There was a concert being held, the performers “The All-Typmani Symphony Orchestra.” Slated for performance: The Anvil Chorus, The 1812 Overture, and The Ride of the Valkyries. It was one-morning only, and lucky Jason – his skull had the box seats.
He rolled out of bed. It was five in the morning, and after two hours of troubled sleep, he was not in the mood for anything Wagnerian. Yet still, the band played on.
He knew it would happen. Oh, he knew! How, HOW could he have let it? At least the poor sap had died happy, and at least poor Callie was alive. The mole had spared her, for some reason, yet still the girl was subjected to the agony of being the one to discover the cadaver.
Jason shuddered and stumbled his way to the bathroom, hoping a cold shower would wake him up. This, coupled with one of Millie’s espressos, was sure to at least help.
He performed his morning ritual in silence, knowing he must stay awake. Today was his day to catch the killer.
Scotty Angora sat in Millie’s, his mind a million miles away on a planet where there was nothing but older she-kats in need of comforting. His “conversation” with Sgt. Alvarez had begun in earnest. She came up to him, even, and told him her whole story, which he listened to – an unusual event as usually the toms his age used the time when a girl poured her heart out to ogle the more fleshy area that covered the muscle. After all, her tale concerned one of his best friends, and was worth remembering, as it would be to everyone’s advantage for him to relate it to his other one.
Yet Scotty’s memory of the day before was fuzzy. This fuzziness was more than likely due to the very last thing he remembered, which was ordering “Sergeant Selena” another margarita, and perhaps another scotch for himself. From there things were very hazy. He’d woke up alone – he wasn’t sure what that meant – and come here, with a mild hangover that he let dissolve like his packet of artificial sugar substitute in his cafe con non-leche creamer.
Well, at least he’d gotten himself a date with an older she-kat, a nice, pretty one. He wasn’t about to let Jason outdo him – not that he really minded, as Scotty was not that kind of kat.
Someone was making noise. Apparently the paper had arrrived, and the headline was causing quite a bit of a stir.
It read: “Deputy Mayorial Contest Turns Murderous.”
And below it, in a smaller article: “Investigator of Murder Strings at Crime Scene.”
“Let me see that!” Scotty roared, grabbing the page away from the smaller kat who had announced the contents.
Scotty ran his eyes over it. Calico Briggs sure to get nomination with competitor dead, she was the one to find the body but had no alibi for earlier… suspect in room shown to have died of self-inflicted gunshot over an hour after the murders of Cole and servants… looks like stealth killing, or is our “new deputy mayor” responsible… investigators seen entering building… Cole, 28, was…
Scotty didn’t care about the obituary, just about the line suggesting that Jason had been there to look around. He tossed the paper aside, mumbling “hearsay” but wondering about the truth of it.
“Maybe, if Jason was there, he’d tell us,” said Tawny as Scotty returned to his stool at the counter.
“If he ever shows up,” said a cadet in a corner booth. “He’s been skipping out on us lately. Him and Whitey both.”
“Yeah, where are they?” asked a she-kat with a window table.
“Well, Scotty?” asked Tawny.
There was a rustle of the door chimes, and all eyes turned to watch Jason walk through the door.
“Looks like I’ve been missed,” he said, smiling behind droopy eyelids.
“Well, speak of the devil,” said Millie, turning to her “special pot.” “Looks like someone’s come crawling back.”
Jason shook out his hair, which was still wet. It was sticky, humid weather outside, and the crisp pleats in his uniform had gone somewhat limp.
“I’ve been a bad boy,” he admitted.
“We noticed,” said a lieutenant, picking up the newspaper and pointing to the headline.
Jason hung his head.
“True,” he said.
There was a stir of voices.
“But I wasn’t much help. Besides, it was open-and-shut,” he lied, “they didn’t really need me.”
He sank down into a seat next to Scotty, only mumbling fragments of words in response to further questioning. Finally, when the crowd had found a new focus for their attention, Jason turned to Scotty to ask him how he’d been these past few days.
“Oh, you know, it’s great being an Enforcer,” Scotty said. “I love the work – repair, sky patrol, repair, sky patrol – good routine. But there’s one of us who doesn’t seem to be enjoying it.”
Right. Derek. That problem seemed so petty now to Jason, but to Scotty it was very urgent. He went on, seeing Jason’s nod, although Jason was thinking about the mole. How he’d got in. The coffee’s consistency reminded him of where he’d been the previous morning, or rather, of what he’d been calf-deep in. What that room smelled like came back to him, and he wrinkled his nose.
“…I don’t know about you, Jase, but to me, Derek’s not the same kat he used to be.”
“Not the same kat,” Jason repeated semi-consciously.
“I see him on the helicopter deck, he’s not doing anything, I ask him to give me a paw, he does for a bit, then he up ‘n disappears… are you listening to me?”
So much blood… and that stink… on Felina’s uniform…
“I tell you, Jase, it’s not our Derek who shows up to work late, an’ stinkin’ to high heaven like he’d just been through the toilet.”
Jason dropped his coffee. Just like that. He was completely frozen. Tawny dived to mop up the spill, and Jason snapped back into reality. He jumped back before any of the hot beverage slid off the counter.
“Go on,” he said to Scotty.
“What’s there to go on about? Derek reports for duty a full half an hour late, stinking of feces and looking completely disheveled. Freaks out his commanding officer, then disappears. Shows up later a lot cleaner, but still stinking, and now he’s followin’ her AND the mayor and that Cole guy, God rest his soul.”
Jason couldn’t believe it. In a way, all the pieces fit, but in another way, it was all too strange to make sense.
“I thought you’d see it my way,” said Scotty, with a nod to Jason’s troubled expression. “That’s why I got the three of us assigned to the same duty this morning.”
“You did?” Jason whispered.
“Yeah. You and old M.P.D are partners for a day. We’ve got bodyguard duty at the mayor’s morning announcement.”
“How could you be so STUPID!” Jason said under his breath.
Jason looked at Tawny’s face as she examined him.
It was his moment of truth-or-lie.
“I’ll keep him in line,” was all he could say.
And fortunately for him, it was just time to go to report for duty.
“A good old-fashioned ground pounding job will do him good,” Scotty assured him.
Jason didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to say, except…
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