In which Quizzical considers squirrels, love and insulation
It'd been several months since the ceiling over the storage closet had come down, and the cops had given up on the case. Lack of evidence, they said. But I knew what I'd heard. There was somethin' goin' down overhead, and I meant to find out what it was.
I could tell the cops hadn't bought my version of events, so if I didn't want to end up holdin' the proverbial bag of loose insulation, I was going to have to find the perp myself. The caper had Louie the Tail's paw prints all over it, so this shouldn't have been too tough. Louie ain't too hard to spot. He got his name a couple years back when he lost a good bit of his backside in a tangle with one of the local Hawk boys. Unfortunately, though, I hadn't seen hide or hindquarters of Louie lately. I get worried when Louie starts actin' shiftier than usual. Made me think there was more to this than meets the privatest of eyes.
It had been a dull week. There was some excitement when the cops nailed Punxsutawney Phil again, in broad daylight, but they put Phil back on ice for six more weeks, and everybody who was smart went back to noticin' nothin'. I was slouched at my desk one cold morning pondering the vagaries of life, tryin' to get my extremities and my attitude to thaw out, when I looked out the window and spotted familiar footprints out in the snow. I was due for a break in this case, so I tucked my .45 into my pocket and went out to reconnoitre.
It was quiet. Too quiet. I followed the footprints 'round the side of the house until they came to a large oak. I looked up, and then I spotted him. Or rather, 'her'. It was a dame. She paused for a moment on a large branch about 20 feet overhead and let me admire her sleek coat and fluffy tail. The appreciation definitely wasn't mutual. She eyed me like I was a mouldy acorn buried under last year's mud, then turned her back to me and headed off, daring me to follow. I didn't take her up on it. I went down to the Blue Moon instead and wrapped my brain around a gin and tonic for inspiration.
I'd gotten this case all wrong. I thought Louie had been lookin' for a place to come in out of the cold and hide his stash of stolen bird seed. Instead he was settin' up a love nest in my attic for his girl friend. I've been accused of havin' bats in my belfry, but I draw the line at havin' squirrels up there too. There's no tellin' how a ratty little guy like Louie had ended up with a looker like her, but there's no accountin' for a dame's taste. As far as I was concerned the two of 'em were free to tryst and shout all they wanted, as long as they don't do on my premises. I needed a favour, and I knew just who would be providin' it. I finished my drink and headed out to find Harry the Hawk.
The Hawk boys and I go way back, ever since I moved into the neighbourhood and put up a bird feeder, which became the local fast food place for raptors. The word on the street is that Harry's brother was the one who gave Louie his nickname. The word also is that this brother ain't the type you just walk up to and pass the time of day. People who got a job for Spike and who wish to remain in decent health gotta go see Harry to discuss the hypotheticals and the particulars, and maybe if they were lucky the job would get taken care of, without any witnesses.
I found Harry perched in a tree, stalking a pigeon that must have spent the night sleepin' on the stupid branch. I interrupted this touching tableau, and Harry an' me do-se-do'd around topics of mutual interest for a while. When we were done, I was given to understand that Spike might be havin' some business in my end of town.
It's been even quieter than usual lately. I haven't seen any femmes fatales of the squirrel persuasion lately, and Louie's been slouchin' around lookin' even more downtrodden than usual. It's a sad fact that I understand just how he feels. The classy dames eventually wise up and start lookin' elsewhere, especially when the guy involved doesn't have two dimes to scratch together and he's attracted the wrong kind of attention.
Valentine's Day is comin', and I'm sitting here hopin' a new case wanders through my door and provides some coin to pay the landlord and the tax man. Maybe it'll be a dangerous dame to add a little love interest to this dull winter story. Even private eyes need more than insulation to keep 'em warm.