Monday, August 13, 2012
Slow Crime Day
“Okay,” Officer Gordon said, swallowing his sigh. “Who wants to tell me what happened?”
The squat, round-bottomed woman surged in front of her equally-squat, balding partner. “My husband attacked me.”
He was shaking his head before she even started speaking. “I did nothing of the sort.”
“You know you did! Don’t lie to the officer. You threw a log at my head!”
“I pitched a chunk of wood in your general direction. It went off course. It was an accident. Woodchucks can’t chuck wood worth a darn. Everybody knows that.”
“Why were you chucking wood at your wife in the first place?” Officer Gordon asked.
“She said she wanted a snack.”
Gordon eyed the squat, round woman. “Let me guess. Beaver?”
“I was in the mood for a little oak. Maybe some acorns on the side. I didn’t know he was going to start pitching logs at my head.”
“Acorns?” her husband sputtered. “Since when do you eat acorns?” His dark eyes narrowed. “It’s him, isn’t it? That squirrel. The one you’ve been seeing behind my back.”
“For the last time, Jake, I’m not running around on you. I’ve never run around on you. What would I want with a squirrel anyway? They can’t even swim.”
“I can’t swim and you married me.”
“I must have been out of my mind.” The woman rubbed her plump arms. “He’s paranoid. Now he’s trying to kill me.”
“She’s been moody as all get out lately. Last night I brought her a salad and she threw it against the wall because it didn’t have any bark in it. There wasn’t any bark because you chewed up all the bark. Then you blamed me for no bark. Of course I threw the wood at you. You think I’m going to walk up and hand it to you? You’re liable to gnaw my head off.”
“Could I see the piece of wood?” Officer Gordon asked.
The man handed him a ragged, uneven barkless chunk just a little larger than a baseball. “That’s it?” Gordon said.
The woman toed the ground. “It was bigger when he threw it. While we were waiting for you to show up I kind of, well, gnawed on it.”
“Kind of.” Her husband snorted. “You went at that wood like a termite. You’ve been eating like crazy lately. All weird stuff. Does your squirrel bring you oak chips in bed?”
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“Of course not, dear.” He backed off, rubbing his own ample stomach. “I like a woman with meat on her bones. It’s why I married you. The first time I saw that broad, beautiful butt I knew I had to have you.”
“So you could throw wood at my head.” She burst into tears.
The woodchuck looked at Gordon with a man-to-man, you see what I have to put up with expression. “Told you. Moody.”
“I’m not cheating on you.” The flood of tears cut off as fast as it had appeared. “I know I’ve been eating a lot more lately. I can’t help it. I’ve been getting these cravings. Nuts and bark and stuff.”
“The other night she ate a whole jar of dry-roasted peanuts,” her husband put in. “She hates dry-roasted peanuts.” He glowered at his wife. “I hear squirrels love 'em.”
“I wanted something salty. I really wanted cheese. You wouldn’t get me cheese.”
“It was three in the morning!”
Gordon, whose keen canine nose and cop mind had already discerned the cause of the alleged incident, said mildly, “Cravings?”
“It hit me all of a sudden,” the woman sniffled. “About a month ago.” The light dawned. “Oh. My.”
“It that when you met your squirrel?” her husband said.
“No,” she said with sudden calm, “it started right after our anniversary. Remember? You booked us a room at the Pleasure Club. The Pirate and the Serving Wench.” She smiled, displaying deep dimples. “You looked so dashing in that eyepatch.”
“And you had on about seven petticoats. But not for long.” His jaw fell open. “Oh.”
“Yes. Oh.” Fresh tears sparkled in her eyes. “Oh, Jake.”
Gordon gave them several minutes of hugs and slurping before he cleared his throat. “So I take it neither one of you is pressing charges?”
“Of course not,” Bonnie said. “It was a misunderstanding.”
“Sorry about the wood,” Jake said. “I’ve got horrible aim. Squirrels. What was I thinking?”
“No wonder I’ve been eating nuts. Usually I can’t stand nuts. Now I could eat a pound of peanuts. On top of watermelon sherbet. Served in an oak bowl. I could eat that too.”
“I’ll bet we could get that at that new ice cream place. I could go for an old-fashioned malted.” He slapped his wife’s broad bottom. “Would you like something sweet, little girl?”
She giggled like a teenager.
Gordon got back into his car and drove off, unnoticed by the happy couple. In spite of the fangs and claws and the occasional beak, shifter complaints on the whole were easier to handle than those involving humans. Shifters normally didn’t carry firearms, for one thing. Once you knew which species you were dealing with, peaceful resolutions followed in short order. He doubted he’d be called back by these two again. As long as her obstetrician wasn’t a squirrel.
“Talbot’s Peak,” Gordon murmured through a smile. “Never a dull moment.”