The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Disappearing Deaver - Part Four
Damien was ecstatic that the lead he had given me turned out to be very useful towards the case. “Great!” he said. “That’s helpful.”
Not much, I thought. There were hundreds of pirates on Krawk Island so looking for two was going to be tough, back to our ‘needle in a haystack’ comparison. With all of that in the back of my mind, I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the boat we were looking for, the one with the two black stripes. Even if we found it, there might be no way to tell whom it belonged to, which would just be another dead end.
Luna was staying hopeful for Simeon. She and Charlie said they were going to take the Shoyru out to lunch tomorrow to get him away from all of the finger pointing and accusations that were constantly being made on board. Also, I knew it was because she was hoping to find the ship we were looking for. They departed just before lunch, leaving Damien and me with the pirate crew.
Damien, I noticed, was pretty much in charge of this case. I wasn’t sure how that happened, as I was usually the one to lead, but I agreed to step aside and be as obedient as a Puppyblew.
Captain DeSoto had given us permission to enter any rooms on board The Crusader and ask anything we wanted to. This helped tremendously and also stated that he didn’t think any of his crew had anything to hide. I had a feeling he was wrong. Whoever took Kip was probably somebody close to him. Damien was searching high, above deck in the galley, lookout post and storage closets, while I was searching low, in the cabins.
Jack’s room was filthy. I wondered how on Neopia the pirate Lupe could walk through piles of clothes and trinkets scattered across the floor every day without cleaning them up. Or maybe I was just used to our home being so clean because Luna was a perfectionist.
“Find anything, Marlo?” came a voice from the door.
I looked up. Jack was swishing his brushy tail back and forth as he entered. “Nothing yet,” I replied.
“You won’t,” he said simply.
We’ll see, I thought, unable to read his expression. “Say Jack, let me ask you something. Kip disappeared on the 9th night of the month of Swimming. Were you here?”
“And did you see or hear anything?”
“Yes. I heard DeSoto talking to Simeon above deck. That Shoyru’s got it in for him now; the Captain’s never liked him.” Jack shook his head in mock pity and continued. “It’s a real shame. We’re going to need a new lookout now...”
I stopped listening to his ramblings after Jack mentioned that he could hear DeSoto and Simeon talking above deck. How was that possible? Coming up without the answer, I asked him about it.
“For starters, Lupes have excellent hearing. ‘I really don’t want to let you go, Simeon’,” he mimicked the Captain’s low voice, “‘but I will if it needs to be done’. Please,” he waved his paw nonchalantly, “I can hear everything that they talk about.”
“All thanks to your excellent hearing?” I asked.
“Well, I do keep my window open at night. My cabin’s right under the base of the lookout post.”
How interesting, I thought. “And with you being so close to the crime scene, able to hear everything that was going on, you didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary?”
“Not a thing.”
I left the room, after thanking him for the quaint chat, and headed above deck to find Damien instead of searching Roxanne’s room right away. I passed West near the galley, (our conversation was merely a, “Hi, West” and “Yarr”) before finding Damien leaning up against a wooden support bar.
“Found out something,” I called, starting over to him.
“Me too.” He met me halfway. I repeated my entire conversation with Jack and ended with, “It may not be much, but I thought it was still important to know.”
“It is,” he said, clapping me on the left wing. “Either Jack is lying about not hearing anything unusual that night or our kidnappers were very, very quiet. Come check this out.”
The royal Aisha led me over to the rails he was examining and we bent down. Along the edge of the farthest one to the right were indents, chips in the wood like something had been hacking it to pieces.
“They’re recent,” said Damien, running his paw up and down the edges. “There are still some shavings on the floor where it was just done, perhaps last night. You don’t think Kip...”
“Kip can’t be on board,” I said. “Someone would have seen her for sure.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Damien said, “but these sure look like teeth marks.”
The two of us had thought it best to tell Captain DeSoto immediately about Damien’s discovery on the support beams near the bow. The pirate Eyrie was obviously not pleased, though I thought he may have been since there was a possibility Kip was right here under our noses.
“Kip? Here? Why would I have needed to hire you if Kip was still here?”
“Sir, with all due respect,” I put on my best polite face, “it is quite possible that someone is trying to make it seem as though Kip is still on board. Damien and I have checked all of the rooms.”
“Check again!” the Captain roared. When my orange beak dropped, he said, “Not you two. You’re free to continue with the case. But all of you,” he rounded on his pirate crew, “get looking.”
A half dozen pirates scowled before scattering across the ship, rather reluctantly. It was evident that none of them believed they were going to find the Deaver. Damien and I exchanged concerned glances. I knew we were both thinking about the possibility of Kip actually being on board. It was slim. But if she really was here, we were all going to look like a bunch of morons.
Before Damien and I could grab a late lunch at the galley, Luna, Charlie and Simeon rushed on The Crusader like they were running from an angry mob. Maybe they were, anything goes on Krawk Island...
“We found the boat!” Luna cried.
“Seriously?” I asked.
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “After we ate lunch at a little roadside stand we went for a walk to chat about the case when Simeon identified the boat he saw the night Kip vanished!”
“It was the same one, I know it,” Simeon piped up, and it was the first time since we arrived that the Shoyru looked excited. “Two black stripes across the stern. I also recognized the flag towards the top.”
“It’s small,” said Charlie, perched on Luna’s shoulder. “But it looks like there are a couple of rooms with windows inside.”
“Great,” I said. Excitement was welling up inside of me. Our first big lead and I knew it’d be a definite help to the case, which right now wasn’t moving along too well. “We definitely need to find out who it’s registered to. Maybe we can check somewhere today or ask someone who’s docked near it.”
“Where is it?” Damien asked.
Jack, who was searching the storage closet behind me, threw the buckets and mops inside, slamming the door shut. I spun around, startled by the noise. “Excuse me?” he asked.
I narrowed my eyes in confusion. “What?”
“Port three?” he said, between rows of bared teeth. The Lupe laughed bitterly like it was a bad joke. “My boat is in port three.”
“Wait,” said Damien quickly while all four of us reacted to his statement, “you have a boat too?”
“For pleasure, yes. I belong with The Crusader but I still have a boat docked in port three. You must be mistaken, I haven’t taken it out in weeks.”
Luna shook her head, and I knew darn straight that none of them were mistaken. “It says ‘The Unsinkable’ on the side in green paint.”
That’s when Jack started to believe our story. He gaped at all of us, trying to put the pieces together, but nothing was coming to him. “The key’s in my room,” was all he said. And Luna, Charlie, Damien, Simeon and I followed him below deck where Roxanne and West were going from room to room still searching for Kip. I almost felt bad for them. I knew for sure Kip was not on board now, and that their time had been wasted.
Jack crossed the room and jerked open the door to his nightstand. He rummaged around, pulling out pieces of old paper and pens, littering the floor with more junk. After a minute or so, he stood up slowly and yelled, “I don’t believe it; my key’s gone!”
“Don’t you have a spare?” I asked. We desperately needed a way on board.
“Somewhere,” said Jack sheepishly. I sighed.
“The two kidnappers are part of DeSoto’s crew,” whispered Luna, a triumphant smile settling on her face. “One of them had to take his key.”
“Bring on more twists,” I declared.
Jack scurried up to our circle in the entry of his cabin and said, “You have to let me in on the case.”
I just looked at him as if he were crazy. If he was one of the kidnappers there was no way we’d just let him in, no questions asked. And even if he wasn’t a kidnapper, he could very easily start spreading rumors about what has or hasn’t been occurring. It was a bad idea. “I don’t think so.”
“My boat was used in a plan to kidnap my boss’s petpet and now he’s treating all of us as if we were the ones responsible. If it really is two of the crew members--” Geez, he really did have good hearing, I mused “--you have to let me in.”
“I’m sorry,” Damien said. “It doesn’t work like that.”
“Plus we don’t have enough information quite yet to fill anybody in,” Luna interrupted. I knew she was lying to his face, but there was no way he was going to drop it until we told him what was going on. “When we do, we’ll see that everybody knows about everything that’s been going on. Okay?”
Jack thought about it. “Fine,” the Lupe said. “Just hurry it up... I don’t like this one bit.”
It was impossible to tell from his behavior if Jack was involved. Did he want in on the case because he was truly concerned or was it because he wanted to know how much we knew? Whichever option it was, we’d have to keep an eye on him either way.
In just an afternoon we discovered one very critical thing: it was Jack’s boat that was used in the crime, the key to the boat had gone missing in his own room. Tying those ends together meant that in order to reach the key, the kidnappers would have to be two of their very own crew members. Unless it was one of the crew members and an alliance, but I knew we’d catch them both either way.
We were nose-diving towards the finish line!
To be continued...