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Molly's on the Case Episode 3

Molly's on the Case

Molly her her new assistant Patchee set to work on a client’s case: a missing hamster.

· 18:54


Hello. Imogen here again, with part three of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle. So, where were we?

Molly, Fogsworth’s private detective, has just agreed to hire the young and shy Patchee after he realises the sign on her door was on back-to-front for some reason. Not the world’s biggest cliff-hanger, but just you wait… someone sustains an actual injury in this episode.

Are you ready? Then let’s go.

Molly stands in her hallway, staring at the door to her home office, understanding finally dawning.

“I think the sign maker must have painted the lettering on the inside of your door”, explains Patchee.

As Molly reads the letters “YCNEGA EVITCETED SREKSIHW YLLOM”, printed in bold block capitals, she begins to giggle.

No wonder it had been hard finding new customers; people must have kept coming to my door and thinking they were at the wrong place, she thinks.

“Well, that’s that mystery solved, at least”, she says, dusting her paws and opening the door.

“So, tell me all about this new customer”, she continues, all business now.

“Well, he seemed rather upset, as you would imagine. He says he hasn’t seen his wife in over a week, and she’s never vanished before. He says he spoke to the police, but unless they can find any evidence of kidnapping, they can’t investigate it.”

“Right then”, says Molly, taking a seat behind her desk. “I’ll call Mr Tickle—”

“Toggle”, corrects Patchee.

“Quite, and while I’m doing that, you can get the coffees. I take mine black with no sugar, and if”, she adds, anticipating the cheeky look on Patchee’s face, “you reply by saying I don’t need sugar because I’m sweet enough, I shall flatten you.”

With that, Molly’s new assistant busies himself in the little kitchen area, which is at the opposite side of the apartment to Molly’s bedroom. Molly’s apartment is small, and tastefully decorated, which basically means that it is cream-coloured and there isn’t much stuff in it, and the stuff that is there was probably left by the people who previously lived there.

As you enter her apartment, directly in front of you is what Molly calls her office, but which is basically a combined living room and kitchen area. To your left you would see a set of hooks for hats and coats, and to the right is a little cupboard, for towels and bedding and soft, boring things that go in cupboards.

As you walk into the living room, to the left is the kitchen and to the right is Molly’s bedroom, and an extra little room rabbits use for their private times.

At the insistence of Mr Huggins from downstairs, Molly keeps her apartment clean and — relatively — tidy. She always likes to keep on his good side, as he owns the building. She only has one neighbour on this floor, an older gentleman she very rarely sees.

Molly’s life is altogether neat and tidy, if maybe a little bare. With this latest job, however, things could get a little more exciting.

“Right”, she says, decisively. “He’ll be here tomorrow at nine o’clock”.

Patchee walks into the living room, a tea-tray in his paws.

“So tell me”, she continues, pouring coffee from a large glass jug into a cracked china cup, and neither remembering to thank Patchee nor offering to fill his cup, “what do you know about hamsters?”

By the ancient and official rules of Fogsworth, morning cannot be said to have begun unless it has been heralded by the Dawn Chorus: a band of talented musicians, whose job it is to wake up the town and get them ready for the day ahead.

The Head of the Chorus is Sir Philip Overture, a huge cockerel with a dangling, dusty red wattle and tufts of unruly, dark hair at his tail. He is by all accounts an imposing figure, which is a word adults tend to use to describe other adults they find scary.

In a moment, he will take up his position on the dirt road that leads from the Meandering Forest to Fogsworth’s high street, and assemble the band by clambering up to the Speaker’s Stone and reciting the ancient Words of Waking:

Friends of Fogsworth, hark and hail,
Now brush aside sleep’s dusky veil.
Lift hearts and voices t’wards the sun,
Good morning, good morning, everyone!

A few minutes will then pass, which Sir Philip will spend muttering to himself about the youth of today and how they simply don’t value punctuality, but slowly, tired heads will emerge from houses, with one or two from the forest to the south of the Speaker’s Stone. These are the songbirds of Fogsworth, and it is their job to sing.

Once they’re all assembled, the band will warm up their voices. Many carry hot, sweet drinks that not only coat the throat, but also put a little spring in their step. Then the chorus will harmonise, singing together to create a beautiful chord of notes, low and high.

The song they sing is passed down to each and every bird within the chorus, and has been for countless generations. There aren’t any words, but somehow the song feels comforting, and promises a bright new day full of possibility.

As the chorus sings, they proceed slowly down the cobbled high street of Fogsworth, bringing sound to the previously silent shopfronts, the houses behind and the flats above them, just as the sun wraps its arms around the town, gently bringing it to its feet.

The band will march all the way up the high street until they reach Unicorn Square, with its beautiful stone fountain, the horned animal statue standing guard over a shallow trough of cool water.

The fountain was built many years ago, to honour the last of the unicorns. It doubles as a public swimming bath for some of the smaller animals, but it’s so shallow that now people mainly use it to wash their feet.

The chorus will gather around the fountain, and end with a final chord, Sir Philip gesturing with his wings, encouraging a little swell of bass notes here, or picking out the rhythm for the sopranos there, before finally spreading his wings and bowing his head, bringing the morning song to a close.

He will then point out the bird who wasn’t singing quite on key this morning, and the rest of the band will throw them in the fountain.

On a day like today, when the sun is shining and the wind isn’t whipping around ankles, the band members like to sit around the fountain, rehearsing, helping each-other with auditions and so on. After an hour or two, people will start to head home or off to the next gig. We follow one of the singers as he skitters his way down one of the side streets leading off from Unicorn Square. He turns left at the bakery, where the owner is already up and putting together today’s specials, right at the hair salon, and then turns left again onto Fisk Lane. He passes a hamster heading in to a narrow building opposite a tavern, and they swap a brief greeting.

As we follow the hamster, we see that underneath his “good morning” expression, worry furrows his brow, making his face look all creased and untidy. He trudges up the stairs until he finds a door with some lettering on it, that appears to have been painted on backwards.

“Please, come in”, says Patchee, opening the door in answer to the hamster’s knock. “Take a seat.”

Patchee shuffles over to the kitchen counter, which he’s made to look like the reception desk at a fancy company. His empty coffee cup sits beside a notepad and an expensive pen his parents bought him. Next to that is a large, teetering pile of papers of different sizes and colours. Patchee spent about forty-five minutes last night, scouring Molly’s flat for spare paper that he could put into a pile, because it’s a great way to look busy, and people who are busy look important.

After a few moments, Patchee begins to hum to himself. Although he’s very happy in his work, he’s humming to cover up the odd sounds that have started to come from Molly’s bathroom. Low voices mix with the occasional gurgles of water running down a plug hole, a tap being turned on and off and windows opening and shutting. As the noise gets louder, Patchee tries to match it with his humming, until he’s basically screaming with his mouth shut.

At this point, the door to Molly’s bedroom, which had been previously closed, is suddenly flung open and a flustered Molly pokes her head out.

“Everything’s fine” she says, in that voice people use to tell you everything is on fire, but you mustn’t panic.

The poor hamster merely sits, politely baffled, watching a panicky rabbit dart from the bedroom to the kitchen, then back again, this time carrying a glass bowl and a wooden chopping board. There is a moment of commotion, the sound of glass shattering, a beat of silence, and then the door opening and a satisfied Molly striding proudly into the living room, a small plaster on her left hind leg, sitting at her desk as if nothing has happened.

As Patchee brings Molly a cup of coffee, they exchange a short whispered conversation which Molly eventually waves away impatiently.

“Mr Toggle? Ms Whiskers will see you now”, says Patchee to the hamster, with the infinite patience of someone who has already had a very difficult morning.

“Is everything alright?” asks the hamster as he sits, uncomfortably, opposite Molly.

“What? Oh, yes. I just had to throw a friend out the window.”

“Fine”, says the hamster. Then, after a moment, “wait, what?”

“Hmm?” asks Molly, absentmindedly. “Oh, Simon drops in every now and again. He particularly likes the bathroom, but he got stuck and couldn’t get out, so I had to trap him, and then of course the trap broke so all I could do was… throw him out of the window”. She adds this last part with a shrug that suggests “you know how it goes”.

“I beg your pardon?” asks the hamster, incredulously — which is a very good word and scores highly in word games if you can play it, and describes someone who doesn’t believe something to such a degree that it makes their voice go all weird and their eyebrows shoot out of the top of their head. “You pushed this… Simon out of a window?”

“Yes.”, says Molly, fully pronouncing the full stop.

There passes one of those silences again, This one feels thick and oily, like the air hasn’t had a good wash in days.

“This is clearly a bad time; perhaps I should come back another day—” begins the hamster, making a move to leave.

“Look, I don’t see what the problem is”, says Molly, with a look of genuine confusion on her face. “Simon popped in to work on his web. He’s been working on it for weeks and it’s really come along nicely. I must’ve startled him this morning as I rushed into the bathroom, so he fell out of the web and into the bath”. She explains all this as if she were going over old ground, and it was all a bit of a bore to have to bring it up again.

“The poor chap couldn’t climb out, and obviously I didn’t want to pick him up—”.

“Why ‘obviously’?” enquires the hamster, now starting to feel like he might be getting a grip on the conversation.

“Well”, says Molly, “have you ever been picked up by something twelve times your own size? I doubt it’s very enjoyable.”

The hamster appears to give this a moment’s consideration, and then makes a gesture that says “sorry to have interrupted; carry on.”

“Well, the rest you more or less know”, says Molly. “I tried to help him out with a chopping board and a bowl, but ended up smashing the bowl on the bath tap, so I just carried him over on the chopping board.”

“Would a bowl really have helped, anyway?” chimes in Patchee, who has been listening intently to the story.

"Probably not, now that I come to think about it” considers Molly. “I always thought it was just one of those things you did with spiders, you know?

“Anyway, I helped him to the window and he asked me to just throw him out. Gently, of course. I suspect he would have climbed down the drainpipe”.

She looks at the clock.

“I imagine he’ll be about halfway to the ground by now.”

“And, the leg?” asks the hamster, pointing to Molly’s injury.

“Oh, there’s a splinter in my bathroom door and I caught myself on it as I was rushing back in with the bowl. Only a small scrape.

“So, Mr Toggle, tell me about your wife.”

The joy of listening to a podcast is that, unlike life, we are able to skip through the boring bits. And while Mr Toggle’s story is a sad one, it can be summed up fairly quickly, so we don’t need to go over the whole “he said” then “she said” business, when we can basically summarise it like this:

Mr Toggle has a wife, who’s been missing for days. Because she’s a grownup, the police don’t see anything suspicious so aren’t looking into it, but Mr Toggle suspects it may be connected to a number of similar disappearances around Walnut Grove, the hamster neighbourhood. Molly agrees to look into the case. They discuss payment, and he says that money is no object, as long as she can find Mrs Toggle, alive and in one piece. He then gives her a long and detailed description of his wife, which Molly listens to in silence.

“You’ve come to the right place”, she says eventually, standing up.

“Thank you”, says the hamster, getting up and offering a paw to shake, which Molly ignores as she bustles back off to her bedroom, leaving the hamster’s paw to stick out like a traffic signal. Patchee comes to the paw’s rescue by grasping it firmly and explaining to its owner that he will receive a call the minute they find something.

Patchee, after seeing the customer out and unsure quite what to do next, does what he finds easiest, and begins to make a list.

But what’s on the list? What pen is he using? What will he do with the paper afterwards!? These and lots more questions will be answered in part four, which features an angry police chief, another missing hamster, and a bit where a rabbit gets hit on the head by a plate.

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