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He Who Smelt it Episode 6

He Who Smelt it

Molly sits down with Roscoe and Bailey, Roscoe has a meet-cute, and we make some new stinky acquaintances.

· 26:52


Hello again, it’s me, Imogen. Have you heard the one about the rabbit detective and the police cats and the big fat dog and the squadron of missing hamsters? If you haven’t, you’ve just stumbled across episode 6 of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle, so my advice would be to catch up quick!

If you were with us last week, you’ll remember that Roscoe caught Molly snooping around in the park in search of Fogsworth’s hamster kidnapper, who may or may not be a large dog who goes by the name of The General. Meanwhile Patchee, in an attempt to come to his new boss’s rescue, has rather clumsily destroyed Molly’s china, and is in the process of clearing it up.

That’s us all up-to-date. Mark, hit that music button.

We re-join Molly as she’s taken from the jail cell she shared with an anteater, to an interview room to discuss her whereabouts, with Fogsworth’s finest police detectives, Roscoe and Bailey.

“Let’s go over it again”, says one of the two cats sitting across from Molly, “just so we’re clear.”

Molly remembers these two from the park. The big black-and-white one, who called himself Roscoe, is the one who tackled Molly to the ground. The smaller, browner one is called Bailey, and she’s been asking most of the questions, with Roscoe huffing and puffing whenever Molly gives an answer he doesn’t like.

Molly has been in this dark, smelly, windowless room for an hour, and has told her story to these two police officers twice already.

If Molly had been aware of the Irritability Scale her new employee had been working on, she might have had to make a tweak to it. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being super-chilled and 10 being furious, Molly was sitting comfortably at a high 13, possibly a 14.

When it comes to anger or frustration, some people breathe fire, and some people throw ice. The fire-breathers seem the scariest because they can really make some noise, shouting and screaming and getting all red in the face like a big plum. But once they’ve got everything out of their system, the danger is over.

Ice-throwers, on the other hand, are trickier to deal with. Often they don’t seem angry at all, and if they do show it, it might not be straight away. Instead of shouting and screaming and getting all red in the face like a plum, ice-throwers choose their words very carefully, speaking quietly and asking questions like “do you see?”.

The best way to deal with a fire-breather is to let them wear themselves out. The best way to deal with an ice-thrower is to listen carefully, because there will probably be a test afterwards.

Bailey, as a pretty relaxed cat, doesn’t find herself getting angry very often, but she knows how to spot it. She knows that Roscoe is a fire-breather, whereas this Molly character is clearly an ice-thrower. She also knows that whenever someone is angry, especially if that person is angry at her, she must always listen and respond with respect. Angry people are like wasps in your knickers; they need to be handled with lots of care and patience, and with no sudden movements.

“For the third and final time” begins Molly, through teeth clenched together so firmly, it’s surprising any sound is allowed to escape at all, “I was in the park, working on a case.”

“The case”, says Bailey, turning a page in her notebook and pretending to read, “of the missing hamsters.”

“Yes”, says Molly.

“May I ask what led you to believe that hamsters were disappearing?”

Bailey feels it important to ask this, since she was pretty sure the story of the disappearing hamsters was a secret known only to the police, and the residents of the hamster neighbourhood… and presumably, whoever was causing the hamsters to disappear.

“I received a call last night from a Mr Toggle, whose wife had gone missing, and whose concerns”, Molly says, pointing an accusing finger at Bailey, “had been completely ignored.”

Roscoe rolls his eyes, but says nothing. Bailey continues waiting patiently for Molly to finish.

“My colleague had a chat with one of the squirrels, who told him that a Mr Nibbs had also disappeared. So, I did some digging around and discovered three more had gone missing this month.”

Roscoe and Bailey exchange a look that suggests the problem might be even worse than Molly suspects.

“The thing is”, continues Molly, “I’m worried the problem might be even worse than I suspect.”

Roscoe begins to stroke one of his long, silvery whiskers, something he does when he’s nervous. What Molly doesn’t know is that this has been happening for longer than a month, and worse, that hamsters are disappearing much faster than they were before.

Again, Molly continues: “I’m pretty sure I’ve found the thing that links all the disappearances together, and that if it doesn’t stop, the hamster neighbourhood’s entire football squad is going to consist of one very lonely mid-fielder.”

“So”, says Bailey, trying to regain some control over the conversation, “you were at the park”, and here she does that thing that the anteater did, wiggling her paws in the air as she speaks, “gathering clues”.

Molly says nothing. Instead she fishes, from one of her large coat pockets, a piece of green vegetable matter.

She slams her paw down on the table in front of her. After a moment, she lifts her paw and sits back, looking pleased with herself.

“What did this table ever do to you?” asks a confused Bailey.

Molly blinks, looks down at an empty table, and looks at her paw, which is now hot and throbbing slightly from the thud it made on the wooden table top.

With a sigh, she picks the now squashed piece of green vegetable matter out from her paw and lets it fall delicately onto the table.

Bailey slides the green thing over to her side of the table, and she and Roscoe give it a sniff.

“Looks to me like an empty pea pod”, says the rabbit. “Have you spoken to the squirrels?”

The two cats exchange a look that seems to say “no; should we have?”

They both know that, in Fogsworth, if you need to buy some food, you go to a greengrocer. These shops are all run by squirrels, who are very good at finding all sorts of food, not just nuts and seeds.

“Mr Bushel” explains Molly, ”runs the greengrocer just outside the hamsters’ neighbourhood. He told my colleague that he likes to keep a little stockpile of peas because they’re a snack hamsters enjoy, but lately he hasn’t been able to find any.

“I suspect that if you ask around, you’ll find a similar story all around the town, which suggests someone is buying up all the peas, and using them to lure hamsters away.”

“Away to where?” cuts in Roscoe.

The rabbit shrugs. “Your guess is as good as mine, but when I find out where they are, I promise to let you know.” This she says while standing up and heading towards the door, waiting for Bailey to open it, which she does.

Molly collects her belongings from behind the reception desk, much to the surprise of a young, frizzy-haired cat, sitting at the desk, whom she completely ignores.

Roscoe stands, watching her walk out of the building. Inspecting the claws under one paw for dirt he knows isn’t there, he turns to his colleague and says, “I’m an old cat and change can sometimes feel a bit sudden, but I don’t remember when we decided that we let suspects leave of their own accord.”

Bailey blinks, loudly.

“I mean”, continues Roscoe, “I’ve often heard suspects ask if they can leave, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone wait for the door to be opened for them, like they were in a fancy carriage with a chauffeur.”

Bailey tries to protest, but she’s not having much luck.

“Next time”, Roscoe barrels on, beginning to enjoy himself again, “maybe you could offer her a glass of wine or a little snack!”

The brief moment of silence that follows is broken, once again, by Roscoe saying “Well?” and Bailey looking at him as if to say What? and Roscoe replying by indicating with his paw that perhaps Bailey should go after the suspect, who was at this point, calmly walking down the road and trying to hail a passing carriage.

“Wait!” shouts Bailey, just as Molly is about to climb into the carriage, the old grey horse in-front looking impatient.

“It’s been a long day”, says Molly, “so if you have anything to say, I suggest you hop in as I want to go home and wash this horrid evening off me.”

After a moment’s thought, Bailey climbs into the carriage with the grumpy rabbit, and the horse begins to trot along the cobbled street.

“Roscoe means well”, says Bailey, as the shopfronts of the high street drift by outside.

“Don’t do that”, sighs Molly.

“Do what?”

“Apologise for him.”

“I —”

“I’ve dealt with bullies like him my whole life, but it’s people like you who make sure people like him never change.”

“People like —?” tries Bailey, struggling to keep up with Molly’s racing mind and tongue.

“You need to stand up to him! Show him he can’t push us around, just because we’re…”

“Just because we’re what?” asks Bailey.

“Oh, nothing”, huffs the rabbit, turning away from the cat to stare at the buildings passing by.

“Listen, Molly, you’ve obviously had a horrible night and you’ve shown us you’re clearly very clever, but you don’t know anything about me, and I certainly don’t need you to tell me who I should stand up to.

“I’ve worked very hard to be a police detective. I’m small and I have big eyes and a short tail, and so I know what it’s like for someone to think I’m not big enough or strong enough or clever enough. But I’m very good at my job, and I know what to do with a bully.”

Molly’s nose begin to twitch, but she won’t look at the cat to her right.

“I’ve worked with Roscoe for nearly five years” continues Bailey, ”and he is one of the best police officers I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and you”, she says, pointing an accusing paw at Molly, who turns round to face her, “don’t know anything about him.”

One of those horrible silences settles over everything. This one is thick, like a creepy fog on a wintery morning.

After a few, very difficult seconds, the horse bobs his head to the side and says “Still, lovely weather for the time of year, isn’t it?”

“Look”, says Bailey, more calmly this time, and after a few seconds have passed for neither of them to think about the weather, “I think we can work together, but you need to trust us. We’re on the same side: you, me and Roscoe.”

The carriage slows as Molly’s apartment building heaves into view. Silently, Molly unhooks the piece of canvas that serves as a passenger door, hops out of the carriage and hooks the fabric back in place. Just as she is about to turn away, Bailey tries once more.

“If you find anything else, just call the station and ask for Bailey. Promise me you’ll do that.”

“I work alone”, says Molly, quietly, then walks up the short flight of stairs into her building.

Bailey lets out a long sigh, and asks the horse to take her home. She’s had a double shift, and all she wants is to curl up with a good book and her husband. She has missed the baby’s bedtime again, but it’s not just Roscoe and she who make a good team; Bailey and her husband Joe are pretty great too.

All the way home, she can’t stop thinking about that peculiar little rabbit with the brilliant mind and the sharp tongue.

Back at the police station, Roscoe is collecting his things so he can head home to a pie, and a pint of something that’ll make him sleepy.

As he crosses through the reception area to the front door, he fails to notice the tall, green monitor lizard walking quickly from the lab, carrying several sheets of paper in one hand, a large coffee in the other and an unopened canteen sandwich in her mouth.

Roscoe not noticing this only becomes important when she, Po, focused intently on a complicated-looking sheet of paper, stumbles into the big cat, causing her to drop the papers and let out a yelp, which further causes her to drop the sandwich clenched in her teeth. The only thing saving her and Roscoe from being scolded by the coffee is the tightly-sealed lid on the cup.

“I’m… I’m so sorry”, stammers a flustered Po, as she drops to the floor and begins trying to gather up all the scattered sheets of paper.

“’S fine”, mumbles Roscoe. “Lemme help”.

As Po finishes arranging all the pieces of paper into a neat pile, she begins to straighten up and, suddenly remembering the sandwich, reaches for it, only to find a large black paw already moving in, like a big hairy shadow.

“Sorry”, they both say, and a sort of reverse tug-of-war takes place, with each one trying to not touch the sandwich so that the other can grab it.

Realising she suddenly doesn’t appear to have the same number of free hands as she did earlier, Po mumbles “I’ll come back for it.”

“Long night ahead?” asks Roscoe, perhaps a little too quietly.

“You too, sorry”, says Po, as she rushes back to the lab.

Blinking, and holding a slightly crumpled sandwich along with a very confused look, Roscoe heads towards the exit once more. After a moment, he carefully places the sandwich on the reception desk, takes a step, then stops as if to ask What just happened? to the air, before moving on.

But the air doesn’t answer.

What poor Roscoe hasn’t realised is that Po simply misheard him, and while he was asking her if she had a long night ahead — judging by her hurried walk, the coffee and her miserable dinner — she’d thought he’d simply wished her a good night, and that the conversation was over.

The air, meanwhile, knows that these things happen. Awkward situations are a part of life, and they’re often the bits that make us laugh. It just takes a while.

Meanwhile, far away from the lantern glow of Fogsworth high street, where the carriages usually don’t go, and where everyone walks a little more quickly when outside, two dogs stand guard outside a brick building that somehow looks, if it were a person, as though it might challenge you to an arm-wrestle, and win.

The dogs have their backs to the building, and in front of them, a few yards in the distance, is a wire cage filled with small, shivering bodies.

“Well the thing is”, says one of the dogs; a wiry black rottweiler, “at the end of the day, when all is said and done, right, and one thing leads to another ’n that, I can’t help but suspect that it is in fact you what farted.”

The other dog, a large brown bloodhound, appears to give this some consideration, and then offers a counter to the smaller dog’s argument.

“Well I put it to you, that he whose nose is acute enough to notice such a subtle change in air quality is, mayhap, the guilty party in this scenario.”

“What?” says the rottweiler. “You saying I’ve got a cute nose?”

“No, my good man. Formidable as your nose is, I’m merely suggesting that he who smelt it, dealt it.”

After a moment’s continued bickering, the building’s heavy wooden door is opened, and a labrador’s nose appears.

“The General wants to see you”, says the nose, and the other two dogs follow it into the building.

Inside, it is dark, and the air is somehow wet. The dogs’ paws pad silently over the cold concrete floor. The three dogs head towards a patch of dimly-yellow light. Under the light is a small terrier — the kind of dog that would fit inside a large handbag, but would not stop complaining about being in there — who is talking to an enormous pug, its bashed-in muzzle black and shiny with spittle, its eyes, sunken inside folds of furry skin. One of his ears is a little tatty, and it has a bit missing. The pug, who we presume to be the General, sits on a chair that’s at least three sizes too small, with his bottom spilling over the sides.

Pinned to the wall behind them are a number of sheets of paper, with diagrams and lists. A few large brown sacks lie about the place, most of which are now empty.

“Status report”, growls the massive pug.

The rottweiler and the bloodhound look at each-other, then just as the bloodhound is about to speak, his partner chips in.

“Well boss, the thing is, right, that, what’s happened is, he’s turned around to me and he’s said ‘Did you just pass wind?’, and I turns around to him and I says ‘No, I thought it was you’, and he turns around to me and he says —”

“Stop it!” yaps the terrier, who was beginning to feel dizzy.

“Oh, but I thought—” says the rottweiler, with a puzzled look on his face.

“What my esteemed colleague is driving at”, says the bloodhound, “is that the situation as it stands is nominal. No disturbances to report, and our rodent residents are still incarcerated apropos your original instructions.”

“What?”, says the terrier, throwing the word like a dart.

“Everything’s fine and the hamsters are still locked up”, explains the labrador, then, glancing at the pug, adds “sir.”

“Good”, says the pug, rolling the word around in his mouth. “Have them ready to be moved. The next phase of the operation begins at sunrise.”

“Yes sir”, bark the two guard dogs, snapping their hind heels to attention, before smartly turning in a half-circle and padding back outside.

The labrador looks a little lost, and goes off in search of something to do that’ll keep him out of trouble.

“With respect, General”, asks the terrier, “do you think we have enough?”

“What, hamsters?” replies the pug. “Well, they’ll have to do. I’m getting word that the cats are investigating matters as we speak, so we need to be careful. If our customer wants any more hamsters”, he says, shifting his considerable weight and leaning to one side on his creaking chair, “he’s going to have to capture them himself”.

And with that, a very long, low, and unpleasant rippling sound fills the air, followed shortly by an even more unpleasant — and quite possibly poisonous — smell.

“Now I am the one who dealt it”, says the pug.

And on that rather stinky note, we’ll leave this episode of Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle. Remind me next time to introduce you to some of the kidnapped hamsters; it’s about time you heard from them.

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