he did for recreation."
        "I see. How about Norman Desmann?"
        A snort.  Crane was trying not to laugh.  "Him? Well, Norman’s hiding – from the tax people to a certain extent, but mostly from himself."
        "Well, as it happens, my father was one of the original backers of Wormer Bros., Desmann’s old studio. Desmann was a great actor before sound came to Hollywood," Crane said. "That changed everything. When people heard his speaking voice – hell, he could have been Valentino and no one would take him seriously."
        "He mentioned that technological advances might overcome that deficiency."
        That drew a short laugh. "I doubt it, Inspector. Listen, I saw the short subject he did on Vitaphone for Wormer’s back in ’27. It was never released." Crane smirked. "One of the problems with early Vitaphone was that it seemed to give people a lisp. With his voice, and an electric lisp, Desmann could do Hamlet and people would think it was a comedy."
        "So apart from deluding himself that he has a future in show business?"
        "Ah. Well, it's like this. He earned a lot of money from his films; he was getting about $50,000 a film, and he was doing three a year at his peak, plus all of his endorsement monies and such. He lived fairly modestly, but plowed a lot of it into Wormer Bros. stock. Wanted to own the shop, as it were. 1928 high: $122 per share. 1932 low: 50 cents. Plus, he bought a lot on margin. With the inevitable result. And Uncle Sam is of the view that he owes a pretty penny in back taxes. If he doesn’t have some money in his paws when he sets foot in America, he’s looking at a long time at one of Uncle Sam’s less posh resorts. So, he's staying at a relatively posh resort here in the Spontoons, where they don't extradite furs for tax issues, and he can live modestly but well on the charity of his . . . peers."
        "I see."  Franneleh looks at another page in his notebook. "A witness stated that he saw Desmann arguing with Coyote the afternoon before he died, and a movie script was found in Coyote’s room. Any thoughts on that?"
        Crane smiled. "Wish I had been the fly on the wall for that.  I’m sure, Inspector, that even in your line of work, you have never seen a fur slit his own throat with his own tongue. Yet that's what Coyote most likely has done. Died as he lived, with his tongue." He took his feet off his desk and sat up. "It would hardly bother most in Hollywood, their pelts being what they are. But someone like Desmann . . . well, a frank assessment of his skills would cut right to the quick."
        Franklin nodded, sat silently for a moment, jotted a note, then got to his hooves. "Mr. Crane? Thank you, sir, for a most enlightening interview."
        "Not at all," Crane said with a smile as he reached across the desk to shake paws with his visitors.
        He gets to me and he chuckles. "You know, that Buckhorn wedding a few weeks ago was wonderful press. People enjoy reading about a story with a happy ending."
        What’s he trying to say?
        He glances over at Franneleh, who suddenly looks all poker-faced.
        "Might there be-?"
        A sudden hissed intake of breath.
        I smiled just as nice as pie while my grip got a bit tighter.
        Just a bit.
        "I'm sorry, Mister Crane. I'm afraid I'm simply going to have to say ‘No Comment' on that score."
        Crane gives a little weak grin.  "I understand completely."
        “And, of course, you'll be the first to know if and when . . . well . . . Adieu, Mister Crane."
        Before the door closed I risked a glance behind me.
        Crane was checking his palm for punctures.



        "Sooo . . . When wuz ya in th’ Club b’fore? Last I heard, they don’t cotton well ta dames."
        We had lunch at Luchow’s (hey, th’ dame what runs th’ place is “assistin’ th’ Constab’lary with its inquiries,” like they say), an’ Stagg had gone back to th’ office to start pulling ev’rything together – stuff we collected, an’ Doc Meffit’s report on how the stiff got stiff.
        So here’s me an’ Spots sittin’ inna taxi on its way back ta Moonie.  Got sorta quiet, so I opens my yap.
        "They don't."
        "But -?"
        "But the Lotus set up a softball game against them one year a while back. It was fun, and we beat them."
        "Izzat so? Howdja do?"
        Miz Kitty grins. "I managed to break three windows. New personal best for me.  It’s funny, but playing out there made us all do better."
        "Ya mean ya din’t throw like girls, hanh?"  She laughs, an’ I grin a bit.
        Leastways we ain’t goin’ back to th’ Chanticleer.


        Marten looked confused as he was shown into the room and his pawcuffs removed. "Where’s the Inspector?"
        "Me ‘n Miz Baumgartner, we gots a few, whatchacallit, follersup fer youse," Brush growled. "Now then, th’afternoon b’fore Coyote died, youse wuz seen wit’ him. Why didn’tcha say dat earlier?"
        The weasel’s eyes went wide, and he looked away for a moment.  "I didn’t think we’d be spotted. It was one of Coyote’s games –"
        "Hold it." Brush stood up. "If it’s gonna be that way, I’m lettin’ Miss Baumgartner take over." He gives me The Significant Look as he walked out of the room, but stayed within earshot in case he had to step in.
        Best behavior, Rosalie.
        I give a nice sunny smile – just a hint of teeth.  “Please, do go on."
        Marten gulped. "Well. Like I started to say, it was one of his games. I never felt comfortable about doing anything in public, but he was persuasive and – well, you know the legends about those Ruins."
        I nodded.  I even half-believe some of them, after . . .
        Never mind that.
        “What happened later? After you two went to his room?"
        The weasel hesitated, and I decided on some incentive.
        Well, wouldja lookit that?  I need a manicure something awful.  I get my emery board out of my purse, and see that Sailor Boy’s lookin’ a bit pale.
        I smile sweetly at him.  "Oh, please continue."
        Marten nearly squeaked.
        "W-we, got comfortable, and he went into the bedroom and when he came out, he was wearin' a-a collar . . ."
        I raised one eyebrow. "Kinky guy."
        Nervous grin.  "Yeah. Just like I said. He liked . . . certain kinds of . . . games . . ."
        He went into detail again, and I took down careful notes.
        Didn't know you could do that with your tongue.
        Wonder if Franklin . . . never mind.
        "So, why didn't you tell this to the Inspector yesterday?"
        The weasel flushed.
        Aww, poor kid.  "Don't tell me you were bashful?"
        A tight nod from the weasel.
        Oy vey.  Some furs tend to cling to stuff they learned as kids.
        Not always healthy to do that.
        "So you were arguing about Coyote's games?"
        His head snapped up, and he glares at me.  "I'd rather not say, thanks."
        I gave a sharp tap of a sharp claw against a sharp fang.
        "I'd rather you did say, thanks."  I lean toward him and steeple my paws on the table.  "Look, boychik, you're in bad trouble, and you know it.  Best way out of it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.  It’s the only thing that can help ya."
        The weasel gulped.  "We . . . he wanted to get Tailfast."
        That was a surprise.
        "Little bit odd, but, hell, I've wanted to do that myself."
        He looked interested all of a sudden. "What happened?"
        I shrugged.  "She found someone better for her."  A grin at the guy’s uncomfortable look. "So I DO understand, bubbeleh. But we're talking YOUR true confessions, not mine."
        Marten snorted. "True enough. Okay, one perv to another-"
        "Nuts to that."  My tone went to ice.  "Love is love.  Doesn't matter what form it is or with who."
        A bitter snicker from the weasel.  "Yeah?  This wasn't love, though.  Coyote just didn't want to have to go hunting for a date every night.  No real love involved.  Which means . . ."
        "That Tailfasting is-was-out."  I nodded.  "Gotcha. That it, then?  No other beans to spill?"
        Marten shook his head.  “Nope.”
        I did wonder, though.
        Who was the weasel really in love with, if he’d turn down Coyote?


        It’s after one, an’ here I’m workin’ on my third smoke when out comes Li’l Miz Detective, lookin’ pleased with herself. 
        I don’t whiff no blood.
        "So? Didja get anythin' outta him?"
        Rosie gives me this cockeyed smile.  "But of course. No mel can withstand the famous Baumgartner charm."
        "Uh-huh.  Didja leave enough to go to trial?"
        "Didn't leave a scratch on him.  Girl Scout's honor."
        I hadda ask.
        "Since when wuz YOU a Girl Scout?"
        "Well, not for too long. See, they caught me eating a Brownie, and -"
        "I don't wanna know."


Meeting Island
June 11, 1937

        Franklin looked over my notes that morning. "The case is certainly developing into an interesting one."  He glanced up at me.  "So . . . Coyote wanted to marry Marten?"
        “Uh-uh.  Tailfasting is . . . not quite as binding as a marriage.  Has to be renewed on a six-month basis."
        Brush backed me up, nodding.
        Franneleh flicked through his notes again.
        Pretty plain to me he wasn’t much interested in the idea, and I sighed to myself.
        Someday, God willing . . .
        "The fingerprint evidence is rather enlightening, as well as some of the other evidence. Not to mention the photographs of the crime scene."  He smiled warmly at me, and my heart melted a bit. "Very well done, by the way. Clear and well-framed. Good work."
        "Thank you!"
        "You're quite welcome."  He flipped through the stack, selected one photo and passed it over to Durian Face and me.  "Notice anything odd about this one?"
        I glanced at it, then picked up a magnifying glass.
        My ears pricked straight up.  "Pawprint on the bed?"
        Brush took the pic and the glass and looked for himself.  "Right paw.  Little finger looks funny, bent outta shape. Helluva 'pression on th' bed."
        "So that's why you took that photo of the bed. I missed that."
        Franklin nodded, giving me a small smile.  "As I said, attention to detail is important. Now, we have a fairly deep impression of a right paw with a twisted little finger. What does this tell you?"
        He was from outer space?
        I know better than to ask that out loud.
        I look over at Brush.  He said, "Whoever did Coyote in was puttin’ his weight on his right paw to hold himself up."
        "Exactly. Which tells us what?"
        "The killer was left-pawed?" I asked, and smiled when Franklin nodded.
        "Now, the fingerprints," He said as he looked at another set of notes. "Unfortunately, there are several sets of prints scattered throughout both rooms. Mr. Coyote apparently entertained a number of people between room cleanings."
        No prize for guessing what Franneleh was thinking, with his jaw set like that.
        "The glasses and the brandy carafe, however, tell a different story. Coming from room service, they were relatively pristine.
        "One glass has Coyote’s fingerprints, and the second glass has two sets. The carafe has three sets of prints on it. One of the sets on the carafe is the dead man’s, while the other belongs to Petty Officer Marten."
        "A third person?" I asked. "So Marten didn’t kill him?"
        A finger was raised. "I was unsure; after all, the third set of prints could have been another caller earlier that day, or for that matter, someone from room service.  Your interview with the petty officer, and Sergeant Brush’s encounter with the bouncer, supplied some vital information."
        "Motive."  That was Brush’s two cents.
        "Exactly, Sergeant. What motive would Marten have to kill Coyote? We’ve established that he was uncomfortable playing the dead fur’s games, and that he apparently . . . cares for another."  My beloved looked uncomfortable for a moment.  "Also, this picture – the one taken at the first interview - shows that his right paw has no deformity.  And finally, we have this."
        He placed the knot that Marten tied while being questioned on the table, and placed the collar alongside it.
        I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. 
        But then, I never did anything with rope before.
        Brush stared at both and said, "Th’ knots ain’t the same. I means, same knot, ain’t done th’ same way. Th’ one on th’ collar’s looser, sloppy work."
        “Precisely. Marten took great pride in his seamanship – he would have to, in his position as Petty Officer - and if he were inclined to the late Mr. Coyote’s, um, tastes, he would probably do a better job."
        "But his fur was found on Coyote’s body," I pointed out.
        Franklin raised an eyebrow. "Was it, Miss Baumgartner?"
        I could have smacked myself in the forehead with my paw.  As it was, I blushed.  "Right.  Fur that matched Marten's color was found."
        He nodded approvingly. "Dr. Musine at the laboratory was kind enough to expedite his tests, and I waited until I had the report in paw before going over your notes from Moon Island.  The fur was short enough, but it wasn’t mustelid, and it showed traces of coal tar."
        Coal tar?  Then that would mean . . .  "Dye?"
        "Th’ Doc figger out th’ real color, Sir?"
        "His report said that he was working on it, but he thought the original color might be lighter."
        My eyes narrowed. "Like a sandy blond?"
        A nod. "Which brings us to Mr. Desmann."
        My buck turned to another page of notes. "The basis of any crime is whether the person who may have committed it had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the offense. The means part . . . well, Coyote apparently supplied that himself."  Franklin looked as if he’d just tasted something bad.  "Now, did Desmann have the motive to kill Coyote? The answer to that is certainly yes; Coyote was refusing to secure a part for Desmann in his new movie, a role which might have gone a substantial way to improving Desmann’s career and, therefore, his finances.
        "I will also suggest that Desmann had the opportunity to enter Coyote’s rooms.  Knowing the dead fur’s proclivities (which, I admit, many did, such as Mr. Nelson), it would have been simple to persuade the unfortunate Mr. Coyote to become a willing participant in his own death. Also, think back to the poster, the most prominent one, in Desmann’s rooms. Miss Baumgartner? What paw was he using to hold the sword?"
        I blushed again.  "I . . . Let's see. Truth to tell, I don't remember, but . . .  The left, nu? Otherwise, why would you ask?"
        Franneleh nodded. "Precisely. Yes, Desmann appears to favor his left paw. Most furs are right-pawed, and to be able to use a sword in the left paw would be rare, indeed. Also, hardly something even a Hollywood artist would do by accident. The poster was undoubtedly based on a photo. The particular position of the paw-print on the bedspread, coupled with the way that Coyote was tied up, points to only one conclusion: that a leftpawed individual tied Coyote up. When you tossed the cigarette and the lighter to Marten, Sergeant, he used his right paw to light it. A most reflexive, and informative, action. Put the motive, opportunity, and certain physical evidence like the fur, together, and you have enough for an arrest warrant, I believe. At that point, we can take pawprints, which most likely will be the last piece of the puzzle."
        Brush nudged me and grinned.  "Amazin’, ain’t it?"
        I grinned back.  "Elementary, my dear Brush."
        I batted my eyelashes at my beloved, who blushed slightly.
        He didn’t need to.
        I could hear his flag flicking against the chair.



        Magistrate Spaniel read th’ affydavit for ‘bout th’ third time, checkin’ back and forth  t’make sure th’ eyes’re crossed an’ th’ T’s dotted just right.  Finally he looks up at Stagg an’ me.  Inspector’s lookin’ tired, leanin’ on his cane.
        "Very neatly done, Inspector," Spaniel growls.
        Guess he don’t wanna show he’s bein’ too nice t’th’ Inspector.
        "Everything appears to be in order, so an arrest warrant will be typed up by my secretary."  He looks a little sad.  "A sad and embarrassing state of affairs.  I used to like Desmann’s films when I was younger."
        He shakes his head an’ passes th’ papers back to Stagg.


        Franklin made a single phone call, then we all headed for the taxi rank.  Brush told the driver where we needed to go.
        The driver goggled at me (I was in my suit), then shrugged.
        I think he thought it took all kinds, and who was he to judge?
        As we rounded the point and headed for the Club’s private dock, Brush squinted into the distance.  His tail flicked sharply.  “There they are, waitin’ fer us, Sir.”
        “Good.  It pays at times to let people know you’re coming,” he remarked to me.
        Eddie was almost running to the end of the dock, Bob and Ray right beside him.  Bob helped the taxi driver tie up and Eddileh said, “I’m glad you called, Inspector.  We’ve kept an eye on the room, but so far nothing’s going on.” 
        He looked uncomfortable.
        “I understand your discomfort, Mr. Nelson.”
        Franklin reached into his suit pocket for the arrest warrant.  Eddie raised a paw, and he put it back in his pocket.
        “There’s no need to show me, Inspector.  I know that you’ll have all your ducks in a row.  Come with me, please.”
        Franklin and I started down the dock, but Franneleh stopped and looked over his shoulder.  “Sergeant, I know your objections, but I need you.  Come on.”
        Durian Face took a breath and squared his shoulders.  “Right behind yez, Sir.”
        We followed Eddie through the lobby to Room 112.  He might have warned everyone – the place was deserted.
        He produced his passkey, but Franklin shook his head.  “Sergeant, if you’ll do the honors?”
        Brush nodded and hammered his fist against the door three times.  “Constab’l’ry, open up!”
        No answer.
        Eddie tried his passkey a few times.  No soap.
        “He’s jammed the lock.”
        Brush and I put our ears to the door. 
        “I can hear something in there,” I hissed, “something moving around.”
        “Yep,” Brush said.  “Stan’ back.” 
        He aimed a kick at the door, but the lock held. 
        He started to try it a second time, but I put out a paw. 
        He looked at me, and nodded.
        I really hope I put enough padding into the shoulders of this jacket. 
        “On three.”
        Brush and I ran at the door and put our shoulders to it.
        Damn.  Eddie wasn’t foolin.’
        They do have thick doors here at the Club.
        We tried it again, and this time the door fell in.
        I staggered into the room, while Brush rolled with it and ended up on his feet, gun already out.
        Stagg strode in as he announced, “Norman Desmann, this is the Constabulary.  We have a warrant for your arrest.” 
        Great entrance.
        Now if only Desmann had been in the room to hear it.
        The bedroom door was closed and Brush walked over to it, gun ready.  I was right behind him.
        Claws out.
        A gal’s got to have something, right?
        The door suddenly burst open.
        Liquid sprayed right in our eyes.
        And a blur shot past us, with grunts and the sound of something heavy striking the wall behind us.
        And a stink that’d make a skunk proud.
        I shook my head and wiped my eyes to see Brush coughing and gagging.  Looked like he’d taken the most of it, dead in the face.
        He’d even dropped his gun.
        Franklin . . .
        He was struggling to stand up, bowled over (no doubt).
        “Franneleh, are you okeh?” I asked, rushing to his side and helping him up to his hooves.
        He nodded, shaken up and smiling a bit as I gave his cane back to him.  “Y-Yes, Rosie, I’m all right.”
        The glow of him being okeh was magnified by him calling me “Rosie” in public.
        “Where’d that mamzer get off to?”
        Franneleh pointed out the door.
        Eddie was crumpled against the wall, out cold.  Desmann’d obviously just slammed my pal into the wall on his way out.
        Anger cleared my head - and sinuses.
        Why, that dirty . . .
        I took a big sniff and recognized the smell from my days working at the Lotus.
        Pyramid Patchouli.
        Nasty stuff.
        But Desmann was stupid to have used it.
        I took off running, at full cheetah speed.
        Like I say, the part of the Club we were in was deserted, but I could follow him.
        Hard to miss something that stinks so much.
        He ran pretty fast, though.  Those extra blinis
        …Are NOT going to make me lose him.
        Down the hall, through the lobby … through the lounge … out the back … through the gardens, and through a hedge? … past the Ruins …
        Damn!  What was that chill in my fur just then?!
        Faster, Rosie.  Put your back in it.
        Through the back gate …
        Where the hell’s he going?
        Over a small rise …
        Lemme pause a moment, get my breath and get a handle on him.
        Breeze’s blowing, but that stuff’s still lingering.
        The path leads off in two directions - through low scrub and grass to the Navy base.
        Down to the water taxi rank by the base’s main gate.
        Run, girl!
        As I get closer I start to see people at the dock, lining up.
        There’s no taxi there yet, but one’s coming in.
        No sign of a collie in a smoking jacket … three people, two in uniform and a vixen in a dress …
        The vixen flinches, while the two sailors turn.
        I run full-tilt at the vixen, who tries to run.  I hit him at full speed and we both go off the dock and into the water.
        I made sure he went in first – no more cliff-diving into shallow water for this cheetah.
        We came up spluttering and he started to fight.
        I grab him by the collar of his frock.
        “Lights out, Sweetheart!”
        And then I let him have it, my right fist straight to his muzzle.
        He goes limp.
        Now I can breathe again. 
        The two sailors (one a sweet blonde bunny – yum!) dive in and help me drag Desmann ashore.  On the way he wakes up and struggles a bit.  His dress busts a seam and his tits float away.
        Bon voyage.
        Brush is waiting for us, looking winded and still reeking.  “Good job,” he manages to say, then starts to put the cuffs on his wrists.
        “Thanks.  Where’s Fr – the Inspector?”
        “Here, Miss Baumgartner.”  I turn, and my jaw hits the ground.
        Here’s my buck, maybe six feet tall (bit higher if you go all the way up his antlers).
        Riding piggyback on one of the Club’s bouncers – Ray, I think.  Poor wolfie’s looking winded from carrying him.
        I help Franneleh down from the wolf’s back.  Ray gives me a wink and heads back up the path to the Club.
        “Are you all right, Inspector?”
        “Quite all right, I expect.  Just got knocked over.  I confess I’m not as steady on my hooves as I used to be.”  I think he saw the look in my eyes.  “Mr. Nelson will be fine; it seems Mr. Desmann struck him quite forcefully.”
        “Sir?”  Brush had finished cuffing the collie.  Holding him at arm’s length, too.  “Look here.” 
        We looked.  Desmann’s right little finger hooked to one side, as if it had been broken once and badly reset.  “Looks like we got th’ murderer.”
        “Yes, it does appear so,” Franklin said.  “Take him to the water taxi, Sergeant, and watch him carefully.  Miss Baumgartner and I will wrap things up here.”
        “Right, Sir,” and Brush hustled the accused away at a very fast walk.
        I flexed my paw (gotta stop punching people in the face, Rosalie) and I notice something.
        I’m soaked clear through to my skin.
        My suit jacket’s open.
        My shirt’s stuck to me.
        The two sailors are giving me the admiring once-over.
        I look over at Franklin, who’s smiling at me.
        Was that a very faint hoof-scrape just then?


Moon Island, 1720:

        Marten steps outta th’ brig and stretches, grinnin’ fit ta bust. 
        Guess I woulda done th’ same in his shoes.
        Th’ weasel turns an’ offers a paw to Stagg. "Thank you, Inspector, for clearing me."
        Stagg takes th’ paw. "Good luck, Petty Officer."
        As Marten walks off ta get his stuff an’ get back on his ship I ask, "Think he’ll go back t’ th’ Club anytime soon?"
        "Probably," Rosie replied.



        “Yes, precious mate mine?”
        Kiki gives me a real weird look, nose twitchin’ ta beat th’ band.  “Query thou, mate-precious, reason thee emphasis smell like unto male seller-of-body?”
        Sigh.  “Mate-precious, emphasis story long-in-telling …”

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