“Look out!” Miss Maple screamed, jumping up from the spot in her yard where she was planting flowers, running frantically towards her front door. “He’s going to kill us! I’m going to die! I’m going to die!” She hurried to slam the door shut, listening for any sound from outside … Silence. She had survived.
Four houses down, Kat was busy feeding his many pets when he heard a sound in his garage and went to investigate. Approaching the side door that led to the garage, he listened for a moment, hearing a scratching sound. “Okay now,” he said, hoisting the heavy bag of feed up onto his shoulder, opening the door, “which one of you little rascals is in the garage during-?”
He froze, staring at the beast that stood before him in his garage then quickly threw the bag of pet food at it and shut the door.
Mrs. Clark was pulling into her driveway when she saw the big dark monster approach her passenger side door. “Help me!” she screamed, “He wants the meat!”
Out of nowhere a neighborhood boy named Spike appeared. “Just stay still Mrs. Clark!”
“Spike, he smells the steaks I just got from the supermarket! He’s going to kill me for them!”
Picking up a brick from Mrs. Clark’s front yard, Spike threw it at the beast. “Go away!” It turned tail and ran off.
Across town, a detective sat at a cluttered desk. Over the years, that brown desk had seen a lot of cases, some solved, some still cold, but all of them were just as important as the others. The telephone rang. “Hello, Detective Lange speaking.”
“Detective Lange, this is sergeant Hirsh.”
“Oh, hello Doug.” The detective said.
“I’ve got a case for you to look at.”
“Three days ago, a large black panther was stolen from the city zoo. It was captured a few hours ago after it terrified the residents of Danbury Lane. We suspect that whoever stole the panther probably lives on that street since all eight of the 911 calls were from that area and there are woods on both sides of Danbury.”
“I’ll drive out today and interview some of the residents. Thanks Doug.”
Later that morning, Kat sat in his front yard while his many cats meandered around his feet. The one he had named Whiskers was his favorite.
He reached for the fluffy calico and began stroking it when a young woman approached. “Hello sir,” she said. “Can I speak to you for a moment?” Kat got to his feet as the woman went on to say, “I heard there was a lot of action here yesterday.”
“There certainly was. I heard somebody stole the big cat from the city zoo. I hope whoever did it is arrested and serves prison time. Somebody could have been killed! A detective named Lange is supposed to come out and interview all of the residents. That’s why I’m sitting out here. I’m waiting for him to show up.”
“Well wait no more. I’m detective Veronica Lange.”
Detective Lange followed Kat into his house and she was appalled at the smell of animal waste coming from every direction. “How many pets do you have?”
“I don’t even count anymore.”
Taking out her laptop, the detective asked, “Is Kat your real name?”
“No. The people in the neighborhood call me Kat because of the animals. My real name is Michael Simpson.”
“Mr. Simpson, you admitted to the police that you saw the panther in your garage.”
“We have eight 911 calls recorded from yesterday and not one of them are from this residence. You admitted to the police that the animal was actually in your garage, but you didn’t report it. Why?”
“Detective Lange, I’m an animal rights activist. I don’t agree with the entire idea of animals being kept in zoos for our amusement. I didn’t steal the panther.”
“I want to do a walk through your home, if it’s okay.”
Later that day, Spike was playing a video game when the doorbell rang. “Go away! I’m playing Mortal Combat.”
A woman’s voice called from the front door. “I’m detective Lange, I need to talk to you about the panther!”
Nobody came to the door. Lange put her ear to the door to listen for any peculiar sounds. The door flew open. “I’m sorry about that miss. I thought it was my friend Shawn. He’s always ringing that doorbell.”
Lange followed Spike to the kitchen, taking a seat at the table, opening her laptop.
Spike handed her a can of soda. “Here you are Miss Lange, have a drink.”
She smiled at his attempt to be a good host. “Where are your parents, Spike?”
“Well,” he said, opening a soda, joining her at the table, “my mom is at work and my dad lives across town. I don’t really see too much of either one of them.”
“I know you’ve had some previous arrests for burglary. I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’m considering you a suspect.”
“Everybody in the neighborhood thinks I did it. Every time I go outside I see the neighbors whispering. They think I took it.”
Lange saw a huge cage in the center of the back porch. “What’s the cage for?”
“Oh that? I had a big dog about a year ago but it died. I guess I’m just too lazy to get rid of the cage.”
“Do you mind if I walk through the house for a moment?”
Getting out of her chair, she crossed the kitchen and entered the garage. There was nothing really suspicious, just a lot of paint, a black Oldsmobile, and two bicycles. She walked back through the kitchen and noticed a large bag of cat food on top of the pantry. “Spike!” she called out, “What’s the cat food for?”
Spike entered the kitchen. “Oh that? Sometimes Kat’s animals come over here so my mom feeds them. You can ask Kat, he’ll tell you.”
Lange continued to the next residence and smiled when the woman opened the door. “Hello Mrs. Clark. I heard a big cat attacked you in your driveway yesterday?”
The woman smiled as she led the detective inside to the kitchen. “I hope you like carrot juice.”
“That will be fine,” she said, opening her laptop.
“I’m a strict vegetarian,” Mrs. Clark said.
“Where is your husband?”
“I’m a widow. I live alone.”
Lange looked up from her laptop and noticed all of the statues and artwork around the house. “Are you a dealer?”
“I sell rare artifacts and merchandise to people all over the world. I used to be a locksmith, but I find selling collectibles much more challenging. I think Mr. Brown, the zookeeper, is responsible for this. He is the only person who could be.”
“What do you mean?”
“I saw the zookeeper on the local news. He said that whoever took the panther simply sedated the animal and somehow opened the cage. But Brown also said there was only one set of keys and they were in his office. He’s definitely guilty.”
Lange glanced out the window at Mrs. Clark’s driveway. “Is that your SUV parked outside?”
“Yes, and it’s for sale if you’re interested.”
“No thank you Mrs. Clark. I don’t normally buy cars with no back seat and a broken window.”
Detective Lange had just solved the case. She realized that Mrs. Clark had broken into Brown’s office and got the cage open. She stole the panther to sell for profit, but it broke the window to the SUV and escaped.
“It’s over, Mrs. Clark. You are under arrest.”
1.Vegetarians who live alone don’t buy steaks at the supermarket.
2.She sold rare merchandise.
3.Having been a locksmith at one time, she was able to get the cage open.
4.The SUV was missing a backseat and had a broken window.