Bewildering Stories

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The Full Moon Caper

An FTPD: Homicide Story

by Lewayne L. White

part 1 of 2

I hate spiders, but I’ve managed to deal with them because I knew I could always squish them flat. That was before I got transferred to Homicide Squad in Fairy Tale Land and met a spider bigger than me.

My name’s Lilly. Detective Aislyn Lilly. My partner, Detective Dagan Michael, usually calls me “Ace.”

We both transferred in from other units at about the same time. Dagan got here three days before I did, which makes him senior partner.

It would annoy me, but he doesn’t let it go to his head... most of the time.

We’re pretty evenly matched, but he does have one advantage.

A longer fuse.

“Dammit, Anansi!” I yelled at the giant spider standing between Dagan and me. “I’ve had enough of the African shaman mumbo-jumbo. Give it to us straight before I start pulling all those spindly little legs off.”

“Now, Detective,” the spider said, with an accent that sounded more like Jamaica than Ghana, “Anansi tell it his way.”

Dagan gave me the look that says he’s “good cop,” so I back off.

“Look, Anansi,” Dagan said. “We know you got the biggest web in town. Nothing happens without you getting a vibration. We appreciate that, but, we’re pressed for time.”

“No hurry, boy,” Anansi replied. “People you help already dead.”

“Yeah, the old lady who lived in the shoe is dead,” Dagan admitted. “But she’s got a lot of kids. So many she didn’t know what to do.”

“Been there,” Anansi said. “Got lots of kids myself.”

“Then you know how easy it is to get in over your head,” Dagan continued. “Word is that she owed some shark and couldn’t come up with the cash. We need to know who sent a leg breaker.”

“A leg breaker who got out of control,” I added, showing him some crime scene stills.

“Ooh, how terrible,” Anansi said. Then he chuckled. “That stuff don’t shake me, Detective. I still kill my own food.”

Anansi turned to Dagan. “She do make a good ‘bad cop’, though. She look all mean for such a little girl.”

Before he could say anything more, I grabbed the goatee hanging below his mandibles and shoved a can of Raid in his face.

“Look, I’m tired of Tinkerbelling around here,” I snarled. “You got something useful to say, say it. Otherwise, we’ll see if this really kills bugs dead.”

Ananasi’s multiple eyes widened. “You wouldn’t.”

“Where I come from, we squish bugs like you.”

Anansi glanced at Dagan, who just shrugged.

“This dude, Big Bad Wolf,” Anansi said, “he move into town, start snatching up action. He take Prince Bullfrog’s golden ball and play keep-away with it, until Prince start crying like a baby.”

“Bullfrog kept that ball under tight security,” Dagan said. “After his princess died and he returned to frog form, he’s been holding the ball trying to sucker some other girl into kissing him.”

“Yeah,” Anansi said, keeping his eye on the spray can. “But, Wolf got it. Only give it back after Bullfrog give up his share of the city. Wolf also moving in on Puss-in-Boots, Muffin Man, and Old King Cole.”

Dagan looked at me. I released Anansi’s beard and lowered the can.

Anansi’s four front legs moved in a blur of motion, straightening his beard and vest front.

“We’ll check out this Wolf,” Dagan said.

I shook the canister and said, “But, if it comes up a bust...”

“It good,” Anansi replied, backing toward the alley entrance to his club, Black Widower.

We waited until he was inside before laughing.

“Did you see the look in all those eyes when you whipped out that spray can?”

“I hoped it would work, because I was scared stiff. No one told me they had giant spiders around here.”

Dagan chuckled. “Yeah, but you were cool.”

He did a horrible imitation of me, “Where I come from, we squish bugs like you.” Then he began laughing again.

The alley door burst open disgorging several burley spiders. A couple had tattoos that identified them as Anansi’s sons, Stone Thrower and Game Skinner.

They looked really ticked.

“Maybe we should check out this Big Bad Wolf,” Dagan said, backing toward our unmarked.

“Right now,” I added, throwing open my door.

We headed for Central, hoping to gather some information on Big Bad Wolf from OCI.

We’ve got seven dwarves in our Organized Crime Intelligence unit, all very determined and capable of digging up all sorts of dirt. By the time we arrived they’d have every piece of intel available on Big Bad Wolf.

Some cops are suspicious of the dwarves because their family made a fortune in diamond mining. Rumors suggest it wasn’t done entirely legally. Several armed conflicts in the diamond regions killed a lot of people, and enslaved even more. Our guys in Organized Crime have tried to cut themselves off from the trade, but the dirt still stains.

Sometimes, like now, their connections to the criminal underworld can be useful. A fat stack of Big Bad Wolf info sat waiting for us on our desks. We got comfortable and started reading.

“Wow,” Dagan said, as he flipped some pages. “This Wolf’s got his paws in everything. Illegal pixie dust, unicorn and griffin races, hot magic carpets, even a stable of Succubi.”

“He does real estate, too,” I added. “Though, he mostly chops down trees and puts up strip malls.”

I read further. “Looks like Wolf had a beef with some pigs over land he wanted to develop. They wouldn’t give up their houses, so he allegedly blew them down. Well, except for this brick one that he apparently blew up.”

“No one pressed charges?”

I shook my head. “All three pigs failed to show for court.”

“Sounds like he plays for keeps,” Dagan said.

I nodded. “He’s been linked to the death of the director of the Red Riding Hood Elder Care Facility, too. Seems Ms. Hood, was found axed to death one morning. Her lumberjack fiance got the blame.”

“I remember that one,” Dagan said. “Hood’s grandmother insisted it was a frame-up. Claimed Hood foiled Wolf’s scheme to swallow up Granny’s property.

I scanned further. “After Hood’s fiance went down for the murder, the care center tanked, and Wolf snagged it for next to nothing. Granny had an ‘accident’ later, and Wolf got her house, too.”

“None of this ever sticks to his fur?”

I shook my head. “He’s apparently got those killer lawyers, Shark, Barracuda, and Leech.”

“I had to testify in court one time with Leech as defense counsel. He tried to impeach me, even though my testimony was perfect.”

“Of, course it was,” I said. “You’re organized, intelligent, honest, trustworthy, loyal, helpful...”

“Exactly,” Dagan replied. “But, the little bloodsucker just latched on and wouldn’t let go.”

One of the dwarves walked up and handed me a note.

I thanked him, and he nodded, then walked away.

“Boy, he’s talkative,” Dagan said.

“Lost his voice,” I said, busy reading the note. “Still hasn’t found it.”

Dagan threw a paper wad at me.

“This says that Wolf’s been under surveillance by OCI since he hit town. Nobody’s seen him make a single move, but stuff’s still happening.”

“Anything useful?” Dagan asked.

“He’s currently operating out of The Predator Social Club.”

The phone rang and Dagan caught it. He listened, then hung up.

“We got another one. Old Mother Hubbard’s dog just found her dead. Looks like the same M.O. as the Shoe lady.”

We both grabbed our jackets and hit the street.

Ten minutes later, we stood in the Hubbard kitchen, a quaint little place decorated in antique white and pale blue with more recent splashes of blood red.

The Crime Scene Witches were on site and throwing spells. Hopefully, they’d be able to get something helpful from the previously tidy kitchen.

The scene at the Shoe place had been chaotic. With all the kids in and out, stuff was scattered everywhere, and everything had layers of prints. We didn’t get much useful evidence, and virtually no leads.

Dagan caught the head Witch, an unpleasant green woman from somewhere out west. “Tell me you got something.”

“Look here, dearie,” snapped the witch, pointing to a dent in Hubbard’s cupboard, “a bat. Wood, not aluminum.”

“Like the Shoe woman,” I said, examining the damage.

The witch pointed at Old Mother Hubbard. “You got a nut. Not one of those organized geniuses from the movies. This guy’s angry.”

Dagan examined the body, and we agreed it was probably the same killer. While he got a couple pictures of the scene for our personal reference, I wandered around the rest of the house.

I usually prefer to examine the surrounding area before directly confronting the death scene itself. I find it helps to have a sense of the environment beforehand, especially if it’s the victim’s home. Then I’m not examining the minute details of their life at the same time I’m examining the minute details of their death.

It’s sort of hard to explain clearly, and it would probably be simpler if I just said it was “woman’s intuition.”

A short time later, Dagan caught up with me in Hubbard’s bedroom. “You called?”

I poked a button on the answering machine connected to the bedside phone.

“Good evening, Old Mother Hubbard,” said a throaty female voice. “I’m calling on behalf of Full Moon Financing. We just wanted to contact you so we can settle your account.”

“Full Moon Financing,” I said. “Shoe’s machine had a message from them, too.”

Dagan nodded. “Did you hear a slight accent in the woman’s voice?”

“German, maybe.”

“I was looking at some surveillance photos on the way over here,” Dagan said. “There’s a handful of shots with Wolf and some blonde woman identified only as ‘Gretel.’”

“Curiouser and curiouser,” I replied. “Still no home address for Wolf?”

“Nope. Try the Predator?”

I nodded.

We wrapped up with the witches, then left for the club.

En route, Central dispatch called.

Full Moon Financing operated out of a P.O. box, and the dwarves were still trying to pin down an owner. So far it looked like a cover.

We considered what that meant as we headed downtown.

The Predator Social Club is one of the city’s oldest clubs. In this case, “old” does not indicate “prestigious.”

It’s a dark, smoky place where animals gather to talk, drink and carouse. No ties required. In fact, there’s no dress code at all, since much of the clientele runs about on all fours wearing nothing but the fur they were born with.

A pair of coyotes stood at the entrance. They both gave us lean and hungry looks. “No humans,” whined one coyote.

“We’re not looking to join,” Dagan said. “We’re looking for a member.”

“No humans,” the other coyote said.

“I knew they wouldn’t let us in,” I snapped at Dagan.

“Hey, Gretel said Wolf gets her in all the time.”

At the mention of Wolf and Gretel, the coyotes stiffened and glanced at each other.

“Look, why don’t you give her a call? Tell her the flea bags at the door won’t let us in.”

Dagan glanced at the coyotes. “Now, Ace. We don’t want to get these guys in trouble.”

“Why not? They’re barely even predators. They’re more like scavengers.”

“Let’s not cause a scene,” Dagan said. “It was embarrassing what Wolf did to those guys at that other club when they wouldn’t let you in. I mean they lost their jobs.”

“That wasn’t my fault. They lost their jobs because they were in the hospital.”

The two coyotes shared a nervous glance.

Dagan snapped, “He put them in the hosp...”

He looked at the coyotes, who responded with wide eyes.

“Look,” Dagan continued, turning back to me. “Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this in front of the guys.”

One of the coyotes coughed. “Perhaps this one time.”

“Since you know Mr. Wolf and Gretel,” said the other.

“Just call Wolf,” I said to Dagan. “He’ll sort it out.”

“No!” Both coyotes yelped at the same time. They threw open the door, and waved us in.

Once our eyes adjusted to the gloom, we could see a common room with bar, televisions, and leather furniture. The human guy behind the bar just watched us.

“Where’s Wolf?” I asked him.

The guy shrugged and pretended to wipe some glasses.

“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” “Actually, yes,” replied a screen vamp voice.

Dagan and I both spun to see a woman seated nearby.

“Specifically, a tiger,” the woman continued. “Khan didn’t appreciate one of Mr. Hunter’s stories.”

“You must be Gretel,” Dagan said. “Where’s Wolf?”

Gretel rose and sauntered over to us.

I don’t think I’d actually seen anyone saunter before, but it’s the best way to describe how she moved.

“Mr. Wolf,” Gretel said. “Wanted me to check you out.”

“Do we pass?” She tried to kill me with her eyes, but I’d seen worse. I’d gone to school with girls named Buffy and Bambi.

“I’ll be happy to escort you to his office, but you’ll have to remove your badges.”

Dagan and I both glanced down at the FTPD badges hanging on chains around our necks. Since we’re both human, the badges serve as our only source of magic in Fairy Tale Land. Besides serving as ID, they enable a limited telepathy.

“We carry side arms and he’s worried about our badges?” I said.

“You don’t have to surrender them, simply remove them from your neck. Stick them in a pocket or something.”

Dagan’s voice bounced across my brain.

How bad do we want to solve these homicides?

We dropped our badges into jacket pockets.

“Follow me, please.”

Gretel walked up an elaborately carved staircase and we trailed a short distance behind. We reached a landing, then continued down a hall to a pair of large wooden doors. Gretel knocked, opened them, and strode forward into a spacious office.

Grass carpeted the floor, and several small trees appeared to be growing from it. The ceiling and walls were painted the deep purple of twilight with a handful of scattered stars. Concealed speakers provided the night noises of insects and small animals. It even smelled a bit of damp earth and vegetation.

A large desk shaped like a tree stump rested in the midst of it all. Behind the desk, with his rear paws on the blotter and his forepaws behind his head, sat Big Bad Wolf.

A burly man wearing a large mustache and a baseball jersey leaned against a front corner of the desk. He caught my attention because he kept his hands in his pockets.

“Casey,” I said. “Home-run king for Mudville.”

He nodded, feigning disinterest.

“Had a hell of swing,” I continued. “Used the old wooden bats, too.”

I glanced at Dagan, then added, “None of those aluminum sticks for him.”

Casey actually smiled at that.

Wolf rocked forward. “I’m sure Mighty Casey would be happy to tell you all about his fabled career. But, I’m guessing you have other things you want to discuss.”

Gretel walked around behind the desk and sat in a chair beside Wolf. She produced a cigarette in a long holder, and waited.

Wolf withdrew a cigar from a desktop humidor. “Smoke?”

Dagan and I both declined.

Wolf sniffed the Cuban, then bit the end off.

“My, what big shiny teeth you have,” I said.

“All the better to eat you with, my dear,” Wolf replied.

He leaned toward Gretel, and lit her cigarette. Then he lit his cigar, puffed for a moment, and sighed.

“I understand you’re looking into the deaths of some poor old women.”

“Who apparently owed a great deal of money to someone,” Dagan said. “Word is that you’re the one to go to for that sort of thing.”

“I’m definitely the alpha male around here,” Wolf said.

Proceed to the conclusion...

Copyright © 2005 by Lewayne L. White

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