Monday, July 24, 2017

Leopard Detective: Predator or Prey, Chapter 2

Today I present part 2 of Leopard Detective, the story I wrote the little Goofs while they were away at summer camp. You can read part one here!

Alone in the morgue with the fresh corpse of David Goldman, I knew what I had to do. But I hesitated. Mohammed had prepared the body as necessary. My “procedures” made quite a mess. Mohammed had mastered the art of both preparing the body for me and, when necessary, making it presentable after I was finished.

I read the search results on my phone. Goldman was typical in some ways, different in others. He had held jobs in the government and was an international trade lawyer. Happily married with three daughters, he did a fair bit of pro bono legal work. He had an autistic brother and volunteered to work with autistic children. A remarkable life in many ways: but not even a hint as to why he would be murdered.

I went close to the corpse and nuzzled, smelling deeply. There was the acrid smell of gunpowder, the metallic dried blood, and his own pheromones of fear and shock. I smelled people, several women – not strong, but present – the wife and daughters, and there was another person, very faintly.

There was nothing for it. I could delay no more. People see what I do as horrible and disgusting. The physical act, for me, is normal. I am a predator, devouring
the edible part of my prey is what I do. My hesitation comes from the aftermath. As I lifted my head from Goldman’s skull his entire life flashed before my eyes. There was his wife in a swimsuit at a beach, her hair wet, laughing, and slowly fusing with Botticelli’s Venus. Then his daughters were mobbing him on the couch and tickling him. Then his brother, as a teenager, smiled, pointed, and said, “My brother!”

I stumbled a bit, but landed on my feet. I am a great cat. Then I lay on the floor and let the life of David Goldman pass through me. Moments of great joy: his wedding and his children. And there were also moments of tremendous sadness, the recent death of his parents – and of his brother years ago. It is this that I cannot bear, why I hate what I must do. But it also moves me, for I now know this life and want to punish whoever ended it.

A life does not flow before me in any sort of order. But I caught a glimpse of the end and let it wash over me. He was at his desk. The family was away. A man came in, he was startled, but recognized him – barely. The man had a scar on his right cheek, somehow it fascinated and froze him – an evil eye. Goldman was surprised, could not move. The man asked, a pronounced Russian accent, “The shell corporation? You can overlook this?”

Goldman, stammered, “No, I really cannot.”

The man with the scar said, “You are an ethical man?”

Goldman, frozen and focused on the scar, nodded.

“I’m sorry,” the man said. Then the gun appeared. There was a blast, a sharp pain, and then darkness.

I was not done. I turned the memory around. He recognized the man with the scar. A big meeting a few days before at his law firm. He had called it, an anomaly, something was wrong. There was some sort of shell company that should not be there. From his memories I could not grasp the ins and outs. It was a Norwegian fishing conglomerate. He knew most of the people in the room, some well, others only a bit. He reported the finding and everyone agreed it was unacceptable and would have to be addressed before the deal could proceed. The man with the scar sat in the back, saying nothing. He wore the same things in both memories, a Navy blue suit and a light gray shirt, no tie. Goldman only noted that he seemed different from everyone else, apart. He meant to ask secretary to find out who he was, but he forgot. His eyes kept wandering to the scar.

That was everything. I sat, maybe for a few minutes, maybe for hours. Memories move outside of time, as I digested his life. I cannot shed tears, but I wished that I could.

Finally, when I was ready, I spoke to my phone, “Text Detective-Sergeant: You may come in.”


When they returned, Mohammed went to the body and began to prepare it for the funeral – restoring Goldman to the man his friends and family loved. I told Franklin and Nguyen everything I had learned. I did not mention the scent.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Leopard Detective: Predator or Prey, Chapter 1

I write lengthy, involved stories for the little Goofs when they go away to summer camp. Last year I wrote them a story about my deployment on a super-secret nuclear powered Coast Guard submarine ice-breaker that battled sea monsters. (Keep your eyes peeled - there's more of that coming as well!) The year before that I wrote to them about how their grandfather and I travelled to Japan to save the world - by eating sushi!

At some point last year I became entranced with the idea of a leopard detective. (I... um... think about animals in a whimsical way perhaps more than most adults. In the not so distant past, it was mostly cheetahs.) Leopard detective grew in my mind, I began to imagine his back-story. I talked about him incessantly. GoofGirl insisted he speak with a posh English accent. Finally, I just had to write it.

I knew, even before my phone rang, who it would be.

“Answer!” I called softly.

“Hey! Spots! We’ve got a live one, can you come in?” the familiar voice asked.

“Please tell me you want me to visit the crime scene. You know I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and could undoubtedly detect something unknown to your forensic techs. Or perhaps you need me to carry out surveillance? I am designed to track prey…”

“Ha ha. See you at the morgue.”

I always want to refuse, but I cannot. I am due to go home soon and need the money. I leapt down from my tree, leaving the deer I had killed stowed in the crook of the branch. There was still a bit more to eat. When my paws hit the ground, I let out a quiet chuff, a courtesy to let any animals nearby to stay clear. I would not be hunting tonight.

I padded quickly through Rock Creek Park, well away from the trails in case of any late night joggers or others who might visit the park in the small hours. I passed the strange sounds and smells of National Zoo. The world of humanity generates a cacophony of alien sounds and smells – far beyond what they, with their limited senses, realize. Yet it is the zoo, with its animals, some known to me but many alien, so intermingled with people, that I find it particularly disturbing. I try to give it a wide berth, but cannot when I am in a hurry. The southern terminus of the park is at the zoo, the closest point to the city morgue.

I began padding through the empty streets and alleys of the capital of the United States, carefully avoiding lights, hugging shadows. If I were not saving for a trip home, I might have just taken an Uber. Besides, the Detective-Sergeant would wait. He needed me just as much as I needed him.

-----

At the city morgue I went to the side entrance. A few people know of me there, but not many, and texted my contact. In a few moments, Mohammed arrived. I was glad to see him. He is one of my very few friends in this city.

“Cheetah,” he said smiling, “I am glad you are here. There is a great mystery.”

My name is not cheetah, nor am I cheetah. Mohammed, a tech at the city morgue, was born to Masaai warriors in Kenya and knows this. But in Hindi my kind is often confused with the cheetah. It is a joke between us.

He led me to the inner sanctum, where the new corpses are stowed. I knew everyone, Detective-Sergeant Franklin, Detective Nguyen, and assistant medical examiner Figeroa.

"His name is David Goldman, big-shot attorney, found in his home in Foxhall. He's a pretty big deal and no idea why anyone would shoot him. Shot from the front, through the chest. Nothing was stolen, no signs of forced entry. So looks like someone he knew. But he knew lots of people. Of course his associates aren't the type to kill anyone."

I asked my phone, "Search: David Goldman Washington, D.C. attorney."

Nothing.


"Please give me your new wifi password and then leave me,” and they did.

Monday, January 02, 2017

From the Files of the Galactic Empire Minister for the Environment

I finally saw RogueOne - ehh, if you must know. But being a student of public policy who is fascinated with government operations I always wonder about all the other stuff going on in the Galactic Imperial Government. Since RogueOne featured a lot of planet-scale mayhem, I wondered about the thankless job of Galactic Empire Minister for the Environment (GEME). Here are some notes from their files.

GEME: Lord Vader, building a Death Star takes lots of rare resources, the acquisition of which is having detrimental environmental effects across the galaxy. To avoid this we really need to look at green alternatives to ack, accchhh....

VADER: The Emperor has chosen to prioritize job creation and planet destruction over environmental issues.

----

GEME: Grand Moff Tarkin, destroying Alderan also destroyed a number of unique species that did not exist anywhere and that we had not taken samples of. In the future you should notify us of what worlds you plan to destroy so we can do an environmental impact study and... ack, ack agggh...

-----

GEME: General Veers, I've been reviewing your assault plans for Hoth. We're very concerned about the heavy treads of the AT-ATs on the surface ice in the fragile tundra environment. Would you consider changing your attack plans maybe to lighter tread vehicles?

VEERS: You would need to ask Lord Vader, I'm sure he can talk to you when he's done with Admiral Ozzel.

----

GEME: Jabba the Hutt, we have reports that you've been making unauthorized feedings to Sarlacc. Now that's a protected species so you'll need to desist and pay a fine. What's that cage opening? Are you keeping rare monsters as pets?

JABBA: HU! HU!

----

GEME: Emperor I've looked over the impact of that shield you are generating from Endor. There appears to be a semi-sentient species so extra conditions apply to any project there. Aaaaaa! Force lightning releases toxins into the atmosphere! Aaaaa!

EMPEROR: And now, annoying administrator... you will die.