Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Leopard Detective: Predator or Prey, Chapter 3

I write my kids stories while they are away at camp. I've written about sushi eating contests to save the world and a super-secret Coast Guard nuclear submarine icebreaker. This summer, I wrote to them about a talking leopard that solves mysteries. If you are just joining us, you should really start here.

After my investigation the police released the corpse to the family, who, in the tradition of their faith, sought to have the body buried the next day. Detectives usually attend the funerals of murder victims. The murderer often makes an appearance. I doubted this would be the case. Scar-man was too canny for that. He was not a typical killer. So many murderers are the product of weakness and miscalculation. Not scar-man, he was careful, plotting killer. In a sense, perhaps he was like me.

Detective Franklin allowed me to sleep in the back of his car; carefully covered. He made inquiries related to the investigation. He also picked up a pair of steaks, which I devoured in the back seat of his car. Then we drove to the cemetery. I did not expect to gather evidence. But, after my “investigation” the person, the victim, the deceased, is in my head. They haunt me, and will do so for the rest of my life. The funeral brings me some relief and comfort.

When we arrived, I discretely slipped out of his car. I have been to most cemeteries around Washington now, and knew a route where I would not be spotted. As I made my way, slowly and silently to a tree from which I could hear the proceedings, I was surprised. A little girl was wedged in my path sobbing. I should have smelled and heard her from a great distance, but my own senses were confused, with the deceased’s essence still strong within me.

She sensed me and looked up, her red, wet eyes suddenly huge and alarmed. It was the youngest daughter, my heart swelled with sadness and love. I did something I rarely did, I spoke to someone I did not know well.

“Little one. You should be with your family. They need you and you need them.”

“What…” she began. This could not go on for long. They would come looking for her and she would come to her senses. I thought fast.

“Your father sent me to look after you. I know how must feel. I know that you are sad and miss him. Let me give you gift, something very few people have received. It will give you strength, but you must promise not to speak of this ever.”

“Will you eat me?” she asked in a tiny frightened voice.

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I laughed, “Little one, if I were going to eat, the deed would have already been done. Fear not. Put your arms around my neck.”

She moved tentatively and embraced me. I began to purr. Great cats purr for many reasons, one is to calm prey within their clutches. It helps them meet their fate. It had the intended effect. I felt her arms soften, but her back became straighter.

“Now, little one. You must hurry back to your family. They have lost one beloved and are beginning to worry about you. Do not bring them greater worry; bring them strength. Whenever you need it, you can borrow strength from me.”

She released me, stepped back, and asked, "Are you Aslan?"

"No," I chuckled. "Aslan is a lion. I am covered in spots. Aslan is from Narnia, while I am from India." I could not lie to her and tell her that I am real and Aslan is not, for I am not certain of this. And I could not tell her that Aslan is a god and that I am not, because here too, I am not certain.

She turned away and walked back to the funeral, not skipping, but with a new confidence.

I made my way to my secluded spot and listened. It was about what would be expected.

Detective Franklin waited until everyone was gone so that I could make my way back to his car. As we drove I asked how the investigation was progressing, had they identified the man with the scar?

“That’s the amazing thing Spots,” Franklin said. “Everyone in the meeting you told me about remembers the man with the scar. But no one knows who he is. Everyone told me to ask someone else.”

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