The Petpet Detectives: Case of the Exported Eustabees - Part Five
“Wait a second,” said Damien, after he had settled into his favorite chair. “All of our clients were... classmates?”
I slammed my white paws into the green sofa angrily. “Apparently they each received a Eustabee as a graduation present. How could we have missed that?”
When Luna and I returned from Sullivan’s house on Winding Wood Drive, Damien and Charlie were already there.
“I guess we all assumed that the group responsible for the Eustabees’ disappearances was in it for that certain species of petpet,” said Charlie insightfully. “And because we had seven Eustabees missing, it didn’t cross our minds that something else was the reason for their disappearances.” The pea Chia’s words were hard to hear because I knew he was right. I hated myself for not thinking clearly.
Luna pulled out her notebook. “Instead of spending the rest of the day sitting around waiting for the photo and addresses to arrive, let’s talk about the case.”
“Great,” said Damien, leaning forward in his seat. “Let’s start with the facts. We know that seven Eustabees are missing and three Neopians are responsible.”
“We know from the security cameras that the Neopians would enter and exit from the backdoor,” I said.
“A clue was found outside of Gracie’s house that pointed to Sullivan,” Luna reminded everyone. “Sullivan grew hostile when Monte offered to get us the addresses from the graduates via the class photo.”
“Hang on,” said Charlie. “Let’s go back. Why would all the Eustabees be missing?”
I smirked. “They’re pretty darn expensive.”
“And rare,” said Luna. “They’re retired petpets.”
The conversation continued until late afternoon.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long for the envelope from Monte to arrive. It was on our doorstep a little after dawn the next morning.
“Wow!” Damien exclaimed. “That is one fast mail carrier.”
“Let’s be sure to also thank Monte for getting it mailed so fast. I wonder how he could have someone get it here that quickly?”
“The rich have their connections, Luna,” I said to the shadow Yurble, with a contented smile. “Okay, before we open it, let’s briefly discuss what we’re looking for.”
Luna counted off on her fingers. “A blue Krawk, yellow Grundo, and a brown Techo. Those are the three Neopets that showed up on the surveillance camera. We need to find their addresses and pay them each a visit.”
“Excellent.” Damien smiled and looked down at the large envelope.
The Petpet Detectives
411 Bracknell Road
Neopia Central, Neopia
He slit it open with his nail. Out slid a glossy class photo and a piece of paper. The paper had a list of twenty addresses that Monte must have made a copy of.
The three of us crowded around Damien and looked down at the image. In the front row were younger versions of Nina and Felecia, Sullivan and Monte in the back, Evan in the middle, Gracie just in front of him, and Remy off to the right side.
“There’s the yellow Grundo we’re looking for,” said Charlie, pointing to the center of the group. “And the blue Krawk.”
“Roger,” I said. “He lives at the end of Bread Street. The Grundo’s name is Casey and he lives at 7327 Cairn Close.”
We continued to scan the photo. “Where’s the brown Techo?”
“Here’s a red Techo.” Luna pointed to a Neopet in between Evan and Remy.
“That’s him,” said Damien, with a nod. “I recognize his smile from the security footage. Same guy, new color.”
“Got it,” I said, checking his address. “5639 Market Street.”
“Let’s split up and we’ll check out the locations,” said Luna. “I can walk to Cairn Close; that’s just two streets over.”
Damien stood. “Charlie and I can take an Eyrie Cab over to Market Street to visit the Techo.”
“That leaves me with good old Roger,” I said, and sighed. Why did I have to pay a visit to the guy with the sharpest teeth?
“Meet you back here later,” said Charlie. He saluted as Damien headed out to hail a cab.
I stood. “Yep, I’d better split, too. See ya, Luna.”
“Okay,” said the Yurble, gathering up her notes and preparing to leave. “See you later.”
Damien and Charlie hopped out of their Cab and paid the Eyrie four hundred neopoints for the ride to the opposite side of the city. In front of them was a small wooden house with peeling, blue shutters. If the Neopet inside really did attend the Howard P. Charleston Academy, Damien and Charlie would not have expected him to live in such a small place.
Damien knocked twice and they waited for a response. The door swung open and a brown Techo stared at them through the crack.
“Good morning, sir,” said Damien, smiling at the fact that this was the Neopet species they were looking for, “we’re looking for someone named Mitchell.”
“That’s me,” said the Techo, with narrowed eyes.
“My name is Damien and this is Charlie. We are with The Petpet Detectives. If you don’t mind, we would like to ask you a few questions about a recent case that you may be involved in.”
The Techo’s eyes darted back and forth. “Yeah,” he said. “Okay.” He stepped back to let them in and awkwardly led them to the grubby dining room where they could sit. “You said I may be involved in a case?”
“Yes,” said Damien, and he explained what was happening on Winding Wood Drive. He tentatively ended with, “a Neopet of your species, color, and approximate physical description showed up on one of the security tapes. We don’t like to jump to conclusions, so we’d appreciate your cooperation.”
“When was the last time you were in contact with any of your classmates at the Howard P. Charleston Academy?” Charlie asked.
Mitchell’s bug eyes wandered around until he focused on the top of Damien’s hat where Charlie was sitting. “Uhh,” he began. “Not since we all graduated.”
“Do you mean to tell me,” Luna began, eyeing her client closely, “that you have not spoken to either Mitchell or Roger since your time at school?”
“That’s right,” said the yellow Grundo. “I hated the both of them. Well, not hated,” he chose his words carefully. “I mean we weren’t friends and we didn’t exactly like each other. In fact, I don’t even recall either Mitchell or Roger ever hanging out. We fell into different crowds, I guess.” A Eustabee hopped into the Grundo’s lap and he petted it affectionately. “See, I was the serious one of the class, the goody two shoes. Mitchell was a bit on the quiet side. Roger’s the one you need to worry about. He was always asocial and had a problem with everybody.”
Yes, but Roger is not the only one who showed up on the security tapes, Luna thought, massaging her pounding forehead.
“If I were to ask if you were anywhere in the vicinity of Wishing Well Drive and Winding Wood Drive anytime from ten to twelve pm on the 11th through the 16th, what would your answer be?”
“Nope,” said Roger, propping his webbed feet up on the coffee table. “I was nowhere near those streets and I haven’t been in months.”
I leaned back and folded my arms, attentive. “When was the last time you were there, Roger?”
The blue Krawk considered the question. “I was visiting an old friend about a few weeks ago.”
“Does this old friend have a name?”
“Yes, it’s Sullivan. He isn’t one to forget, either. He was quite the troublemaker back at the Academy.”
I found myself leaning forward. “Is that so?”
“Oh yes,” said Roger. “He seems to have mellowed out now, but he was a bad guy. If you weren’t sitting here on my sofa accusing me of this crime, I’d be knocking on his doorstep again.”
“I’m not trying to put you on the spot,” I said sincerely.
“I know, Marlo, you have an obligation to solve the case. I understand.” The Krawk smiled. “But during the time of the 11th through the 16th, I was vacationing in Krawk Island.”
“Do you have proof of that?” I asked. “Receipts, ferry tickets?”
After the Krawk returned from his big search, I sifted through numerous receipts, ticket stubs, and photos taken while there. The back of the photographs had dates that corresponded with the times that petpets were taken from Winding Wood Drive.
Roger’s story checked out.
As much as I wanted to press him for information about his involvement with Sullivan, I refrained. It would be better to talk straight to Sullivan anyway, and maybe Monte, too.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons as to why Sullivan didn’t want us visiting the houses of his old classmates.
We met back on Bracknell Road in the early afternoon to discuss each other’s visits.
“From what I hear,” Luna began, “all of their stories were relatively similar?”
“Yep,” said Damien, after listening to each detective tell his or her account. “The suspects had no contact with each other outside of the Howard P. Charleston Academy, and even the contact when they attended school together was limited. Which means one of two things.”
“They’re all telling the truth,” I continued, “or they’re all exceptional con-artists.”
Damien sank even further into the green sofa. “Fantastic.”
“Wait, wait,” said Charlie. “I’ve just thought of something.” I wasn’t surprised. Every time the pea Chia was quiet, he was always immersed in deep thought. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but all three of our prime suspects had their petpets with them at the time of the interrogation?”
I thought about it. “Yeah. I saw the Eustabee.”
“Me too,” said Luna. “Casey’s petpet was sitting in his lap most of our conversation.”
I could see Charlie’s smile from the armrest. “Think about it. Their homes are probably much easier to infiltrate because they have less security. It would be simpler for the kidnappers to have taken a petpet from one of their homes versus one of our clients’ mansions.”
“That’s brilliant!” Luna exclaimed. “And you’re absolutely right. Now it would be safe to assume that the crime committed was against the seven classmates and not necessarily for the sake of having expensive petpets.”
“That’s great,” said Damien feebly, “and it probably pegs it to someone in the graduating class. But these security tapes of the types of Neopets breaking in and stealing petpets don’t add up.”
Charlie nodded. “Yeah. I know this is just conjecture, but I really don’t think it was Mitchell from the conversation we just had.”
“Me neither,” Damien added his accord.
“And if it’s no one in the class,” I said, “then it could be any blue Krawk, brown Techo, or yellow Grundo in all of Neopia.”
Despite the vast amount of information we had just received, I felt like we were back at square one.
To be continued...