Insufficient Stories by Patrick Alexander
The Case of the Mystery
My name? Let’s just say I’m a private detective. I’m a private detective. It was just another day in the office whence I operate as a private detective, when she walked in.
Sorry, I should tell you her name first and only call her ‘she’ after that, otherwise it’s confusing for you, sorry. Her name was Gertron Whipsturgeon. “My name is Gertron Whipsturgeon,” she breathed.
I wondered if she was connected to a well-known, wealthy local family called the Whipsturgeons, and if they were so well-known why I’d never heard of them. And what was a creamy wheel of camembert like her, from the delicatessen window of high society, doing in a run-down, two-bit rat hole like mine, breathing at a half-eaten, dried up Kraft Single like me? Come to think of it though I think ‘two bits’ actually means twenty-five cents and I feel like that’s probably expensive for a rat hole; like do rats pay rent even? Does there exist in the margins of human civilisation a parallel society of rodents, with markets, currency and government? Would it be a monarchy or a republic? I mentally put five bucks on monarchy.
If Gertron had been delivered to me by the postman, I wouldn’t have accused him of theft, because she was the whole package. As I looked her up and down, I began to wonder about the structure of this theoretical rat kingdom from a macrosociological perspective, and I simultaneously hoped and dreaded that I wouldn’t be getting any sleep that night, depending on the reason.
She had legs that went all the way up to her hips, where they connected to her torso in the normal and correct fashion, a bottom that made my penis erect, and a rack you could store magazines in. Plus a great big pair of tits.
“Those are the biggest tits I’ve ever seen,” I told her.
“Yes, I breed birds and other animals,” she said. “For example, let me show you my pussy.”
“I’m not really a cat person.”
“Oh, you’ll love Duchess.”
Gertron Whipsturgeon held her pussy right up to my face, and it was all I could do not to pinch my nose and slap it away. I couldn’t believe a classy dame like her was walking around the place with a beat-up, worn-out, flea-bitten, scab-covered pussy like that. It had patches of black hair tangled into greasy clumps, stank like old fish, and was making a low, threatening growl. She reached into it and pulled out a cat.
I said, “Hello, Duchess.”
“Greetings,” the cat replied. “I am Duchess Mittens of the Eastern Alleys. You have already met my human slave, Gertron, and the two ambassadors from the Tit Kingdom, whose names are Willy and Fanny. Gertron, you may put me down on the desk. Thank you.”
The cat paced back and forth all over my realistic detective items like she owned the place. “My child, Prince Oreo, is betrothed to Melody, the Black-breasted Tit Princess – a union that may end all pain and death in the world, forever. But there is one who opposes the engagement: Premier Ronald of the Democratic Republic of Rodentia.”
“Dammit!” I said, and wrote myself an I.O.U. for five bucks.
“The matter is this: Prince Oreo has gone missing – taken in the dead of night – and we are certain that a ring of secret rat ninjas is responsible. But we have no proof. Detective, I am here to ask that you put on a big rat costume, penetrate the ring, and find out what has happened…” – and here the cat had to take a deep breath – “Find out what has happened to my baby boy.”
I never knew I was allergic to cats but suddenly my eyes felt kind of itchy. I folded my arms and stared at the desk. The cat must have heard me mutter, “Poor prince,” under my breath.
“You will help me, then? You will rescue my son, and bring the rats to justice?”
“Paw prints!” I snapped at her. “You tracked paw prints all over my desk. Look, kitty-cat: last time I checked, the sign on my door said, ‘Private Etective,’ because some kid peeled off the ‘D’. But that still doesn’t say, ‘Complete Chump,’ because I’m not one, and also because you can’t rearrange the letters that way. With a bit of creativity and a black texta, you could probably make it say, ‘Defective Privates,’ but I don’t expect that much from the kids around here; they’re not very sophisticated. The schools are underfunded. Similarly, my own education happened largely on the streets, and on those streets I learned two things: number one, don’t be a rat; and number two, don’t be a rat. You’re asking me to do both, albeit in reverse order. Do you have any idea what happens to rat rats?”
“No, I don’t,” said the cat.
“Neither do I. Because no-one has lived to tell the tale.”
I hoped that would be the end of it, but the cat and the tits exchanged a look that told me it wasn’t. Her Grace the Duchess coughed up a furball, spat it out, and slid it towards me with one of her pretty white paws. “A gift from the Eastern Alleys,” she said, “given as a token of good faith.” Then the three of them made up an excuse and left me alone with Gertron the slave girl.
Gertron sat herself down and faced me across the desk. Her eyes meant business. If they could have leapt out of her skull, dressed up in tiny little suits and gotten high-powered careers in finance, they would have. And if I were working in the same office, I’d sexually harass them, because they were beautiful.
“There’s more where that came from,” she told me. Neither of us needed to look at the furball. “I can tell you’re smart, honey. Smart enough to get through the day. But it’s hard for a man like you to get ahead, especially if he has a vice, and a man like you always has a vice.”
I thought of the I.O.U. I’d just written. In the top drawer of my desk were at least a hundred more, all of them in my handwriting; signatures on a pile of tiny death warrants. I guessed I owed myself about three-fifths of a large by now, and I was barely making a medium. What a chump.
“Your problems,” she said, “can be made to disappear. Or, they can be made to not disappear. They can be made to be, like, super-perceptible. Like a fat man in fluorescent cycling gear. On a razor scooter. Scooting from door to door, asking people if they’ve heard about Jesus. And he’s got a voice like this: HELLOOOOO!! HELLOOOOOOO!! HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT JEEE-SUS!!?”
“ALL RIGHT,” I said. I ain’t the type to flip my lid but the author had left caps lock on from the previous sentence. “All right. I’ll take the case.”
“Good-o,” said Gertron Whipsturgeon, and I lit her cigarette.
From this point, there was a three minute movie montage of me dressing up as a rat, Gertron teaching me how to act like a rat, then me going undercover in Rodentia and solving the case, all to the soundtrack of ‘You’re the Best Around’ by Joe Esposito. Except whenever I masturbated, the montage would stop, the soundtrack would change to ‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and the movie would progress in real time until I’d finished, at which point the montage would continue.
When I masturbated, I thought about Gertron. She didn’t respect me and I didn’t trust her, but we were a good team – and more than that, I felt like beneath that no-nonsense, nonsense-intolerant, disinterested-in-nonsense, “Nonsense? Not on my watch!” exterior, something soft and fragile was hidden. After a long day, a couple of drinks and a few laughs, sometimes, in the second before she blinked, I could see it in her eyes: buried deep inside of her, there was something I needed. Maybe something we both needed.
It must have been my detective’s instinct because it turned out she was working for the rats and had Prince Oreo stuffed up her arsehole the entire time – which post facto put an unpleasant twist on a lot of my wank fantasies but at least I got paid. Duchess Mittens had Gertron’s head chopped off, which I know because she left it for me on my doorstep as a present. I had it stuffed and mounted, as best as I could afford to, and kept it as a memento of the finest cat burglar I’d ever met. Even now, sitting in this leather chesterfield armchair, wearing my smoking jacket and slippers, I gaze at the mantlepiece, over the dying fire that faintly lights the study in the nineteenth-century English country manor where I’ve been narrating this story from apparently, where sits Gertron’s misshapen face – skin a little green now but still firm and smooth, where mine is dry and furrowed – and I raise my glass of brandy and say, “Here’s lookin’ at you, you mere female with the brain of an infant.” I’ll be here for some time, contemplating her mouldy contours, maybe because I never stopped loving her, but maybe because, after all these years, if I retire to my bedchamber and sleep… maybe tonight, the rats will come at last to give me secret rat ninja dick rabies.