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Chapter 17

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Chapter Seventeen
-- by Deb Moran --

A Bird in the Stomach is Worth Two in the Lap

The ride across town in the paddy wagon was memorable to say the least.  Aunt Elizabeth was aghast when Officer Shaunessy O'Malley confiscated her  pearls.  "Gracious, what self-respecting lady in my social position would be seen after the cocktail hour without pearls, for heavens sake?!  What would the Library Guild say?"  she pleaded, but to no avail.  As far as O'Malley was concerned, a pearl was something Mrs. O'Malley did with those blasted knitting needles she always left hidden in the sofa cushion for him to "accidentally" sit on when she should have been ironing his uniform or darning his socks.

And Mrs. Gogarty -- she had fainted from embarrassment after O'Malley required her to remove her pantaloons.  Imagine the indignity of peeling off panties in the backseat of a vehicle without having been wined and dined first!  (Apparently, upon frisking her, O'Malley had mistaken her concealed flask of whiskey for a Saturday Night Special and seized the "weapon.")   In actuality, it was quite probably the officer who had been the most mortified of the two.  Mrs. Gogarty, bless her soul, was not known for her womanly charms.   "Lassie has more attractive hind quarters!"  he mused as he fanned the suspect in an effort to revive her.

Not to be outdone by the ladies, Baby had gotten carsick, or rather paddy sick, and had regurgitated the two Museum cockatoos and this morning's raw sirloin smack into O'Malley's lap.  No, on second thought, as he glanced down at his foul, saturated lap, he'd concluded Mrs. Gogarty's naked bottom wasn't  the ugliest thing he had seen tonight, albeit it did rank a close second.

And then there was David.  Poor fretful David.  The last time he was in the slammer with Baby, he'd ended up marrying his cellmate.  What if this time he was holed up with a 400-pound panderer with over active hair follicles and a lazy eye, or worse, an incontinent drunkard with foot fungus and an unnatural penchant for shy intellectuals?  The thought made him shiver.

Officer Paddy Sullivan was the Fourth Precinct desk clerk on duty this night.  Lids closed, a half-eaten frosted doughnut rested on his chest. O'Malley pushed his monthly arrest quota through the doors.

"Sully,"  Officer O'Malley boomed.  "Wake up!  Got us a couple of hoity-toity disturbin' the peacers from out East.,'' he said with a brogue straight from County Cork.  Ironically, the only "cork" O'Malley was familiar with was the one on the end of his beloved cheap wine bottles, but the locals expected the lilting accent, and he aimed to be chief of police one day.

Continuing:  "Let's show 'em how nice we are here in 'Cisco.  The keys to Suite C, my good man," O'Malley chuckled to the semi-conscious Sullivan as he paraded David, Aunt Elizabeth, Mrs. G. and Baby down the hall and around the corner to cellblock C, but not before Baby snatched the bakery treat off Sullivan's barrel chest.   A pool of leopard drool slowly meandered down from button to button.

The four unlikely inmates surveyed their quarters.  The corner holding cell was just about big enough to hold one emaciated midget at best, let alone two "healthy" females, one taut, tall male and a queasy leopard.

"Enjoy your stay, folks,"  O'Malley offered.  "Just ask the 'concierge' if you shall require anything--you know, like a last meal!"

"Imagine a concierge and a chef!  How accomodating," marveled David, missing the bitter humor.  "I shall have to remember to give generously to the police benevolent society."

"Young man!"  Aunt E. wagged her finger in exasperation at David. "This is the second time I have been jailed like a common criminal because of you.  Perhaps on my next birthday, I'll get a cake file from Horace," her voice dripped with sarcasm.

"Ha, ha.  Very funny," pouted David, head in his hands as he rested on the single cot in the cell.  In truth, he was more fretful over the plight of his research than his expanding rap sheet.  Hopefully, his assistant, Sy Mease, had taken the proper precautions to preserve the remaining integrity of the preservation process after finding that wretched diamond in the Smilodon's stomach.

Speaking of stomachs, Baby's growling one finally brought David back to reality.  He called out to the police officers: "Excuse me, gentlemen, but might I trouble you?  My leopard is hungry.  She gets quite irritable if she doesn't dine at her appointed time."

"Baloney!" said Officer Sullivan, doubting David's veracity.  He'd been on the force far too many years to fall for a phony ploy like a hungry carnivore to get him to unlock a cell.

"Thank you all the same, but Baby doesn't like processed meat.  Most people don't realize, but a leopard's digestion is quite sensitive," David informed the officer. "In fact, they are rather purr-snickety when it comes to their diet.  If you haven't filet or chicken, birds of any kind will do."

"Birds, eh?  Well, she's just in luck.  There's three jailbirds right here to choose from!"   Sullivan pointed to the human lodgers in cellblock C.  David smiled wanly.  It was going to be a long night.

"Feeding a leopard, my eye," thought Sullivan as he turned back to his box of doughnuts.  "O'Malley!" he suddenly shouted.  Get some paper towels?  I think my Boston cream exploded on my shirt!"

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