Trouble, Trouble Everywhere
The pond was still and empty that Sunday morning and Geraldine was nowhere in site. Teddy and Puffy checked her nest and found that it was empty also. The nest was left in disarray, which was odd for Geraldine. Geraldine was famous around the farm for keeping a well-kept nest. On that day however, the nest had sticks and straw strewn on the ground all around it.
“This isn’t how Geraldine lives,” Teddy commented. “It’s a mess here.”
“She wasn’t alone, Teddy,” said Puffy. “Look here. There’s a handprint in the dirt.”
Teddy walked over to where Puffy had found the handprint and was amazed to see that it looked like a human handprint.
“Do you smell bananas, Puffy?” Teddy asked as he raised his nose in the air.
Puffy sniffed the air and confirmed Teddy’s suspicion. “That’s an odd smell to be near a goose nest.”
“Indeed, indeed, Deputy. I don’t like this at all. First Joey flies in dazed, confused and hurt then we find Brownie is missing and now Geraldine’s gone too. This has gotten way too complicated.”
Puffy studied the handprint for a moment longer before he realized that it wasn’t a handprint at all. “Teddy!” He meowed in astonishment. “This isn’t a handprint like you’d see from a human. It’s a footprint from a chimpanzee!”
“A chimpanzee?” asked Teddy in amazement. “Are you sure Puffy?”
“Yeah, I’m one hundred percent sure. I watch those animal world shows with the farmer and I’ve seen chimpanzees on there. They leave footprints just like this one.”
“How can you tell it’s a footprint from a chimpanzee?” asked Teddy.
“Look here,” Puffy instructed, “see how you have this wide space between what looks like a thumb and the first finger?”
“I see it. What does that mean?”
“The space between them is too wide!” Puffy said triumphantly. “And look over here, see these four dents in the dirt?
“I see them, Puffy. What are they?” Teddy asked in a very interested tone.
“Knuckle prints, boss. Chimps walk on two legs like humans but they sometimes need their knuckles to move faster.”
Teddy’s eyes widened as he listened to Puffy impressive explanation. “So you think a chimpanzee snatched Geraldine in the middle of the night, but why?”
“I don’t know, boss but the direction of these prints look like the chimp was leaving Geraldine’s nest.”
“Are there any more prints we can follow, Puffy?”
“Afraid not boss but it looks like they were heading toward the border of the farm. Chances are they won’t be far. A chimp is going to be very noticeable on the farm or any where around here.”
“I suggest we start looking around the forest for starters,” suggested Teddy.
“I understand that chimps like trees.”
“Good call, boss. Let’s go take a look,” Puffy said.
The two law animals walked off toward the forest armed with the new knowledge of what kind of animal they were looking for. The reason for Geraldine’s abduction still escaped them but they were confident they would find out soon enough.
While Teddy and Puffy were searching the pasture and old barn, a strange duck was impatiently waiting next to the tall grass at Geraldine’s pond. The duck was not used to being kept waiting and hated dealing with bounty hunters and especially hated farms.
“Where is that chimp?” The duck said to himself in an agitated voice. “He should have been here by now.”
“I am here, monsieur,” said a French accented voice from within the grass. “I ma just making sure you are alone.”
The duck quacked loudly in surprise and turned around to face the direction the voice came from. “Get out here, Cyril,” the duck said angrily. You’ve gotta stop being so sneaky and let respectable ducks know you’re near them.”
Cyril walked out of the tall grass and sat cross-legged in front of the duck. “Qui, monsieur, I should stop being so but my job is, how do you say, extremely dangerous and I am behind the enemy lines, so to speak.”
“If you’re asking for more payment then you’d better forget that idea.”
“Oh, no, monsieur, I am getting plenty of the bananas. You are paying more than enough; it is just the law animals here are more difficult than I expected.”
The duck stretched his neck forward and quacked furiously. “You said you were the best and here’s where you prove it so do what you’ve been paid for.”
“Ah, I intend to. I have asked you here to let you know that I have your wayward comrade, monsieur Slick.”
The duck became enraged and hissed at Cyril. “My name’s Charlie Muscovy, chimp! Nobody calls me Slick or even Charlie Slick to my face.”
Cyril merely shrugged his shoulders at Charlie’s anger. “As you wish monsieur Char-lee. I just thought you would like to know that I do have your friend.”
“He’s no friend of my, paly. Where is he now?”
“He is in the forest hanging from the tree. I will bring him to you or you to him once you have given me the rest of my payment.”
“The rest of your bananas are in the same place as always at Great Egg Harbor. Now where is he?”
“Patience monsieur Char-lee, I have to verify it through my own network of ducks and geese. It’s not that I don’t trust you its just business.”
Charlie Slick had become very angry. He wanted to slap Cyril but Cyril’s reputation prevented him from doing that. Charlie knew that in a fight between him and Cyril that Cyril would always win.
“Fine, I’ll wait but my associates that are waiting for me may not be so patient.”
“Understandable but that is the way of business. You were lucky that I had a friend who knew that goose from Goose-slavia that came here some time ago. True, finding your friend through a crazy goose was not what you had expected but it worked out in your favor, no?”
“Yeah it worked out but who can trust what those crazy Goose-slavians say?”
Cyril chuckled. “Obviously you put enough trust in that goose, monsieur Char-lee for here we are.”
“It don’t matter; you just check your own sources and then give us that duck!”
“Qui monsieur, you shall get him. I will let you know sometime tomorrow when that will happen.”
“We’re in the forest next to that field right now. We’re going to be moving on to a barn we saw when we came in. Next time I see you, chimp, I hope you have the duck ready to be dropped off,” Charlie said with a threatening voice.
“Once again, monsieur, you shall get him soon.”
Charlie looked Cyril over then shook his head before leaving. Charlie couldn’t believe that he was dependant on a chimpanzee to get Joey la’Orange but Charlie was smart enough to know that Cyril was the best at getting the work done and not causing a big mess.
Charlie waddled his way to his two associates hiding in the forest. They had flown in earlier that morning and neither of them had any idea that the two law animals had been searching the forest before their arrival.
He was so intent on his thoughts that he didn’t realize that he had wandered right into the farmyard and had been quickly spotted by a horse at a fence.
“Hey, Joey, where’s the Sheriff. I want to be put down now!” the horse yelled in his direction.
“What, what!” Charlie said in surprise. He looked over and saw the horse looking directly at him.
‘Aw, geez.’ Charlie thought as he waddled faster. ‘Just act like that big hayseed ain’t there.’ Charlie hurried along toward the forest and disappeared from the horses’ sight.
Charlie waddled back as fast as he could back to the forest; taking time to avoid open places on the farm.
Two other ducks, one of which had a scar running across the right side of his bill, were waiting for him behind a pile of brush.
“Did that Frenchie get the target?” The scarred duck ask.
“Sure did, boss but he’s making sure he’s got his bananas before he turns our boy over,” Charlie responded.
“Good. If he were anyone else I’d say it’d take about a couple of days for him to find out.” The scarred duck cleared his throat with a raspy quack. “But if I know Cyril he’ll find out by tomorrow at the latest about his cut.”
“Then why would he wait to give us our boy?” The third duck inquired. “It’s bad for his business to make clients wait.”
“Patience, Vercilli,” the scarred one said smoothly. “Cyril’s nothing if not methodical. I’m sure he wants to make sure the heat don’t get turn up when he delivers the goods.”
“I don’t like it, Dante,” the duck called Vercilli said impatiently.
Dante, the scarred duck slapped Vercilli in the head with a wing. “You aren’t here to like anything, mook. You just do what you’re told, capesh?”
“I’m sorry, boss,” Vercilli said remorsefully. “I meant no disrespect.”
“You’re a good boy, Vercilli. Just relax and leave the heavy thinking to me. Once we get our wings on Joey the Duck we’ll be able to put this whole misunderstanding between him and us in the past.”
Charlie and Vercilli nodded agreement with Dante. The three gangster ducks then found the old barn to lay low in and spent the rest of the day running through their plans on how to properly deal with Joey la’Orange.
Cyril the Bounty Hunter watched Charlie leave the pond with blatant dislike. Deep down inside he couldn’t stand working for the Duck Mob. He constantly complained to himself about their rude behavior and ill tempers. “I will definitely retire after this mon cher,” Cyril said as he pulled the large bag containing Geraldine from behind him. “Silly little duck believes you are in the forest. I am much too smart and how do you say, wily, to leave my prize lying around where any animal may find it.”
Geraldine struggled briefly in the bag to get free but Cyril had her bound too well. “Please, my friend, do not excite yourself.”
A little while later a goose landed in the bush almost beside Cyril. “I’m here, chief,” the new goose said as he shook his feathers back into place.
“Ah, my good friend Gerald. Did you find the bananas where they were supposed to be?”
“Sure did, chief,” Gerald said. “They left all the bread you told them too as well.”
“Good, good. We will deliver this headstrong duck to them tomorrow morning and then we will be away to the French Riviera and retired, no?”
“You got that right, chief. I can’t wait to get out of this business. I’m getting to old for these long distance errands.”
Cyril petted Gerald’s head and smiled. “Then we are agreed, my friend. Come let us take our prize back to the forest and prepare for our much earned permanent rest.”
Gerald was about to fly off when he saw Teddy and Puffy walking toward the pond.
“Oh crud, chief, we got a dog and cat coming this way,” Gerald said in an alarmed voice.
“Quickly, follow me deeper into this grass,” said Cyril as he grabbed the Geraldine filled bag. “We must egress from here, no?”
Cyril and Gerald retreated as far into the grass as they could and still watch Teddy and Puffy with careful eyes.
Cyril watched them intently paying careful attention to Teddy. “This isn’t how Geraldine lives,” he heard Teddy say. “It’s a mess here.”
The Cat, as Cyril preferred to call Puffy responded, “She wasn’t alone, Teddy. Look here. There’s handprint here in the dirt.”
Hearing Puffy make that discovery made Cyril’s’ heart skip a beat. Gerald made a move to go after Puffy and Teddy but Cyril stopped him. He placed a finger on his lips to keep Gerald still and quiet.
Cyril watched Teddy walk over to Puffy and listened even closer to Puffy’s explanation of the walking habits of chimpanzees. His nervousness increased when he saw The Dog stick his nose into the air and ask if the cat smelled bananas.
The Cat sniffed the air too and gave his thoughts on the smell as well.
In time The Dog and The Cat left the pond and a clearly shaken Cyril behind.
“This is getting problematic mon ami,” Cyril said to Gerald as they slowly stood up.
“Its getting hot here, chief. Who’d think that a couple of rube’s like them could be so sharp.
“Quite, my dear Gerald. Now let us go before they decide to look around again,”
“Right, chief,” quacked Gerald softly. Before Gerald could fly off Cyril placed a hand on his wing.
“Gerald, I want you to go back home and make sure that we are ready to leave once this is over. I am tired of this work and this job in particular.”
“I’m on it, chief,” Gerald said as they slowly walked out of the tall grass.
With much practiced quiet and precision, Cyril ran around the edges of the farm toward where he had left Geraldine. Cyril didn’t like running the long way around to get to his hideout but he didn’t want to take chances. With his new orders in wing, Gerald flew off staying close to the ground to avoid detection himself.
In the mean time, Joey was oblivious to all that was going on at his adopted home. He had fallen into a deep sleep on the front porch under the farmer’s rocking chair. Little could he even suspect that his dear friend Brownie was in outer space, Geraldine had been kidnapped by a chimpanzee who thought she was Joey and that two old associates and his old boss were on the farm looking for him. At that moment, Joey was only concerned with sleep and the bright blue sky he was dreaming about.