Hi, Imogen here, your faithful storyteller. There’s a lot happening in part five, so let’s get you caught up.
Previously, Molly and Patchee started their investigation into the disappearance of Fogsworth’s hamster football team, with Molly rushing out to presumably catch the kidnapper. When we last saw Patchee, he was lying on the floor after being hit by a whole cabinet’s worth of crockery – his reward for trying to leap to Molly’s rescue, but being perhaps a little clumsy in the process.
Right. I’m here with a big mug of tea, Mark’s over there on the music and sound effects… let’s get into part five of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle.
“What was that noise?” asks Bailey.
It was Roscoe’s tummy rumbling.
“What noise? I didn’t hear any noise”, lies Roscoe.
“It… it sounded like something very large and very angry”, continues Bailey.
“Hmph”, says Roscoe.
A few long, long seconds pass, then Roscoe says “OK, hand them over.”
“Hand what over?” asks Bailey, her eyes widening in mock innocence.
“You know what”, counters Roscoe, holding out a meaty paw.
Bailey tries her “oh gees boss, I’m sure I don’t know whatever you could mean” look for a short moment, before realising it’s not going to fly, and hands over the bunch of asparagus to her partner.
“But I thought you said you weren’t a rabbit and you didn’t eat rabbit food?” says Bailey, in her best mocking tone.
Roscoe snatches the bundle of green sticks from his partner’s paw, eases one out and drops the rest on the seat between them. He says something under his breath that might have been an admission that, yes, he had originally scoffed at the idea of eating something healthy on a stakeout, but was now so hungry that he could eat a houseplant.
The pair are on a stakeout, which means they’re bored, tired and miserable. A stakeout is what police officers like Roscoe and Bailey do occasionally when they want to catch someone doing something they shouldn’t, and are expecting them to do so in a particular place. In these circumstances, one of the police station’s on-duty horses will take them to the spot the officers want to watch, the officers will detach the horse from the carriage and sit, waiting patiently — or rather impatiently as the case may be — until something… anything… happens.
As stakeouts can go on for hours and hours, with nothing happening, food, drink and entertainment are very important. This was Bailey’s first stakeout, so she was keen to handle the food and entertainment portion, with Roscoe handling drinks. Bailey is now rather thirsty as she has no intention of drinking whatever foul-smelling stuff Roscoe has in his flask, and they are both a little grumpy after several rounds of I Spy, all of which involved some variation on the words “bench”, “window”, “tree” and “cat” (the last one being a kinder version of the word Roscoe had used to describe Bailey at one particularly frustrated moment. A clue: the word begins with I and rhymes with “shmidiot”).
Dusk is now settling over the park across from which the two cats sit in grumpy silence. They’ve been here for hours, waiting for a clue that might lead them to the hamster kidnapper.
“Hang on”, says Bailey, her ears pricking up and her whiskers trembling slightly at the sight of a figure moving in the distance.
“It’ll just be another jogger”, says Roscoe, looking intently at the asparagus in his paw, and giving it a suspicious sniff.
“I don’t know” says Bailey, slowly, convinced she’s seen something of greater interest than the dozen or so animals they’ve seen trotting, ambling, cantering, springing, and galloping in a circle around the park.
“It’ll be a jogger”, says Roscoe in his best “I’m getting ready to say ‘I told you so’” voice. As Bailey brings a pair of binoculars up to her eyes, Roscoe takes a tentative nibble on the asparagus, then, deciding that it probably isn’t poison, proceeds to eat the rest of the stick in two large, noisy bites.
“Anyway”, he continues, his mouth full of vegetation, “you know the penalty if you spot another potential hardened criminal that turns out to just be a fitness fanatic.”
“I don’t think this one is a jogger”, says Bailey, a little more excitedly, watching the four-legged figure as it performs what appears to be a peculiar dance. As Bailey hands the binoculars to her partner, the figure in the distance finishes its stretches, kicks out its back legs and begins to run in a wide circle around the park.
Roscoe, picking up the binoculars and focusing in on the deer in the distance, assesses the situation for all of half a second.
“Oh wow, yeah, you’ve really found something here”, he says, his words dripping in hot, buttery sarcasm. “This is highly unusual behaviour. A deer, a famously sluggish and lazy animal” he continues, beginning to enjoy himself, “is, contrary to every law we have on the books, running in what can only be described as a circular fashion, round and round.”
Bailey’s ears and whiskers begin to relax, and her whole body sags as she realises she’s going to have to buy the first round of drinks when the officers at the station finish their shift and head to the tavern later tonight.
“I will say though”, continues Roscoe in an admiring tone, “the legs on this lad are incredible.” His paws trace a narrow oval shape in the air as he tracks the deer’s progress around the park. Round and round the park runs the deer, with Roscoe watching, having to move quickly to keep the animal in the small viewport of the binoculars.
After a few silent moments in which Bailey starts to wonder whether Roscoe has been hypnotised, the big cat’s movement freezes, and in a second, he drops the binoculars, flings open the carriage door and charges headlong towards the deer.
Utterly baffled, and assuming Roscoe has simply become so bored at being cooped up that he needs to stretch his legs, Bailey picks up the binoculars, just in time to see the deer sprint off as he encounters the cat barreling towards him. In further bafflement, Bailey sees, through the binoculars, her partner clatter into another animal — a rabbit? — and pin it to the ground.
Quick as a flash, Bailey drops the binoculars and tears off, across the road and up the little hill to the park.
Incase it’s unclear what made Roscoe react so quickly, let’s imagine we’re using our own pair of binoculars, to watch a sparrow flying in the distance. As we track the movement of the bird, we’re unable to see anything of the world around us. When we magnify something far away so that we can see it more clearly, it becomes easy to miss other nearby objects. Now let’s imagine the sparrow we are watching is being chased by a much bigger bird: a crow, for example. The crow would not have to be very far behind the sparrow for us to miss it, because we can only see a very small amount of space through our binoculars, so if the crow suddenly gains speed and catches up with the sparrow, it might give us quite a shock. Still, not quite as much of a shock as the poor sparrow!
The example of the sparrow and the crow is similar to what Roscoe had experienced: the rabbit, moving quietly in the distance, had gone completely unnoticed as it was out of Roscoe’s line of sight until the deer completed the circle it was running, and the rabbit suddenly appeared in view. Luckily, Roscoe may be a large, old and sometimes lazy cat, but when he needs to move, he can really move.
Bailey joins her partner just as he hauls the rabbit upright.
“Name”, barks Roscoe.
“Yes, I have one”, says the rabbit, haughtily. “But I doubt you’d be able to spell it, you barbarian.”
Roscoe emits a low growl, and his claws tighten, ever so slightly around the shoulder of the rabbit, pinning his prey in place.
“Whiskers”, says the rabbit. “Molly Whiskers. And I suppose you are what passes for ’community outreach’.”
Gorple Norblick is the last of the anteaters, and unlike almost every other adult in Fogsworth, he doesn’t have a job.
He’s not important to the story, so don’t feel you have to remember his name.
Right now he’s in a dark room, with only a long bench and a bucket for company. He’s been here many times before so he knows the layout like the back of his —
Wait a second, he thinks, casting a sleepy eye over the room again. Bench: yes. Grubby floor: yup. Bucket: check. Bars on the windows: still there. Big heavy bars separating this room from the rest of the police station: absolutely.
But the gloomy-faced rabbit in the corner, now this was new. Gorple often found himself thrown in jail after a night of wandering aimlessly through the town, pestering people and occasionally stealing the odd scrap of food, or entire three-course meal. He thinks very hard but can’t remember ever being joined by someone else, much less a well-dressed and well-groomed, if very haughty, rabbit.
“Gorple:”, says Gorple, holding out a paw.
“What?” says his cellmate, looking up and speaking in a tone that suggested the anteater had leapt aboard the rabbit’s train of thought, driven it into a ditch and then set it on fire.
“My name… it’s Gorple. Gorple Norblick.”
“Well”, replies the rabbit, “I’m sorry to hear that. Now, leave me alone, I’m thinking.”
A long silence passes.
“What’re you thinking about?” asks the anteater.
There is a long and heavy sigh from the other end of the bench, and the pause before the rabbit speaks is so long that Gorple begins to wonder if he should repeat the question, perhaps lots and lots of times, until she answers.
“I’m thinking”, says the rabbit, “about how to escape this filthy dungeon.”
“Oh, that” replies Gorple, in a voice that suggests this line of thought had long since occurred to him, but had been thrown away like the food in the bins he liked to raid.
“I’m being held against my will!” says the rabbit, raising her voice, presumably in the hopes that a passer-by might hear it and run to help her.
“Well, yeah, I mean, that’s sort of how jail works”, counsels Gorple, patiently. “Otherwise it’d be more of, like, a hotel.”
The rabbit makes a noise somewhere between a huff and a snort, rises to her feet and pads over to the bars that sit, thickly and unmoving, between her and freedom. Through the bars she sees a cat hunched over a small wooden table, playing some sort of solo card game. To the left is a small number of desks and a set of double-doors, presumably leading further into the station. To the right, a couple of cats play darts, throwing their little arrows at a round board and calling out seemingly random numbers. Further to the right is another door, and it’s through this door that Roscoe, the heavyset cat who’d tackled her to the ground, now walks. Through the swinging door, Molly catches a glimpse of a board — not unlike the one in her bedroom — but filled with altogether different faces. In the centre is a drawing of a pug, and it’s clear from the drawing that this is a very big, and possibly very bad, dog.
Molly Whiskers eyes the police cat with disdain as the door swings shut, and turns back to her cellmate.
“So, what brings you here?” asks the anteater.
Another sigh slips from the rabbit, as she makes her slow way back to the bench.
“The warm welcome, and the in-room entertainment, of course”, says Molly. She has decided to give sarcasm a try, and she’s curious to know how it fits.
“Makes sense”, says Gorple, giving a knowing little nod. “You know, if you wanted to write about this place, you could save ink by reviewing the food and the beds at the same time.”
“Yep. Cold and lumpy.”
“Hmph”, says Molly, grateful to have shared a joke she can understand. She has always suspected she had a sense of humour, but often found that the things she thought were funny just confused other people, while at the same time, the things that made others laugh just seemed baffling to her.
“Well”, continues the anteater, “I can’t see you being here for much longer. Someone dressed up all nice like you are, with your hair all tidy and your ears not being nibbled half off.”
“No”, says the rabbit, matter-of-factly, “I suspect not”. Then, sensing that perhaps this might be one of those moments where she has said something that might have upset someone, she continues: “So, um, what are you in for?” (Those last two words appear to sit uncomfortably on her tongue.)
“They call it vagrancy”, replies Gorple, wearily, “but it really just means tidying up. I don’t have a job” — he gestures, drawing a paw over himself as if to demonstrate that being an anteater is reason enough not to have a job — “or a permanent home, so I sort of… well, knock about, making the place look untidy.
“So, every now and again, one of the blue squad” — he points a paw in the direction of the uniformed cat, making his way over to them — “will pick me up and drop me in here, usually when I’ve had a few too many beers or” — and with this he holds his paws up above his head and waggles his digits, creating quotation marks in the air — “forgotten my wallet”.
“You’re a thief and a layabout”, says the cat, now at the bars of the cell with an enormous set of keys in one fluffy paw.
“I’m a victim of circumstance!” replies the anteater, defiantly.
“Siddown, Norblick”, barks the cat. “Whiskers, the gaffer wants to see you.”
Meanwhile, across town, a gigantic headache is about to strike. It’s going to be one to remember — a real classic. It’s been biding its time, steeling itself and all it needs now is a victim.
This headache knows what it’s doing, and it doesn’t strike right away. It waits for its new owner to wake up, open its eyes and look around a little. It gives its new owner just enough time to remember who they are, where they are, why they’re on the floor and why this particular floor is littered with broken cups and plates.
Then, it strikes. Not suddenly, but subtly. It stretches its arms and legs inside its new home, getting into every nook and cranny, before opening the curtain on the main event.
“Frmghhhhhh”, says Patchee. Perhaps “says” is the wrong word in this case, since the noise that squeezed itself between the poor rabbit’s lips could hardly be termed a word.
Bit by bit and back-to-front, he begins to piece together the memory of what happened: getting hit on the head with a heavy shelf full of expensive crockery, darting across the room to try and save the plates that were now in pieces around his untidy body, being rooted to the floor by the leg of the bed he had unknowingly dragged from Molly’s bedroom, Molly’s map, Molly hurrying out of the flat.
“Molly!” he squeaks, leaping to his feet and immediately regretting it, as the headache finishes warming up and decides to break out the big solo number.
Patchee is very nearly sick as the thumping in his head gets louder and meaner, as though there’s a one-man band in his head and he’s in a very bad mood.
After catching his breath for a minute or two, Patchee looks around the room, at the mess of broken crockery, splintered wood, woollen thread, and paper, realises he’s going to be in a lot of trouble, takes one big deep breath, says “right!”, and begins the job of tidying up.
I’ll spare you the long and detailed description of someone tidying a flat. I hope you’ll join me next week, when we get a little peak at Roscoe’s softer side, and we meet the General and his hapless henchmen.
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