The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Disappearing Deaver - Part Five
Upon knowing that among them was at least one kidnapper, the crewmembers were rather hostile towards each other as the day came to an end. Roxanne and Jess, the two Peophin sisters, were eating quietly together. The only member of the crew who didn’t really seem to care was the Techo, West. He just said “yarr” when spoken to. Maybe he was just too dumb to speak. Jack, who I assumed was feeling left out of the case, was glaring at everyone, gears churning in his head like he was trying to figure out who it was.
I thought that was ironic because now all of the evidence pointed to him. He wasn’t automatically off the list just because his boat key disappeared; that could all have been an act to shift the blame. Jack’s grim expression showed that he was definitely in a sour mood this evening.
Captain DeSoto wasn’t taking things lightly either. The Eyrie took large spoonfuls of the stew Wally had prepared without saying anything except, “West, take her out,” when he wanted the ship to sit at sea for the night.
After dinner I rested at the stern, reflecting the day’s events and trying to link them all together. It was nice to do so under the black sky and stillness. We were definitely closing in on the kidnappers, and I was convinced that if we could get into Jack’s boat, that would be all the answers we’d need. Problem was, we didn’t know who had the key. We could always break in... that may be something we’ll have to do in the near future, I thought.
“Turning in soon?” Luna asked. “It’s getting late.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m just thinking. You know we’re going to have to break in, right?”
“Break into The Unsinkable?” Luna asked. “Of course. Tomorrow for sure.”
“Right,” I said. “Should we see if Jack wants to tag along? It is his boat...”
“Shouldn’t matter,” she said.
She said goodnight and I watched her leave, her shadow-color blending with the real shadows on deck. I stayed on the stern for a while, listening to the gentle waves that rocked the ship back and forth. I think I may have fallen asleep under the stars just for an instant, because I jerked awake as an Eyrie Cab swooped overhead. A trip to Faerieland at this hour seemed absurd.
I hoisted myself out of the chair and started towards the cabins below deck when a sound commenced from the bow, then twice more. A clunking sound was also coming from the spot. Thinking fast, I grabbed a gas lantern that was hanging from the wall and switched it off. Feeling my way across the deck, I took baby steps to avoid being heard as I crept towards the bow.
A figure was stooped down near the railing, his or her arm jerking this way and that. I switched on the gas lantern really fast and the figure turned around, dropping the item. It skidded across the floor and hit me in the foot. I bent to pick it up, a whittling knife. Then my lantern and eyes moved upwards in the direction of who had the carving tool.
It was Wally, the chef. The Krawk twisted his bandana around in his webbed hands. “Uhh,” he mumbled, “I can explain...”
“Your work of art?” I asked, gesturing towards the wood Damien found that had been hacked to pieces.
“No, wait,” he said. “I didn’t mean any harm. I just...” He faltered. I waited patiently for his answer. “I wanted the captain to think Kip was on board.”
“Yes,” I began, “but why?”
“Uhh... I know she means a lot to him. I know that he wants to find her really bad. I thought that maybe if he thought she was here he wouldn’t be so upset with us.” I looked Wally in the eyes. He seemed honest, but I knew very well that looks could be deceiving.
“Listen,” I told him, “if you want to help, don’t lead anybody on a wild Mallard chase that Kip could be on board. Help us by being available for any questions or thoughts we might have. Speaking of which, you didn’t see anything strange that night, did you?”
“No,” said Wally. “You should ask Jack.”
“Why?” I asked suddenly.
“I heard his door open a bunch of times and him creeping around in the hallway.”
I thought about what he said. “Thanks.” We both passed the lookout tower where Simeon had probably fallen asleep again before sneaking back down below deck and into our rooms.
The next morning dawned bright and early to the sound of Pirakets squawking and the fresh wind blowing in from our open window. I folded up my hammock and went straight to the galley for a quick breakfast and then over to port three we’d go. Luna was positive she could get inside The Unsinkable even without a key. She bragged that she was a genius at picking locks and we were about to find out if the Yurble’s skills were as accurate as she claimed.
“I spoke with Wally last night,” I told the group, since we were the only ones eating breakfast, which was pancakes and syrup. I told them how he had been the one making Deaver teeth marks in the wood to make it seem as if Kip was here. Then I explained why Wally claimed he did it and this just got mixed reactions.
“I think he was probably telling the truth. He seems very loyal to DeSoto,” Luna said.
“No way,” Charlie disagreed. The pea Chia climbed up onto my shoulder. “He could have been trying to direct the attention away from him when you caught him in the act.”
“Who does that leave not looking suspicious about something?” I asked. It was like everybody had some weird quirk or trait about him or her in this mystery. Luckily Luna was writing everything down accordingly to keep things straight.
“Look, let’s get back to today’s events,” said Damien, finishing his last pancake. “Here’s the plan. The four of us head over the port three. If Luna can pick the lock, we enter, search and exit as quickly as possible. It’s likely the kidnappers will be hanging around and our best bet is to catch them off guard, right?”
“Right,” said Charlie and I.
“We hide out around the area until one of the crewmembers comes back. When they enter the boat, we catch them in the act and search the place.”
“Okay,” said Luna. “It’s a plan.”
“Great,” he said. “Let’s get going.”
The four of us began to head out when I felt a strong paw on my shoulder. “Morning,” said DeSoto spinning me around to shake my paw. “How are things?”
“Very well,” I said, and then realized that we hadn’t given the Captain an oral report, as we usually did in other cases. “We’ve discovered the boat which was used to take Kip away from the ship on the 9th,” I explained.
“Yes, Wally heard it from Jess and he told me last night.”
“Good,” I said. “Then you’ll know that Jack’s boat was used to take Kip and create the diversion, which was a water sceptre, by the way.”
“That’s interesting,” the Captain said again. “Any luck finding Kip?”
I winced. “Not so much, but once we search Jack’s boat today I’m sure we’ll have some answers.”
“Please tell me if you find anything.”
“Of course,” I said, and then immediately remembered what Wally said about Jack last night. “Speaking of finding things, do you know where Jack is? We need to speak with him.”
“Jack’s gone,” Captain DeSoto said simply.
I raised my eyebrows. “Where to?”
“I fired him last night.”
“Fired?” the four of us chorused, and then a quartet of, “why?”
Captain DeSoto laughed vilely. “I’ve suspected him all along. And just after I found out that his boat was used in the plan to steal my petpet, I knew it was him for sure. So I did what had to be done. A Captain must make sacrifices sometimes, but in Jack’s case, he deserved to find another crew.”
“Excuse me?” Luna asked, looking at the Eyrie as if he were something slimy that just crawled out of the Fungus Caves. “What about two little things called evidence and motive?”
“Easy,” said DeSoto. “Evidence: it was his boat that was used.”
“And motive?” inquired Luna, looking even more disgusted.
“I have a lot of enemies,” replied the Captain and he left it at that. Luna looked like she was going to explode. I put my paw on her shoulder to keep her from screaming.
“What about Kip?” Charlie asked. “She’s still missing!”
“That’s where you come in, right?”
“We’re detectives,” Luna said angrily. “We solve cases, not just barge in and conduct a search-and-rescue! Please Captain, just let us do the job.”
“Very well,” said DeSoto. “I look forward to speaking with you all again.” He turned and started into the galley.
“I can’t believe he just fired Jack,” Damien said, stunned.
“Me too,” I agreed, “but what can we do about it?”
“We can solve the case and get Jack rehired as the first mate,” said Luna, dragging us towards the dock. “Come on, let’s find him.”
To be continued...