Kate Locksley blinked at her captain, her mind turning over the words that she thought he'd just said. Part of her was certain that she was developing a hearing problem. Then again, with the way things had gone strange and terrifying and began defying sense since she'd met a vampire detective who called himself Angel, she could have heard what she thought she'd heard. Best to make certain.
Trying to keep her words neutral and her tone calm instead of outraged shouting or hysterical laughter, she tried to get some sort of verification. "Sir, did you just tell me that you want the investigation for the death of Colin Finnegan to stop?"
"Not precisely, Locksley. I said that it has to stop. It started with a few not officially orders from above. I asked a few questions and... and my questions were answered. You do not want those answers," he swallowed, and gave a shudder before whispering, "now that I have them, I don't want the answers."
"Did these answers include a name, or a reason?" Kate had an ugly suspicion or three forming, and had a feeling that she knew where she could get a few answers of her own. Then again, if she asked, and they answered... sometimes the answers weren't things you really wanted to know.
"I was told that sometimes it's best to let things go and not to draw attention, and I was also advised to leave the Muppet Theater alone, lest certain attention wander my way." He paused, and rubbed at his temple, "I was also told that the administration of the theater knew nothing of those advisements that I was given."
Kate frowned, some of her suspicions taking on an uglier cast. "If that's your recommendation, there are a few things that I can give a higher priority, sir."
"I was told that poking too deeply or forcefully into this case could be dangerous to our health," he admitted. "Not just you, not just mine. The Department. I don't want to push and find out if that was a bluff."
She had no idea how to respond to that. Either someone was making a very bold, very arrogant bluff, or this was dangerous on a whole new scale.
“Do you understand, Locksley?” his voice was flat, but his eyes were full of too many words.
“I understand, sir,” Kate whispered. What she didn’t say was that she was certain that she would need to go talk to the people at Angel Investigations again. She had the feeling that they might be able to make a few things make more sense, even if she was certain to her bones that she wouldn’t like any answers they could give her.
She had Thursday off from work, that would be the best day to go and thoroughly disturb herself and gain a few new causes for nightmares. There was no need to rush that, not based on what she knew right now.
Thursday was not going to be a great day. She’d almost forgotten that she’d scheduled an appointment with her doctor and her dentist for that day, knowing that she wouldn’t have to work. A total of three hours in awful waiting rooms with dull, old magazines and a television in the dentist’s office playing some cheesy soap opera that she didn’t known and wasn’t certain she wanted to follow… though apparently Kayla was having an affair with Richie and suspected that she might be pregnant, Ben had a drinking problem, Scott and Sara were in debt to their eyebrows and someone was claiming to be Daphne’s half brother – which would entitle him to a portion of her just deceased father’s vast estate.
That delightful experience – though she had no cavities and was advised to floss more often – behind her, Kate made her way towards the Hotel Hyperion, now home base for Angel Investigations. Along the way, she noticed a flier stuck to a telephone pole. The faint breeze made it flutter just enough at the explosion resembled fire…
“The new Muppet Theater? What kind of name is Miss Piggy? Special effects by Mad Harry and Muppet Labs?” Still puzzled by the flier, Kate moved away. The googly eyes were giving her the creeps. “And what’s with the chickens anyhow?”
Kate tried to push the weird flier to the back of her mind as she walked up the steps to the Hotel Hyperion. Granted they had cases so weird and disturbing that the few she knew about had left her with nightmares, but Angel Investigations certainly had space! The building had once been a three hundred room hotel, with all the luxuries available in the nineteen fifties, before it had been abandoned. She knew that there had to be more to things than race riots gone out of hand – why else would the owner or their heirs not have done something with the building? Instead, it had sat abandoned for decades, until Angel had set up his team inside. She suspected that there was more to that than Angel throwing money at the hotel… and it was probably strange and disturbing, involving gore and supernatural stuff, just like so many other things involving that vampire.
“Detective Locksley, you’re looking… in good health,” Wesley Wyndham-Price called, looking politely concerned, though he had a black eye and some bandages wrapped around his arm, the edges just peeking below his sleeve.
“Thanks,” she was not going to snap at him because of the soap opera at the dentist’s office. “I had a strange conversation, and it left me with a few questions. I was wondering if you and the others here could answer some of them?”
“Perhaps, it really depends on what you’re asking about,” he allowed.
“I shouldn’t be telling you any of this. I shouldn’t be talking about this with anyone. But there are some questions…” Kate let out her breath slowly, trying to focus and gather her thoughts. “You know about the death of Kent Lanomer, how Scooter Dee went on trial for it, and how Scooter Dee’s lawyer Colin Finnegan… how a body was found in Finnegan’s apartment?”
“Yes. Shall I assume that you’ve identified that body? And this has a connection to your questions?”
“Forensics are ninety-seven percent sure the body was Finnegan and that they found most of him,” Kate shuddered at the memories, trying to push them away again. “And that’s all I want to say about the body.”
“Most? I… don’t want to know,” his whisper and the faintly green cast suggested that whatever he was imagining was ugly.
“My department was unofficially advised that investigating Finnegan’s death could be bad for our health.” Kate could feel herself scowling as she admitted that message.
“Did this message have any other…” Wesley paused, as if searching for the right words a moment before continuing, “I suppose they might have been called friendly warnings, or helpful suggestions?”
“To leave the Muppet Theater alone, and that the theater’s management wasn’t aware of the warnings that were passed to our department.” She tried not to growl at Wesley. “Is that the one with the fliers with explosions and chickens? And… googly eyes?”
Wesley gave a small shudder, muttered something that Kate suspected was swearing, though she couldn’t even name the language, and spoke in a more normal voice, “Yes. The Muppet Theater is run by a being called Kermit the Frogg, and the books are kept by Count vonCount… I’m sure that you remember what I told you about him. Many of the Muppets have googly eyes. I don’t know about the chickens or explosions. Scooter Dee is… or perhaps was a Muppet.”
“And the warning?” Kate wasn’t certain that she wanted to ask, but a part of her feared that she would need to know.
“I can only guess. I suspect that Count vonCount is once again keeping the books for the Muppet Theater. I know that he has a very intimidating reputation among vampire and demon circles. To be blunt, he terrifies most of them into cowering submission. The murder of Kent Lanomer was patterned after something that the Count did a little over a century ago, in Williamsburg, Virginia. He may have been responsible for Colin Finnegan. My guess is that if he is involved with the Muppet Theater again, someone wants him to be undisturbed. From what I’ve gathered, he tends to be very methodical, thorough, and final in his approaches to solving problems,” Wesley sighed before muttering, “I looked into the records on Count vonCount. I wish that I hadn’t. There was a note that he practices runic divination using carved foot bones, and that freshly carved bones are preferred. I found it more disturbing that he may not kill the one who had the bones when he collects them.”
Kate fought for several moments not to throw up when he said that. It didn’t help that it looked as if Wesley was fighting a similar urge.
“So we don’t bother him or his minions and hope that he leaves us alone?” she managed.
“From the more recent records, he calls Kermit his associate, and the Theater gets referred to as Kermit’s Theater, or Kermit’s minions, but yes. That is a strategy that will be followed by most of the demons and vampires as well.”
“Ahhh. That’s helpful to know,” Kate murmured, preparing to leave the Hyperion. Normally, the end of some background questioning would be the occasion to say ‘thanks’, but it didn’t feel at all appropriate to thank someone for giving her new fuel for nightmares.
“One more thing,” Wesley pulled a business card from his pocket and passed it to her. “This is where I buy those dream suppressants.”
“Thank you,” she managed a smile at that.
She returned to her apartment, shutting the door, locking everything, and curled up on her chair. Why couldn’t life have stayed simple, like it was before she met Angel?
End Muppet Contracts 20: Unofficial Investigation