Authors: KC Frantzen
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Dogs - Paris
éonce sets down a bird almost as long as me, then closes the passage. “I hid until ze evil one left.”
“You were wise.”
“But I heard two humans. Who are they?”
“Director promotes pain and disorder. To stop her, I create confusion.”
Like me with Rukan. “And the other?”
“The young male is recently arrived. He accompanies her on occasion. At times, he sits alone amongst ze graves.”
My stomach gurgles again. “Excuse me.”
He smiles. “You consumed ze greens,
? Tonight we dine on pigeon.”
I don’t spy a grill. Wonder if it tastes like chicken?
“When you’re stronger, purrhaps humans nearby will assist. They help me find homes for ze kittens. They might help a dog.”
I notice his kind expression. “Why do you do this?”
Léonce eyes me a moment, then with a quiet tone he says, “I shall speak of this once.”
I find a comfy spot, placing my head on my paws.
Tail tip twitching, he begins. “Papa told me how things changed when disruptive humans moved into this area. They trapped and tortured him. For amusement.”
“Papa escaped with his life but was in pain until he died.”
I sit up.
“I was born feral. He found me, skinny and sick, and hid me. When I was old enough, he taught me about plants, food and water sources. Soon I became provider, but he remained instructor.
“He told me ze evil humans and their offspring who wounded him were ze same who altered this peaceful neighborhood. He brought me inside this place, to show me they have something in common with ze lady.”
“Ze lady Marie, whose memorial this is. They plan here, but implement elsewhere. They take over streets, don’t tend to
themselves. To understand more, I began to follow. I’ve seen some of ze city in this way.”
“How do you manage, incognito?”
“I know not this word.”
“Sorry. Without being recognized.”
. I mix into ze crowd on the train or bus.”
Wow. I know some dogs travel this way, but cats…
Léonce shifts his whiskers, giving me a look. “You know others who have done this?”
I stand, excited. “Yes! Before I came to Paris, I was in train… ing… uhm.” I can NOT believe I said that. I pause, and we eye each other.
“You are familiar with trains,
“Yes. I had a human with me. I’ve never traveled alone. Well almost never…” Must. Stop. Explaining.
He seems to scrutinize me, more closely than before. Note to self: Take cat behavior course.
His expression changes to one of recognition. “Ah…
. May, you were honored recently for valor.”
I rock back and sit down hard. When I find my voice I splutter, “I was…”
“You are from ze States, no?”
“No, I mean yes. Why?”
How does Léonce know about me? In Paris? I decide to follow. He leaps onto the chair, then indicates I should do the same. Guess it’s okay. Somehow, I manage to land on three legs and balance.
He springs onto the table top and tugs on the cloth, exposing a disk with markings and a pointer. “They plan here not knowing I know. Ze Director engages this – How you say?”
Wonder of wonders. The painting of the ladies and the tree changes into a monitor, like for Dad’s computer.
“She discusses ze recruiting, finances, targets. Recently, I heard a furious male’s voice, one not familiar. Ze face was covered but ze eyes – evil not to be missed. He held a newspaper with a photo and told how a canine stopped an explosion in your capital.”
I duck and whisper, “
He nods. “Then they must not discover you are here.”
éonce might be a good ally. Except… I’m not familiar with his kind. None at boot camp, no visiting instructors.
Sassy is a recruiter. What would she do? Maybe keep him talking. It’s polite to ask about family, so I’ll start there. “I smell other cats. Is one of them your father? I’d love to meet him.”
“KKHHH!” He arches his back and fluffs. “We were foraging in winter… Papa was so weak… Miaow. Ze vehicle never stopped.”
He’s suffering, his breathing quick. “Léonce, I’m so sorry.”
How could I have been so inconsiderate? He said his papa was in pain until he died.
I extend a paw but he starts pacing. “As I dragged his body inside ze grounds, his lifeblood trailed ze ground. I found a proper location for burial. No time for grief. I had to survive…”
So, so lonely… I’ve lost my family too. Will I see them again?
His eyes refocus on mine. “Three winters have passed. Some of ze clowder–”
“Clowder, ze group.”
“Oh. I call it a pack.”
“Ze clowder is made of offspring of ze evil ones who hurt Papa. Director is ze leader. So I ruin their plans. When I am able, as Papa taught me, I help heal strays or injured who come. Like you.”
I limp closer. “I try and remember things happen for a reason. Most times I don’t realize what it is ‘till later.”
“There is no reason for anything.”
“Is too. Sometimes I learn a better way, sometimes not. Even when I mess up, which is often but who’s counting, things work out. But there’s always a reason. You’ll see.”
My stomach gurgles again and he licks his lips.
“We shall eat. Come.” He butchers the pigeon, thoughtfully sharing a nice portion before taking some for himself.
Raw? I hesitate then, “
Plleeaakh. Feathers. Better observe how to do this properly.
I stretch carefully then get out of bed.
Under his watchful care the past few days, my leg and shoulder are improved though I still walk a bit funny. Nothing new. I must heal quickly, alert the authorities and return to boot camp. If I don’t, how will Rukan be brought to justice?
One thing for certain, I’m ready for my first venture outside. Léonce said to take it slow and stay nearby in case I have to hide. Better avoid temptation though. Last time I didn’t, that hawk about got me. Correction, the VERY last time, I was dognapped.
Speaking of… It’s funny how catnap and dognap mean entirely different things.
. The stone slides out. Ahh. Sunshine, stories on the breeze. It’s definitely good to be alive.
I scoot the stone into place and step away. Amazing how concealed it is.
And I’m off!
Here’s a marker with my name, the old one anyway. Dad said “Princess” didn’t fit me. Judging from these superb decorations, it was suitable for Princess Leila Pahlavi.
I gimp along, testing my shoulder, sniffing.
A couple pauses at the grave of Édouard Manet – “No, darling. Manet, not Monet” – and searches their map for Claude Debussy.
humans are buried here.
After exploring several cobbled paths I stop short. There’s a thin cowered figure, all in black, huddled on a stone slab. Odd on such a beautiful day. April surely wouldn’t approve of his posture.
Maybe this is the young human Léonce mentioned?
I sit downwind.
. Dreary Boy! I’ll rest my shoulder and observe, unnoticed I hope, if that gang is around.
He seems to be thinking, then pulls out a small black notebook and starts to write. He pauses sometimes, but never looks up. Maybe so he can see through all that hair in his eyes, speaking of which, I need a groom very soon.
He doesn’t act like an anarchist. He’s quiet, not angry enough. And he did try to hold back the gang attack. But why was he inside the lady Marie’s? And who is Director?
Bees hum around us, waltzing between some flowers. Sun shimmers on water in a bucket, reflecting a lovely sky. There he sits, scrawling on his paper.
He crushes a page and lobs it into the trash bin, begins again. And again.
. I am in a cemetery, but… I feel something, a presence, a whisper…
“Alexis he is called.”
My head whips around. “Léonce! You MUST teach me to walk so quietly.”
He seems amused. “When you have properly healed,
“Wait. Did you say Alexis? So that’s Dreary Boy’s name.”
“He is not happy, like most humans.” Léonce indicates I should follow. “Soon you will accompany me to find you a home.”
I wish he would understand. I have a great home, it’s just far away and I have a task to complete first.
As we leave, I watch Alexis, eyes squeezed shut, swaying with knees clutched to his chest.
hough Léonce has been gracious to share his food, a few days of raw pigeon is about enough. Not that I’d mention it. Wouldn’t be proper. At least I learned how to chew quickly through the feathers to the meat. And now a change in fare. Yum!
Gnaw, munchmunch, swallow.
“Thank you, Léonce. Mole has a nice earthy flavor.” I examine the carcass. “Strange creatures aren’t they – poking around, avoiding daylight.”
After a few more bites I ask, “When can I really be on my way?”
“You can move well?”
I stand and stretch. “See?”
. Try walking.”
Drat. In spite of my best effort, I limp. A little.
“Purrhaps tomorrow. Finish dining then we practice in the event they find you.”
I settle down with the mole between us. “Mother used to say, ‘A prepared puppy is ready when opportunity is provided.’ If I’m still here when the anarchists return, maybe I can dig out information we can use to stop them.”
“You are a rare canine.”
“I was just at the right place at the right time. But the culprit, Rukan, slipped past, which still seems strange, like he knew we were close. The thing is, I know him well. I lived with him and his family.”
Léonce looks up, surprised.
“He is a horrible human. He was bad to his wife, but mainly to me. He hated dogs. He even taught his son to be mean. He’d hurt me and Rukan enjoyed it. I think he was going to kill me, but the Creator had a plan.”
Léonce looks unconvinced. “So you have said.”
“Well, it’s true. I’m proof. That’s how I know about anarchists. That’s what he called himself. Sometimes when the family wasn’t around, Rukan talked on the phone about overthrowing the government, creating confusion and terror, that sort of thing.”
“Chaos. This is ze Director and her group’s specialty.”
“I could tell from the leaflets. A few weeks after I helped thwart the bombing in DC, I spied Rukan working at the airport, when I was dognapped. He’s plotting something, I know it. He
had an operative on the plane. So I must get back, to alert the K9 Service.”
“Purrhaps these are connected. When ze angry man was talking about you he grumbled, ‘I take care of it myself.’”
“But I’m a nobody, just one of the team. Many operatives, two and four-footed, have been working to catch him.”
“But it was your photo in ze newspaper. If this Rukan is caught, this could disrupt ze local anarchists,
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
He purrs, “I will help.”
Léonce tugs on another serving, then I help myself to a tiny bit more. It’s quiet so I fill in. “Dee-licious. My sister April likes raw mole, rabbit too, but never shares. She just growls, mostly at me. Dad’s real glad she likes mole because it saves him lots of work.”
. Cemetery workers discuss this also, ze destruction. If I leave a carcass, they offer me treats. But I never eat them. Could be poison.”
“Dad says the bad thing is moles cause lots of hidden damage because you don’t know about them until it’s been done.”
Idea! I scramble to stand.
“Headquarters talked about a mole but I couldn’t make sense how a mole would live there, or the airport either, with floors and concrete and all, but maybe they didn’t mean a
mole, maybe they mean
a mole. Maybe it’s a way to
describe something, or some
… Yeah. Someone with access to sensitive material, acting incognito.”
My mind whirls while Léonce begins post-meal cleanup.
The administration training assistant eyed me when I checked in, but… How much sensitive material would new recruits have? Not much I’d think. Could be one of the trainers, I guess. Or… OOOoohhh. What about the Administrator of Special Services? General Jim’s office is in the highly classified area. When I took the wrong turn in the air duct, I saw Miss Sandy’s and Sassy’s file on his desk.
They could be in danger! I bark, “I’ve got to expose the mole and protect my friends. Don’t know how, but the Creator always has a plan, even if I don’t.”
Léonce uses the evening to demonstrate the best means to avoid capture. Since I can’t run full out yet, I’m to evade and escape. We don’t have enough moleskin for a good disguise.
He shows me a secondary location close by, dark but secure. Hopefully I won’t need it. I watch him spring through the crack in the tomb wall. When I look inside, he explains how to slide a broken piece to cover the crack once I’m in position. Since he’s more agile, he will distract any pursuers while I get there.
At least that’s the plan.