aka The Frazzled Mom
Chief of Police, Squidsy Jones, hunched over his desk as he scrutinized the photos. A tree had fallen in the woods and there were no witnesses. No one heard a sound. Was that possible? Ash and Fir were his top two in the department, but even they had been stumped with no links. Nothing.
“Chief,” his secretary, Octvauis burst through the door.
Jones jumped to his feet, ready for action. “What is it?”
“It’s the printer.”
Jones relaxed a little and smirked. “Cartridge is empty?”
“I had an inkling,” Jones murmured as he fished around for a new cartridge, handing if off to his right-hand squid.
As the door closed behind his assistant, he was left in the silent office, his eyes falling back to the crime scene pictures. The notion that this could have been an act of treeson, a splintered terrorist organization. He shook his head. No, it wasn’t that. Branches of government had done a thorough check on his environment. The atmosphere around the office was getting heavy. Everyone was on edge, some bending, others about ready to break. That’s when one photograph caught his eye, sparking an idea. This poor sap was part of one of the oldest family trees in town, but he’d been known to visit The Angry Tree bar from time to time. A place mostly for dead beets, it occasionally pulled in a disgruntled and over-elmed spouse.
“I wonder…” Picking up the phone, Jones made a call.
“Nah. Haven’t seen him a while,” came the slow drawl over the phone.
“Any idea where he might have gone?”
A pause, as if the bartender had nothing but thyme. “Yup, some.”
The chief was growing impatient as the conversation lumbered on.
“I think he got himself into the club scene,” said the voice from The Angry Tree. “Try Turnip The Beat.”
He knew the place well. The chief redialed and waited.
“Turnip,” a voice answered.
“Hey Joe, how’ve you bean?”
“Jones! I’m oak-kay. Haven’t seen you around lately. You don’t carrot all for this place anymore?”
The chief laughed. “Sadly, job security. Business has been thriving lately. Say, do you recall seeing a poor sap, around 25 years of age…maybe, uh, close to 25 feet tall? Usually in green. And brown.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know the guy. Was here a few days ago. What a weakling. Kept weeping about his wife. That birch was apparently seen with other timber.”
“You gotta name?”
“Fawn…no. Fern…no. Fir! That’s it.”
The color drained from Squidsy’s face. “Douglas Fir?”
“Yeah! That’s the name. You know him?”
The chief dropped the phone. The call disconnected. He couldn’t beleaf it. Fir’s dad had been a good cop and they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Wasn’t it just the other day he’d announced his engagement to Myrtle? And Ash had mentioned him tearing up over the crime scene.
He slipped behind his desk and began typing frantically, logging onto the system. He didn’t like this, not one bit. A few additional clicks and he had Fir’s job schedule on the screen. Squidsy’s eyes widened. Douglas Fir had been off the night of the murder. Circumstantial, at best, but what if…
The door burst open, making Jones ink. He growled in annoyance as he wiped up the mess. It was Ash and his chiseled face was…well, ashen.
“Yes, yes, what is it?” the chief snapped.
“It’s Doug. He’s gone off the deep end. Threatening to cap himself.”
Jone stilled. He was pensive as he tried to come up with a plan. If they weren’t careful, Fir would blot himself out. It wasn’t fair. He had to pay for the crime.
“Chief, what do we do? I’m tapped out!” Ash exclaimed.
“Your well may have run dry, but I’m a fountain of information and ideas. Don’t balk at me, but we’ve gotta catch him in the act, take him by surprise. I need you strong, unbending. You with me?”
Ash nodded as he closed the door and joined the chief at his desk.
“If we do this right, he’ll be sent to the pen-itentiary for a very long time.”