The only window yearned for the light of the bright city. The room was a raw box of plywood and carpet. It was the nature of Jack Bowser's job that he often found himself standing in every den mother's nightmare. This motel room was no exception.
This was the kind of hole every bitch hopes her son will stay out of. Stains cut across the walls and the floor. The style was an intersection of Zen simplicity and destitute poverty. The only furnishings were a limp bed with sweaty green blankets, a metal-and-vinyl chair which evoked a linoleum kitchen floor, and a heavy wood desk. The desk, a behemoth with crude leaves carved into its elephantine legs, was home to a National Geographic, a sheet of paper, and a casserole of brains belonging to the dead Fur on the floor. A fox, probably from Eastside.
Jack tried to study the fellow canine as fast as possible. For once, the mice had got here before him, and in a few minutes they'd have the whole place tagged, bagged, and catalogued. They were chalking the body now. Jack noticed the eyes and mouth were popped open, snapping at a fly or tail that wasn't there. His limbs and spine went at unexpected, painful angles. Guess he didn’t mind, Jack thought, since the back of his head was blown out.
A white line led by a white ball was making its way around the Fox's body. Fucking mice! Jack thought. As a whole, rodents were skittish and anti-social, but at least rats realized they had to interact and deal with folks. To mice, either you were a specimen in their experiments, or you were a nuisance.
"Hey, you mind leaving the body alone until I'm done?" The mouse looked up at him and blinked, as if he hadn't noticed the hound in the wrinkled suit and detective's badge until just now.
"Big crunch down at the labs, yes? Lots of cases, lots of cases. Can't very well just sit around waiting for big slow dogs. Tests, tests, tests! Don't worry, Detective, the tests will tell us everything we need to know."
If it were up to the mice there would be no more gumpaws. Just tests and analyses and then a quiet trial and the cage. The way mice do things is fine until a gun gets involved, and then suddenly the little fuckers disappear into their little holes in the wall. Fucking mice. That's why it wasn't up to the mice. But it wasn't up to Jack, either, so he chose not to argue. The mice could quickly unite in squeaking solidarity and bar him from the crime scene.
The mouse went back to dragging the chalk around the corpse. How had they gotten here so quickly, anyway? Jack looked around the room again, which was vibrating with the tiny steps of a few dozen crime-scene mice measuring the cavity behind the fox's ears, dusting the walls, and putting the papers on the desk into plastic baggies.
"Wait a minute!" Jack growled, rushing over to the mice with the papers. Although he hid it, raising his voice had brought his hangover roaring back to his attention. His droopy ears echoed the blood rushing in them, creating a private thunderstorm behind his perpetually bloodshot, saggy eyes.
When the dog saw the logo on the paper, however, he gave himself a thorough shake, as if the lingering booze in his system could be thrown off his back like bathwater.
On the paper was the crest of the New Garden City municipal government: a lion guarding over a panel of feet: a whole and split hoof, an elephant foot, and an array of paws. The paper itself was a report, a dry, boring report entitled "On the Feasibility of Food Procurement in New Garden City." It was hardly the type of thing some hard-luck fox would be carrying, but on the other hand, this report had been big news when it had been released earlier that week. As Jack stared at it, a soggy memory surfaced in the alcoholic swamp of his mind. Some Fur at the bar last night was yapping about how the big cats needed to let the market handle the food, or else we'd all end up back in the Wild.
But then Jack had put his face back in his bowl of whiskey, and he didn't come up again until a fox he didn't know shook him awake. (Never a good idea, fortunately Jack wasn't the type of dog to snap) The clearly agitated fox had told him he "might be interested" in the contents of room 108 at the Jolly Badger, a last-stop hotel and known hiding place of a dozen or so nip junkies, 2-bit thieves, mobsters, and yiff-peddlers.
"You done with that, Detective?" asked a mouse, searching for something to do.
Jack flipped through the pages for any notes the fox might have made, but there was not so much as a red hair blemishing the pages. The fox hadn't read it. Jack gave the report back to the mouse.
There was nothing more that the mice would let him do here, and besides, he needed to clear his throbbing head. A nice walk and some coffee was clearly the next step in this case. Jack turned to leave.
"Detective Bowser!" Jack was shocked, he didn't think the mice ever remembered folks' names. He turned to see the head mouse, Marcus, staring at him armed with a tiny clipboard. "Where's your partner, Hank?"
The hairs on Jack's nape went up, but he kept calm. As bad as Jack's drinking could be, Hank Fitzrover, Jack's partner of 15 years, was fast approaching rock bottom. Having gotten him out of the pound four times this month, Jack had no idea where Hank was and he was dreading finding out.
"Closing our last case back in the office. Couldn't make it. Let me know what you guys find here, Marcus."
With that, Detective Bowswer stormed off into the shiny wet night. Through all the anger, booze, and exhaustion, however, his tail was wagging and his nose was singing. The hunt was on again.