Zigs pulled up to a small, tucked away building fifteen minutes later. From the outside it seemed like a quiet, mom-and-pop pet store, but Zigs knew better. The joint was run by the Dino Twins, an infamous pair known for their dealings in the criminal underworld of Valentine City. He’d had several run-ins with them before, and not always on official police business.
A little bell rang as he walked in. Soon the dogs and cats and birds picked up the chorus. The smell of animals and bedding and feed surrounded him. He glanced around, noting that he was the only customer in the shop. That was important; the Dino Twins might not be up to talking if they had an audience. He casually made his way to the counter. It wasn’t long before Big Blue came out.
“Well well well, look what the cat dragged in,” he said. “Or maybe that’s the wrong metaphor,” he chuckled, “I don’t think a cat could get you, officer.”
Zigs didn’t answer. It was the same way he was greeted every time he showed up. They were trying to see if he was there as a cop, or there as a customer.
The silence lingered, broken only when Browning Dino came to stand beside his brother. “Well look who it is,” he said, crossing his short arms. “What can we do for you officer?”
At this Zigs smiled. They called them the Dino Twins, but they didn’t look anything alike. One was tall and dark, the other was shorter and rounder. But nobody said anything about it, and everybody called them the Dino Twins. Nobody talked about what happened to the guy who asked why they were called the twins. It wasn’t a happy story.
Zigs put his paws on the table. “I’ve got some questions for you gentlemen.”
They looked at each other with an understanding look. Zigs was a cop today. “We’d be happy to answer any questions you got, copper,” answered Big Blue. His voice was kind of high-pitched and squeaky. It always got on Zigs’ nerves. “But we can already tell you we ain’t done nothing. We’ve just been here watching the shop.”
“Save the act,” said Zigs. “You’re not suspects. I’m not here for you, but I have a feeling you might know something that can help me out.”
Browning moved closer. “Oh yeah? We know a lot of things about a lot of stuff.” It was supposed to sound intimidating, but he just sounded like a moron to Zigs.
“I’ve got a murder, and the weapon used looks like something I’ve seen in your store.”
“Buddy, we ain’t got no weapons here. Look around, it’s just animals and everything you needs for ’em.”
“No Blue…I mean your other store.” Zigs had a growl in his voice. “Ba-ba-ba,” he said, silencing Big Blue with a paw. “I know what you’re gonna say, and I’m not here to bust you for it. I just need to know. Hypothetically speaking,” he began, coaxing them along with the act, “if you were to have had a customer that bought something resembling a flail, would you possibly know how to reach that person?”
He watched as the Dino Twins exchanged glances.
“I’m not asking you to snitch,” he said. “But maybe if you had a name on a piece of paper, and maybe if it fell on the ground. You know what I’m saying.”
“No, we get you,” said Browning. “It’s interesting that you’re trying to figure out who bought something like that. My brother Blue and me were wondering something similar just the other day.”
“Yeah. Hy-po-thetically speaking like you said, we’d like to know who wants something like that so bad that they’d break into someone’s place and steal it.”
“Steal it? Why didn’t you report it missing?” asked Zigs.
“We have no idea what you’re talking about,” answered Blue with a wink. “But we don’t know who’d buy it. We’d sure like to know who stole it though.”
Zigs felt the pressure squeeze in his head. He bit back against the surge of pain.
“What’s wrong?” asked Browning.
“Nothing,” snapped Zigs. “Just my head.” He paused a moment, thinking long and hard about what he was about to ask. Another spark of pain solved his internal argument. Besides, it wasn’t like it was the first time.
“Hey,” he said, leaning in closer and lowering his voice. “Off the record. You got a bag of greenies?”
“You asking as a cop or a customer?” asked Blue. “If you’s was asking as a cop, that’s entrapment.”
“Customer,” Zigs practically spat. His mouth felt dry and foamy.
“Lemme see what we can scrounge up,” said Browning, and he made his way to the back.
It was night. How did it get so dark? He’d only been awake a few hours, and he hadn’t spent that long at the Dino Twins. But the streetlamps were on and the city lights were reflecting a rusty orange off the cloudy night sky. He shook his head, trying to clear the fog. What had happened? Where did his afternoon go, and why couldn’t he remember?
His phone rang again; it must have woken him. He reached to answer it, wondering at the same time if he needed to see a doctor about narcolepsy.
“Carter,” he answered. His mouth was so dry.
“Dammit we’ve been trying to reach you for hours. Where the hell have you been?”
“Following up on a lead,” he mumbled, trying to recall the pieces. “The wea…” he cleared his throat, “the weapon. It was stolen from a warehouse downtown. I’ve been doing…been checking up on that.” His head was starting to clear, and he was finally able to focus on the conversation. “What have you got?”
“Another murder this afternoon. Broad daylight. Witnesses. We need you on scene.”
“You got it chief, I’m on my way…where is it exactly?” he asked, almost sheepishly.
“The Iron Cage Building downtown.”
“Got it,” he said.
“And Zigs,” said Weiss, “when you get there…head’s up.” The phone clicked off, and Zigs was on his way.
He almost laughed out loud when he got to the crime scene. Heads up was right. He got out of his cruiser and saw the lifeless figure hanging from the roof of the Iron Cage building. It was perched precariously over one of Valentine City’s busiest walkways. He practically jumped over the sidewalk and into the building, fearful that the corpse might decide to fall at any moment. He bounded up several flights of stairs until he came to the roof.
Weiss was already there. “Watch your step,” she said over the howling wind.
Zigs navigated the pipes and wires on the roof until he was beside the body. “So,” he said, analyzing the body, “what’re we hanging around here for?”
“Not funny,” said Weiss. “Happened in broad daylight. We’re checking with building security now to see if the cameras caught anything. There were a couple of eyewitnesses that said they saw a struggle. Too far to make any substantial I.D, but said our perp is medium build and had a brown coat.”
“Well that narrows it down,” joked Zigs.
“More for the cameras,” she responded. “I need you to follow up with them and review the tape. We’ll bag the body.”
Zigs stood and looked over the city. He loved the way the lights twinkled as the heat from the streets rose into the night air. He felt the dull throb start to rise and shook it off before making his way back to the steps.
“Carter,” Weiss shouted just before he hit the door.
“Yeah?” he hollered back.
“It better not take me two hours to reach you the next time I need you.”
Zigs opened his mouth to reply, but simply nodded his head. He made his way to the security office. “Zigs Carter, V.C.P.D. I was told you’re getting tapes for us.”
“Yessir, and almost got ’em all copied. She said you needed everything from the past four hours.” He clicked a few buttons on the computer and a disc ejected from the tower. “And that should be it,” he said. He held up a small clipboard. “If I can just have you sign here.”
“What’s that for?” asked Zigs.
“I just hafta keep a log of any copies I make. You know. Corporate.”
Zigs signed and took the evidence. He checked his watch. He’d been on all day, even if he couldn’t remember part of it. He needed to go home and get some sleep, and he could watch the video there. The pressure kept growing in his head. Tomorrow he’d make an appointment to see a doctor.
He got home and booted up his computer. He poured himself a bowl of food. He started to eat, but realized he wasn’t too hungry. The pressure in his head kept growing. He put the disc into his computer, and fumbled around in his pockets. He pulled out the small bag and took out a greenie. The cop in him wavered, but he knew it would help with the pain. He held it loosely in his jaw while he began watching the film.
He woke to the sound of birds chirping out his window. The pain in his head was gone. He yawned and sat up. He must have been exhausted. He couldn’t remember watching the video at all. He got up to make some coffee, and made his way back to the video. He needed to watch it so that he would have something to tell the chief.
He plopped down in front of his computer and went to access the video. Nothing happened. He looked down and saw the cd drive open. The disc was gone.
A shiver went up his spine. Someone had stolen the video evidence of the murder. Someone had been in his house while he slept. That someone had to have been the murderer.
Zigs sprung from his seat and checked every room in his house. He checked the locks on the doors, he checked the windows. There was no sign of tampering. His mind was racing. He had to gather his thoughts.
He sat down and mindlessly finished his coffee, gazing out the window and wondering why the killer had spared his life.
Follow Zigs from the beginning