Janet and Jane: The Case of the New Addition: Part Two
"What?" James asked. His eyes grew to the size of saucers. "Already? I literally just got here!"
"Don't worry, James. You'll do fine," Jane comforted. "Vandalism cases are usually pretty easy to solve, so it's the perfect case to start you off with."
"You're sure about that?"
"One hundred percent." She crossed her arms. "You can go with Janet to investigate the vandalized areas while Natia and I interview some of the owners of the buildings."
So now I had to work with him? It was bad enough that we got an apprentice. I was planning on just working alone while he was around. Yes, that was most likely not going to happen, but I can still hope.
James looked at me nervously. He said, "Do I have to work with her? I'd rather work with you."
"I just figured you want to learn how to examine a scene first," Jane informed. "Why? Is there a problem?"
"O-oh. No, there's no problem." The Bori rubbed the back of his neck. "No problem at all."
"Great." Jane turned to Nathan. "Nathan, do you think you can maybe write an article about this? Maybe someone can recognize the artwork."
Nathan and Jane carried on their own conversation. I began to walk out of the discussion room to get working on checking out the scene. James noticed that I was going and went after me. He didn't speak (thank goodness for that - I wasn't in the best mood for talking). It was like he was afraid to speak. I could tell that he wasn't exactly the chatty type.
It also seemed that he didn't like me. I know I didn't make a perfect first impression on him, but it wasn't my fault. I wasn't in the best mood today. Besides, first impressions are almost always wrong. He was going to have to learn to live with me if he wanted to keep this internship.
"So, Janet, was it?" he asked.
"Yeah?" I asked with a little bit of a rude undertone.
James seemed a little nervous to respond. I wondered why. Was he actually afraid of me? Finally, he said, "H-how long have you been a detective?"
"Oh, a few years. I lost count."
"R-really? You look my age."
"Well, I got into the business pretty early." I brushed some of my hair out of my face. "Ever since I was little, I was interested in mysteries, so-"
James sighed. "I get it."
"So what about you?" I looked at the Bori, who cowered a little. "What made you interested in becoming a detective?"
Again, he seemed nervous to respond. Why was he nervous? Maybe that was his personality. He seemed nervous around Jane and Natia, too. Still, he seemed most nervous when he was around me. Why me? I'm a good Neopet, right? Right?
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," I informed. "Besides, we need to get to work."
The purple Bori hastily nodded his head. Once we reached the front door, he opened the door for me. He was pretty polite, I could tell. Maybe having him around wouldn't be so bad after all. Still, I needed to see how he performed when investigating a crime, interviewing others, etc.
I led James into Neopia Central. Now, if I recall, those buildings were in the Marketplace. The issue with that, though, is that there were literally hundreds of shops in the Marketplace. The chance of finding at least one of the shops that was vandalized was pretty low. This was going to be a long day.
"Hey there!" a perky voice said behind us. I turned around to see a green Cybunny running up to us. "Excuse me, kind Neopians. May I interest you in this fabulous sale of grooming items?"
"No thanks," I replied. "We're not here for grooming items."
"But it's fifty percent off retail." The Cybunny grabbed my hand and dragged me off to who knows where. "You surely won't regret it."
I snached my hand back. "Listen," I replied in a snappy tone. "We're not here for brushes and shampoos. We're here for-"
James quickly got in between the Cybunny and I. He said, "I'm sorry about my friend. She's just not in a good mood. We might be able to check out your shop later if we have the time."
"Ah, I see." The Cybunny began to walk away. "When you get the chance, it's the shop next to all the ones with all those paintings on it."
My eyes widened a little bit. "Paintings?" I asked. "What paintings?"
"Oh, some jerk decided to paint all over the shops in one area. Luckily, my shop wasn't touched." The Cybunny pouted. "Why, you wanna see them?"
"If you don't mind, yes," James said politely.
The Cybunny smiled again. She seemed as easy to get happy as Natia. She began to walk off again and said, "Well, follow me!"
The two of us followed the perky, green Cybunny. She almost seemed to hop while she was walking (then again, she was a Cybunny). I wondered how she was so happy. Being that happy was something that I never understood. I tried asking Natia about it a few times, but all she said was, "Oh, I don't know. I guess I'm just very happy."
When I caught a glimpse of the paintings, my heart stopped for a second. I just thought the Cybunny was just leading us to her store to have us buy her things (believe it or not, that has happened to me before). The paintings themselves seemed a bit crude in design. Rather sloppy if you asked me. The ones Nathan showed us weren't the best, but some effort was put into it. I guess Nathan didn't take any pictures of these ones (I didn't blame him).
"See?" the Cybunny asked. "These paintings just showed up two days ago."
"I see. Do you know who did it?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Nope. If I did, trust me, if I knew who did this terrible act, I would go straight to the police." She was getting a little irate.
"Uhmm, sorry to bother you, miss," James began. "but should you maybe get to your store? I think those Neopets want to buy something from you."
The Bori pointed at the shop next door. Three or four Neopets who were wearing way too much makeup were walking inside. They were chattering something about how the lead singer of M*YNCI did some stupid thing, I didn't care to listen.
"Oh, thank you guys," she chirped. She ran to her store. "Hold on, ladies! Did you hear of my sale?"
Good, now I could start investigating. I had the feeling it'd be a bit hard for me to check out the scene while that Cybunny was breathing down my neck and asking if I wanted to buy something. Not everyone here is looking for something to buy.
I began to examine the painting more closely. From the (terrible) painting, I could see a yellow Chia. It looked like it was wearing a police officer's uniform. Maybe it was the police chief? Why would anyone paint the police chief onto the side of a building? Especially in this fashion? Nobody had anything against him (well, except for me. We never got along very well).
"Janet," James began. "What do you make of this?"
I turned to him. He was walking toward me with a paint brush in his hand. Did he seriously grab that without putting on gloves?
"That paint brush was on the ground, wasn't it?" I asked.
"It was. Why?" he responded.
"And you just picked it up?"
"Yes. Is there a problem?"
"You do realize that that could have had fingerprints and you just picked it up without gloves."
The Bori instantly dropped the paint brush. "Oh, I-I'm sorry. I forgot. I'm still new at this."
I eyed him up and down. He was getting apprehensive again. Something told me this guy was the nervous type.
"It's fine. Mistakes happen," I said, trying not to sound irritated. "Maybe there's some other brushes around here." I looked back at the painting. "You know, I think-"
"Hey! What are you two doing here?"
James and I quickly turned to whoever said that. A split Lutari was walking towards us and he didn't look very happy. He was either one of the security guards at the Marketplace (trust me, this place needed them) or the shopkeeper.
"Are you the Neopets that did this to my shop?" he shouted.
James got even more nervous. Good thing I kept a cool head. I calmly shook my head and said, "No, sir. We're not the ones who did this to your shop. We were just looking at the paintings, that's all." I looked at James. "Right?"
He nodded slightly at me and added, "Yeah. Do you know who did this?"
The Lutari chuffed some air. "No. I wish I did, though. I would give him a piece of my mind if I ever meet the guy."
"Well, do you know who might have done that?"
"You're a curious pair, aren't you?" He furrowed his eyebrows, as if he was examining us. It was a little unnerving, since I didn't know why he did that. "Why do you want to know who did it?"
Maybe I should come up with stories just in case something like this happens.
"You see, we heard from a friend of ours that someone was vandalizing buildings in the Marketplace with these paints," James quickly answered. "We weren't entirely sure if he was lying or not, but we could see that he was clearly telling the truth."
"Ah, I see." The Lutari took a closer look at him. "Unfortunately, the rumors were true."
"Sorry to hear that your shop was one of them," James said apologetically. He walked closer to the Lutari. "Are you planning on removing the paint?" I sure hope he wasn't. The "murals" could help us out.
"Well, I'm saving up for some paint remover, but that stuff is expensive. I'm not even close to how much it costs."
"I see." He crossed his arms. "Maybe I could buy something from your shop to help you out?"
Okay, was he seriously offering to help someone remove evidence? I knew he was new and all, I was really trying to give him a shot, but this was something that would be obvious to anyone going into police or detective work. evidence was important to solving a crime. I knew having an apprentice was a bad idea. At least get one that had a basic idea of what to do and what not to do.
As the split Lutari led James inside the store, I had to wait outside. It was getting late. It would be dark soon (we got a little sidetracked from Nigel the stock broker and a sudden downpour of Mortogs (how random is that?)). How was I going to explain this to Jane? I knew she would wonder why we were taking a while. And I would have to explain that James decided to go shopping. Knowing her, she would say, "Oh, well that's fine, but we try to keep on a schedule, James." If I was ever late, she would scold me until we did something different.
Finally, after ten minutes, James walked out of the store with something flying around his head. After a couple seconds, I realized that it was a Batterfly. Did he seriously buy a Petpet?
"Have a nice day," he said before the door closed. He walked up to me. "Did I keep you waiting?"
"A little," I said. I admit, I sounded pretty irate. "You do realize that the paintings need to stay up until we know who did it, right?" I crossed my arms and began to walk. "You might not know it, but that does count as evidence. Drawing style, what they like to paint, you could even tell what hand they write with from a painting."
"Look, I'm sorry, but I was just trying to get on his good side," James defended. He caught up with me. "I thought we would be coming back here over the next few days and I figured it would be better to be friends with Darren."
"Oh, so you and Darren are best friends now. Yeah, that'll help us out." Sarcasm was falling out of my mouth at this point.
"Janet, I just thought this would be in your best interest. Better friends than foes, right?"
"Detective work isn't about making friends," I said harshly. "It's about figuring out who did what. You never know who you can trust."
"You seem to trust Jane and Natia."
I glared at him through the corner of my eye. "I've known Jane for years, way before J2 even existed. Natia, I've known her for a while, too. She's gotten Jane and I out of situations before. I trust her because of that." James' Batterfly started to whizz around my head. "What's up with your Batterfly?"
"I don't know. Spiral just likes to fly in circles," James answered. The Bori began to scratch at his hands.
"You named it Spiral?"
"Yes, I named him Spiral. You know, because-"
"I get it," I said. "It isn't that hard to figure out."
"Alright, sheesh." The Bori's scratching was getting even worse. I was worried he would hurt himself. "What'd you name your Petpet? If you have one, of course?"
I turned away from him. "Why do you want to know?"
"Hey, I was just asking."
"Supra. Her name is Supra." I was just about sick of being asked questions. And talking. "Now if you don't mind, I'd rather spend the rest of the walk in silence.
He didn't say much after that. Thank goodness. I was about to go to base on my own (though Jane would flip out if I did that). I wasn't sure if I liked this apprentice. He didn't look like the type that was able to solve anything. He was too nervous.
This was going to be a long few months.
To be continued…