Food automatically appeared in dishes at the back of the big house. Three bowls in a line; Dragoon’s bowl had disappeared. The three of us assembled at the Open Air Café every morning to eat and drink. The wait staff was non-existent. Following our meal, we would walk single-file down the long driveway to be briefed and receive our directives from George. I usually faced my missions alone. If I was paired with anyone, it was always my sister, Creepster. At night, when not on assignment, we would walk single file back to the Open Air Café for dinner.
By this time, we were six months old, full of life and bravado. The Cause was everything, and danger only excited us. That day was no different, and I left the Concrete Palace proud that I was the one chosen. I took extra care with grooming that morning. My fur fluffed, my whiskers firm, and the tips of my ears quivering with excitement. It was all I could do to keep from growling out loud as I set off into the tall grass behind the Palace.
I was to infiltrate the enemy lines, obtain the trust of the local Ruffian Raccoons and gain information. I would be feral for a week, with no contact with home base. I was going under on my first big mission.
It was about an hour before I saw them. Big mounds of fur high above me in a maple tree. Sleeping. I set up my surveillance nearby, occupying myself with a small vole that had stupidly wandered into my path. I had placed a paw upon him before he even saw me. “Halt there,” I hissed.
He lay there panting, his eyes were so large and black that they looked like the dark pools of rainwater that formed along the driveway. Something was swirling in them. I’ve seen fear do that. Terror emanated from him, I could smell it and it drove me wild with the instinct and desire to hunt. But I had to extract information from him before I could extract his tiny heart. The only edible piece of a vole.
I hooked him with a claw and held him up to my face. Close enough for him to smell my breath. This terrified him so much that he fainted. I remained motionless, waiting, the creature suspended from my claw seven inches from the ground. In a moment he came to and glanced around blearily. The seriousness of his situation hit him when he looked into my eyes.
“Tell me what you know of the raccoons,” I demanded. I tossed my head toward the heaps of sleep way above our heads. “Tell me, and I won’t hurt you.”
The little thing spilled the beans, along with his bladder. Where they went out to eat, their sleeping habits, and who was cheating on whom. Within three minutes I knew how to approach them, what to say, how to act.
I then dispatched him. I had told him no lies. He didn’t feel a thing.
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Thank you. We now return to our hero, Pepe.
I was just cleaning up as I heard movement above. From what Vole had told me, it was the leader of the band, Ralph. Ralph=crawfish+bling+playboy. Most of the young kits last spring had been sired by him. If I could convince this one, I would be in. He saw me as he was descending the tree.
There is nothing more musical than a raccoon accent. The ferret accent is a close second. It took me a moment to get into the rhythm of his speech, and understand.
“Why you be, smellin’ round my tree? Nothin’ for you here. You best stay clear!”
Corny, I know, but he meant it. I put my most innocent look on my face. “I need advise about women, Sir. I was told you are the best!”
I could see this pleased him as he fluffed his fur when he reached the ground. He truly looked twice the size he had before I started talking.
“How will you pay for my advise this day?” Always the mercenary. A characteristic of their species I’ve been told.
“The house,” I suggested. “I know where the jewelry is kept. I know how to get in.”
He actually chirred. “Lead on, my son! This will be fun! Find something blue, and I’ll tell you what I do!” His little song told me one thing.
I was in.
Stay tuned for Episode 4: In which Pepe and Ralph Raid the House and Find More Than Bling
c.2013, Fai Marie Dawson