The Collected Cases of Duchess, PI

The Alley is no place for the innocent, the unwary, or the just plain foolish. But if they didn’t exist, Duchess would be out of work. For a fee, she can solve your problem – or make it go away. When trouble’s on your tail, and you can’t go to the cops, Duchess is the cat you want in your corner.



The Case of the Tom in Trouble
Spark to Tinder
The Case of the Feckless Ferrets
Scales of Justice
The Case of the Seaside Swindle

from The Case of the Seaside Swindle

I was staring out the window, my whiskers twitching at the unfamiliar and unwanted smells and sounds, when someone came up beside me and coughed, then waited.

“I don’t take vacation. I don’t need vacation.”

The conductor taking my ticket wasn’t any more impressed than Sparks had been when he put me on the train twenty minutes ago, still protesting. He snapped a hole in the slip of paper and tucked it into the metal clip over my seat, and moved on, tail twitching idly in boredom.

I went back to staring out the window. It was two hours and twenty-seven minutes to my destination, but I couldn’t tell you what we passed, or what any of it looked like, other than bleak, and cold. And flat. How the hell was anything that flat?

“I really don’t need a vacation,” I told the cabbie who threw my suitcase into the back of his car, and held the door so I could get in.

“Picked a nice place to not vacation,” he said, with the sarcasm only ear-bit rabbits can manage, then leadfooted out of the train stop’s parking lot like a fox was on his tail.

I wasn’t sulking. I was irritated at being bullied into leaving town, that was it.

My office – the entire building – was being fumigated. They did it every three years if we needed it or not, and honestly it needed it every year, if not more often. Normally I’d just work from home for the three days it took for the air to be breathable again. But we’d had a cold front move in, which meant my apartment went from being a cozy little den to an ice cube, because my landlord was a cheap-ass rat.

And bad luck compounding with bad luck, just around then Sparks showed up on my doorstop to inform me that a particular rat-eater had been released on parole, and I might want to make myself scarce for a few days until he inevitably did something that got him thrown back into the kennel.

Since the rat-eater and I have a bit of an unpleasant history, the warning made sense. I could have gotten a room in a hotel somewhere in town, holed up and caught up on my Netflix backlog. That would have been the plan, if Sparks hadn’t then mentioned, so casually, that he had a friend who had a little place down the shore, empty this week, and maybe I’d like to spend a few days listening to the ocean and chilling. Cheaper than a hotel. Take a nice vacation.

I hate the ocean. I hate sand. And I don’t take vacations.

“Welcome to Point Promise. Enjoy your vacation, ma’am.”