Reginald Acorn's Case 4 : Cupcake Madness
Note to readers : Reginald's previous cases are available for a read in a previous NT:
Case 1 : http://www.neopets.com/ntimes/index.phtml?section=577257&week=839
Case 2 : http://www.neopets.com/ntimes/index.phtml?section=577908&week=848
Case 3 : http://www.neopets.com/ntimes/index.phtml?section=578288&issue=859
If you wish to see visuals of the characters, they all have references here : http://www.neopets.com/~Haineko
I'm laying in my bed, staring at the roof of my room. I've been stuck in there for 3 long and boring days already and it doesn't look like it will be over anytime soon... My name is Reginald Acorn, I'm 20, a grey Gelert and I'm currently fighting a cold. I'm a detective working for the police force of Neovia. Three days ago, the boss and I had to hide in front of the abandoned asylum to catch all sorts of thieves, including the most annoying one you can think of. And by the looks of it, thieves aren't the only things I caught that night ... But, the good news is, we were able to recover a stolen locket and give it back to Vincent Von Verzweiflung. The look on his face when he saw the "treasure" inside was well worth this nasty cold. I'm getting all emotional just by thinking of it !
It reminds me of how I miss Mama ... When I was young and sick, she would make me the most delicious of cocoa with some marshmallow floating in it. It was delicious and helped distract me from whatever sickness I was suffering under at that time...
A loud knock on my door makes me go back to reality. The doors opens to reveal an enormous Darigan Skeith, engulfed in tightly fitted trench-coat. A hat is deeply screwed on his head, letting only small tufts of grey hair around the sides of his head show.
_"Oh good, you're still alive kid !" he says, laughing loudly and slapping his stomach.
_"My wife made this soup for you. It's extra spicy but it should help free your stuffed nose." he grumbles as he lays down the bright red tureen on my table.
This tall and heavy Skeith is my boss, "Big Skeith". His name is actually Marcus Worsley but everyone calls him Big Skeith at the station so being the new guy, I just went with the flow. He's a bit rude, has a very loud mouth but I assure you that you could never hope for a better chief of police. He also kind of became a father figure for me since I've never met my own father... I respect him a whole lot ! _"Oh, almost forgot, I also got you this, kid." he says as he puts down a small green bottle on my night-stand. "Should help fight the cold, at least, that's what the pharmacist told me. And if it doesn't work, I can always arrest him!" Big cackles at his own joke like it was the funniest thing he ever said. I smile, not because of the joke, but because I'm genuinely happy he's there for me.
_"Okay, I must leave now, I have a job to do yaknow. I'll stop by later tomorrow to check on you kiddo, so sleep well and eat like there's no tomorrow. See ya !" he yells as he storms out of my flat. Big's appearances are always something.
I taste Big's wife's soup and it's absolutely delicious. No wonder he keeps on praising her cooking everyday ! I'll have to ask him to thank her for me, when he comes back to check on me. It really is spicy though, I thought, fighting the tears coming in my eyes. I glance at the medicine bottle ... I've always hated medicine and mama had to trick me with cookies every single time to get me to take them. The bottle is really pretty and the liquid is bubbling inside. The eagerness to go back to my cases is stronger than my disgust for medicines. I drink a spoonful of it and promptly go back to sleep.
Neovia, 7:15 am
I let out a big yawn and stretch while still laying in bed. The pharmacist kept his promises as I really feel fresh and ready to tackle whatever challenge comes my way ! The only weird thing is that I don't feel hungry at all, and if you know me, you know I always crave a huge breakfast. Thinking nothing more of it, I jump in the shower and let the warm water drench my fur. I wash my grey hair that is a bit sticky for some reason, plus it really needs a trim, they're getting way too long...
Once I've dried myself, I dress with my usual work attire and feel tremendous joy at the thought of finally being able to get back to work. I step outside and let the freezing air fill my lungs. Yes, to another awesome day of investigation !
_"Oh hey kid, you're back !" shouts Big as I enter the police station. "Guess that potion and the soup worked well uh ?" _"Yes, they did ! Thank you for taking care of me boss ! And please thank your wife for me, she really is a talented cook !
_"Ahaha, I know, right !! Well, since you're up and ready, how about you join Lenny. He's going to investigate a theft and break-in at the Crumpet Monger.
_"Sure boss ! I'll be going !"
I've never had the occasion to work with Lenny before. Lenny is, well, a Lenny. He's a weird mix of faerie and grey colours and looks always completely depressed. Maybe it's the fact that he is bald that makes him so upset ? He's very nonchalant and walks as fast as snail. He also speaks in a monotonous voice and I always feel like sleeping when I hear him talk.
Finally, I can see the Crumpet Monger ! The shop is actually only 20 mins away by foot from the station but Lenny being so slow, it almost took us a WHOLE hour to get there. And since I'm still the newbie, I can't say anything. The Crumpet Monger shop is relatively small but it sells the best baked goods in all Neovia ! A cupcake is drawn right over the porch roof, and just underneath, an elegant door that opens upon a world of delicious treats ! As we get closer, I can see that the door was fractured but the frontage is thankfully intact. Lenny pushes the door and a bell rings inside. We were standing in the entrance when a mountain of hair came rushing out of the kitchen like a storm. Underneath all that hair, a meerca.
_"Oh so yer finally here ! Thank goodness ! As yer can see, we were robbed last night. All ther cakes, scones, pies, tarts and everything in between, gone !" she shrieks, visibly upset.
_"I see." ponders Lenny, completely out of it. _"Did they steal anything else, like the cash register ?" I asked, ready to do my job.
_"Well, yer see, no they didn't. They only stole and ate whatever we had in there.
But ... shouldn't the shop be empty of pastries during the night since you make fresh ones everyday ?" I say, pointing at a small sign saying so by the counter.
_"Oh yer, we do ! In these kind of jobs, we work at lot at night. My main baker was working tonight, made a whole storm of pastries yer see to set the shop for ther morning. He then left for a short while to see our supplier as per usual yer see. It was during that short time ther shop was ransacked." she lets her arm fall flat on her sides. "We lost a lot of money tonight yer see...
_"I'm very sorry Mrs Crumpet. We will do our best to wrap up things quickly so you can re-open again. Would it be possible to talk with your main baker ?" I glance at Lenny as I speak, hoping he would step in to take the reigns but he was busy dozing off with a bubble popping out of his beak. Charming.
_"Sure yer can darling ! Aaron please come yer !" she shouts.
Coming out of the kitchen, wiping his hands covered in flour on a towel, a young Maraquan Gelert. He's of average height, has a long and weird tail with a, what, fin on it ? He is purple and his hair, which kinda look like algae, is greenish. He wears a big cooking hat on his head and a fancy looking uniform with a star on it. Around his neck, a red neckerchief.
He holds out his hand and I shake it amicably, this guy seems to be really friendly.
_"Hello, name's Reginald Acorn and here's my colleague Lenny Dot. We're here to investigate and we'd like to hear what you have to say please.
_"Thanks for coming, both of you. My name is Aaron Watson, I'm the main baker here. I think you won't have much trouble finding the culprit.
_"Really ? How so ?" my ears rising up in surprise.
_"Look at this, they left their prints all over the display cases. Should be easy enough to find, no ?
I get closer to the case and indeed, Aaron was telling the truth, you could see distinct prints all over it. I glance at the few leftover cupcakes there, suddenly feeling hungry.
_"Hmm yes, this is all very importance evidence...
_"Hey Regie, I hope you're talking about the prints and not the cupcakes" cackles Lenny, suddenly awake.
_"Of course I am !" I yell angry he found me out. "Dust for the prints instead of dozing off, that'd be helpful" I say, still sulking.
Alright, alright, let the pro do his job baby." he shouts proudly while holding a weird pose, showing off.
_"I really hope you catch that thief, but in all those short years I've worked here, it's really the first time this happens.." adds Aaron, rubbing his chin with his hand, still in disbelief.
_"No offence here, but you seem really chill for someone who had all his hard work eaten without being paid for...
_"Oh, that's because he took out his anger on yer poor innocent dough sweetheart" giggles Mrs Crumpet.
_"Boss, please !"
_"Okay I'm done dusting the prints and taking pictures here" says Lenny, striking another weird pose. "We will have the results tomorrow or so, so you can get cleaning your fantastic shop my beautiful darling." he adds, kissing Mrs Crumpet hand in a what I assume was supposed to be a gentlemen like gesture.
_"Oh, Oh, my, my, what a charming gentleman you are Mr Dot !" says Mrs Crumpet, blushing.
_"Urhg, disgusting." whispers Aaron while laughing slightly. "Then, I'll get back to work, thank you for coming."
I'm sitting at my desk, eating my sandwich. It took us forever to get back here, as Lenny took his sweet, sweet time. Sometimes I really wonder how come this guy still had a job considering how slow he is in everything he does, but Big told me that he's the best when it comes to little details and all the other stuff we tend to overlook. He's currently studying the prints we found and comparing them to the files we have. Whenever someone decides to move in Neovia, they're obligated to give their prints as well, I'm not really sure why, but I guess after being a cursed town for years, they prefer to use some caution. I had to do it too when I filed all the paperwork in the City Hall. I swallow the last bite of my meal when Lenny comes rushing out from the lab and sprint right into the boss's office. How weird it is to see someone as slow as a snail go as fast as a Cybunny... I guess he did find something. Not two minutes later, Big yells for me to come to his office right now. Why do I feel like I'm not gonna like this ?
_"Kid, we have a match for the prints you guys found." says Big, dropping the file on his desk. He turns around to face the window, turning his back to Lenny and I. "The culprit is a Gelert.
_"Oh, really ? Is it that annoyingly annoying jewel thief ? Though, I wonder why he would steal cupcakes..." I say, rubbing my cheek.
_"No, praise Fyora, this guy is innocent for once. Though, I wish it was him right about now...
Knowing how Big despises that thief, I feel the anxiety rushing through my body.
_"That thief never leaves any prints behind, that's why we have so much trouble identifying him... Reginald, don't you have anything you want to say to me ?" he says calmly, turning back to face me again.
_"No.. I don't understand, I haven't done anything wrong..
_"Kid, the prints are yours. Your prints are all over the display cases of the Crumpet Monger shop. Lenny even found some grey hairs that belong to you on the scene, hair that were covered in frosting. You are the cupcake thief." he looks at me, visibly disappointed.
_"But ... I haven't left my flat yesterday.." I cry, upset I could tarnish my reputation this way. "I ate the soup you brought me, took the medicine as well and went to bed. I swear I didn't do anything wrong..." I state, still sobbing. Disappointing Big is one of the last things I want to do...
_"Look Kid, I know you, I know you're not a thief nor a liar. There has to be an explication, and we will find it." he says, putting his clawy hand on my shoulder. "Oh and wipe your nose, I don't want any snot on my desk!" he adds, smiling snarkily. "Let's go on a walk, I think you need some fresh hair. Thanks Lenny for your work, you can go back in the lab work on whatever you have left to do."
_"Okay, let's go to the pharmacy and see what the guy has to say. I don't feel like you're lying like I said, but how come every evidence found incriminates you..." he grumbles as we walk in the main street.
_"I don't know, I'm really lost here... I don't remember a thing, but I do recall not feeling hungry this morning and my hair being sticky when I woke up." I follow him, looking at my shoes, still feeling shameful.
_"We're here." he says as he pushes the door open.
_"Oh hey it's you !" points a young Zafara with his head full of blond and spiky hair. "How is it doing man ?
_"I'm not your man, kid.
_"Yeah, yeah, what can I do for ya ?
_"I want "ya" to tell me more about this medicine I got from you yesterday. Are there any side effects I should have been told about when you gave it to me ?" asks Big, pushing his finger into the Zafara's coat.
_"It was groovy eh man ?!" he says, still pointing his fingers at us. "I think I'm gonna slap some sense into this idiot, if you know what I mean." whispers Big in my ear.
_"Stop being such a moron Arnold !" yells a middle-aged Kacheek, hitting his head with a stack of paper. "Ugh, I swear to Fyora, you're really an idiot. Please excuse my employee sirs. What can I do for you ?
Big Skeith, after a glance at my pathetic face, decides to explain the situation to the Kacheek himself. She closes her eyes as she listens to him. _"Uh, Uh, I see. I do have an explanation for you, I believe. Did you wife happen to add some clawmatoes in her soup ?
_"Yes, it's one of her favourite things to put in there. Why ? Is there an issue with it ?
_"As stupid as it sounds, yes actually. I do not know the full details, but they contain some enzymes or something that react quite badly with the cold medicine your friend here took. They can induce sleepwalking tendencies and cravings when mixed together. Since the poor guy doesn't remember a thing, I believe that's what happen. What were the odds though ?
_"I see, thank you Ma'am ! Please keep slapping some sense into your apprentice.
_"I will good sir, have a nice day, sorry for the trouble !
_"Wait for me here, I won't be long kid." says Big gently slapping my shoulder as he opens the door of the Crumpet Monger shop.
I'm leaning against the facade, still unsure about what's going to happen. Am I going to got to jail ? How are Mrs Crumpet and Mr Watson going to react ? They seem really nice to me and I really don't want them to hate me. As I'm wondering what's going to happen, I hear the bell and the door opens. It's Aaron.
_"Rough day, eh ?" he says as he leans against the shop next to me.
_"Yeah, pretty much. I assume you know everything." I whisper, still full of shame.
_"Yes, I do."
The sharp answer makes me shiver, but I didn't feel any anger in it. _"Look, as upset as I am, we know it's not your fault. Your boss said he was going to pay for the damaged door.
_"Really ? But what about the cupcakes, I mean, I ate all your stock...
_"You sure did!" he cries in laughter. "I can't believe you ate all that without feeling sick, you have some strong stomach kid !
_"Hey, don't call me kid, you're barely older than I am !" I manage to utter as I start to laugh with him.
_"Now that's better ! We have agreed on something with your boss. We're not gonna ruin a promising career, so hear me out. When you're not working your usual job, you'll come and work part time with us, that includes cleaning, deliveries, tasting my new recipes and other little things. That's how you're going to pay your debt to us. Does that sound fair to you ?" he grins.
_"You bet, thank you so much !" I say sobbing, finally relieved from the tension in my shoulders.
I lay down my pen on my desk. I desperately needed to write a letter to mama to tell her everything. After that chat with Aaron, we came back inside the shop were Mrs Crumpet gave me a delicious crêpe to cheer me up. We ended up having a good laugh over this unlikely story and I'm going to start working part time with them tomorrow. I'm really eager to make it up to them. Once again, Big Skeith was there for me, and I can't thank him enough. He talked food with Mrs Crumpet during what felt like an eternity but it was a peaceful moment. As for Aaron, despite him being rightfully angry for his destroyed goods, he opened up to me and showed me how passionate he is about his job. I felt like we were the same on that point. I really wish I can become his friend because I really enjoyed his company. I better go to bed now, I have quite a doozy of a day tomorrow !