My meeting with the cat was short and to the point. Not a dull point, but a sharp point, like the ones at the ends of her claws. She wanted to know where I was with finding the Maltese Crow, wanted to know why I hadn’t made more progress. I told her about the car that tried to run me over and the guys at the DMV who wanted me to find the Maltese Crow for them; and then she dropped her bombshell. She had heard that the notorious fence Squinty McGrumpyson, also known as Grumplestiltskin, also known as The Cranky Old Man, was back in town and looking to sell none other than the Maltese Crow. He was at the train station, she said. So I went there to meet him. Little did I know what I would find once I got there …
Squinty is at the train station, all right, pretending to read a newspaper. I say “pretending” because it’s common knowledge that Squinty only looks at the funnies, and even then, he only looks at “Nancy”. That Sluggo cracks him up, I guess. I sit down next to him, and get right to the point.
I follow Squinty into one of the unused offices at the back, where he conducts most of his business. Everybody knows about it; he gives ten percent to the transit cops to make sure they look the other way. I tried to shut him down once, but the case didn’t go anywhere. Lack of evidence, they said. Plus, the judge reminded me that I’m an archaeologist, not a cop, and don’t really have any business busting fences. Stupid bureaucratic details like that are what’s wrong with our justice system.
Once we get into Squinty’s office, he gives me a shove to put me off balance, then pulls out a gun. For a Cranky Old Man, he moves pretty fast, and I don’t have time to react.
Six weeks later …
Seeing my opportunity, I knock the gun out of Squinty’s paws. Pata a pata, he doesn’t stand a chance.
Suddenly, an unexpected voice stops the interrogation before it starts:
What is this? The cat was here in the office the whole time? Why would she hire me to find the Maltese Crow, then set me up to get taken out by Squinty McGrumpyson? Something smells fishy here, and it isn’t just the cat’s breath. But I will find out what’s going on; because I am Dennis the Vizsla, and I never give up.