Absolute chaos. Overturned tables, chairs strewn across the room, cracks in the wooden flooring; all leading towards the kitchen door. Olivia could see further damage through the kitchen windows. Police officers and animal control were taking statements from the jarred patrons. Small children were being consoled by their parents. What happened here?
A burly looking police officer with a fantastic mustache was speaking gently to a small girl as she curled into her father’s arms. Another stood off to the side watching the conversation intently, twirling her pen in her hands
“Tell me what you saw Bea, ain’t nothin’ gonna happen to you while me and Peggy are here.” Mustache said.
The girl shyly looked at mustache and at the female officer before staring up at her father. He smiled and nodded at her. She seemed to compose herself for a moment before speaking in a soft drawl.
“We was eatin’ lunch an’ papa was giving me airplane veggies an’ there was a real big bang ‘ginst the door an’ it was Tommy! But he wasn’t nice like normal. He was real fursterated. Like papa when Romo loses his shit,” At this her father turned bright red and the officers chuckled.
“What happened next Bea?” Mustache asked with a smile. She paused to take a breath and continued.
“Papa, was pulling me ‘neath the table but I’s kept lookin. Tommy banged on the door real hard and there was a real big crack and he came through. Normly he just hungry but he was weird. There was this weird lookin thing on him.” At this the officers glanced at each other.
“What kind of thing?” The flipy pen asked Bea. Bea scrunched her nose.
“It was a dragon.” The group around her did a double take.
“A dragon?” Her father asked.
“Well yeah, it had a real long beak an’ a beaver tail an’ spikes on its back. Bobby told me dragons have webbed feet though,” she trailed off for a moment, “I didn’t see ’em though. Bobby says dragons have teeth but it didn’t open its mouth cause it was clamped onto Tommy real tight.”
During this exchange our duo stood quietly, not wanting to interfere. Fletch wanted to know why the hell this Tommy had caused so much damage. Olivia wanted to know where the hell Tommy encountered a platypus.
“Okay Bea, I appreciate all your help. I’m giving your Papa my card so you can call if you remember anything else.” Mustache said. Bea nodded solemnly and reached out her hand. Mustache shook it and bopped her nose prompting a giggle before turning to his fellow officer.
“Peggy, haul Rich into questioning, find out how the hell Jimmy got out, Rich is a ornery bastard, but he wouldn’t let Jimmy out to save his own skin. Try and find out what the hell kind of creature was biting Jimmy.” Mustache told flipy pen.
“You got it Greg.” Said Peggy, scribbling across a notepad before closing it, tipping her hat (Olivia couldn’t help but smile at the cowboy hat, a standard for all law enforcement in Texas), and turning to leave. She froze when she spotted Olivia and Fletch at the door. Olivia took that moment to speak.
“Excuse me ma’am, we couldn’t help but over hear something about a platypus attached to someone.” Fletch resisted the impulse to face palm. Peggy narrowed her eyes.
Olivia looked a bit nervous now.
“The ‘dragon’ the girl was describing, it was a platypus. Duck billed, beaver tail with fur that sticks up when threatened.” Peg stared at Olivia.
“Hey Greg!” Peg called. Mustache Greg walked over.
“What’s going on Peg?”
“These two know the thing that was hanging on to Tommy.” Peg said with much skepticism. Greg’s mustache intensified his slight frown.
“It was a platypus sir.”
“That little green thing on Disney?” Greg asked. Olivia and Fletch looked a bit startled at his connection. They both had younger siblings and often spent finals procrastinating with the show.
“I’ve got a six year old.” Fletch nodded. Olivia shrugged, she still watched her favorite cartoons to destress sometimes.
“Yes sir. A platypus. They’re not native to Texas, but it’s the one that matches the description.” Greg sighed and gestured to animal control.
“It looks like a platypus that got a grip on Tommy.” Animal control looked a bit surprised.
“I’m surprised it bit him. Those guys try to spur you. Unless it was a female. Tommy must have found his way into the pens over in Milbarch’s back yard again. We’ll round up some darts and take care of it right quick Greg. You’ll be writing up the report by three and home by five.” Greg and Peg were nodding like this was an every day occurrence.
“I knew I was gonna regret the day that woman brought back playtpuses. Most people bring t-shirts and snow globes. She had to have platypuses.” Greg sighed. Peg piped up.
“She’s the one on the east outskirts right? She said somebody came by and cut up fences on the southwest border of the swamp this morning.” Greg nodded sharply and gestured to the animal control bros.
“Fred, Frank, you’ve got the lead on this. Milbarch and Rich are both damn good trackers, they’ll be able to help. I’d be much obliged if you wrapped this up right quick. I’ve still got to check in on that idiot who lit his truck on fire and find the ladies who were tyrin’ to slow ’em down.”
Fletch glanced at Olivia.
“That would be us.” Olivia said calmly. It took all Fletch had not to beat her over the head with a stick. She settled for closing her eyes
“The two of you were driving the car which attempted to force the vehicle of one Mr. Richard Cox to slow?” Fletch tried not to snicker she really did. Peg eyed Fletch.
“Do you find this situation amusing?” Peg asked. Fletch shook her head.
“No ma’am.” Fletch said, barely keeping it together. Peg eyed her quietly. Privately Olivia thought Peg might find the name they gave Little Dick amusing.
“How is he?” Olivia asked.
“He’s banged up, but he’ll live.” It was a quintessential Texan answer from mustache Greg, “We busted his tires and he fell out tryin’ to outrun us. Damn fool ended up running right towards the flames. He’s up in the clinic. Nothing serious. The doctor patched him up. He’s on his way over to Parkland down in Dallas just to double check.”
A crash was heard from the kitchens. Fletch winced at the though of the broken plates. Peg sighed and moved back to check.
“I swear to god I’m going to-”
A massive bear burst through the kitchen doors, shaking its head back and forth, a brown ball moving from side to side as it did so.
“It’s Tommy!” Peg shouted, diving to the side to get out of his way. Mustache, Olivia and Fletch followed suit, hiding behind the still upturned tables. Peg and Mustache pulled out their guns, aiming at the brown bear, trying and failing to dislodge the platypus at its neck.
“What the fuck are you doing?!” Olivia hissed.
“Saving our lives.” Greg snapped.
“Not with a fucking pistol. You’re going to make Tommy angry as fuck.” Fletch snapped, “You need a rifle or some goddamned tranqs. Better yet, get the fucking platypus off of him!”
Olivia watched fletch argue with mustache in shock and partial amusement. Fletch’d had a long day and poor mustache was going to get the brunt of it. Tommy roared and ran towards the counter ramming himself against it. He didn’t hit the platypus and smashed his head, enraging him, but making him stumble dizzily.
“Fletch! Throw me that broom!” Olivia hissed. Without thinking, Fletch tossed her the broom. Olivia caught it and crept behind the bear.
“Shit! Olivia!” Fletch hissed, panicking. Olivia got lined up the bat with the platypus and swung. Peg and Greg were already in motion moving towards her. The platypus was hit with a dull thunking noise. It made a strange squealing sound, vaguely reminiscent of squeaky rubber and a duck call. Tommy let out a groan before standing on his hind limbs and turning to face them
“And that’s about when we tore out of there and you two showed up.” Peg said to the Animal Control bros, Fred and Frank. Frank grinned.
“Damn, I’d a sure like to see that hit though. Besides, Tommy is about as gentle as a pussy cat when he’s not bothered. Though he’ll be a bit grumpy to find himself in the woods again, those tranqs knocked him right out.”
The group was standing outside the dinner, every civil service vehicle surrounding them including what appeared to be the only ambulance in town. Fletch made them check over Olivia repeatedly, citing, “She hit a platypus off an angry bear with a broom” as her reasoning. Olivia couldn’t argue that one. A second ambulance pulled up. The paramedics hopped out.
“Anything we can do to help Greg?” Girl Paramedic asked
“Yeah, check over these two and make sure they’re fine.” Mustache said, gesturing to Fletch and Peg.
The two protested vehemently but were sat down on the edge of the ambulance and checked over. Olivia came trotting over to them once she had been cleared. Her wrist was wrapped but she appeared otherwise unharmed.
“Hell of a day huh Fletch?” She asked. Fletch leaned against the gurney.
“I don’t know about you, but I prefer to spend my time trying to save people’s lives in dangerous car chases and hitting platypuses with brooms.” Fletch snarked with a smirk. Olivia laughed.
“Yeah, but at least the dude got stopped and didn’t get blown up by his truck.”
“You two were the bitches who ran me down?!” Came a voice from the ambulance. Fletch looked up at the gurney confused. It was Sir Little Dick.
“We didn’t run you down sir.” Olivia said with a frown as the angry figure emerged from the ambulance, bypassing Peg and Fletch. Peg was up and heading towards him when the first punch was thrown.
Olivia leapt back as Richard Cox, (better known to our readers as little dick) took a swing at her. His eyes were darkened with rage, his bandaged arm free of its sling. He seemed to be limping. Olivia was terrified.
“You fucking bitch! You cost me my car!” He shouted, spittle flying from his mouth. Olivia was rapidly backpedaling almost to the front of the diner. His swings were flying closer to her.
“Hold on just a second-” His fist caught her in the stomach.
“I won’t hold on for shit!” He grabbed her and shoved her against the wall of the diner. Olivia took the opportunity to knee him in his short and curlies following with a punch to the gut and throat. He keeled over, gasping for breath, alternatively clutching his throat and his crotch.
A yell had Olivia leaping out of the way as Fletch jumped on his back. The force of the landing had him pitch forward straight into the wall. A crunch made them wince. Fletch rolled off of him and looked ready to kick him in the ribs. Olivia settled for spinning him around and kneeing him again.
Greg chose this moment to taser the shit out of Olivia. She hit the ground. Hard