Ah, Cary Grant in Arsnic and Old Lace, one of my all time favorites! Ok, this is the 12th Episode of the Asha Chronicles, not Arsnic and Old Lace.......or is it?
The Asha Chronicles Part 12
Stormy Dark Knight
by Julie Stilwell and Tim Graham
February 28, 2008
“Glad you got my message, “said Cecil to Asha, Asa and BabyGirl as the Feathered Four assembled in a sun puddle on the roof of Cecils apartment building.
“We all saw the news report, too. Another what the humans call a Yuppie murdered. BabyGirl and I went over what we each remembered from the news on our way up here.” began Asa. She lived in Arkansas and BabyGirl lived in Missouri, just north of her. The two members of the Feathered Four had flown side by side to Cecils home in northwestern New York.
“Dad’s had on the sports and ESPN, not the news, so I don’t know too much, just that 12 Yuppie’s have been murdered. What do you know that we don’t Cecil?” asked Asha.
“Mostly I just have ideas.” Cecil began as he shifted his weight in the little puddle of sunshine he was perched upon. “My Mom and Dad have had the news on a lot lately even thought the murders are taking place in Augusta, Maine and not here. I’ve been listening closely to what the news has to say and I think there are some clues the police aren’t looking into that we should look into so no more humans die.”
“Like what clues?” asked Asa before she answered her own question. “Like the one of the blue synthetic hairs left at the last scene and the question why human goo called Ben Gay was used to grease the window tracts so the window wouldn’t squeak……oh, and why the Yuppies.”
“The Yuppies I think is pretty easy to answer.” said Asha. “They’re humans whose behavior irritates other humans due to things called pastels and being rich or some other such human nonsense.”
“I think it’s more than that. I think the killer is picking Yuppies for a more personal reason.” BabyGirl thought out loud.
“Yeah, that’s one of the things BabyGirl and I talked about on our way up here. There has got to be a personal reason for the Yuppies being singled out, like they’ve been wronged by a Yuppie in their life, can’t get rid of it and kill the others to feel better.” said Asa.
“You’ve been reading too many of your Granny’s stories.” Asha scolded Asa lightly , “Stuff like that only happens in humans imaginations.”
“Not necessarily.” Began Cecil, “From all I’ve heard on the news, that’s what the police and FBI and other such Human organization are saying, too. It’s the clues that are baffling them. They’re looking into some human they think wanted to be a Yuppie, but couldn’t do it, so he’s mad and killing other Yuppies. But, I don’t think they’re on the right track….”
“Because of the synthetic blue hair and ben gay, right?” asked Asha.
“Yeah, because of the synthetic blue hair and the ben gay. Also found was makeup powder and at one crime scene a message was left in turquoise eye shadow.” Cecil said knowledgably.
“It sounds more like that teacher my Granny had when she was in the 3rd grade she’s told me about before, Mrs. Hanf. She was an old lady with way too much powder on her face, blue hair and turquoise eye shadow. Mrs. Hanf also had bright red lipstick, too. Was lipstick found anywhere in any of the 12 crime scenes?” Asa offered and asked.
“Hmmm….” Cecil pondered, “No lipstick found that I can recall.”
“Well, if Mrs Hanf is the killer, where do we find her?” Asked BabyGirl logically.
“I think she died forever ago since Granny is so old now herself and it happened when she was a little girl.” Asa enlightened.
“So, you think we’re looking for an old lady?” Asked Asha thoughtfully.
“Yeah.” said Cecil simply.
“So, were do we find a crazy old lady?” asked Asha again.
“Well, Edgar Allan was once owned by a hair dresser lady. Lots of old ladies go to hair dressers to make their hair nice and blue.” Asa offered as a starting point.
“Well, there are those senior centers, too.” offered BabyGirl.
“We need a place that has yuppies AND old ladies.” said Cecil. “We should go to the crime scenes and see if we can see anything the police missed.”
“Good idea, since if I sit in this nice warm sun puddle much longer I’m going to need a nap!” said Asha with a huge yawn and an even larger stretch.
The Feathered Four took flight and headed East to Augusta, Maine. When they finally arrived a few hours later they alighted in a pine tree in the back yard of the scene of the first murder near a bird feeder.
“Well, I do hate old stale wild bird seed, but my tummy is saying otherwise. Join me ladies?” Asked Cecil and he filled his tummy with the feeders offerings.
“Totally disgusting, Cecil!!” said Asha and she dove into the feeders offerings, too.
“I think this is budgie seed, not wild seed.” said Asa, also with a beak full.
“You guys are pathetic!” said BabyGirl with a roll of her eyes as she picked at a pine cone hanging near her face.
After the quick snack Asa went up to the house and easily popped the storm window latch and then the latch holding the window closed, “Come on, lets go in and look around.”
The Feathered Four entered the dimly lit house and began to waddle around on the floor, each figuring that it would be a clue on the floor that the tall humans would miss due to being so high up. They searched under the beds, dressers and in the nooks and crannies of each closet and found nothing but dust bunnies.
“I HATE dust bunnies in my feathers!” muttered Asha and BabyGirl at the same time.
“Hey, Asa, under here!” called Cecil from under the china cabinet in the dining room.
“What did you find Cecil?” asked Asa as she flattened herself a little to fit under the china cabinet.
“A piece of paper and it seems to be stuck, too. I need help so I don’t rip it and ruin the clue.” he explained.
“It’s hooked on a staple.” explained Asa as she reached for the staple used to hold the bottom of the china cabinet together and pulled.
“Wait! If that staple is holding this cabinet together, won’t we be buried alive down here if you pull that out?” asked Cecil.
“No, humans have to use a lot of staples and nails to get their things to stay together. My Grandpa has built a jungle gym for us, and when my Daddy pulled one nail pulled out and the jungle gym it didn’t fall apart and is still fine. Pull out more than one and then you’re in trouble.” Asa explained as she pulled just one corner of the staple loose, just in case she was wrong, and dislodged the corner of the paper Cecil had found.
“So, what’s the paper say, Asa?” asked BabyGirl as she preened the last of the dust bunnies out of her lush emerald green feathers.
“Just a sec, let me flatten out the paper.” Asa responded as she tried, with a bit of help from Cecil and Asha. “Ok, this is what it says: “Asa began as she translated the human writing for her fellow crime fighters. “Thank you for baby sitting my Stormy Knight. Please accept these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies as a token of my gratefulness for all you did for my baby girl. And, then it’s signed Edith Jean.” Asa ended.
“Well, I’ve heard some funny human names before, but ‘Stormy Knight’? That’s a really weird one!” said BabyGirl.
Asha caught Asa examining a corner of the note so closely that it was only a quarter inch from the tip of her beak, “Do you see something else?” asked Asha.
“Yeah, a munch mark from a bird.” Asa said softly as if speaking louder would make the evidence disappear.
“Munch mark?” asked Cecil and he joined Asa a quarter inch from the note paper clue.
“Yeah, that’s how my Granny has us sign our names on birthday cards and letters she writes. It looks to me like Stormy Knight is a bird, not a person.”
“So, we’ve got an old lady killing yuppies by luring them into her trap with a bird?!” Asha asked totally astonished.
“We need to contact the Underground for a Stormy Knight.” Said BabyGirl.
“Why don’t we just check the humans address book for someone named Edith Jean?” asked Asha, thinking logically. “My Dad always keeps important humans to contact in his address book….or on his computer.”
“Party-Pooper!” said BabyGirl, who often got word out to the hundreds of other birds she knew via the Underground to let them know of her latest ‘social gathering’.
Asa and Asha headed for the little secretary style desk located across the room from the china cabinet and Cecil and BabyGirl headed for the little office they’d searched earlier for clues for the computer they’d seen sitting there.
After just a few minutes of searching the four met back in the middle of the dining room, Asa and Asha both carrying a medium sized purple, green and pink striped address book in their beaks and Cecil and BabyGirl each with a corner of a one page print out in their beaks.
“Whatcha find?” Asked Cecil to Asha and Asa as he dropped his corner of the printout onto the floor.
“We found Edith Jean.” Asha began.
“She lives at 1298 Truly Circle.” Asa finished for Asha.
“We found a map in the computer next to her name in the computers address book.” Said Cecil.
“I really think we ought to call in Knuckles and have her meet us at this address. Knuckles is just a bit of extra muscle against anything we may find. Plus, she takes that Sam Spade thing very seriously.” suggested BabyGirl.
“Good idea! And, then there is Buddy, an African Grey that lives in Wall, New Jersey. He’s a master of disguise, too and he’s been all over the world!” said Asa “Oh, and it’s ‘Samantha Spade’.” she quickly added.
“Yeah, put a call in, Asa and Cecil, to Knuckles and Buddy ask them to meet us at 1298 Truly Circle.” said Asha.
“Yeah, ‘Samantha Spade’.” Cecil chuckled.
With calls made the Feathered Four headed out to Edith Jeans house just a few miles down the road and began surveillance. From one of the lower branches on the maple tree in 1298 Truly Circle’s backyard the Feathered Four huddled closely together, hoping that Cecils light blue feathers wouldn’t be seen. Asha and BabyGirls’s lush emerald green feathers blended in nicely with the leaves of the maple tree and Asa’s cinnamon brown feathers blended in with nearly everything. Through the open kitchen window the Feather Four heard and saw a human soap opera of sorts unfold before them:
“But Biff, Reginald and I didn’t have an affair!” Tiffany whined to her husband.
“Then what were the two of you doing in bed together?” Biff queried. Biff was a 30 something man with his chiseled frame currently ensconced in a pastel pink Izod shirt with a white cable knit sweater draped over his shoulder with the sleeves tied loosely around his neck and a pair of white Docker slacks encasing his muscular legs.
“Reginald was in the bed and I was standing beside it. Reginald is one of the owners of Lord Pimlym Furniture and he came over to test the bed frame. I told him of the creaking we were hearing last night. He’d climbed onto the bed to see if he could make it creak, that’s all.” Tiffany whined at her husband as she grabbed her tennis racket and gym bag and headed for the front door. As she reached for the door knob, she turned to her husband Biff and added in an icy cold tone of voice, “Think what you wish, nothing happened. Don’t forget to feed Mother and that bird of hers. We don’t need the authorities knocking on our door again.”
“I’m not feeding Mother any of our good food! The old bitty doesn’t deserve it!” Biff ranted to his wife.
“There’s some old bread and gelatinous peanut butter in the pantry, give Mother that and be sure to give her a cup of water and the bird some seed, too.” his wife screeched back icily and she closed the door behind her and headed off for her tennis lesson at the Country Club.
“Can’t believe we’re saddled with this old bitty! Why can’t we just lock her away in some home somewhere?! Or why can’t Tiffany’s sister take her!” Biff continued to rant under his breath as he carried a tray of two old PB and J sandwiches, a bowl of bird seed, and two small glasses of tap water to the locked door at the end of the hallway. Biff honestly had nothing personal against Tiffany’s mother; it just wasn’t good for his image as a CEO at MaylarTech to be playing nursemaid to the senior citizen. “Edith Jean.” Biff cooed as he undid the dead bolt to the master bedroom door and carried in the tray of stale offerings. “I have your breakfast and your lunch here for you and Stormy Knight.” He concluded in a tone normally reserved for communicating with two year old children as he put the full tray down on the little patio table that served as Edith Jean’s dining room. Then, without a further word, Biff left the room, dead bolting it behind him.
“Why did my precious Tiffany marry that dolt?” Edith Jean asked her Indian Ringneck Parakeet, Stormy Knight. “He’s so mean to us! Just look at what he brought us to eat, rotting food! My mother provided better meals for the fifteen of us during the Great Depression!” Edith Jean said as she flipped one of the sandwiches over, checking for both mold and poison before flopping it back down on the dirty plate. “No worries Stormy, we’ll go out for breakfast at Denny’s. That Chef Bart is such a nice guy, giving us a table in the storage room so we can eat together. I wish Tiffany had married him instead of Biff.” Edith Jean ended as she extracted a key from the depths of her brassiere.
Stormy Knight twittered and warbled for Edith Jean happily.
“Yes, after a good breakfast we’ll head over to that house on Thayer. That guy I think works at Biff’s business. We’ll take care of him next. It’ll be fun. Maybe, just maybe, Biff will fear for his life, leave my precious Tiffany, and we’ll be done with him once and for all. Maybe we can even get Tiffany to marry Chef Bart?”
Stormy Knight warbled and puffed up within the confines of her small cage, conveying to her owner a dark but happy thought.
“Well, you’re right. This is getting a bit messy. I can’t believe I had to waste my Ben Gay to get that window open at that last place. People just don’t respect what they’ve got. They take such poor care of all they’ve been blessed with.” Edith Jean rambled on, going off onto a tangent, before turning around and continuing her original thought, “If this next one doesn’t scare Biff into leaving Tiffany for his safety, then we’ll just have to go after Biff, himself.”
Stormy Knight chirped and tweeted.
“Yeah, I hate to hurt my precious Tiffany like that, but we just can’t keep living like this. Maybe with Biff gone we can move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ve heard all sorts of nice things about the senior facilities there.”
Stormy Knight twittered and warbled the strains of a minuet for Edith Jean which put a smile on the elderly lady’s wrinkled, but well made up face as she toddled precariously to the dead bolted door, stuck the key she’d extracted from her brassiere into the dead bolt, and turned it…..
Just then Buddy and Knuckles showed up and alighted on the same branch the Feathered Four currently were occupying.
“What’s going on?” asked Knuckles.
“Did you request the master of disguise, too?” Buddy asked with a snicker.
“Have you two heard about the Yuppie Murders?” Cecil began and then continued by explaining all that he knew and the Feathered Four had found over their relatively short time on the case. “We need the two of you to follow the old human named Edith Jean and see where she goes. Your grey feathers are much more suited for tailing a human than ours are. We don’t know if this is the Yuppie killer or not, but we need to find out.” Cecil concluded.
“What’ll you guys do?” asked Knuckles
“BabyGirl pilfered the cell phones of the humans that live here. You take one and we’ll take the other. Cecil and Asa already programmed them both so all you have to do is bite the number 1 button and it’ll automatically dial us. Keep us updated and we won’t be too far behind you.” explained Asha.
“Yeah, you follow Edith Jean and we follow you, but from far enough away that we won’t be seen and so that if you need to call us the phone ringing won’t alert any humans to our presence.” Asa clarified.
So, the now six feathered crime fighters sat on the maple branch and waited, but not for long. About an hour after the Yuppies had left an elderly lady with blue hair, turquoise eye shadow and bright red lipstick schemered on her lips and cheeks appeared with a too small of a bird cage in her right hand that was barely housing an Indian Ringneck parakeet. The elderly lady toddled precariously on her varicose vein covered legs as she grabbed her purse in her free hand and toddled out the front door.
“We’re off!” whispered Knuckles and she and Buddy took flight over the roof of the house and toward the front yard.
“We’re off, too!” said Asha as she and the Feathered Four took flight a short 3 minutes later and headed over the roof of the house to the front yard and then to the left and down the street.
“Are you sure we’re headed the right way?” asked BabyGirl to no one in particular as Knuckles and Buddy were long gone and nowhere in sight.
“Yeah, we’re going the right way. Just follow Asa, her Daddy is leading us.” Asha answered as she nodded in the direction of a faint ghostly blur flying just in front of Asa.
They flew with Asa in the lead, for nearly 20 minutes before Asa steered them onto the metal faux Spanish tile roof of a little bungalow. “They’re across the street, in that Victorian house.” whispered Asa to Asha, who’d just landed next to her.
“We just wait for Knuckles to call?” asked Cecil.
“Yeah, we wait.” responded Asa.
Meanwhile, inside the Victorian house Knuckes and Buddy continued to shadow Edith Jean and the Indian Ringneck parakeet she was still carrying in the miniature gilded cage.
“Thank you so much Deary for watching my Stormy Knight for me. I will be back in two days to pick her up. Do you have any questions on how to take care of her?” Edith Jean asked the thirty something man in the pastel blue Izod shirt and white Docker slacks.
“No Nanna, I don’t have any questions. Stormy Knight is a very beautiful little girl. I look forward to getting to know her better.” the thirty something man answered in a tone of voice that most men used when trying to humor a woman.
“Ok Deary, then I’ll be off to my Senior Ladies weekend retreat.” Edith Jean twittered as she kissed the man on the cheek and toddled out of the house.
“If she’s leaving, how is she going to kill the yuppie guy?” asked Buddy.
“Good question.” answered Knuckles, equally as baffled at the most recent turn of events. “But, I think we should stay here and watch the yuppie guy either way. She may come back.”
“Yeah, you go call the Feathered Four and I’ll go put on one of my disguises. I’m thinking rag doll, since he’s got several on that shelf up there.” Buddy began as he nodded toward the shelf of rag dolls just above the living room fire place. “I’ll be able to see into all the rooms fairly clearly but the kitchen, which I’ll only be able to see the middle of from up there. After the call, go into the kitchen and hide up on top of the fridge, it should give you a good view of what I can’t see. We’ll whistle as our signal if we see something. That yuppie guy will assume it’s the bird, ok?” Buddy instructed as he began to waddle in the direction of the living room fire place.
After the call to the Feathered Four the plan was put into motion. Asa broke into one of the upstairs ducts into the attic, which allowed the other three crime fighters to enter the Victorian home unseen and unheard by the homes occupants. Cecil took up guard in the yuppie’s bedroom as he matched the wall paint nearly perfectly. Asha hid behind a stack of books in the upstairs library and BabyGirl hid in the pile of clean but not yet folded laundry in the laundry room.
The rest of the afternoon went by as any other. The yuppie guy went about his normal routine of a bit of cleaning before preparing his dinner. Buddy, who was cleverly disguised as a rag doll on the fire place mantel, nearly gave himself away with a sneeze when the yuppie guy dusted him. Knuckles, the expert private eye she was, managed to duck into one of the buckets of cereal when yuppie guy began dusting a bit too closely to her hiding place.
With cleaning done, and Knuckles tummy happily almost too full, the yuppie guy began preparing his dinner of a Marie Calenders chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes and corn frozen dinner. It was then something odd happened.
The yuppie guy went over to Stormy Knights cage to give her a bit of fresh apple for her dinner. He opened her door to put the apple slice in and Stormy Knight flew out of her cage and began screaming hysterically as she flew in circles around the yuppie guy. Upon hearing the commotion, the Feathered Four left their posts and headed down the stairs oh-so cautiously and silently. They arrived in the kitchen just in time to witness Stormy Knight flying strait at the yuppie guys head.
“The cell phone!” Asha whispered almost too loudly. “It has a camera on it, Cecil, you make it work!”
With Asa’s help, Cecil opened the flip phone and bit the cameras shutter button as hard as he could. One picture after another the camera dutifully captured the outrageous scene that unfolded before everyone’s eyes, both feathered and human. Stormy Knight continued to circle and dive bomb the yuppie guy, forcing him to back up for his own protection. He kept backing up until he bumped into the kitchen counter and suddenly dropped dead.
Stormy Knight, her job expertly and precisely completed, screeched one last time before heading back into her cage, closing and latching her own door behind her. Too stunned to move for a moment the Feathered Four, Knuckles and Buddy remained in their places. Then, just as Buddy was about to come out of hiding, they heard the front door open. The Feathered Four quickly ducked behind the trash can so as not to be seen by whoever just entered the house. Knuckles once again ducked into the cereal bucket while Buddy continued to pretend to be a rag doll on the fireplace mantel.
“Is Nanna’s little baby girl all done with her job?” asked Edith Jean.
Stormy Knight fluffed her feathers as her way of saying a very proud ‘yes’.
“That’s Nanna’s little angel.” Edith Jean cooed to the Indian ringneck parakeet and she picked up the cage and toddled out the front door on unstable varicose vein covered legs.
“What on earth just happened?” asked Knuckes as she peeked out of the cereal bucket.
“Is the yuppie guy really dead?” asked Buddy as he removed his rag doll disguise and waddled into the kitchen.
“He’s dead alright.” affirmed Asha.
“How?” asked BabyGirl.
“Not a single clue” said Asa
“I just called the police and will leave the cell phone with one of the last pictures on it up on the screen. We’ll have to leave the rest of this case to the humans.” said Cecil.
“Lets go before they arrive.” said Asha and Asa at the same time.