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Inspector Riley & the chip list

by  riley

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Word Count: 1923
Summary: tale about a cat who is an officer of the pawlice force, the long arm of the paw!

Chapter 1
The Tuna Inn

The time was 2.30am, the air was thick with the warmth from the fire at the centre of the room, the place was the 'Tuna Inn' on the south side of the town of Scoldfield. The innkeeper, 'Tiny' was a short, stocky character whose muzzle had been chewed off long ago when he changed his life from being a pawlice dog, to an underfed guard dog to finally be a free dog. His face held the creases of age of which every one held its own story, only some, ever being told. The other characters in the bar were from all walks of life, the only link was that they all had paws…except Percy of course.

This is the netherworld that humans do not even know exists, the world much as theirs with laws, friendship, love, crooks and crime. In this world there is one power, one overiding force which keeps law and order…The Long Arm of the Paw, The Pawlice Force!

In the main room of the Tuna Inn there were enough tables for about 20 customers to sit comfortably around the fire. The bar was basically a square shaped room with a large fire built right in the middle, with an even larger metal chimney above it to take the smoke from the roaring fire. Around the murky walls were the pictures and things which Tiny had collected over the years which plotted the history from a puppy to the ageing landlord. The actual bar inside the room, was set to the left of the front door and was normally occupied by some of the more regular regulars. The ones who treated the Tuna Inn as their second home.

In the bar Tiny kept a close eye on all the regulars to make sure everyone had what they needed. He could see 'Johnno', the Jack Russell coming to the end of the tasty bone he always enjoyed before beginning his shift at the Pawlice Station where he was a sergeant. Percy snake and his business associate Luigi the fox were at a quiet table in the corner huddled over a crumpled piece of paper talking in hushed tones. 'Up to no good I'll bet' thought Tiny knowing what they did for a living. Luigi was a master thief, who, everyone knew, stole from the humans any items small enough, sparkly enough, or tasty enough to be of value…then Percy would sell these on through his dodgy contacts and they would split the profits. 'Twitch' and 'Fleabag', the white mouse and hedgehogg were in another corner appearing to be in deep conversation; in reality 'Twitch' was telling tall stories about what a great actor he was and how he'd just finished his role as stunt double for the famous Hollywood star Stuart Little in his latest movie. 'Fleabag' was actually sleeping while managing to keep at least one eye open so as not to offend his dear friend. At the end of the bar was 'Snowdrop', tha glamorous barmaid who Tiny had employed for some time, she was busy washing out some food bowls ready for the next batch of willing customers.

All was normal in the Tuna Inn for a winter's night until, at the strike of 2.45am, Smudge & Tufty, the kitten Pawlice cadets burst in, both out of breath and sweating. Tufty took a deep breath and announced “Sergeant Johnno, you're needed at the station right away”. “Okay, Okay, calm down you two”, said Sergeant Johnno, just finishing off tha last bit of his bone at his regular seat at the bar, “I'll be along in a minute”. “You don't understand Sergeant Johnno, our orders are to get you straight away, you are needed by Inspector Riley”, said Tufty, the tortoise shell one who often did the talking as his twin brother Smudge had a bad stutter which got worse when he tried to speak in a hurry. “Inspector Riley wants me lads, is that right?”, they both nodded while looking up at Sergeant Johnno on his stool. With that Johnno immediately dropped the last of his meal into his bowl, got down from his stool and readied himself for the short run to the station. A direct request from his old friend Inspector Riley was not something that was normal, 'this must be important' he thought. 'Riles' as he knew his friend, would only ask for him personally if it was a very important case. It must be something where he needed to have a pawlice officer he could REALLY trust! With that Johnno left the bar at a run, closely followed by Tufty & Smudge as they races through the streets to the station.

Within minutes the bar at the Tuna Inn returned to its normal state of relaxed warmth, Tiny looked over at Snowdrop, She had stopped washing bowls and was looking all glassy eyed. This, he knew, was at the name of 'Inspector Riley'. Snowdrop had a thing about Riley, ever since he rescued her from almost certain death a couple of years ago, off her mind went, back to that fateful day…

Chapter 2
Saving the girl

A few years ago Snowdrop had been called Cuddles and she used to be kept on a lead all day long at her 'owners' house. She would have no contact with any other cats at all and used to spend her days alone & upset. No one would see her except the odd wandering stranger who would come to the window, see her all tied up and laugh. She felt like an exhibit at the zoo and became withdrawn and unhappy. One day, at the worst of her treatment, she was let off her lead for a moment while her owners prepared a newer, stronger one…, 'this is my chance' she thought, 'this is my only escape', and she ran; ran and ran to the top of the big garden hearing calls behind her of “Cuddles darling, come back, mummy's got a lovely new collar for you”, she kept on running and running in any direction until she could run no more. Finally when she was exhausted she collapsed in a heap under some dry branches in the park where she fell asleep, totally exhausted but free at last.

What seemed like only a minute later she was awoken by a sharp pain in her tail, she whirled round to find it was already dark and saw a gang of straggly wild cats tormenting her, grabbing at her tail with razor sharp claws, laughing. She tried to run but was immediately surrounded by what seemed like twenty of them in all shapes & sizes. They were calling at her “Hello my pretty, aren't you a lovely Snowdrop cat” in evil tones, and “What brings you to our home, do you want to have some fun with us?” called out the largest, scruffiest and most dangerous looking one, obviously their leader. She was scared, very scared, not knowing what to do she frantically looked around as they all started to close in on her, softly at first but then more loudly she began to cry as she could almost see what her fate was to be… there was no escape.

Just then she heard a dog bark, she had only ever seen a dog once but she had heard they were larger animals than cats, had terrible table manners and loved nothing more than to beat cats up. Things were going from bad to worse. The barking got louder and closer and she could see that the stray cats had stopped advancing on her and were looking around into the darkness to find the source of the barking. Louder and louder it came until she saw a lone dog followed by a black & white cat, running together at full speed towards her out of the night.

For an instant she thought 'that's strange, a dog and a cat running together as if in formation, they should be fighting each other shouldn't they?'

Screams, mieows, claws and fur, the scruffy band darted in all directions to flee, loosing interest in her and running for their lives, the dog and cat arrived at her and split, one left and one right and went off in pursuit of the strays. Snowdrop had gone from being a prisoner of a human, to being free to being a potential victim and then rescued, all in a matter of hours…but rescued by who? The cat and the dog were gone, gone into the night from where they came, all she could hear were far away screams, barking and howling and then silence. The silence was deafening and the gloom of the night surrounded her, closing in as the strays had done. Then, as if by magic, she heard a voice, a soft voice of a male cat filled with compassion, but from where?, the voice said again “Are you alright?”. “I'm a bit shaken and frightened but I am Okay” she replied. As she said it the cat and the dog appeared out of the night, together, they walked up to her and she saw that they had been in a fight, a small cut to the cats nose and a few on the dog's chest, none more than a scratch. “Who are you?” she asked, “My name is Sergeant Johnno” said the dog “And this is Inspector Riley of the Back Yard, and you are safe now”.

The evenings events soon faded in Snowdrop's mind as she told the pair all about her escape and the threat of the strays, all the while strolling inbetween Johnno and Riley on the way back to town. They told her that there had been reports of a gang in the park and they had come out to investigate when they found them surrounding her and that they were just doing their duty. When they reached the south side of Scoldfield the pair walked her to their favourite bar, The Tuna Inn. Here they introduced her to the owner, and old bulldog called Tiny, they arranged some food and a warm place to stay and then Inspector Riley went off to talk to Tiny in private. After a while he returned saying that she could stay here if she wanted and work for Tiny. In return for food and a bed she could work as a barmaid, this was exciting for her as she could see all walks of life and she willingly accepted.

She would work hard for Tiny, he had been kind to her when she needed it. She would wash and clean, cook & sew and she would be able to talk to lots and lots of other animals. The customers loved her, she became an attraction at the Tuna Inn, the glamorous Persian cat behind the bar, always willing to listen and learn from all comers. She was happy and always looked forward to Inspector Riley coming in for a bowl of milk which she always made sure was the best, with the cream.

'Crash, Tinkle Tinkle'…, she was startled by something breaking behind the bar, but then she realised it was she who had dropped a bowl which smashed on the floor behind the bar. She was back, back in the bar, back from her memories and back behind the bar serving a new customer, Red, the post Robin who had arrived just after Johnno and the kitten cadets had left…all was how it should be.