“Boss,” Mittens said. “I can’t find anything on any murdered tricolors other than our five. Tom-tom must be delusional about that.”
“Same here, Boss,” Princess said, not to be outdone.
“I too have found nothing to corroborate Tom-tom’s claims,” Sassy said.
“Mittens, check the Internet,” Crusher said. “I want this thing over now. Director Shadow is sending out a press release that we have the killer in custody and he wants closure for all the victims’ friends and family. He means all the victims, not just our five.”
“On it Boss,” said Mittens.
“Princess, you’re with me,” Crusher went on. “We are going to talk to Tom-tom again.” Princess rose to his feet. Why couldn’t the Boss have selected Sassy for this? Tom-tom made his hair stand up. Nonetheless, he followed the Boss down to the holding cell.
“Tom-tom,” Crusher spoke to the tomcat in the cell. He looked very different from the simple homeless cat Princess had first met three weeks before. Princess wondered if the tomcat had bathed at all that day. It certainly didn’t look it. He looked more like an all gray cat than a gray and white one. His fur was matted and stuck out all over his body. He also smelled. Princess did his best not to gag. Had the tomcat urinated on himself? “You stated that you eradicated eight tricolored vermin?”
Princess had to admit the Boss was good. He wouldn’t have thought to put the question that way. He would have asked if the tomcat was telling the truth about killing more than five queens. He wouldn’t have gotten an answer either.
“More,” said Tom-tom. “I did as the Lady commanded me.” His tone made Princess’ flesh creep. He willed his fur to lie flat and sleek.
“Where?” Crusher said.
“Let me out,” said Tom-tom. “I’ll show you.”
“Not gonna happen,” Crusher replied.
“Then you will never know.”
“Boss,” Mittens met them as they entered the squad room. “There’s nothing about any other killings of tricolored cats anywhere on the Internet.”
“So he’s lying,” Crusher said.
“Looks like it,” Mittens said.
“Good work, Mittens,” Crusher said. “You’ve all done good work. Go on home and get some sleep. You all deserve it.” Princess hid the inner glow that small amount of praise gave him, even if he did have to share it with Mittens and Sassy. The Boss didn’t give lavish praise. He hardly praised anyone at all, so that little bit of praise was worth a lot.
What do you think will happen to him?” Mittens said. “He was drooling heavily at the end there.”
“Humans may take a hand,” Princess said. “They may see him and think he’s rabid. If they do, they’ll kill him.”
“It would be a kindness,” said Sassy. Her companions looked at her, astonished. “What? You cannot think life in a mental institution is going to be fun for him?”
“No,” Princess said. “I didn’t think of that at all. I’m just surprised that you would think of humans killing a cat was an act of kindness.”
“They often kill animals in pain,” said Sassy. “Usually they try to save the animal, but if they decide that they can’t, they put them out of their misery. That is kindness.”
“I suppose so,” Mittens didn’t sound too comfortable with the idea. Princess wasn’t comfortable either.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Tom-tom is not going to kill anyone else.”
“True,” said Sassy.
“So he was just more or less choosing tricolored cats at random?” Director Shadow was saying as Princess returned to his desk.
“Not exactly,” Crusher said. “We’ve learned that his mother was a tricolored cat and he felt that she’d abandoned him. Maybe she did, we’ll never know that. What we do know is that his delusion, Bastet, told him that tricolored cats were evil and he had to eradicate them.”
“I see,” said the Director. “So his choice of those five cats was random within the group of tricolored cats in the city.”
“More or less,” said Crusher.
“If he had succeeded in killing every tricolor in the city,” Director Shadow mused, “would he have stopped?”
“Hard to say,” Crusher replied. “He might have moved on to the next city.” He paused a moment. “I will say that I would have put out a press release telling all tricolored cats to run for their lives, if I wasn’t certain that I would get him soon.” Shadow laughed.
“No you wouldn’t,” he said. “Because I would have done that long before you admitted that you were not able to catch this cat.” Crusher gave one of his rare smiles.
“You know me too well, sir.” They disappeared into the Director’s office. Probably going to talk about it more, Princess grinned at no one in particular. There was a certain amount of pride to a job well done. He was exhausted and would sleep well tonight.
Mittens entered the office after going to tell Doodles that she was safe and no one was going to be trying to kill her.
“Hey Probie, how’d it go?” Princess was feeling good.
“She dumped me,” Mittens said. “Said it’s too dangerous here in the city and she is moving away.”
“So your personal problem is solved, Probie,” Princess grinned. “Everything’s good.”
“So why the long face?” Sassy asked. Yeah, the Probie was looking a bit down.
“She dumped me,” he said. Oh, it was a pride thing. Princess’ grin got wider.
“Well, Mitts, you do seem to attract the nut cases,” he said.
“Princess!” Sassy protested. “That is not nice.”
“No, it’s fact,” Princess said. “Remember his last queen? The one who tried to slash him because she thought he was avoiding her? And the one before that who…”
“Please!” Mittens held up a paw. “I don’t need to be reminded. I’d thought Doodles was different that’s all.”
“You should have known it wasn’t going to end well when she tried to move in,” Sassy said.
“I know,” Mittens said.
“Look on the bright side, Probie,” Princess got to his feet. Time to go home. “She won’t be moving in with you.”