Chapter 4, Part 1
Well, she is dead. Very, very dead. The four of us form a little half circle around her body and we are all staring, mesmerized and horrified, by the neat hole in the center of her forehead. Pillow Girl is getting stiffer by the second and I have no idea what to do.
“Hmmm. Well, good thing Lucy isn’t here.” Emil says. “We’d have some seriously squalling pug on our hands.” Emil’s playing it big but we can all tell he’s really upset.
Ten minutes ago, we yarded in and met Bo. Bo is another celebri-police dog from the west coast. He’s big pals with Emil. There’s a minute of sniffing and paw touching and we walk into the central great room at Pink Paws. We bump straight into Shane and Scruggs, the Texas police dogs we spent the last two days evading. Jason, their human, gives me and Tasha a long stare and then moves a bit to the right to clear our view to one very dead girl.
I turn away from the body as my stomach is churning. “You’re sure it’s Pillow Girl?” I ask. Death lessened and blurred the person I observed at Pink Paws two short days ago. I felt like I couldn’t tell who the body was without the vibrant force of personality behind it.
“Yep.” Michalene says. “It’s very much Christine.”
I wince at that. I never knew her real name. I turn back around to see Tasha and Emil carefully inspecting the body. Gross. I immediately turn back around. Scruggs is laughing at me in his hiccoughing dog laugh, apparently delighted that I smell of impending vomit. I promptly flip him the bird. Lucy style. That slams his muzzle shut. I turn back around, will my internal organs to behave and carefully focus on the painting of a reclining (naked) afghan hound artfully displayed above the bar.
Bo flanks Tasha’s other side. I concentrate on him for a second, forcing myself to think. Bo is a handsome medium sized black dog. He looks like a large, silky cocker spaniel. He and Emil are obviously good friends which probably means Bo’s pretty smart. I’m glad as I think we might need a cop in our corner.
I glance at the body again. Damn, big mistake. “Is that a laser…” I begin. Sweat starts running down my back. Eyes back to the bar! Eyes back to the bar!
“Yup and it is a celebridog weapon.” This is from Tasha, who now stands up and brushes her hands on her pants. Emil is saying something smart but my head is roaring and everything is getting fuzzy.
Michalene discreetly nips my ankle. Yowwwza! That will snap you back into focus.
I rub the top of his fuzzy white head. “Thanks Michalene.” I say. I’m still green around the gills but not about to fall over.
“No problem Emma. You smell all fainty.” Michalene says with a sigh. He looks as low as a fuzzy white dog can go. “I’m think this is my fault.” Michalene whispers up to me carefully, trying to keep the others from hearing.
“Why?” I ask. “Why? We’ve been in Texas for the last two days.” Bo had met us at Pink Paws Yard with a worried look. He had Scruggs and Shane hot on his heels but even they had to admit we had been in Texas during Pillow Girl/Christine’s potential time of death.
“But why was she killed.” Michalene says with emphasis. “Think about that night at Pink Paws. I was about to blow Pink Paws when Lucy got Parson’s text. Emil thought Shane and Scruggs were looking for me and they were already at the front door. I remember being so happy to have a good excuse to cut out of Pink Paws.” Michalene pauses to nervously scratch an ear. “Does Christine’s murder have something to do with the bad pig ears? The bad ear buzz was all over Pink Paws. Especially with Lucy squalling her brains out over Parson on the dance floor. What if the bad pig ear dealer got spooked or something like that.”
I try to fit it all together in my brain but I can’t make it work. “Why kill Christine? It would make more sense to kill you instead.” I say. I straighten back up and glance over at Tasha. My brain is starting to get used to the dead body. I can look at Christine’s hand without passing out. Yay me. Tasha motions us over.
“I’ve moved the body a hair. She’s lying on top of something.” Tasha says, looking at me expectantly. “If you could give me hand….”
“Are you crazy?” I hiss at her, under my breath. There is no way I’m touching the body.
Tasha gives me the look. It’s the look that says “I’m looking at a real weenie.’ What can I say; she’s right on the money. “Emmaluna, seriously, suck it up. Emil weighs less than a can of Chunky Soup. Michalene comes in at 22 lbs. You, me and Jason have thumbs.”
“Get Jason to pull at her! Gross! And, you can’t make me!” I say. I rapidly walk to the bar. I’m intent on finding some sort of liquid refreshment that doesn’t contain liver or any of its essences. Ah, a bottle of Grey Goose, no liver. I pour myself a shot. Whew. Another shot. Down the hatch.
“Feeling better?” Jason asks. He followed me over to the bar. Jason is plain or maybe, non-descript. He gives me a smile. I’m not sure if he’s laughing at me but the grin greatly improves his face.
“I can now touch dead bodies. Dead, dead bodies. The yucky, extremely dead body of a pretty girl I waved at two days ago.” I say, hurping a little in my mouth from the rapid intake of Vodka. We walk back to Tasha. I close my eyes, take a firm hold of Christine’s stiffening paw and tug. Jason helps with her shoulders.
“I got it.” This is from Tasha. I let go of the hand, keep my eyes shut and spin around. No reason to traumatize myself any further.
“Oh shit!” Michalene barks, his voice sinking.
“Yours?” Tasha asks, shaking the bag of deep brown pig ears. Both Scruggs and Shane come to attention and Bo sidles over to Michalene.
“You’re positive those are yours?” Bo asks, gently. Michalene has lain on the dance floor, his paws over his eyes.
“Yeah. I can smell them from here.” Michalene says with a sigh. “I didn’t hurt Pillow Girl. You guys gotta know that.”
“We do.” Bo says. “We have mini cameras set up at most dog pounds near each celebridog hot spot. We were watching you hang out in the animal control parking lot all day.”
“What!” Emil yaps, leaping straight into the air. “What were you waiting for, animal control was about to off Parson.”
Shane and Bo just looked at each other. Neither one said a word. Finally Scruggs spoke. “We were heading up to get Parson and Newton when we passed you on the access road.” Scruggs growled out with a shrug but he wouldn’t look at Emil or Michalene.
“You dicks!” Emil barks out, levitating about a foot of the ground with each word.
“Hey!” Bo says.
“Hey now nothing! I know what you were waiting for. You were waiting to see if Michalene had any pig ear action while we were in Texas, waiting to see if you should close in for the bust.” Emil says, quivering with rage. “You waited too long. Parson was minutes from buying it.”
“That’s bullshit Emil, and you know it. We were on our way.” Shane barked at top volume.
“Shut up! You weren’t in there. They had the shot ready. You put Parson at risk following a shitty lead. A shitty lead that went nowhere. The only good thing is you gave us the world’s best alibi.”
“Christine.” Michalene whines. He’s cowering on the floor. I think about picking him up but I’m not sure if it will go over well.
“While you were sniffing up our skirts hoping to find us with no panties, Christine buys it 1200 miles away with a bunch of Michalene’s ears on her and none of you have a clue what’s going on! Emil growls. His hackles are up and all 3+ lbs of snarling Emil is bouncing aggressively on his toes. “Tell me you have some idea who’s doing this. Shane? Scruggs? Bo?”
“Step off Emil!” Bo says. Emil flashes teeth and for and few seconds the two old friends face off. Three seconds later they both back down at the same time. “Frankly, we thought it was Michalene. Moving in Lucy the Pug’s entourage is perfect cover. We’ve been watching the both of you. Obviously, we must regroup.” Bo pauses to push some of the silky hair out of his intelligent eyes. “Where are Parson and Lucy now? Did you leave them with Pathetic Bob?”
“They’re in Vancouver. They promised to stay locked in Emil’s house.” Tasha answers a hint of worry in her voice. “They are sleeping. Parson was done in.”
“Shane, Scruggs and Jason will deal with Christine. We need to head to your place to regroup. The Yards must stay down, though I expect the bar owners will start screaming this afternoon. Can you scan the last 15 or so uses of the Pink Paws Yard and all the links after that?” Bo asks. He’s managed to successfully channel Emil’s anger.
“Yeah.” Emil answers. He runs over to Tasha, who instantly scoops him up and snuggles him to her special pillows. “That’s a great place to start. You are coming, Bo?”
“Affirmative, Emil. I need that list.”
I listen with half an ear to their banter and step up to Michalene, who’s still sprawled dejectedly on the dance floor.
“Wanna lift, white fang?” I say, gently pulling Michalene’s nub of a tail.
“I’m a little heavier than Lucy.”
I scoop him up anyway and Michalene snuggles in, tucking his head under my chin.
And we’re off.