The party was already in full swing when I arrived at the bar. I had to dodge a few traffic light fairies as they swarmed drunkenly through the door. I wondered if they were really going to try and work in that condition. I sat down at a corner table as far from the dance floor as I could and took out my notepad to review the case.
Notepad flipped open to the clues page.
various art supplies, including pencils, pens, paper, paints, paintbrushes, erasers, ink wells.
“Skip the art supply list. Nothing remarkable there.”
Notepad turned the page.
Iron pry bar, fingerprints match Dumpster Bogey, various bits of garbage including pizza boxes, a fresh leaf, empty ink and beer bottles, crumpled paper, candy wrappers.
I rubbed my eyes. “Suspects?”
Notepad turned the page again.
Human who lives in area of the Art Fey nests; motive : stolen art supplies. Dumpster Bogey; fingerprints on pry bar; motive : known to have had a fight with Art Fey recently. Art Critic; description unknown; Motive : hated the victim’s art. Unknown suspect; Unknown motive.
I stared at the last one. “Why do you always put that in?”
Notepad ruffled its pages in annoyance then wrote, List all possibilities.
“The art critic thing was a joke.”
The Notepad scribbled sulkily, You said it.
I rubbed my eyes and counted to three. “True enough. But you only listed four. What about Lord Neon?”
The Notepad hesitated then started to add him to the list.
I waved a hand dismissively, “Not likely,” but the Notepad stubbornly added him anyway. I sighed and leaned back in my chair. Something was missing.
“Tough day at the office?”
I smiled up at the owner of the Urban Sprawl Bar. I had to admit, she was easy on the eyes. Her cognac hair fell in waves to her coffee tinted shoulders. She was named for the color of her eyes. “Hey, Brandi. You could say that. Got a moment?”
She set my favorite beer down in front of me in a graceful sweep of her arm and slipped into the chair next to mine. “Of course.”
“Heard you had a wild night.” The band started up another techno-industrial beat. The traffic light fairies were trying to form a mosh pit above the other dancers.
“News travels fast.” The bartender brought her a glass of red wine.
“I talked with the Dumpster Bogey today. He’s very proud of his new barstool.”
Brandi chuckled. “One of my bartenders broke it over the head of a lilac dryad.”
“I’m surprised one would come in here. No wonder there was trouble.”
“Hmmm… An entire grove of them were here. Two elms, a maple, an oak, three lilacs, and a birch were in from City Park.”
I nodded thoughtfully, wondering if the dryads I’d encountered were part of this group. “New transplants?”
Brandi shook her head. “I’ve seen them before. They wander in when their sap is up and they’re looking for some excitement.”
“Which I’m guessing they found.”
“They usually just come in, have a drink, complain about the music, then leave. Last night, they stepped into the middle of an argument between a downtown tattoo pixie and an uptown art gallery gnome. They were debating the merits of body art. I think the dryads had had too much honey wine. I…” she looked up sharply at the sound of a glass being hurled against the wall.
Brandi stood up and shouted, “Enough!” then stalked over to the offending streetlamp bogey. Someone was about to get an earful.
I thought over the incident with the dryads. They lived on the fringes of the Urban scene, not quite adapting to City life but not willing to return to the forest.
Notepad scribbled, Shall I add the dryads to the suspect list?
I shook my head. “There’s nothing to tie them to the scene and no motive.”
Notepad turned to the evidence page and highlighted the word leaf.
I hesitated, “Add them, but we don’t have a motive. There was quite a bit of trash in there and litter fey collect leaves. If it weren’t for his alibi, I’d say it was an open and shut case on Dumpster Bogey. Brandi wouldn’t lie for him though.”
I rubbed my eyes, half watching the argument between Brandi and the streetlamp bogey. A bartender was looming over him, ready to enforce Brandi’s decisions.
I scowled. This was still wasn’t adding up. I drained my beer and was prepared to leave when a litter fairy sidled up to my table. I could barely see his ears over the edge of it. A hand reached up tentatively to take my empty beer bottle.
The hand withdrew then an eye appeared, watching me cautiously. The hand came back and slid a piece of paper to me then snatched the bottle. Seeing no more of the litter fairy, I leaned down to look under the table. It was gone. I picked up my payment for the bottle. It was an ad for tree fertilizer.
“Let’s go, Notepad.”
I pulled the discarded drawing the satyr had tossed my way out of my pocket. “Let’s revisit the crime scene.”
Brandi was just clearing up the fight and the bartender was escorting the offending bogey out as I headed to the door. The streetlamp bogey brushed against me, my coat sleeve sticking to him for a second. He glared at me as he pulled away and stormed off. I looked at my sleeve and saw a faint residue. I smelled it – it was familiar and something I’d encountered recently but I couldn’t place it.
copyright 2014 by Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved