All Things Mysterious Volume Sixty-Eight
Nine Lives, Less One
‘All right, so I wanted to get back with Alanna, is that so wrong?’
Costello was speaking from the interview room at the River City precinct.
For his part, Avery was in a certain disbelief that his partner could be engaging in this kind of behavior. Caught up in a cat-snatching ring! But Costello had been a good detective for a lot of years, and were very close, as partners fighting crime are wont to be. For this reason, he trod softly here, not using the ‘Bad Cop’ method of questioning that was his usual norm.
‘Why don’t you begin at the beginning? How did all this start?’
‘When Alanna got involved with Luz Marin, I….I felt like a failure and I looked for any way to win her back.’ He stopped to collect himself. ‘At first I wanted to make myself look good, so I faked the first catnapping, you know, so I could play the hero when I foiled the crime,’
‘Well, you missed that a mile, didn’t you?’ interjected Avery, ‘but when I saw how easy it was to make money at it,’ continued Costello, ‘ I..I just kept going.’
Avery could scarcely believe his ears. ‘How could you turn your back on enforcing the law so quickly, Cos?’
‘It didn’t seem like such a big deal. It was only cats. Then I thought I’d fake one for Cinnamon so no one would suspect me.’
Avery could only shake his head. Cinnamon! And after the way the big, tough detective doted on that animal!
‘Then the Paltry Gang got involved, didn’t they?’
‘They found out what was going on--I don’t know how--and started using the hot rod to get around quickly and a couple of times they had to rescue Taper when he almost got caught.’
‘I can’t believe that you got mixed up with all this, but if you want to try a little redemption, let’s go over to the crazy cat house, pick up whoever’s there and break up this extortion caper once and for all,’ said Avery.
‘Then what?’ quavered Costello.
‘What do you mean, ‘then what?’ Then we go to Internal Affairs and lay all our cards on the table, and if you come out of it with just a suspension, you’ll be lucky. ‘Course, that’s just my opinion.’
Alanna Nashua, nee Costello, was near tears. She’d been roped into the cat ring, partly through her own gullibility, her flagging sense of self-worth occasioned by her increasingly rocky marriage, and her greed for a stake of money in case she found herself alone on the street anytime soon. Furthermore Luz Marin had just told her, in no uncertain terms, that they were through, that they were never really an ‘item’ and that she, Luz, was devoted to her husband Taper and that any connection between the two women was strictly in Alanna’s mind. But Alanna hadn’t been married to a detective for years without developing a core of iron which made it difficult to penetrate to her most deeply felt emotions. Her insincerity detector was also apparently back on after being comatose for some time. And she wasn’t a bad actress. So while she pretended to be devastated, she was plotting madly. She knew that soon Luz would get disgusted with this unseemly show of emotion and leave her to her own devices. This she did, and when alone, Alanna carefully made her way to the phone nook, and, whispering, called the station and left a message for Costello. Then it occurred to her that he might be persona non grata there, since surely word of his involvement in the ring must have gotten around by now. So she left word for Avery that the cat-nappers were about to flee and they’d better send the paddy wagon to catch the crooks before they disappeared. Just for good measure, she left word with the Chief of Police, with whom she was on good terms ever since she contributed five dollars to the Chief’s Widows and Orphans Fund.
Accordingly, several unmarked cars were dispatched to the crazy cat house, but just as they arrived, the fire-engine red hot rod that had been used in several of the snatchings burst out of the garage and went boiling off down the road. The ringleaders of the caper, the Marins, were escaping! Suddenly, like a streak of lightning, Xavier the rescue cat bolted like a shot out from his latest hiding place and chased the hot rod. He leapt into the open cockpit and sank his claws into Taper Marin’s arm. Marin screamed and let go of the wheel. Luz screamed even louder and tried to right the careening vehicle by grabbing the wheel but soon found a howling, furry banshee wrapped around her head. The hot rod was out of control! It slammed into a fire hydrant, sending a geyser of water gushing thirty feet into the air. Officers swarmed around the crime car, hauling the Marins out and cuffing them. The catnapping ring was broken!
Wait! Another man had dashed out the back door of the cat house and, dodging a dozen officers, jumped into the hot rod which, its caved-in front end notwithstanding, was still running, backed it up and took off down the street in a desperate effort to escape! Xavier dashed toward the souped-up rod, which charged at him like a bull at a red flag! Look out, Xavier! The scream of an overloaded engine, the squeal of burdened brakes, a cloud of burning rubber, Xavier obscured from view and then….
What has happened to Xavier? Did he get run over? Did he thwart another escape? Will we meet him again? Time will tell! We’ll check in with the Brown Recluse, Cinnamon, Raffles, Costello, Avery, and the rest in the future. But now, what of Brand? Well, he’s at the World Series……...
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