So I was digging in my WIP files, looking for something to enter into a writing contest, when I stumbled across this jem: Jane's Addictions, a Talbot's Peak story I wrote a couple years ago. So, since I've been as busy as a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest, I thought I'd go ahead and repost it one chunk at a time.
Hannibal glanced up when he heard Bambi open the door to the Ranger Station. Then he did a double-take so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. His longtime friend and coworker was no metrosexual by any means, but he was a mule deer and mulies tended to be very neat about their appearance. At 5’10” and 160 lbs, Bambi had the sleek build to pass himself off as a model in his US Forestry Service uniform. Most of the time. At the moment, Bambi was covered in paintball splatters, bird shit, and goat hair. Bo was pretty certain he hadn’t looked like that when he left the station for his regular patrol.
“I take it you ran into something out of the ordinary out there,” Hannibal said, trying his best to school his facial expression into something mature. It didn’t work; he could not keep the corners of his mouth from spasming in and out of a half formed grin. Bambi glared and shook his head as he stepped all the way into the station then off to one side.
Hannibal jumped at the unexpected noise and got up so he could see over the high counter between the office space and the reception area. What he saw dumbfounded him. A black and white goat—not a mountain goat, which would have been an expected sight in these parts, but a common farm goat—being drug into the station by a rope around its neck. It was also covered in paint and bird shit. And considerably less goat hair than one would have expected.
“Bambi, what the hell is this?” Hannibal asked after a moment.
“I’m guessing it’s a fucking scapegoat.”
“A scapegoat. You do know what that is, right?”
“Easy with the sarcasm, Mike,” Hannibal replied, using Bambi’s real name, something no one, not even Bambi’s family, did unless they were trying to placate him.
“Fuck you and fuck those damned wolves and mountain goats, and whoever had the bright fucking idea to sell paintball guns, flash-bang grenades and god-only-knows what else to mountain goats and wolves!” Bambi snapped as he finally got the domestic goat into the office.
“So…” Hannibal hesitated, hating to agitate Bambi worse. Bambi didn’t swear, not even when he was angry. For him to be dropping the F-bomb multiple time, he had to be way beyond angry. But Hannibal was unable to control his raging curiosity. “What’s up with the scapegoat?”
“I saw that stolen Mazda we got an APB on up on Trailridge Road. It was a fucking set-up.” Bambi paused long enough to stuff the balking goat into a holding cell. “I told them to give up, that I’d just come back with reinforcements if the perp didn’t give him or herself up. This apparently was some kind of signal, because the next thing I knew, someone set off a flash-bang grenade, which scared the shit out of a passing flock of geese—”
“Literally, I see,” Hannibal cut in.
“Yes, literally. The bang also startled one of the wolves, who pulled out his paintball gun and started going to town. The next goddamn thing I knew, there was paintballs and bird shit flying everywhere.”
“And the goat?” Hannibal asked.
“I found it in my patrol car afterwards with a newspaper clipping tucked under the windshield wiper with a hand written note on it saying that if I really wanted a scapegoat, I could have this one.”
“So now what?” Hannibal asked, eyeing the goat.
“Now, I’m going to take a shower while you call Louie and find out if he’s the goddamned fool who sold the paintballs and grenades to the fools up on the Trailridge Road.”
“And the goat?” Hannibal asked cautiously.
“I have no idea what to do with the goat, but I figured I might as well bring the damned thing in for questioning…”