The Bitch From Borlänge – Chapter 13
I’m minding my own business and sipping this god-awful Kat beer when I hear a “Woof!” It sounds almost familiar. Who? Another hound here at the Fatal Feline? Kats all have their backs up now, expecting trouble—a possible pack attack. Things like that happen in Rosengård—critters get hurt.
A dogwater fog precedes the new arrival. “Ellie, babe—my love. You’re back—my gift from heaven.”
OMG. It’s Pug, the boxer. He was a contender and we used to run around when I was younger. He was semi-famous then, but after loosing a match with Jerry The Pit, he got into the dogwater. I was never really that interested, to tell you the truth, but he was crazy about me. He can be harder to get rid of than a Tasmanian flea, but whatever. Deal with it, I tell myself.
“Hej, Pug. What’s up? Do you hang out here? Want my Kat beer?”
“Nah. I don’t drink Kat. It turns your liver yellow. Ellie, I’m so glad to see you. Saint Bernard has brought us back together, after all this time.”
Pug’s Irish and a Katholic. “Beauty changes. I’m just passing through,” I tell him.
“No you’re not. You’re on somebody’s tail.”
“And how would you know that?”
“I get around.” He jumps up to my table—almost loses balance before sitting down across from me. “Smooth knows you’re here,” he sez.
“I’m sure he does. We had a brief encounter.”
“He’s been running with Willie The Rat,” Pug snarls. “Police dogs have been after him, but he is hard to find. A master of disguises. and escape. A New York hip hop group, The Lab Rats, wrote a song about him.
Willie the rat
Was a slippery Kat
And escaped from the F.B.I.
With change in his pocket
And a golden locket
In a slice of apple pie.
“Thanks for sharing,” I yawn. “Anything else?”
There’s a big reward out for him. What can you get for catching Smoothy?”
“More than enough.” I turn to look outside, see nothing but a poodle who looks lost.
“Why don’t you let me help you get him, Ellie? There’s a couple things you need to know. Let’s get a real drink while we talk about it. There’s a place I like, ‘Dog Water Hole,’ they call it.” I was on my way there when I saw you in the window.”
“I already knew the things you’ve told me—other than the Lab Rats. And I know Smoothy knows I know he’s here.”
“But he doesn’t know you know what I know. If he knew you knew the things I know it could work against you if you didn’t know—which you don’t. . . .”
Conversations with Pug were always a bit confusing. “So then, tell me.”
“Need a drink first,” Pug says. Dogwater helps my memory.”
“Some other time. I’m waiting for a friend.”
“A lover I suppose. Are you in heat?”
“I am the heat,” I bark at him. “And working on a case—alone, like always.”
“Well, okay then.” Pug flops off the table. “I’ll on my way. But there are things you need to know—important things. I’ve never lied to you.”
That’s true. He isn’t smart enough to lie, or dumb enough. I take a quick glace out the window. Poodle’s gone. A light snow falling. No one to be seen on Pildamsparken where my rat hunt ended— Johanesgatan’s empty. Not a soul in sight, and Chief Johansson gave me Smoothy’s profile. ‘Moves in slow, and gets out fast.’ That’s his M.O. Guess I’ve got time.
“Okay. I’m good for just one drink to get your beer brain working, but it’s going to be a quick one,” I woof.
“Sure. Ten minutes . . . all I’m asking.
* * *
The Dog Water Hole is crowded. Mutts are yowling at a well trimmed poodle dancing on a table. There’s bloodhound . . . Erickson from the Dalarna Crime Team. What’s he doing here? I’m thinking. He ignores me and I do him the same favor. Probably working on an unrelated case—I hope.
We find a place next to a pair of rough looking Main Coons who seem fascinated by a game of Kateract they’re showing on TV. I never understood the game myself—a lot of snack tossing and balloon popping.
Pug goes for drinks and comes back three times with a plate of ribs first, and then with two large bowls of dogwater. “I can’t drink all of this,” I tell him.
“Never mind. I’ll help you.”
“Great. Now tell me what you know that might be worth my time.”
“They know you’re here.”
“I know they know.” God, here we go again.
“Smooth said he’d pay for any information on your whereabouts. He’s keeping tabs on you. Hey, that’s almost a pun or something—get it? Tabs, like tabby.”
“Right. You’re almost half a wit,” I tell him. “So, who’s everybody?”
“I don’t know. I’d had a couple drinks at the Katacombs— a day and night club. It was crowded, lots of kats, a Bulldog they call Snot and, let me think. A couple possums, and some stray kats. Everybody heard the offer.”
“All he has to do to find me is to stand still. Is that it?”
“There’s more,” he sez. The Jackal’s in town.”
“The Jackal? Oj! I thought he was in Gotterdammen.”
“Not this week. He’s after a something. He knows Smooth is loaded—bank account in Kathmandu. Big bucks . . . and the rewards that have been offered by the cops.”
“It could be anything. Whatever. Look, I’ve got to run.
“No. Wait,” Pug whines.
I leap down off of the table with Brazilian grace, and out the door before he has another chance to protest. Spent more time than I had meant to. Maybe worth it. Good to know about the Jackal—bad dawg, bounty hunter. Off his leash in my opinion. What’s he up to?