"Sharon, if anyone calls, tell them I'm on business."
"Not that kind of business!"
She laughed harder.
"Get yer mind out of the gutter, will ya?"
I led Frieda-- er-- Veronica down into the under ground parking lot of the complex where I live, and was walking towards my car, when she exclaimed, "Oh! Is that your car?"
I looked, and saw she was pointing to a Porshe.
"Um... no. I drive a Cutlass Supreme."
"OOh! A luxury car! I bet it's a beauty!"
"Well... you definitely can't miss it."
We continued to walk down the parking lot. Farther. Farther still. Just a little farther...
"Geez, why do you even have a car?! We'd be better off taking a cab compared to all this walking!"
"Keep your shirt on! we're almost there."
"That's what you said the last ten minutes."
And there we were. I smiled, as I walked over to my little Buttercup, and leaned against her.
"Buttercup, this is Veronica. Veronica, Buttercup."
"*THIS* is your car?!"
"It's a piece of junk!"
"Hey, watch your language! We've been through a lot together. So what if she's missing most of her paint, and is racked up pretty good? Every dent has a story to tell."
I began to encircle Buttercup, and point out all the dents, scratches, and rust spots along with their stories.
"This busted tail light is from the time I solved the case of the missing Diamonds of Dixie Justice."
"Hey... I remember reading that in the newspapers..."
"And these bullet holes, were from the time I put the Mafia in their place in the case of the missing cement shoes..."
"I remember that too!"
"And this smashed window is from the case of the irate baseball player..."
"What about your smashed-up front?" Veronica asked with excitement.
In fact, it was the biggest blemish of them all. THe whole front was smashed towards the winshield with the headlights held in place with wire, same thing with the bumber. You could see the motor through some major crevasses due to the crumpled, twisted hood.
"Oh, that. That was from 'All you can drink Friday' at the Comatose Lounge. I drove her right into a wall." I embarrassingly looked away for a moment.
"Well... nobody's perfect, I guess."
"Heh heh... Yeah, well enough of that."
I politely led her to the passenger's side of the car, and grabbed a crowbar from the opened trunk to open the door for her.
"Oh, just throw those empty doughnut boxes in the back. I gotta clean this thing one day."
"And wash it, too!"
"Naw, It'd just get dirty all over again. You'll see."
As I got in from my side, I hooked the crowbar from the trunk though the door handle to keep it shut.
"All right, Baby! Give your daddy what he wants!"
"I was talking to the car!"
Her giggling was quickly droned out by the horrible screaming of the starter trying to lug Buttercup's heart to life again... but to no avail. Good thing I have company this time to help me ge her started.
"Okay... she's being tempermental again. Here, you turn the key while I pour some gas down the carbuerrator."
"Couldn't we just take a cab? I do it all the time!"
"No thanks," I said, as I used the crowbar to pop the crumpled hood open, "this is a professional business I'm running! To have a cab would be unprofessional. Besides, once she warms up, she'll start up in the blink of an eye. Now give the key a turn!"
The old iron horse coughed itself to life yet again. You just gotta know what she likes to get her going. She loves this sort of attention.
"Keep your foot on the pedal a little, so she doesn't die down!"
I quickly slammed the hood down, and went over to take Veronica's place in the driver's seat.
"Now," I smiled, as I revved the engine a little, "You'll see why I haven't given her up yet." As I slammed down on the gas, clouds of smoke shot out of the large crevasses from the smashed front, as the whole front lifted off of the ground, while we headed for the surface world.
Apparently, girls don't take too much to this sort of power demonstration. I never heard such an ear-piercing scream, as she dug her claws into the dashboard.
"Hey, watch the upholstery!"
It took her a while to calm down a bit, as I levelled off of the acceleration a degree. About this time, we shot out from the parking lot into the nightly traffic. I always hated stop lights. More screaming came out of that. Even higher pitched screaming came when I slammed the tachometer to redline in order to pass some slowpokes. You'd think she never saw flames shoot out from under the hood of a car.
"So, Cutie, where's your place?"
"Turn here!" she gasped.
I jerked the emergency brake, and slid into an open parking lot. in front of the hotel. The minute the car came to a stop, she didn't even bother to open the door, (well, she couldn't, anyway.) and jumped out through the window. As she shudderred, and convulsed, I came upon an interesting discovery.
"Hey! You live a little less than a block away from me! WHo knew, huh? we could've just walked over here all this time..."
"YOU IDIOT! YOU COULD'VE KILLED ME!!!" She snarled, as she threw me on top of the car.
"Who, me? I haven't lost a client yet, sweetheart! Honest!"
"You drive like a suicide zealot!!"
"Sorry! I'm sorry! It's a reflex you get when you're in my line of work! I'll drive better next time, HONEST!"
That must have consoled her pretty well. She began to loosen her grip.
"Please let me go! The hood is hot, and we need to start looking for clues!"
She finally let go, and allowed me to wipe the motor soot off of me.
The hotel wasn't a ritzy place... though the lobby looked better than the place where I hang my hat. Most of the males in the place raised their heads when Veronica walked in. She must have been used to the attention, as she walked past them, blatantly showing them she's ignoring them.
"My place is over this way, Rindimo."
"Go for it, sonny!" an old fat cat with a cigar shouted, as we walked past them.
"No, I'm a private investigator-- a detective. I'm looking for clues, you wingnuts! It's not what you think!"
"Aha! Private investigator! So that's what she goes for!" laughs a german shepard reading a magazine.
"No, it's nothing like that at all!"
"Doing a little 'under-cover' work, detective?" asks a nearby, small, dark-maned lion.
"You people are sick!"
"Forget them," Veronica sighs, "They've got nothing better to do. I'm used to it."
As we walked up the stairs to the second floor, I shot them a nasty glance their way. Too bad I left my shotgun in the car...
Her place wasn't the tidiest one I've ever seen. I could tell it wasn't the burglar who threw clothes all over the living room, and left piles of magazines and empty potato chip bags near the television. It was comforting to see I wasn't the only one out there who had unwashed dishes sitting in the sink...
"All right, Cutey, I'll take it from here," I said, as I whipped out my magnifying glass.
"So you guys really DO carry one of those around with you!"
"Well... I don't know about everybody else... but it sure beats haulin' an electron microscope. Now let's see... where's the point of entry..."
"Don't you want to see where all my stuff was first?"
"We'll get there, don't worry. I just like to trace the theif's exact steps." I walked over to an open window in the living room region. I carefully examined around the frame.
"AHA! A CLUE!"
"WHat?! What'd you find?!"
I carefuly picked it up, and showed it to her.
"No! The tweezers are mine! Look at what they have."
"Are you sure it's not one of mine?"
Rolling my eyes, I motioned for her to look through the magnifying glass.
"It's a long, red hair. In fact, there are a couple strands of it all around the window. It seems the culprit has one heckuva head of hair on his head... fortuneately, your window has a lot of splintering wood to capture these suckers for us. Now if it was your hair, it would have been a short, pretty creamy color."
She giggled at her folly. I proceeded to stick my head out the window to take a look outside. Even though it was night time, there was enough light from the street to see an old fire escape leading down to the alley.
"Okay, this must be the point of entry. The theif must've climbed up the fire escape, and jimmied your window open."
I turned around quickly, and squatted on the floor like I was the thief, I then looked around before skulking around the living room. I lifted some magazines, looked behind the old space heater bolted to the wall-- normal criminal activity.
"My collection was over--"
"SHh! Don't tell me! I'm trying to be exactly like he was!"
"Oh!" she giggled.
After quickly surveying the living room, I proceeded to the other two rooms in the place: The bedroom, and the bathroom. And I thought there were a bunch of clothes strewn about the living room!
"Now I didn't leave my room like this," Veronica explained, "This is all that jerk's doing!"
"Hmmm... very methodical booger."
Upon further examination, you could tell he started in a counter-clockwise fashion going from the two nightstands by the bed, over to the desk by the window, and to the main dresser on the wall opposite the bed. After that, there was the door leading to the bathroom, and on the side where we were looking in from, was an open closet, and an untouched dresser. I walked in, and pointed to the large dresser.
"I take it, your main collection was sitting in this big, open spot on your dresser?"
"Yes..." she sniffed, "I had the plushie on my bed, the photos and posters over there on the wall, and everything else I had piled on top of my dresser."
I went over to the window in her bedroom, and noticed it was open as well. I poked my head out to take a look outside again. A gentle breeze made me feel something gently brushing against my face. It was another hair.
"It looks like the guy jumped out of this window to escape."
"What? But there's no fire exit for that one! We're two stories up! You mean to tell me he fell into the alley?"
"It makes sense. He enters the living room, finds what he's looking for in your bedroom. I bet you were entering your house about this time, and the only way he could escape without being discovered, was through this window. That would also explain the untouched dresser over by your closet. He left in a hurry without finishing the job."
"Wha? Does that mean he'll come back?!" she gasped.
"I don't think so... unless you still have something really extremely valuable that he knows about."
Upon my saying that, her eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. She quickly ran to the untouched dresser, and began throwing clothes every where. I sat down on the bed an watched her curiously. A few undergarments fell by me, and made me smile. Here I was, in a woman's bedroom, with her throwing her underwear at me...
"Oh, nothing. I was just talking to myself..."
"Here it is!!" she shouted. Veronica pulled out a little box from the bottom drawer, and gave it to me. I opened it, and found a folded piece of paper. Upon opening it, There was a poem written on it... along with a lock of hair attached. the poem read thus:
To Frieda, with all my love:My love for you will never wane,
"Aw, how cute! And you hung on to this for all this time?"
"He was the only one I was ever serious with." She began to sob again.
"I'm certian he still cares for you. If he's a man of his word, then it says here he still loves you... he's just away for the moment."
"I'd like to think so... but why would he marry that rotten Nala then?"
"Maybe she got him drunk or something... It almost worked on me one time."
I pulled out a hair from the window sill, and compared it to the specimen Simba was so kind to donate. They matched.
"You're not going to like this..."
I showed her the comparison between the two. I was right. She didn't like that one bit.
"You Jackass!! How DARE you even think that my Simba would do that to me!" She slapped me good. I guess I probably deserved it. The poor thing threw herself onto the bed, and proceeded to bawl her eyes out.
"I'll um... I'll go freshen up in your bathroom, if that's all right with you..." I quickly closed the door behind me. I hate it when they cry.
I looked into the mirror, and examined my face. Lionesses are a strong lot. It looked like I lucked out this time... no bruises. I ran some cold water on my face anyway to help with the sting. After I was done drying my face off... there it was right in front of me: another clue.
Sitting there on the sink counter was a brush with more red hair in it. Curious... the theif was in the bathroom...
Well... even though I wouldn't mind being in the bathroom for a couple of hours, I have a case to solve. I adjusted my hat in the mirror, and with new resolve, barged back into the bedroom.
"Sweetheart, there's too much speculation as to who the crook is at this time... but one thing's for sure. Whoever did it has no right to do what he did. And I intend to find the stuff you hired me to find, and teach whoever it is not to harm such a pretty girl's feelings, understand?"
She nodded her head.
"Good! Now come on, we have some places to go, and see if we can dredge up some leads!"
"Yep, whoever stole yer stuff is most probably going to try and sell it. I have some connections that help me out a bit on that part."
That helped wipe the tears from her eyes.
"Okay, I'll go with you... But first let me clean myself up."
"Sure thing! I'll be waiting downstairs." ****
As I walked into the lobby, I was greeted with a cheer.
"What? So fast?" Quipped the fat cat.
"He's a cheetah. They're all fast." mentioned the german shepard as he turned a page in his magazine.
"I'm surprised he's not spending the night..." Comments the small, dark-maned lion.
"What is you people's problem?! Nothing happened!!"
"Oh sure... like it's every day she invites guys up to her place."
"Oh, forget it! Who's in charge here?"
"So, fill us in! How was it?" asked the fat cat.
"Who's in charge here!!"
"You are! You're the man!" shouts the dog.
That did it. I went outside to my car, fumbled for my weapon, and walked back in to the lobby. The smiles on thier faces quickly turned upside down, as I walked in with my rusty shotgun. I had to pick off some crusty doughnut sugar and chocolate off of the safety before I continued.
"Just tell me who's in charge of this *PLACE*."
"Mack! Ya got a customer!"
"Who? Wha?" an old scottie dog mumbled from behind a desk.
"Ah, just the man I was looking for!"
"Please don't shoot, sir! We have no money!!"
"I already knew that!"
"What? Then why the gun?"
"It was the only way to make those guys shut up over there."
"Oh!" The old one nervously chuckled. "Well then, how may I help you?"
"Has there been anyone lately who came around here looking for a place to live? Presumably someone with long red hair?"
The old dog pondered a minute before replying. "Yes... as a matter of fact... there WAS a lion with a mane of red hair who came around here. He was asking for a lioness named Frieda! Of all the names a girl to be named... but he wasn't looking for a place to stay, however."
"Can you describe him?"
"Yes, he looked much like the fellow off of that movie... oh, what was it?"
"The Lion King?"
"Oh yes! That was it! I mentioned to him he looked like that guy... and that we had our own fanatic living here."
"Did you mention her name, or the number of her place?"
Suddenly from the three trouble makers in the lobby came the scentence, "Veronica Lionlove 269!"
"THEY told him. They tell everybody! Poor girl, it's not her fault."
"I'd look into cutting those guys' leases short, if I were you. I'm investigating some property that's been stolen from poor Veronica."
"WHAT??!! Oh dear God! WHY THOSE INFERNAL... give me your gun!"
"It's loaded... but rusted frozen."
"DARNIT! Don't worry, boy, I'll get them for this!"
"Thanks, Mack... for everything." I turned at the troublemakers and smiled a toothy grin.
Shortly after, Veronica comes down into the lobby, still wearing the same bunny costume.
"I thought you said you were going to clean yourself up."
"I did! It's just tomorrow is wash day..."
"Go Veronica!" shouted the fat cat.
"First to her place, *then* out to dinner?" Commented the german shepard.
"And not even with your own species! How do I even put up with living in this world?!" lamented the small, dark-maned lion.
"Oh, go tell it to the ice machine, you losers!"
Veronica saw me tuck my gun into my jacket.
"What were you going to do with that?!"
"I was going to show them the only gun I use right now is a twelve gauge."
"Put it away, you'll make a scene."
"Sure thing, sweetheart," I comforted, as I popped the door open with the crow bar.
"So where are we going?"
"The Comatose Lounge!" I shouted, as I revved the engine up for departure.
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