The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Missing Miamouse - Part Five
“And at first I didn’t notice because of all the other things around me, but then it came to me last night! I should’ve realized, it was odd... so out of place. I’m positive this is the right jacket, though; I mean, have you seen any other brown jackets around here? Everyone is dressed in pinks and purples and blues and yellows...”
Damien jabbered on as we walked down Faerie City just after 8am. The sun had barely peeked over the tops of the buildings and the city itself was relatively busy at the early hour. But this was typical -- Faeries were the types of Neopians to be up as soon as the sun was.
“...what if this is the right jacket? We could have the case solved this morning!”
“I’m so glad you decided to wake me up last night to tell me all of this,” I began, rubbing my eyes, “just so I could hear you repeat it the following morning.”
The Battledome shop? I wondered, hoping that I had heard what the royal Aisha was telling me last night. It seemed strange that we would find the kidnapper and the coat in a shop that sold weapons. Oh well, I thought, shrugging it off as we approached the building. Weirdoes are everywhere.
As the four of us stepped inside, my eyes immediately detected a long, brown coat, hanging from the wall. The other three, I knew, had also seen it. But none of us had a chance to do anything because a faerie Aisha appeared from around the corner.
“Hey, Damien, you ready to buy that dagger?” she said, and then turned her attention to the pea Chia on his shoulder. “Hi, Charlie. Wow, the whole gang’s here. To what do I owe this honor?”
Damien smiled and introduced Luna and me. “This is Lindsey,” he said, “and she works here with Taylor.”
“He’s not in today,” said Lindsey, and she rolled her eyes in a very blatant fashion. “Seems like he’s never here anymore.”
“Is that his jacket?” asked Damien, pointing to the one hanging from the wall.
Lindsey glanced at it and narrowed her eyes in curiosity. “No, I’ve been using it.”
“So it’s not yours?” Luna asked.
“I... I’m borrowing it from a friend,” said Lindsey, her eyes growing fearful. “What’s going on?”
I stepped forward, towering over the blue Aisha. Didn’t the manager’s kid say that the person we were looking for was only slightly shorter than myself? “We’ve been informed that a Miamouse was seen being picked up by someone wearing a long, brown coat. The description of the coat definitely fits.”
“Can you tell us who it belongs to?” asked Charlie.
“Umm,” said Lindsey, “yeah. It’s Simon’s. We go to school together. I was at his house a few days ago studying and he let me borrow it to walk home because it was getting chilly. I wore it here the next morning and he hasn’t picked it up yet.”
“Where does Simon live?” I asked.
Lindsey paused. “Earth Faerie Close,” she said finally. “It’s the second house on the right. But Simon’s innocent!” Lindsey protested. “Honest to Fyora, he’d never steal a thing.”
“We just want to talk to him,” said Damien. “Thanks. Oh, and we’ll take that if you don’t mind.” He plucked the jacket from its hook and gave her a small smile before heading out with the three of us.
Simon’s house looked just like the rest of them in Faerieland, small and yellow, with doors and windows shaped like faerie wings. The curtains were pulled closed but the windows were open... a strange combination. I knocked on the front door and took a step back.
A handsome faerie Lupe answered, massaging his temples. He frowned in surprise at the sight of us. Although his head was cocked to the side, I could tell that at full height, he’d be just under my chin...
The Lupe nodded.
“My name’s Marlo, and this is Luna, Damien, and Charlie. We’re detectives investigating the disappearance of a Miamouse from the grocery store downtown. Can we come in?”
“Err,” Simon winced as he continued to rub his forehead. “Okay.”
Once we were seated on the Blackberry Sofa, I took a quick glance around. The first thing I noticed was a messy desk, where large textbooks and notebooks were stacked in piles of ten or so. Everything else in the home looked organized, making the work area an eye sore.
“I do a lot of studying,” Simon explained, following my eyes to the books. “I go to the Howard P. Charleston Academy here. Have you heard of it?”
“Actually, yes,” said Luna. “We just recently solved a case involving that particular school.”
The Lupe nodded at the light conversation. “You did say this was about a... Miamouse, was it?”
“Yes,” I said. “Is this your coat?” I unfolded the brown jacket that had been wrapped securely in my paws.
“Yeah!” he said, surprised. “But I let my friend borrow that... how did you--?”
“We talked to Lindsey and she told us you lived here,” Damien said.
Simon’s mouth became a thin line as he thought. “But I’m guessing since you’re detectives you’re not just here to return my coat?”
“Were you at the grocery store this past Tuesday around 1-2pm?” I inquired. “I ask because a Neopian claims to have seen someone who fit your description there and also that you encountered a Miamouse near the bakery.”
For a moment the Lupe looked completely blank, and then something clicked. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Yes! I’m sorry, it completely slipped my mind. I saw a little Miamouse scampering about and figured it was someone’s petpet. I took it to the service desk.”
“Can you describe the Neopian you gave it to?”
Simon’s paw went back to his forehead. “Err... I honestly don’t remember. I ran a million errands that day.”
“Do you know if anyone came to get it?”
“I don’t,” said Simon, sounding truly disappointed. “We can only hope it’s found its way back home.”
I hated to burst his bubble when it appeared as though he really did care about it. I explained the situation and ended with, “but thanks for talking with us. We’ll let you know what happens. Oh, and are you going to be around? We may have more questions for you in the future.”
“And do you mind if we take this?” asked Luna, lifting the brown coat from the coffee table.
“If you think it might help,” said Simon, and he shook our paws before we departed.
After speaking with Lindsey and Simon, the four of us flew back to the Iris Inn to scarf down some lunch before delving into a deep conversation. There was no point in returning to the grocery store, as yesterday we were told that a Miamouse was not picked up by anyone, or even found in the store by anyone other than Kit, the manager’s son, or Simon, who just happened to be there to play Good Samaritan.
“Let’s go over this again,” Luna insisted.
I, for one, was tired of having the same information shoved down my throat, but didn’t protest. “The grocery store didn’t report a Miamouse being lost or found.”
“However, Kit said he saw the Miamouse and Simon definitely saw it as well,” said Damien.
Charlie cut in, “Simon claimed to have taken the Miamouse to the front desk where it was taken away by... someone.”
“Yeah, but who?” said Luna.
“If only we knew then perhaps the case would be solved.”
I shook my head, sifting through every detail until I could pinpoint something potentially important. “We’re missing a piece.”
“Or forty pieces,” said Luna glumly.
Damien was nodding his head slowly as if he was still processing the information. “There’s only one explanation,” the Aisha said after a moment of silence. “Someone’s lying.”
“But what if they aren’t?” Luna said, exasperated.
“We know the Miamouse was picked up by someone,” I said.
“No, we don’t,” Charlie quickly added. “Not if someone from the grocery store is involved. Then the petpet would have never left the store.”
I sighed. “Yes, it would have. Even if it was someone from the grocery store, they still would have taken her home. Miamice aren’t valuable at all! What’s the motive for some random grocery store employee?”
“We need another clue,” Luna said, dangerously on the verge of sounding whiny. Which never happened.
None of us noticed that Damien was busy checking the pockets of the brown coat. When nothing turned up on the outside, he unzipped the jacket and reached into the inside pocket. “Wait,” said Damien suddenly, reaching deeper into the inside pocket. “Something’s in here...”
“Those who ask for answers shall receive them,” said Charlie. The pea Chia was looking smug. “Uh oh,” he mumbled, after a second or two of worst-case-scenario thinking. “Please don’t let this be a grocery list or something...”
Enclosed in the Aisha’s paw was a folded piece of paper, ripped from a small notebook. One sentence was scribbled across the blue lines:
Light will show you the way.
“It’s definitely Lindsey’s writing,” said Damien, concentrating on the loopy scrawl. “I recognize it from the Battledome shop.”
I was more focused on the sentence itself. “Good Fyora,” I breathed, squinting at the paper to make sure I was reading it properly. “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
To be continued...