Dog Noir 3

This latest case was a pitbull. It'd grabbed me and shaken me and didn't seem about to let go. Who'd eaten the food? I'd been off at The Deck at the time, but I still knew the answer. The scene smelled fishier than a two-day tuna, and the trail led only one place.

I approached the dog carefully. Last time I'd asked them the hard questions we'd had a bit of a scrap. I'd like to say I gave as good as I got, but I couldn't honestly tell you who came out of that mess on top.

They were a strange breed, that was for sure. Small, short hair, big eyes, and a weird tail. They had to be hiding something. You don't ignore the bouncing ball when everything's normal. It was one of their many daytime naps. Sitting like a good boy didn't do the trick. I was going to have to get ruff.

I barked to wake them up, then again just for fun. They just rolled over, that long-and-bendy tail flicking in my direction with a non-bark sound. As I feared: a dead end.

Passing my food bowl on the way back to The Office, I gave it a wistful sniff. I was going to have to let this one go. Not every case gets closed, but damn if this one didn't leave my stomach growling.

Prove Me Wrong

My breath misted in the yellow lights over the stairs up from the subway. Another puff of mist caught my eye at the top of the stairs, but my second glance proved me wrong. Someone was smoking, a woman thoroughly bundled against the cold, looking straight ahead as she started her descent for a three am train. I slowed as she approached and leaned on the handrail.

"Y'know what's gross?" I said. "Strangers who stop you on the street to criticize you for smoking." I grinned.

"Y'know what else?" She didn't look at me or slow as she spoke. "Men who stop women on the street without consideration for the potential safety implications."

I stopped and watched her disappear into the tunnels. I wanted to tell her I wasn't like those guys, that wasn't me. But that'd only prove me wrong.

The Couch at Night

When night falls and everyone in your house has gone to sleep, your couch sneaks out and goes swimming. It doesn't want to get wet, so it wraps itself in a waterproof suit, then swims the underground waters to find a fountain and settles on the bottom. All through the night, people toss coins into the fountain. Some make wishes, but most only want to entice your couch to stay, to always live in the fountain. Your couch, however, is fond of you. It always returns before your family wakes up, to reassume its place in the living room, so no one in your house will know.

But now you know. So next time you root around in your couch's cushions for change, give the couch a look and say, "I know where these came from."

Don't forget to wink, so the couch knows its secret is safe with you.

In the Near-Pitch Dark

"Bloody Mary." Jane had turned out the lights, closed the blinds, and closed the door. Ana and Demetria waited outside. "Bloody Mary." She'd wanted do it all together. She was afraid, she admitted. But Ana said it only worked if you were alone.

"Bloody Mary." Jane held her breath and looked around in the near-pitch dark. Nothing. She bit her lip. She thought Demetria might say they hadn't heard her, that she hadn't really said the words.

"Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary," she said in full voice.

"It only works if you're alone," whispered a voice in her ear.

First Contact between Two Peoples

"Hi, I'm an alien," she said. She was a pretty young woman with short red hair, freckles, and a cocked smile. The person now looking at her oddly was an older woman, late twenties to early thirties, hair up in a bun and wearing the sort of outdoor coat that said she wasn't uncomfortable in money. "You don't look so alien to me." The corner of her mouth quirked up, unsure what came next but curious and, for the moment, entertained.

"It's an excellent disguise," said the redhead. "Totally impenetrable to any kind of investigation. I'd like to invite you to be the first to try to examine my disguise and learn my alien ways. Maybe Thursday at seven? At Antoine's?"

The brunette blinked. "Are you asking me out on a date?"

"No!" the redhead said. "This is a factfinding mission. A first contact between two peoples."

"Yeah?" Her smile was deeper now. "Why me?"

The redhead looked away, then back. "Because you're cute."

"I'm Daria." She held out a hand.

"I'm Allie. The alien."

To Walk

He wanted to walk, so he walked. "You'll get tired and wish you hadn't gone so far," the said. He didn't get tired. "You'll get homesick," they said. "Once you've been away too long, you'll come back." It turned out he didn't get homesick for people who told him not to walk.

"You'll get lost in the woods! Bears will eat you!" He did get lost, but as long as he was walking he didn't mind. The bears left him alone because he left them alone.

"You'll walk off the edge of the Earth," they cried. He did walk off the edge of the Earth. Drifting in the void, he relished all the walking he had done, but wondered if perhaps he should have turned.