“Well, you made a right dog’s dinner out of that!” said Butch.
“Thank you,” smiled WPC Evans as she passed the second dinner bowl through the bars of the police dog pens.
“Lovely,” agreed Cassidy, his mouth full. “What’re we up to today, then?”
Kippie shook her head and wagged a finger at the pair. “Oh no! You guys are staying here. I’m going to St Mildred’s.”
“Decided to get some GCSE’s at last, huh?” asked Butch, tucking into delicious, nutritious marrowbone jelly.
“Ho ho,” she replied, her voice laced with sarcasm. “No. Basically, I’ve got to check out some old caretaker chap.”
“Check out a handyman, huh?”
“Yes,” came the stern reply. “In a professional sense.” Cassidy swallowed his mouthful. “Why can’t we come? I love kids.”
“But you couldn’t eat a whole one, right?”
“A toddler, maybe…” said Butch.
Cassidy threw him a disapproving look. “No,” he said indignantly. “I mean it. And children love me too.”
“I know,” Kippie conceded. “But, basically, the Guv’nor doesn’t want another St Mary’s.”
Butch smirked into his dinner. Cassidy attempted to look surprised and abashed at the same time, managing only maniacal constipation.
“I was just responding to my training,” he protested. “If I smell drugs, I go for them!”
“And you smelt drugs in the priest’s pants?” WPC Evans asked, eyebrows raised.
“Maybe I did get a little carried away…”
Kippie smiled at the memory. “I seem to recall you carried away quite a lot!”
Cassidy hung his head.
“And it’s not going to happen again. Not today.” She jabbed a finger at him in good humour. “Because you’re both staying here.”
“Busted!” said a voice behind her.
Evans turned around. “Oh. Hello, Foxy. Who’s your friend?”
Foxy Loxy wandered up to her, Turkey Lurkey perched once more on his back and Weasel tailing along behind. “Kippie, I’d like you to meet Turkey Lurkey. He’s helping us with our enquiries. Turkey Lurkey, WPC Cerys Evans of the Police Animal Unit.”
“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Turkey, with a slight bow.
“Don’t mind me,” muttered Weasel, morosely.
“Oh. Hi, Weasel,” said Kippie, giving Foxy a cheeky wink. “I figured that you’d figure that I was going to ignore you anyway.”
“Touché!” said Foxy, with a grin. “You’re surprisingly full of the joys of life for this time of day, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“Not at all. I’ve a split shift today.” (As opposed to a lit spliff, Kippie’s usual reason for being calm in the morning.) She turned to the dogs. “Then it’s nights for the rest of the week. Get some real action, eh boys?”
“Too right!” said Butch.
Cassidy turned to his brother with a childish grin. “Speaking of action, what’s going down with Spandex, Foxy?” he asked. “Somebody lost a cat?”
Butch sniggered. “Goldfish flushed down the toilet?”
Foxy smiled back without humour. He and Weasel were officially “Special Animal Detectives” or, unofficially, “Spandex” for short. This was not a source of great joy for the pair – spandex shorts are never a good thing. The official abbreviation was SAD but this was not much better, particularly given Weasel’s morose disposition.
“Nothing so serious, fortunately,” Foxy replied with an air of disinterest. “I’m looking into claims made by a psychiatric patient in City Hospital that he contaminated eighteen thousand tins of Pedigree Chum with rat poison.” He peered through the bars at the dogs’ bowls. “Don’t believe it myself but let me know if you find yourselves bleeding to death, or anything. Chums.”
Kippie left the Alsatians staring suspiciously at their breakfast and followed Foxy and his companions out into the car park.
“Sorry about those guys,” she said. “Basically, they’re just sore about having to stay here.”
“That’s alright. We’re used to it. For us it’s all about the case, not the respect, eh Weasel?”
Weasel gave a surprisingly big shrug for an animal with such small shoulders.
Kippie brushed aside part of her fringe that was trying to blow in her eyes. “So what are you guys really up to?”
Foxy stood proud. He was generally given free reign to act independently but technically the SAD unit fell within jurisdiction of WPC Evans and the Police Animal Unit. (The irony of this was not lost on Detective Sergeant Thomas Jenkins, who had tried for many years to get WPC Evans into spandex; the view that spandex shorts were not a good thing was not universal.) “As a matter of fact, we’re following up a lead on that tortoiseshell thing.”
“Uh, huh. Reckon we might have ourselves an eye-witness. A goat. We’re heading over to Toby O’Bee’s to find out if he saw anything – the goat, that is.”
Kippie inclined her head with interest. “Really? I’m on that case too. I’m about to go to St Mildred’s. Toby Ron’s is on the way. Do you want a lift?”
“We’ll probably just end up leaving your car smelling of animals,” warned Weasel.
“That’s OK,” Kippie told him. “I’m taking the dog van.”
“In that case, my dear,” beamed Turkey Lurkey. “We’d be delighted.”