by Graham B.
Sam Spayed, basset detective is on the case.
The night was hot and sticky, the kind that brought strays out to prey on others. It brought the desperate, the outcasts to my establishment to right the wrongs the cops wouldn't touch.
That's me, Sam Spayed, Private Detective, and I've seen it all. Seen dreams rise like hackles on a kitten, only to watch the city grind them to dust. I've seen enough to make my ears droop until I can't scratch without knocking myself flat.
I was floored when she breezed in through my door.
"Mr. Spayed, you have a client," called my assistant, Effie Guernsey from her desk. Effie was smart, sassy and efficient, but even she wasn't prepared for this dame.
She was from the other side of the tracks. Had a coat that shone like the moon. Her collar was studded with diamonds - real ones, not that cheap costume stuff.
"You're a long way from home, sis," I said.
"I hear you're a basset hound with a nose for lost things, Mr. Spayed."
Her voice was like a cat purring in the dark.
"And you are?"
She offered me a paw to shake, soft as a buttered dog biscuit.
"I've got a job," Collie purred.
Effie came in, chewing her cud with disapproval. Effie had a feel for trouble, and if I'd paid attention, I would have noticed. But I was lassoed in by Collie's puppy-dog eyes.
"We can't take a new case," said Effie.
"Of course, we can!" I yipped. "Get me on the scent, and I can find anything, baby!"
Collie's tail wagged gently, and I would have broken into a sweat if I'd had sweat glands.
"It's a missing truck."
"What kind of truck?"
Effie threw up her forehooves in frustration like she does when I don't listen.
"My husband owns Fetch and Fry Dog Chow."
"That's a big company, miss."
"Big, near bankruptcy. Some... undesirables hijacked a large shipment."
"Why don't you go to the cops?" I asked.
"They don't care! I need you... Sam."
The way Collie said my name was enough.
"You've got yourself a detective, miss."
Collie smiled, her pink tongue lolling out.
She gave the address: the meatpacking district, a seedy place even for this town. Then she breezed out the door.
"I don't trust her," said Effie.
"Relax, dollface. You know how careful I am."
I picked up the phone and dialed.
"Chief Dobermann," said a gruff voice.
"Dobs, it's Sam Spayed."
"Sam! Been a long time! What's private work been throwing at you?"
"Collies - from uptown."
"Coming up in the world! What can I do for an ex-cop?"
"You hear anything about a hijacked Fetch and Fry truck?"
"Nothing over the wire. Got a case?"
"Yeah, but nothing to ruffle your fur over."
I thanked him and hung up.
"I guess I'd better get to the warehouse," I said to Effie.
"Be careful, Sam."
I opened a drawer and pulled out my old police-issue revolver.
"I never take chances, dollface."
Half an hour to find it, and I had to pass six hydrants, but those puppy-dog eyes followed me through the night, keeping me on the scent. When I arrived, I saw shadows moving under a single lamp in front of the warehouse. They moved around a single truck.
Wait a minute... wasn't that truck supposed to be missing?
Something stank worse than week-old litterboxes. I stepped into the yard, pistol in hand.
The pack froze, all three of them turned. A sullen Schnauzer pointed a familiar sneer at me like a shotgun. Joey Shepherd, a real lowlife but moving up the criminal ladder.
"So you're the one she sent, huh?"
"What are you..."
Something landed on my back, knocking me down and sending the pistol flying.
"Nice one, Clyde!" somebody said.
A purr started up right above my head. These guys were working with cats!
Clyde hopped off my back purring like a motor.
I was still splayed out on my belly when I smelled Joey's rank breath in my face.
"What did she promise you? Hope it was worth it. Guys, feed him into the chopper. Fetch and Fry will be serving up basset for..."
I almost missed the thunder of hooves. Joey whelped as he went flying. Another scumbag was lifted in to the air and deposited alongside. There were more thuds and whines, but it was over by the time I got to my feet and greeted - none other than Effie Guernsey.
"I followed you, silly," she said, sassy as ever. "What do we do with them?"
She pointed a horn at the groaning mass of lowlifes.
"There's one more to add to that pile," I declared.
The night was still hot and sticky when she breezed through the door, her puppy-dog eyes reflecting the moonlight, making my tail want to wag. I was at my desk with Effie standing beside me.
"Did you find my property?" purred Collie.
"I did, and more. Chief!"
Dobermann entered, all business in his blue uniform.
"You're under arrest," he growled.
Collie's eyes widened.
"And you didn't care about any truck," I said. "No, you sent me there to put down a certain Schnauzer, didn't you, Mrs. Shepherd?"
Dobermann began to lead her away, but the dame cast a heartbreaking look at me.
"I couldn't stand it anymore. One way or another, you saved me from him. Thank you."
"Don't thank me, sister. You were just a job," I said with a harsher growl than I intended.
After they had gone, Effie looked at me with that way of hers. She could always read me like her sugary romance novels.
"She wasn't just a job, was she?"
"Shut up," I said.
Effie chuckled, and headed for her desk.
"And Effie? Thanks. Don't know what I'd do without you."
Effie smiled at me and mooed.