CH 8 The studio
“What the heck are you doing here.” Marty demanded to know.
Can you put down the weapon, I prefer not to talk with guns pointed at my head.” Kenji responded.
“What, you think I'm some kind of meat clone?” Marty said. “I'm keeping this gun on you till you get outta hear!”
“Mr Mask please calm down, If my aim was to kill you you would be dead already.”
“Okay fine then, lets see ya throw all your weapons on the floor.” Marty said.
“If that makes you feel any better.” Kenji slowly reached in his suit jacket and dropped a knife and gun on the carpeted floor with a soft thud.
“Just about. Spread your arms out.”
“Really, is this how you treat your guests?” Kenji asked.
“You broke in my apartment so I don't exactly consider you a guest. Now spread those arms before my trigger claw starts getting twitchy!”
Kenji sighed and spread his paws out.
“David c'mere and take this gun while I check him.” Marty said.
“Huh? But I don't-”
“Just point the thing at him and blow his head off if he acts funny”
Marty shoved the gun into his paws before he could protest any further and walked over to Kenji. David nervously held the gun pointed at Kenji as Marty carefully patted down every crease and crevice of Kenji's suit and each of his pants legs.
“Okay well I guess you're clean.”
“Not anymore. You got your paw prints on my nice suit!” Kenji said brushing his suit off with a hint of restrained annoyance in his voice.
“Sorry pal, but I had to make sure you aren't packing heat. You can put the gun down I guess.” Marty said to David. David brought the gun down with a sigh of relief.
“Alright buddy you got one minute!” Marty said to Kenji.
“Thank you. My purpose here today is simple. I have come to deliver you a message from Goro Yamato, Panda Lord himself. You see I happen to be a detective just like yourself only I work privately under the employ of the Panda Lord, Its my job to find and investigate things for him.”
“Hmmph” Marty said. “You must have not been that good if his brother felt the need to hire me!”
“In that particular incident everybody in the building was a suspect and that included myself. Takadai Yamato wanted an outside party to conduct the investigation. But getting back to the topic at paw here, we were away from Geltempo for a while to handle an emergency back in our homeland of Ponipia. But now that's been taken care of and I'm back. I have been task with recovering the Death Touch Scroll before it fall into the paws of an enemy. Now I know you still have it because I've check out all the pawnshops and underground fences in this city and no one has seen it before.
“Obviously you are having more trouble profiting off your theft than you planned for, so I relayed this information to Goro and he is willing to make you an offer. Return that stolen scroll back to us right now and you will have a guarantee that there will be no retaliation or punishment even though your crimes against the Yamato family are great.”
“Hmm.” Marty said. “That's a pretty good offer you're making there. But even if I was to believe that your boss was willing to forgive and forget about the whole murdering his brother thing, there's still just one little problem.”
“And that is?”
“Ya got the wrong guy. I ain't got your scroll and I don't know where it is. Bladetail is the creature you're looking for.”
Kenji sighed “Please Mr. Mask, if you're trying to fool me you must do much better than that, Takadai was killed by a gun, the Jinsodo clan does not use modern weaponry and Bladetail never carries any firearms on him.”
“C'mon Kenji! If you're really trying to call yourself a detective, then you'd already know I couldn't have taken it! It was missing before I got there! That's the reason you brought me there, to find the scroll! How would I have it?”
“Bladetail told us what happen. He said that he saw you discover the scroll in the large vase in the corner of the room. You pocketed it in your coat with out saying anything. You found the scroll but decided keeping it for yourself since it would be worth more than Takadai's payment.
“He came in on you as you were trying to pin the crime on me, since I had access to he vault but claiming you couldn't find the scroll. He told the Panda Lord what he witnessed and the Panda lord had you remove your coat. He search it and found the scroll at that moment your mate Nora knocked Bladetail unconscious with her handbag and you shot Takadai with your gun.”
“Bladetail told you that huh? And you just blindly believe him?”
“Goro does and that is all that matters. Now I'll ask you one more time. Please turn over the scroll.”
Marty sighed “Can you wait here a sec.” He disappeared into his office.
“I hope for both of your sakes he is getting that scroll!” Kenji said to David. “If the Panda Lord does not receive his scroll soon he will order the deaths of Marty Mask and anyone associated with him. That includes you, Mr Felidae. So if you happen to have any information on what your friend might have done with that scroll you might find it to be very beneficial for you if you desire to live.”
“Huh? B-but I don't know anything!! He told me the same thing he told you! That Bladetail's got it.” David sputtered.
“Hey Kenji, how about you back the heck off my partner before I feel the need to pull my gun out again.” Marty had emerged from his office holding a small pink recorder.
“No need to get nasty. I was just attempting to make a little small talk. Do have the scroll?” Kenji asked
“No but I do have evidence that I don't have it.” Marty replied. “You remember my mate Nora don't you?”
“Yes.” Kenji said. “I was looking for her too but from what I can gather she's dead. Is that correct?”
“Yeah. But she left somethings behind. You see, Nora was somewhat of an ace news reporter and she could never pass up the opportunity for a headline making story. So the night you barged in my office and hired me, she just couldn't help herself, she brought this along.” Marty held up the recorder.
“What?!!” Kenji exclaimed angrily. “You mean she recorded the whole thing?!!”
“Calm down pal, don't get your fur in a ruffle. After the way that night ended, she decided it best not to write any stories about it, but she kept it on file just in case she changed her mind.”
Kenji sighed. “Very well let's listen to what's on it, but after wards I'm going to need to take that recorder too since it has information sensitive to the Yamato family on it.”
“Sure, I was gonna let you have it anyways so you can play it for your Panda Lord.” Marty said tossing it to Kenji. “Go ahead and press the play button.”
Kenji clicked the button and the tape began to play. They could hear Nora's voice talking in a hushed whisper. “This I Nora Whiskers, I am currently in a limousine headed strait to the penthouse of Panda Lord Yamato, rumored to be a very fearsome crime lord in this city. My mate here, Marty Mask, Ace detective, has been summoned there. I don't yet know what yet for, but it seems to be pretty urgent.”
“Nora what are you, crazy? If this Panda lord finds out your recording him your liable the get both of us killed!” They heard Marty's voice hiss.
“Relax sugar snout, I'm going to keep it in my handbag here, he'll never see it.”
“. . . Ok I guess that’s fine but make sure you don't take it out until after we get back.”
They recording played on as Marty and Nora arrived at the Panda Lord's penthouse and he explained to them his plight, and Marty began his investigation. Everything played out exactly as Marty had told David earlier in Roscoe’s Donuts that day. Then the recorder got to the part where Marty began explaining to the Panda Lord how Bladetail was behind the theft of the scroll. Then Bladetail show up and they heard him explaining why he stole it. Then Marty grunted as Bladetail hit him and then three gunshots sounded.
Kenji stopped the the recorder and pocketed it inside his suite coat.”Well I guess it would appear that Bladetail has betrayed and lied to us. I shall show this to the Panda Lord at once.”
“So now do you believe me?” Marty asked.
“I personally am not believing anything right now. I will have to do further investigations before I draw my own conclusions. I will take this back to Goro though and maybe after hearing this he'll allow me to more thoroughly question Bladetail.”
“Well,” Marty said walking over to the front door. “Until you can come up with this conclusion why don'tcha beat it! In case you haven't noticed, I've got a case of my own to investigate here!”
“Fine, but if I find this is some sort of trick, and I will find out if it is. I 'll be back and next time I won't be as polite. May I take my weapons back please?”
“I guess, but no funny business!”
Kenji bent down and retrieve his gun and knife from the floor. He pocketed them back in his suite coat.
“Have a pleasant evening.” And with that, Kenji left out the apartment and Marty slammed the door shut behind him.
“Well I hope that takes care of this whole scroll business.” Marty said.
“You really think he won't be back?” David asked.
“Don't know.” Marty said shrugging his shoulders. “Feels like Kenji's got a few secrets of his own.”
“What make you say that?” David asked.
“Well just all it a hunch for now. But oh well, the case I'm being paid to solve takes first priority.”
David set the gun Marty had given him down on the counter. “So what's the next step?
“Well tomorrow afternoon I'll be paying a visit to the studio to see it this whole thing with Batty's suicide will lead us anywhere.
“But how do you even know you'll be able to get in in? I don't think they're gonna let just any random creature that asks nicely onto the crime scene.”
“Heh! Don't worry about that! I know a guy over there I helped out of a bind once and he owes me a favor or two he'll get me in. I can get you in too, that is if you want to come.”
David though about it for a minute. “Yeah.” He replied. “I came this far with you might as well see how this case wraps up.”
“Great.” Marty said grabbing a chair. “I'ma sleep next to the door, just in case Kenji decides to come back.”
. . .
“Are you sure you should be out investigating?” Grover asked worriedly opening the door of the squad car for Anya. “You really should be resting after such a traumatic experience.”
“for the fiftieth time I'm fine!” Anya grumbled. “I tired of laying around in that dang bed all day.”
Grover offered Anya a paw. She climbed out the car pushing it out the way. “I can still walk just fine you know.” she snapped.
“Oh okay, just trying to be helpful.” Grover mumbled sounding a little hurt.
Anya sighed, “I'm sorry, I'm just feeling a little frustrated right now. I want to be going after those bombers. But Crankjaw won't take me off the this stupid Batty case. We need to be doing everything we can to catch those monsters. A lot of dogs died right in front of me!”
“Don't worry, I'm sure Crankjaw doesn't intend on letting these guys get away with what they did. Lets just get this case solved and over with and maybe The chief will reassign us to the bombing case if we get the over with quick enough”
Anya stepped up to the building and open the door as they entered. “Yeah I suppose you're right.” She said. “Let's get this thing over with.”
After flashing their badges to the guards at the door, they were allowed into the lobby area. There was a huge water fountain in the center of the lobby area.
“Hey, look, there goes Barfy and Pooch!” Grover exclaimed pointing at the poster advertising a popular detective show that also aired on the Fluff network. A rottweiler and a poodle posed nonchalantly over a shiny red car while holding handguns.
“Oh my gosh you actually watch that stupid show?” Any asked.
“Hey.” Grover said. “Have you actually seen the show its really cool, they always get in some kind of cool epic gun fight with explosions each episode!”
“Its dumb.” She said. “If they tried half of the crazy stuff they did on the show in real life, Crankjaw would have have their badges and throw them in jail within five minute! Now c'mon we got to find the security desk want to talk to the guard that was on duty.”
The squirrel attendant at the information desk directed them to the security office that was down the hallway next to the water fountain
they walked to the security office and knock on the door. A large terrier sat at the desk vigorously gnawing at a rubber bone, growling as he chewed. Slobber dripped from his mouth onto the desk. He was so focused on his chew stick that he didn't see Anya and Grover walk in.
“Chewy is that you?” Grover asked.
Startled, Chewy jumped up, banging his head on the back of the wall. He quickly pulled out a switchblade and pointed it at them. “I ALREADY TOLD YOU GOONS I AINT GOT YOUR MONEY YET!!!”
“Chewy, What the heck are you talking about?!!” Anya said.
“Anya, Grover? Oh umm … sorry” He apologized putting the blade away. “Though you guys were somebody else, hehehe!”
Anya tried to hide her disgust. She did not like Chewy, especially when it was discovered that he had been secretly sampling small portions of Happy Juice seized in raids throughout Geltempo. It became apparent that something was wrong with him when he drove a squad car of a bridge into the Geltempo Bay thinking he was chasing after a giant Frisbee, nearly drowning the two occupants he had arrested in the backseat. After serving a year in a rehab facility on the outskirts of the city, he got the only job a dog fired from the police force could get, a security guard. Anya had no respect for crooked dogs who exploited their position on the police force for criminal ventures.
“You haven't been on the Happy Juice again have you?” Anya asked suspiciously.
“Me? Oh no no no noooooo!” Chewy swore. “I'm a changed doggy! I been clean ever since I got out of prison!”
Anya sighed. “Well just keep yourself out of trouble alright?”
“Yeah, yeah!! Sure!”Chewy said nodding his head rapidly.
Anya studied the wall full of monitors on the wall in front of Chewy's desk. The appeared to display footage of security cameras, posted all over the building.
“anyways I here to ask you some questions-”
“I didn't do it, I swear!!!!”
“. . . You didn't do what?”
Chewy nervously drummed his paws on his desk. “Huh? Oh you're not- he he, ummmm . . . That was just a joke, Yeah! Just joking around with ya. ”
Anya thought about pressing to find out what he was hiding but decided she had more pressing matters to ask him about. “Look I just want to know about what you saw on the night of Batty's suicide.”
Chewy let out a breath of relief “Oh that all you wanted? Ha ha! Sure! I can tell you all about that, Let see, I was in charge of watching Batty's dressing room until the show started. I didn't really see much there.”
“So you're saying nothing happened?” Grover asked.
' “Nothing out of the ordinary. I mean Craig Boulder called Batty up to his office right before the show started. Oh yeah and we had a janitor come in to change the light bulbs.”
“A janitor came in just to change a light bulb?” Anya asked.
“Yeah said that Batty sent him there to change the light bulbs. He said that they were starting to get dim.”
“And that's all you saw?”
“Uh yeah, he he, nothin' else.”
Anya made a mental note of everything Chewy had told them. “Alright well I guess will have to have a look at the stage and the dressing room.” She pointed at Chewy.”You, I'll be watching you! If I find out your back into Happy Juice I won't hesitate in arresting your butt, you understand what I'm saying?”
“Hey, hey, hey! No need to be talking like that to old friends! I've been staying clean” Chewy protested.
“Somehow I doubt that. And don't call me a friend, because we're definitely not friends.” And with that she left the office.
“Geez, You really are in a bad mood today!” Grover remarked as they left the office.
“Sorry but I just can't stand dogs like that. I mean he swore an oath to protect this city! For him to just abuse the power and responsibility he took on like that! That just despicable!”
They made their way back into the lobby and entered the stage area through the double doors in the middle of the lobby. It was a large area filled with many empty seats which was normally occupied by the studio audience that came to see thee Good Night Show. On the stage was a bright red easy chair where the guest would sit and a wooden pole which had a horizontal cushion perch attached to it were Batty would hang from. There was a well dressed snapping turtle wearing a black suite and tie. standing on the stage “Gene!!” he shouted. “Where the heck is my lunch??!!”
A tiny gerbil came running out carrying a large carryout container. Anya had to jump out the way as he rushed past her down the aisle. He climbed up to the stage and handed the turtle the container while gasping for breath. “Sorry sir” He stammered. “It was free shrimp cake day at the seafood place today, and the line was really long!”
“Save me your excuses!” The turtle snapped snatching the food from him. “You brought my lunch in five minutes late! Keep messing up like this and I'll see to it that the only job you get is a janitor at the cockroach plant!”
“I'm sorry sir!” The Gerbil cried. “I'll try to do better next time.”
“Get out of my sight!” He snapped. Gene scurried of the stage. He open his lunch carton and took a large crayfish and crunch down down it, his beak breaking through the shell. He was preparing to take another bite when he saw Anya and Grover walking down the aisle. “Oh hey! You must be the dogs Crankjaw said he'd sending over!”
“Yeah were here to investigate Batty's suicide!” Anya Replied.
“Well its about time. You guys need to wrap this up quick! I've already found a replacement for Batty, the sooner you get this stuff finished the sooner we can start filming the Good Night Show again!”
“And who are you exactly?” She asked him
“Craig Boulder, I own the Fluff network!”
“Oh hey I know who you are!” Grover exclaimed. “Your the guy that ran against Geraldo Spike last mayoral election.”
“Hmmph yeah! I really should have been the one to get elected.” Craig grumbled. “That mush-headed pincushion we got in the mayor's office right now is turning the city into a real dung heap! Don't tell anybody I said this but sometimes I think the creatures in this city don't have any type of common sense!“
“Yeah that's nice,” Anya said quickly before he had a chance to ramble on further. “We really need to get started with our investigation.”
Craig looked annoyed a being interrupted. “Well go ahead. And hurry up about it I'm losing money here. He died over there.” He said motioning to the white tape outline of where Batty's winged body fell on the floor.
Anya and Grover stood over the outline of the body studying it. The floor was still lightly blood stained where Batty's head fell. “Hmm, this is where he shot himself right here on the stage.” Grover remarked.
“Hmm, there ain't nothing to see here.” Anya remarked. “Can we look at his dressing room?”
“Yeah sure thing. It's that way.” Craig said pointing to the left offstage. “Hope you don't mind we got two janitors in there already.”
“What?!” Anya shouted . “I don't remember clearing this area for cleaning! They could be removing crucial evidence!”
“What do you mean you didn't clear it? The raccoon told me that the police department was the one that sent them down there.”
“Waitaminute!” Anya said. “Did you say one of the creatures was a raccoon?”
“Yeah, a raccoon and a cat.”
A raccoon and a cat?” Anya sighed. “Oh geez, why do I have a bad feeling about this.”
They marched towards the dressing room and Anya kicked the door open. “Oh hey Anya, how's it hanging.” Marty Mask greeted her with a smile. He was there standing next to the dresser with David. They wear wearing matching blue janitorial jumpsuits.
“What in the name of bacon are you guys doing here!!!”Anya shouted at him.
“What do you think? We're here to mop the floor.” Marty replied.
“Keep acting smart! I can take both of you in right now for interfering with a police investigation!!”
“Woah, settle down willya? I'm here for the same reason you are. To get to the bottom of Batty's suicide.”
“Who even hired you?” Grover asked
“um, sorry but that information is on a need to know basis.”
“Well fine! you can let the official police take care of it from here. Now beat it!” Anya responded
“C'mon Anya,I'm here now, You know I can find out something useful here, what harm is there in letting me have a little look see.”
Anya thought about it. she hated having to admit it but Marty was pretty good at his profession. He most likely wound find out something useful if she let him take a look around.
“Alright you got five minutes. Then you tell me what you know and get out, got it?”
“Five minute huh?” Marty responded. “I guess I can work with that.” He then proceed to walk over to the trash can in the corner of the room and kick it over onto the floor. All of the contents scattered out onto the floor. Half eaten food, beverage bottle and crumpled up ball of paper scattered all over the floor making a complete mess.
“What the heck are you doing, have you completely lost it?!!!” Anya shouted at him.
“I'm investigatin' remember?” Marty said crouching down over the mess he had made. “Now keep it down a notch willya? I'm tryin' to think.” He began to aimlessly paw around in the garbage inspecting bits of paper and food wrappers.
Anya looked at him, beginning to wonder if if the raccoon had taken a knock to the head or something to make him lose his senses.
“What is it with racoons and going through trash” Grover asked.
“C'mon Grover, don't say things like that.” Anya said “Just let him mess around for five minutes, then I'll have him clean this all up and get out. Lets start our on investigation in the mean time.”
She opened the top left drawer on Batty's desk and found a case of mints,a empty can of blood soda, and a halfway full bag of wingless horseflies.
“What's this?' Grover asked pulling out a white notebook from the middle drawer. “jokes” was scribbled on it in dark marker.
“This looks like where he keeps his joke material that he uses on the show.” Anya aid opening the book.
“Hmm, a duck and I went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant the other day,” She read aloud. “We ended up ordering more than either of us could afford. So the duck looks at me and ask, 'well how the heck are we going pay for all this?' and I reply, 'Hey, don't ask me, your the one with the bill!'” She paused for a minute to process what she read. “Wow, this guy really was a crummy comedian!” She remarked putting the notebook back down inside the dresser.
As she returned the notebook her paw brushed up against a small box-like object she picked it up to inspect it. It was an empty cardboard box, “Silly Steven's Prank gun.” It read. “Looks and sounds like a real gun!”. Anya showed the box to Grover. “Now I wonder what he'd be doing with a thing like a fake gun!” she said aloud.
“Maybe he was planning on using it as a gag on his show.” Grover suggested.
“Hmm possibly” Anya replied. “But what if, what if this was what he was planning on shooting himself with!”
“You mean he was only going to pretend to kill himself?”
“Yeah! Autopsy did find find a few pack of ketchup tied on his head with a string.”
“Pack of ketchup? That's stupid, who would fall for that?”
“I don't think it would have been believable either, but I am now thinking that Batty was only planning on pretending to kill himself tonight! But somehow, he ended up using a real gun for some reason.”
As she pondered he gazed trailed up towards the ceiling. And she caught a glimpse of the light fixture.
“Hmm, that light bulb looks old . . . , Waitaminute.” Anya murmured “Ha! I think I figured it out!!”
“You mean you know that the 'Janitor' that went to change the light bulb had actually swapped out Batty fake gun with a real gun so when Batty thought he was pretending to kill himself, he actually ended up shooting himself with a real bullet? Yeah I've been figured that out already.” Marty said standing up, brushing the garbage off his brown trench coat, totally stealing the word from her mouth.
Anya had to wrestle down the urge to kick the raccoon across the room. “So you mean to tell me that you've been sitting on this information this whole time, but you didn't think to share it with me?!!”
Marty smiled cheekily at her. “Oh I just wanted to see if you could figure it out for yourself and you did, good job.”
Anya took a deep breath in an attempt to control her anger. “And how did you figure this all out?” Anya asked through gritted teeth.
“Oh pretty much the same way you figured it out. I bribed that twitchy security guard to tell me all about what went on the other night so I heard how there was supposed to be a janitor coming in, but that light bulb doesn't looked changed at all so obviously the guy wasn't coming here to change no light bulb. Then I found the box for that fake gun, and it wasn't really that hard to put two and two together after that.”
“And did you find out anything else playing in the trash?”
“Well take a look and see for yourself” Mary motioned down to his feet. Anya and Grover looked down to see many small pieces of what appeared to be a ripped up page of notebook paper. Marty and David had been meticulously separating the paper pieces form the trash and arranging them on the floor attempting to put them in the same position they were in before the notebook page wast ripped to bits. Most of the page had been arranged back together except for a small corner piece. All the words written on the paper even tough being barely legible, could still clearly be seen. Bit of it were complete illegible but they could make out what the message said from looking at the words that could be seen.
Batty Nocturne . . . fake your own death live . . . Good Night Show, . . . to shoot your self with a fake gun . . . . make it believable, or else! . . . . Attendant will retrieve your “Body” off the stage . . . Change your name . . . Leave the city . . . Never show your face or scent again! . . . Or I will send Vulch the video!