“OK,” Butch agreed reluctantly in response to Cassidy’s goading. “Let’s do this thing.”
The thing turned out to be both dull and tabby-cat-free. The main farmhouse was quiet and deserted. Without a warrant, they could not force their way in and, in contradiction of all the rules for crime dramas, no one had left any of the doors or windows unlocked. The dogs could not find any recent traces of Garth Jones, nor goats or tortoises for that matter. Tommo was getting visibly bored.
After an hour, Kippie decided to pull the plug on the operation. Cassidy had eventually found some signs of life in the form of vehicle and animal tracks near a wooden hut on the outskirts of the property but the recent rain had washed away the detail and it was not clear what kind of vehicle or what kind of animal.
They could have been goat tracks but they could equally have been deer tracks as far as Kippie knew. The manor house a couple of miles north of the Jones farm kept some deer and they regularly escaped.
(The escaping deer always caused mayhem on the local roads. This was not because they caused more accidents, as such. At least, not unless you can accidentally phone up Griff “The Reaver” Evans and his armoured pickup and cause him to accidentally drive around the area until a hapless beast was spotted and then accidentally mow it down at high speed allowing the original caller, who just so happened to be tailing Griff at the time, to claim the carcass in the well-established “if it’s road-kill, it’s not poaching as long as you don’t hit it” myth. Technically, the carcass actually belonged to the local council (or whoever’s land the poor creature was on at the time - Griff had been know go off-road sometimes in his quest for the perfect accident -) but these thing never made it to court. Entirely coincidentally, the local magistrate and Griff “The Reaver” Evans never seemed to be short of a venison sausage or the odd haunch.)
Likewise, the vehicle tracks were not of obvious of interest. Kippie considered taking a mould but decided that (1) the definition was too poor following the rain, (2) there was nothing unusual about keeping a vehicle in a shed on a farm, and (3) she really could not be bothered. Judging by the width and depth, the it was probably a van or four-wheel drive vehicle of some kind and it had been in and out of the hut several times. She made a note to look up Garth’s vehicle collection when they got back to the station.
“Come on,” she sighed. “Let’s make tracks.”
Butch’s ears perked up. “Wouldn’t that be fabricating evidence?”
Kippie looked at him. If she did not know better, she would have interpreted that look as eager willingness rather than shocked reproach. She did not know better: Butch did not just throw the rule-book out of the window when it came to bringing down a suspect, he strapped a brick to it and aimed at the suspect’s head.
“I don’t mean...” she tapered off and pointed at the police van. “Just get in.”