Chapter 6: Helter Shelter (JB)

Published on 27 November 2022 at 16:00

After getting some snacks from the 7/11, Jimmy was a lot less cranky and stopped monologuing about how ugly and deformed I was. We promised to meet again later and I rushed home to use the phone.

 

My fingers were shaky and sweaty as I dialed the number that was printed on the lost cat poster. After a few rings, a now familiar voice answered the phone. “Hello? Velcro, is that you? Meow three times if you’re safe, four times if that cult took you again.”

 

I froze. I had no idea how to respond to that, as I had too many questions all at once. Can her cat even use the phone? “I’m just kidding,” she said. “But seriously, are you calling about my cat?”

 

When I said who I was and she said that she remembered me, my stomach felt weird, but not in a bad way. I told her a little bit about our business, as little as I could about our track record, and soon enough she was excited and oozing with questions. Before I knew what I was doing, I was agreeing that she could investigate with us and telling her that we were meeting in an hour at the Whirly Ball parking lot.

 

I was so happy that she was coming along that I entirely forgot to tell Jimmy about it.

 

*****

 

Jimmy and I agreed to meet at six o’clock, which meant that he had been there since five, probably tapping his foot and pacing and cursing under his breath about me being late. As I walked past the discount furniture store on the corner, passed the dollar store, beauty supply store and a Chuck E. Cheese, I spotted him across the lot, alternating between doing two or three pushups against the wall and flexing at himself in the reflection of a store window.

 

When I saw how pumped he was, I started to regret inviting Lizzy almost immediately. Jimmy had on his dark navy blue beanie, which was the one he chose for intimidation. He thought that the color portrayed authority subliminally because of the Navy and it gave him an upper hand when interrogating someone.

 

When I was within his sight range, Jimmy got back to doing pushups on the wall. “97, 98, 99, 100,” he counted off as he did one, two, three, four pushups only. He looked me up and down, glanced at his watch and shook his head. “You’re late,” he said.

 

I wasn’t, but I decided to let it go. “Jimmy, there’s something that I have to tell you.”

 

“Is it sorry for being late?”

 

It wasn’t, but I sighed and apologized anyway. “Yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, about our investigation today, I kind of -“ I trailed off as I saw Jimmy’s jawline tighten as he looked over my shoulder. Before I turned around, I knew that Lizzy was here.

 

“Hey guys,” she said cheerfully as she walked up. Once again she was wearing her deep blue rain coat, complete with her plush panda peeking out of the pocket. “Thanks for helping me look for my cat.”

 

Jimmy’s face began to turn red, so he whirled around and went back to doing push-ups against the wall. “202, 203, 204, 205, 205 and half,” he finished breathlessly, then turned back around. “Oh hey Lizzy, I didn’t know you’d be joining us.” He fixed me with a hard stare. I knew with certainty that today was going to be hard. “It’s nice to see you,” he said flatly. “Shall we get going? Or do you need to use the bathroom already? I know how you girls are.” Lizzy shook her head no and we began walking, Jimmy taking the lead.

 

I decided to try appeasing Jimmy before he got too rude. “I’m glad you’re here too Lizzy,” I said, blushing a little before catching myself, “it makes sense to do this together, since you know the most about your cat and what it looks like and all.” She looked a little confused at my stating something so obvious, but she smiled and shook her head in agreement. I turned and locked eyes with Jimmy. “Doesn’t that make sense, Jimmy?”

 

He stopped in his tracks and stroked his chin thoughtfully, making hmmm noises real obnoxiously. “Why yes it does, JB. Thank you for pointing out something incredibly obvious that you thought I may have missed otherwise. I guess that’s why you’re lead detective.” He took another step forward, but stopped again suddenly and then smacked himself in the forehead. “Oh wait a minute! I just remembered. I’m the lead detective. My bad, I must have forgot.” He took another step, then whirled on me directly. “And you know what? Turns out, I didn’t forget that I’m lead detective. That was sarcasm. It was YOU who forgot, you big thick-headed ninny. Don’t let it happen again.” He resumed walking, leading the way again. “And do some push-ups sometime,” he tossed over his shoulder. “You look weak.”

 

I sighed. All things considered, I’ve seen him act worse. I looked over at Lizzy, scared that she wouldn’t know what to think of my friend and his moods. But I was relieved to see that she was smiling to herself, looking like she found it all amusing and didn’t think he was actually serious. I was relieved.

 

When the quiet lasted long enough to see that Jimmy wouldn’t freely share his plan, Lizzy spoke up and broke the silence. “So what’s the plan?” Jimmy replied without slowing down or turning around. “I have a three pronged plan of attack. Since you’re new around here, you wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about."

 

I sighed. This time it was me who spoke up. “Okay Jimmy. So what’s the plan? You can tell me, I’m not new here.” Again, the response came quickly and was again tossed over his shoulder. “Prong one, we ask about the cat. If they don’t have it, we leave,” Jimmy said.

 

I waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. I sighed again, this time louder. “And prong two is?” Jimmy began to slow down, the shelter was already coming into view down the street. “Well that depends,” he answered,” on whether or not I believe the answers we get.” He cracked his knuckles for emphasis and stood still, waiting for us to catch up. Once we did, he continued, “if I think they’re lying, prong two will be ‘oh is this yours’. And if that doesn’t work, prong three is the infiltration and - ”

 

“What’s oh is this yours?” Lizzy asked, cutting him off, the confusion genuine in her voice. “Am I missing something?” Before Jimmy could answer, I cut in. “It’s something that we are not doing, so don’t worry about it. Jimmy, let’s just handle this one nice and normally, what do you say? Let’s just ask and, if it’s not there, we’ll look somewhere else and hang more posters. We don’t need all these prongs, it’s a simple plan.”

 

Jimmy flashed JB his most placating smile. “Simple plans come from simple minds, JB. Stick with me, you’ll see how it’s done.” He turned and looked at Lizzy. For the first time since they met, Jimmy smiled a real smile at her. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’m going to get you your cat back. Not even the gods themselves can stop me!” With that last bit of confidence uttered at the sky, complete with a shaking fist aimed at the heavens, Jimmy led the charge into the entrance of the animal shelter.

 

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Comments

Some Guy
a year ago

This one got me excited to read the next bit. Oh is this yours is a tradition that goes back decades. So is not even the gods can stop me. Old Ulysses learned the consequences about taking like that the hard way

Clara
6 months ago

Sounds like a fun game to play lol