The Case of the Art Critic – a Forensix mystery, Part 2 of 7

I walked the streets of the city through a cool morning fog. The gray was cut by streams of yellow, red, and green traffic light fairies on a shift change. They flew above the traffic in neat rows of color, some headed to their appointed intersections while others were on their way to the bar. I decided to join them later. But first, I needed to stop by and have a chat with the Dumpster Bogey on my way to the lab.

Notepad brought up a City map with the Dumpster Bogey’s usual hangouts marked on it. I had to check a few alleys before I found the right bogey. Most dumpsters have gremlins or lesser bogeys in them. They were sleepy, gruff, and of little help. The Dumpster Bogey himself was easy to spot when I finally found the right alley; he had litter fey serving him their findings of the day and arguing over who’d brought the best bit of trash for him. It all looked like garbage to me. I stepped around a gaggle of graffiti gremlins stuffing spray paint cans into their pockets as they looked up at me guiltily. They casually leaned against a brick wall while waiting for me leave or at least look away. I pulled a piece of chewing gum off the bottom of my shoe and approached the Dumpster Bogey.

“Hello, D.B. I brought you something.”

The bogey started to withdraw his green mass into his dumpster then hesitated when he saw the gum. Cautiously, he reached out and took it. “Thanks.” He stuck the gum carefully into his matted dark green hair between a bit of old wrapping paper and a beer bottle cap.

I proceeded gently, not wanting to spook him. “May I ask you a few questions?”

The litter fey buzzed and mumbled angrily around me, protecting him. The bogey waved a gentle hand and said in his deep gravelly voice, “It’s O.K. guys. Let the nice lady ask her questions.” The swarm settled down again but they were watching me. Some held broken bottles.

I focused on the bogey. “Thanks, big guy. I heard you got into a bit of a tussle with some art fey the other night. Wanna tell me about?”

D.B. twisted his mouth into an embarrassed smile. “They was chasing my little friends over there and wanted to hurt them.”

I glanced over at the Graffiti Gremlins who quickly hid spray paint cans behind their backs. The words _Uptown is for losers_ were scrawled on the wall behind them. One whistled in an attempt to be nonchalant while another glanced back at the words in feigned surprise. I turned my attention back to D.B.

“I can see how that might have happened. Did you hurt them?”

D.B. shook his head, bits of food waste slung loose from his hair. “Nah, I just wanted ta scare ’em. Lord Neon came and stopped them before it got ugly.”

I nodded. “How many did you hit with your pry bar?”

D.B. looked confused. “I was usin’ a chain. I don’t got a pry bar no more. I lost it…” his face screwed up in concentration, “…’bout two moons ago.”

“Any idea where you lost it? Maybe I can find it for you.”

He shook his head sadly. “Nope. I last remember usin’ it ta take apart an old car at the junkyard but none of the guys can find it now.”

A litter fairy added sadly, “We looked everywhere.”

I said, “I’ll let you know if I find it. Just one more question. What have you been doing today?”

D.B. lit up. “I was over at da Bar. Miss Brandy always has great trash for me. Today, we gots lots a broken bottles, some snacks, and even one a’ these.” He drew out his prize – a broken bar stool.

I smiled. “Looks like they had a wild night. When did you head over there?”

D.B. had to concentrate again. “I think it was right before dawn.”

“Thanks, big guy. I’ll talk to you later.”

D.B. surprised me. “Ain’t ya gonna ask me about da art fey that died this mornin’?”

I raised an eyebrow then took the newspaper one of the litter fey was holding up. There, on the front page of the _Urban Fey Times_, was the story. “Do you know anything?”

D.B. shook his head vigorously. “Nope. I didn’t like ’em, but I wouldn’t kill one like that.” He looked sad. “Do ya believe me?”

I paused, well aware that I was surrounded by a swarm of armed litter fey. “Of course I believe you. But I had to ask because of the fight the other night.” That seemed to appease them. “Thanks again, big guy. Let me know if you find anything.”

copyright 2014 by Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved