Categories > Original > Humor6 Reviews
How does searching for a cat lead a bungling detective into solving a high profile crime? Only Victor Callaway knows.
"I keep telling you, Vic. You don't have any clients
because you're a lousy detective!"
I could tell she was mad. It was in the way she talked.
It was in the way her nostrils flared as she uttered each sound.
Can't say that I blame her. It's tough being a secretary.
Especially if you work for me.
Victor Callaway. Private investigator. At your service.
At the moment, though, I was reading the newspaper, legs
propped up on my desk, while my secretary was telling me the
current state of affairs of my business.
She was always too serious about that stuff.
She was standing in front of my desk, arms crossed. She
wore an orange business suit and a perfume that smelled like
oranges. Her blond hair was neatly tied back in a bun-she was
always a neat freak-but I could see a stray lock or two that
were disobediently trying to escape their well-ordered
It wasn't that I really needed a secretary. It was just
expected in the P.I. business that I got one, so I hired her.
Diane was an old friend from college, so I overlooked the fact
that she didn't know a thing about detective work when she
started. She was a fast learner, a great researcher, and made
one hell of a fine cup of coffee.
But she wasn't without her faults. She once tried to
organize the stuff inside my office. But I couldn't let her do
that. How would I find anything in here if they were placed
inside my cabinets and drawers?
Then there was the time she managed to solve a case ahead
of me, the time she accidentally threw away my twenty years-old
research magazines, the time she punched me through a wall so
hard I ended up in the hospital for a week simply because of a
little practical joke...
Now that I had thought about it, if it weren't for the
fact that she rarely complained when I paid her three weeks late
on occasion, I would have simply gotten an answering machine.
"Vic, are you even listening to me?" she snapped.
It always happened whenever I tried to focus on my
internal monologue. She would always expect me to listen to
her. I hadn't been paying attention. For all I knew, she could
have been talking about the King of Spain flying over the plain
or her breakfast danish.
I had better think fast or I would not be getting any
coffee for the next few weeks.
What was it she was last talking about? Hmmm... Was it the
electricity bill aga-Oh, yeah, she was yapping about not
I looked up at her and slowly set my newspaper down.
"Diane, it's just a lull in the P.I. biz." I stood up and
pointed dramatically towards the door. "A client is coming in...
I waited for the right moment to say "now." I always had
a thing for theatrics. Impressed more people that way.
There was a pregnant pause, during which I realized that
the ceiling of my office had gained a few new cracks.
Diane tapped her feet and arched an eyebrow in that subtly
sexy way of hers.
"Any minute now," I assured her.
She rolled her eyes and sighed. "I keep telling you to
advertise, Vic. We haven't had a client since you messed up
that Gerbucks case."
"I keep telling you that it wasn't my fault! I got the
kidnap victim back safely, didn't I?"
"But you ended up setting our client's house on fire!" she
"I told them I was sorry, didn't I? I paid for the
repairs, didn't I?"
"Arrrgghh!!!" She threw her hands up in the air, like
people do when exasperated. She did that a lot. I never
The Gerbucks case had been pretty quick. I managed to
find the kidnapped girl inside an abandoned warehouse.
Afterwards, I misplaced my wallet in their home when I left.
Did I mention that my wallet was the type that had a
special flamethrower built in for emergency situations?
No? Well, it's gone now anyway.
"Diane, Diane, tell you what." I waited for her to calm
down and stop banging her head on the wall before continuing.
"If we don't get a client by tomorrow afternoon, we'll close up
and shift into that insurance selling gig you're always talking
"Really?" she asked. "Really close up this agency?"
Were those tears in her eyes? I didn't think she'd take
it so hard. Maybe I should reconsi-
"I'll go call my friend! I'm sure they still have agency
rights available! Oooh! I'm so excited! It will be so much
better than checking stool samples for you! I can't wait!"
Diane babbled on as she left my office, slamming the door as she
went. I could hear her calling someone up outside and
I shrugged. Women and their gossip.
I patted my shirt pocket for my cigarettes. Oops, I was
out of them. I had better tell Diane to buy me some later.
I picked up my paper and resumed reading the local news.
Hmmm... seemed like the museum lost a few display jewels
the day before.
"Your cat, eh?"
"No, it's a dog. He's a small Chihuahua, about this
small"-the man used his hands to approximate the size-"and has a
bald spot on his... er, heiney. He got it when he was a small
pup, you see, when he-"
I studied my client carefully. He claimed he was a banker
and had lost his pet the other afternoon. He was dressed in a
blue tasteful three-piece suit. And a nice power tie.
I wondered where he had bought it. I had to get Diane to
buy me one.
"... after that, he lost a tail in a fight with the
neighbor's cat. Dreadful thing. It..."
He looked like a banker all right. Neatly groomed and
seemed to be well-paid. He had that crisp accent that told me
he was either an Ivy-league graduate... or worked in the circus.
He also seemed to have trouble keeping his mouth closed.
"... answers to the name Mickey, a name my dear departed
wife gave him..."
As he continued to describe the events leading to his
pet's disappearance, I jotted down notes on a small pad. During
periods when he rambled incessantly, I chewed thoughtfully on my
pencil eraser and practiced the art of taking quick naps with my
eyes open. If you're curious, that last trick was taught to me
by my friend, a judge in the local court.
A few more minutes and one thoroughly chewed eraser later,
I supposed he must had been finished with his narration.
Or was merely catching his breath.
I interjected a question before he chanced to continue.
"Call me Jim. Jim Barnes."
"Okay. Mr. Barnes, your cat-"
"Dog, my dear fellow. A chihuahua is a dog."
"Right, your cat was lost when you were out of the house,
He nodded. He started to say something but I cut him off.
"Your house is around the docks, right?" Again, he
nodded. "I suppose you've checked the warehouses around that
He looked at me as if I suggested that he fly a boat to
"Err... I suppose there's a possibility that he was around
there," Jim agreed, a bit hesitantly. "I never thought about
"See, Mr. Barnes, pets like your cat-"
"-your cat could have wandered off through an ajar door
and went to play with the other cats-"
"Dog, Mr. Callaway. My pet's a dog."
"-in the alleyways or one of those warehouses in the
docks. I understand that they're pretty fair places to find
other similar four-legged creatures."
I think Barnes wanted to tell me something, but changed
his mind at the last minute. It was probably not important.
Barnes took off his eyeglasses and wiped them with his
handkerchief. "I suppose you have enough leads to pursue this
investigation." He replaced the glasses on his face. "I trust
you'll be able to find my Mickey within the next couple of
"Err, wait a minute, I thought you were only here for
consultation. I didn't agree to..."
"For a fee, of course. And a bonus, if you can find him
"...to find your cat in that time? But, of course!
You're talking to an expert here!" I puffed my chest out with
pride. And promptly deflated.
"Very good." He handed me a wallet size picture. "That's
a picture of Mickey. I'll leave the rest to you. Good day."
He picked up his hat from my desk, put it on, and left my
"Okay," I said after him. I looked at the picture. Boy,
that sure was one ugly cat!
Still, it was a paying job and I was bored anyway. I
grabbed my fedora and windbreaker and proceeded out of my
"I'm working on this case, Diane. It looks like we don't
have to close the agency after all," I said to her as I passed
She probably didn't hear me since she was banging her head
on her desk at the time. She seemed to have a nasty habit of
doing that. I really had to talk to her about it.
Well, I had a four-legged flea hotel to find.
First step of any detective's investigation was to check
with his police contacts. Doing so was tapping into a rich
source of help and information.
And the police station always had the best donuts in town.
The police station was a whirlwind of activity when I
arrived there. Men moved to and fro within the lobby, like ants
before rainy season. I took in the combined smells of cigarette
smoke, instant coffee, and sweaty men. A flurry of noise
surrounded me as I walked past the front desk and into the back
office. I managed to catch snippets of a conversation regarding
someone sleeping with someone else's wife.
Boy, is someone going to be in trouble!
I made my way past the coffee-and-donuts-delivering
recruits and the paper-carrying office staff until I reached his
office. I knocked once, then opened the door.
"... call me back if anything pans out with that park
lead," he said onto the phone before placing the receiver back
on its cradle. He turned to see me enter and gave me a tired
sigh. "What is it you want, Vic? I'm a busy man."
I pulled over a seat and sat down across his desk. My
friend sat down as well.
I had known Sergeant Edward Jones since he was a rookie.
I had helped him nab a drug-running syndicate when he was still
with the Narcotics division of the precinct. Now, he was head
of Burglary and Arsons. I could tell he was pretty busy. His
clothes smelled like they hadn't been changed for a while and he
had several eyebags under his eyes. In addition, two large
piles of paperwork and folders were taking residence on his
I tried to explain to him my situation as briefly as I
could and what he could do for me.
"I can't place an APB out on a lost cat, Vic!"
I gave him a dramatic sigh. He was always like this.
Saying "I can't do this" or "I can't do that." It wasn't as if
I asked him to give me a gun or anything.
If he wanted to play hard ball with me, I should make it
clear that I was not buying it. "Look," I explained, taking out
the picture of Mickey and passing it to him. "You'll be helping
me out a lot here. Remember, you owe me."
"What do I owe? If you're still talking about that narcs
thing during my rookie years, can't you remember what really
happened? I had three more weeks of undercover work to finish
before I moved. You were the one who blew my cover and almost
got me killed!" he shouted as he reached for the photo. His
brow knitted as he studied it carefully.
Tsk, tsk... the poor guy still didn't want to admit he
needed my help.
Ed tossed the photo back at me. "That's not a cat, man!
That's a damn chihuahua!"
"Same thing," I said, pocketing the photo.
Edward looked at me strangely, as if I walked in here with
spinach stuck to my teeth.
"... your parents were on drugs when they had you, weren't
"Not that I knew of," I answered, shrugging. "Can't you
just lend me one of your rookies? I need someone to check out
the docks for me."
"Why don't you check it yourself?"
"It's... for confidential reasons."
Ed sighed. "Look, Vic, I'm sorry. But I really can't
help you." He motioned towards the pile of documents on his
desk. "We had a string of petty robberies lately. Then
suddenly, this whole museum jewel heist made my day. Fifty
million dollars in antique jewels! The chief is breathing down
my neck to wrap it up quick!"
"So you can't lend me anything?" I asked.
"Don't suppose you have a cigarette around here?" I
needed a smoke.
"You know I don't smoke, Vic."
Three quick knocks on the door interrupted our lively
conversation. A red-faced rookie peered into the office and
"I'm sorry for interrupting, sir," he said, gasping for
breath, "but we just received reports about one of the museum
jewel suspects sighted in the downtown area!"
Ed nodded. "Thank you. Get Thomas and a squad car. I'm
going with you on this one," he said. The rookie saluted again
and left the room.
"Afraid I've got business to take care of, Vic. I wish
you luck with your investigation, though," Edward announced,
signalling that I had to take my leave.
I sighed and rose up from my seat. "Thanks, anyway." I
picked up my hat on the desk, put it on, and headed towards the
"Wait a minute, Vic..." Edward suddenly said.
I turned around, half-hoping he had changed his mind.
He pointed at the area above my head. "That's my hat."
I patiently sat on the park bench waiting for my contact.
She was late. That didn't bode well.
It was already noon. Any more delay on her part would be
My fears disappeared when I saw her walk down the path,
carrying a brown paper bag. She saw me, too, I could tell. She
approached me and sat down.
"Ehem," I silenced her.
She sighed. "Alright, alright, have it your way." She
took a deep breath before speaking. "The penguins down under
are brown," she stated in her sweet voice.
"But I like them better fried," I replied, completing the
sign and countersign.
Diane sighed a second time. She reached into the bag she
brought. "I don't see why you couldn't just eat your lunch at
the office. I didn't have to take this to you here in the park.
Or play your little spy games." She took out a table napkin-
covered sandwich and passed it to me. My mouth watered as the
scent of the tuna and mayonnaise mixture reached my nostrils.
I peeled off the wrapping and took a bite.
It needed more salt.
Still, I was hungry. It didn't matter much.
"So, how are you doing with your investigation? Found the
cat yet?" she asked, concern for my welfare discernable in her
"Mmph gngh pfhhh..."
Diane rolled her eyes and poured coffee from her thermos
into the cap. She passed it on to me and I drank a mouthful.
I swallowed. "Not bad. I'm going to have to do some more
sneaking around, though. That cat is one slippery customer, I
With a few more bites, I finished my sandwich and gulped
down the coffee. I passed the cap back to Diane, who replaced
the thermos inside the paper bag.
"Well," she said as she stood up, "if you bungle this up,
my friend said that there's still an agency franchise available
in their insurance firm."
I looked at her and gave her my best "damn, I'm cool"
expression. "Victor Callaway will not fail. Don't you have
faith in me, Diane?"
She paused and looked at me intently.
I was suddenly self-conscious. Very self-conscious.
"I don't know," she said as she turned and walked away.
I spent the whole afternoon asking random people around
the docks and showing them Mickey's photo. It was hard getting
any information which was of any use to my case. My inquiries
yielded a variety of answers, but none of them was particularly
"-that's a not a cat, that's a-"
"-never saw a thing like that in me life-"
"-you're not looking for those jewel thieves, are you?-"
"-no, but I can get you a good deal on some-"
"-that's one ugly motherfu-"
"-sure, you are. Nudge, nudge, wink, wi-"
"-I only talk to paying customers-"
"-four dollars for the first hour, three for-"
"-mister, your fly's unzi-"
"-no, but I hear some jewel thieves are hanging arou-"
"-that's a chihuahua, sir-"
Time was running out. I had to find Mickey fast.
Or I wouldn't be getting that bonus from Mr. Barnes.
I also realized that I still hadn't bought any cigarettes.
It was a tight squeeze. Literally.
I really should cut down on the between meal snacks. It
wasn't doing my physique any good. And it really gave me
trouble at times like this.
I finally managed to pop through the small window. I
landed unceremoniously on my butt with a muffled thud. Except
for a cramped midsection, though, the ordeal wasn't really bad.
Okay, so those extra snacks had given me some advantages.
The last hired hands I asked swore that they saw Mickey
inside this warehouse the other day. Since I had no other
information to go on-and the only alternative would be to buy a
lot of fish sausages and learn to talk in cat tounge-I snuck in
here. I had to wait until dusk or I could have been caught by
some enterprising dock guard for trespassing.
I fumbled with my flashlight for a bit. It flickered for
a moment, then died. Great! I brought the one with the year-
old batteries... again.
I blinked a few times to allow my eyes to adjust to the
Boy, was it dark. I could barely make out the outlines of
the large crates. I groped along the rough edge of one of the
boxes and tried to find my way around. I had to look for a
light switch fast.
"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," I called out. If little
Mickey was here, he had better come fast or I would leave him!
As I rounded the corner, I noticed that there was light
coming from just behind some boxes. I walked towards it-almost
stubbing my toe-and found that it came from behind a door.
Maybe it was the night watchman. He could have seen
Mickey. It wouldn't hurt to ask.
I approached the door, but hesitated before knocking. It
sounded as if he had company inside. I pressed an ear to the
door and made out the conversation.
"-we're fcked, Freddie. fcked, I tell you! The fuzz
caught Chuck when he went to the bar. He'll sing, man! I know
"Get a hold of yourself! We ain't caught yet! We'll just
grab the bubbles and hightail it out of here! This town's
getting too damn hot for us anyway-"
Yep, I was right. It was just the night watchman and a
visitor. If I was lucky, they'd tell me where Mickey was and I
can get home early.
I opened the door and walked in. The two gentlemen were
busy stuffing suitcases. Probably for a trip or something.
They turned to me when I entered, a surprised look on their
faces. I won't bother them too much then.
"Hi! I'm Victor Callaway." I took out my wallet and
flipped open my ID. "A private detective. I was looking for-"
"sh*t! They've found us! Run, Bruno!" the older one
He also suddenly drew a gun and pointed it at me.
Almost as suddenly, he fired off two shots.
Thanks to riot training in college, I immediately
worshipped the floor. I could hear the whiz in the air as the
bullets passed over me.
As I looked up, I saw the two men running out of the
warehouse main exit and into the docks.
Something was definitely wrong here. Night watchmen
didn't go around shooting people who disturbed their packing.
I hurriedly got up and ran after them. No one took a shot
at me and got away with it!
... except for my cousin Bob, but he was family.
I managed to catch up to the older guy, the one who fired
at me. For some reason, those bags seemed awful heavy and
slowed them down. Anyway, I leapt and tackled him down hard.
He yelped in surprise, let go of the gun and suitcase, and hit
his jaw on the pavement. He was pretty out of it by then.
I got up and saw the other guy turning around and whipping
out a gun. Instinctively, I ran, rolled, and ducked for cover
behind a parked crate, just as the shot rang out.
After a moment of no futher shootings, I peered out
Thin and lanky was standing over old and out-cold, trying
to rouse him. I decided that I had had enough of getting shot
at and rose to try and sneak away.
I obliged him, raised my hands in the internationally
recognized symbol of surrender, and turned to face him. He had
the gun trained on my chest.
"Look. I'm sorry I messed up your packing, but you guys
"Shut up! You're not going to take me to the f*cking
slammer, copper!" he shouted.
"Can't we talk about thi-" I yelped as he fired a shot
that hit the ground near my left foot.
"Damn! Hold still you-"
A low growl emanated from the stack of boxes beside him,
"The hell-" he muttered, looking at the direction of the
Out of nowhere, a black mean-looking animal barked once
and, in a lightning quick motion, latched its jaws onto his
right arm, causing him to drop the gun like a hot potato. He
waved his arm round and round in a frenzy and ran around.
For some reason, he reminded me of an ethnic dance troupe
I saw performing a tribal dance a few months ago.
"Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Argghh!!" he
screamed continuously as he tried to pry the beast off his poor
Wait a minute, that looked like Mickey.
I ended up helping dislodge the monster from its death
grip on his arm while he laid on the ground sobbing for his
It was a pathetic sight really.
I got the cat dislodged just as sirens started filling the
air. I turned Mickey's face towards me to make sure I got the
Yep, that was him all right. Black fur... large eyes...
snarling, sharp, white teeth...
He looked a bit hungry...
The rest of that night was a bit of a blur. I remembered
that the police came soon afterwards. They arrived and slapped
handcuffs on the two men. Apparently, they had been looking for
those two guys for a while. Well, good riddance to them, I say.
They shouldn't be allowed to run around shooting people.
Ed was there, too. I would have spoken to him, but I was
a bit busy wrestling Mickey into submission.
I brought Mickey back to his owner. I received my
fee and bonus from a grateful Barnes. I also charged him a
little extra for the jacket that was ruined when I wrapped it
around my arm for protection against Mickey's pearly white
Diane acted very excited the next day when I entered the
office. She talked so fast; all I heard was something about the
museum, a letter, and some kind of reward. When I interrupted
her to ask her to deposit Mr. Barnes' fee, she grabbed the check
from my hand and stared at it for a while.
A few minutes later, she shook her head. "I don't know
what lucky star you were born under, Vic, but you're amazing!
I'm going to deposit these things in the bank."
She gathered up her jacket and hat. "This is going to be
great publicity for the agency! I can't believe it! For the
first time in years, I actually have hope that this thing could
work out!" She rushed towards the door.
Before going out, she turned to me and waved. "Bye! Your
paper and cigarettes are on your desk. Don't accept anything
until I get back," she said with a smile. She gave me a thumbs-
up, then she left.
She was probably kidding about getting me those
cigarettes. She already tried that twice before.
I peered through the window looking out into the street. I
could see Diane skipping-actually skipping like a giddy
schoolgirl!-on her walk to the bank.
When she got back, I had to have a long talk with her. A
really really long talk.
I entered my familiar comfortable messy little office and
settled behind the desk. The morning's newspaper was already on
top of my desk, as well as a pack of cigarettes.
Looks like she wasn't kidding. Diane was in a
surprisingly good mood that day.
I propped my legs up on my desk, took a cigarette out, and
lighted it. I placed it in my mouth and opened the newspaper.
I took a moment to take in the combined smells of fresh
newsprint and mentholated smoke in the morning. Ahhh! There
was nothing quite like it.
Especially after a job well done. I gave myself a pat on
the back and scanned the local news. No doubt, my next case
would find me soon.
Hmmm... seemed like they caught those museum jewel
thieves. Down in the docks, huh? Weird coincidence that one...