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Baby’s First Noir Part 8

Baby’s First Noir
Part 8

When the sun came up, it was on a forest that was different than the one that it had seen when it went down. For one, it had gone down with Reddy the Rat all snuggled up in bed, and when it came up, he was tired to a sunflower’s thick stem. He’d been there most of the night, while his captor took most of his personal stash away. It was more than his cut of the squirrel’s stash, more than they’d originally taken from him in fact. By this point though, the squirrel had decided on a new plan. It was hours before he came back with the shillelagh that Reddy had brought with him from Ireland. After that, he’d just paced back and forth, as if trying to decide what to do with him.

“I can see you’re angry.” Reddy said for the fifteenth time. “I understand that, but look, it was just a job for hire. Chirpy and Chopper took it too far, that can’t be denied, but I was just along for the acorns.”

“Uh huh.” The squirrel said, walking back and forth, waving the cudgel.

“Smacking my head in with that shillelagh isn’t going to fix anything.” Reddy said, for only the eighth time.

“Uh-huh.” The squirrel said for the fifty-third time.

“I’m just making the point boy-o.” Third time.

“Yeah.” The squirrel said, for a change of pace.

He looked at the cudgel in his hand. He’d be damned if he’d use the name Reddy used. It was mostly a walking stick, but it had a large round knob of a handle that could be used as a club to kill an animal if needs be.

“Won’t you talk to me?” Reddy demanded.

“You know how cold kerosene is when it soaks into your fur Reddy?” He asked suddenly loquacious. “And you know it’ll be so damn hot when it lights. And you stood there and handed Chirpy your lighter.”

“Not me, me boy-o.” Reddy demanded.

“Yes.” He said, and swung the stick.

Reddy’s head snapped hard to the left, and as he lifted his head to look, another blow smashed against his head again. And then another, followed by another. That fourth blow was all that Reddy was aware of, but the blows continued until the stick broke. As that point, the squirrel picked up the end of the stick and finding it had a sharp point, rammed it into Reddy’s neck.

Blood only gushed a little, which meant that Reddy was probably already dead when the stab was made, but he had to be sure. He went down to the river and washed himself off, as he did every time, making a little ritual out of it. He cleaned his fur carefully, wiping his face and paws off, then he dipped into the river and shook around in it before getting out and shaking himself off vigorously.

He wasn’t sure about going back to Ruby’s at first, because she didn’t like this, but it was cold and he needed warmth. He was also afraid of Billy watching her place. Billy might talk about the one day when they’d take care of Big Tony, but that was just the one day that’d never come and they both knew it. He decided to risk going to Ruby’s though.

She wasn’t home when he got there though. She was still at work and as such, wasn’t able to see the huge pile of nuts he’d procured. He laid down on part of the pile and after such a hard night went to sleep.

—-

Billy the Badger sat in Ollie the Owl’s office, looking at his superior. Chief Owl was probably the wisest and most sensible animal in the entire forest, so Billy always came to see him when he we troubled. Ollie was so revered, almost everyone simply called him Owl.

“Tell me the problem.” Owl said, stuffing his pipe carefully.

“There’s an old friend of mine.” Billy said, feeling small under Owl’s gaze. Owl was probably the only animal in the forest that could make Billy feel small.

“The squirrel?” Owl asked. “His name was…”

“Yeah.” Billy said. “Chopper’s crowd beat him up, stole his acorns, tried to burn him alive.

“And we know this because of the reports he filed?” Owl asked, striking a match and lowering it towards the bowl.

“No sir.”

“Would this be why Choppatansky and Chippering were all killed by someone while Chintzertella was killed by someone else?” Owl asked simply, managing to keep accusation out of his voice. “Because of their attempt to kill your friend?”

“You could say that.” Billy nodded, noticing that he was knotting his hands in his lap and trying to force himself to stop.

“Well, we know that Bit Tony had Bertie kill young Chintzertella.” Owl said, leaning back and drawing on his pipe. “So it could be that he heard about how the situation got out of control and took corrective action.”

“No sir.” Billy said shaking his head.

“Really?” Owl asked, setting his pipe down on the pipe stand at his elbow.

“My friend the squirrel killed the two of them.” Billy said. “But we fought in the war together Ollie.”

“Ah.” Owl said, nodding his head and picking the pipe back up. “Do you know how many crimes are committed in this forest everyday?”

“Sir?” Billy asked.

“One hundred and forty-two reported crimes. Everyday William. Most of them are tiny things. Traffic citations and so forth. Less than a third are actually serious, and even them fully a half of those are somewhat petty. Is a mouse stealing some bread to feed his family really committing a crime?”

“Yes.” Billy said.

“Maybe, but then there are those that fall into that sliver.” Owl formed his wings to show a small wedge. “That’s where violent crime exists. And you see, Billy, even there we have poor souls who have just made a mistake. Someone comes home early and finds their wife in bed with their best friend, or are driving too fast, or driving drunk, these things can happen. But in that sliver is a smaller sliver, where the repeat offenders live. Choppatansky and his bunch. They hurt people over and over again, for fun and profit. They are not civilized animals, not like you or me.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” Billy asked.

“That the forest is better without that sort.” Owl said. “And if your friend is doing what comes naturally to him, then it saves us the trouble of getting that sort.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.” Billy said.

“Crime is a plague on this city William.” Owl stated. “It has to be stopped by every mean. We’re not able to live valiantly, we can’t fight the good fight, we can only hope to keep the top of the pot from popping off and exploding. If something like this happens, and it scares a few of the local punks, all the better. It’s a filthy old forest William, and we can’t keep our hands clean even if we try. So why try? Every tool at our disposal William, every tool.”

“He’s got no back up.” Billy said.

At that moment the phone rang, and Owl reached over to answer it.

“Yes? Yes, he’s here.” He held the phone out to Billy.

“Hello?” Billy asked.

“It’s Stout, Billy.”

“Yes Captain?”

“We found Reddy.” He said simply. “You think we should put some protection on Petey?”

“Yes.” Billy said. “I’ll be there in a little while.”

“Well?” Owl asked, sucking on his pipe.

“Someone killed Reddy the Rat.” Billy said.

“Marvelous.” Owl nodded, “Then it’s all done.”

“I only wish it was.” Billy said, getting up.

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April 5, 2012 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment