The precinct was nothing fancy. They were sanctioned by the regular patrol by a partition. Barker on a busy day could still hear the scanner ramblings. He was accustomed to bringing in earplugs now. They also came in handy when Psitticus was rambling on.
Barker walked in through the side door. It jammed in mid-swing. “Hello?” he yelled in through the crack. “Sorry about that, Barker,” Lucky said. He jumped up from his seat and moved the filing cabinet. “Just forgot to shut the drawer,” he said and looked quickly away.
Barker didn’t bother to talk with him. He looked into Psitticus’s office. The Parrot was screeching into the phone. Barker moved towards the door.
He didn’t bother to knock. Psitticus was the head detective, but only out of default. Barker sat down across from him.
Psitticus stopped in mid-sentence. “Can I help you, Barker?” he asked. Barker leaned back. “Oh no, at your leisure, sir, I am sure your mother has very important evidence for a case.” Barker smiled.
“I will call you back,” Psitticus paused and looked at Barker. “I love you too, mom,” Psitticus hung up the phone. “This had better be good, Barker.”
Barker adjusted his collar. It would be good for Psitticus to gather up some anger. Barker thought maybe a good heart attack, and he could just report to himself.
“Well, if you’re not going to talk, then you can go.” Psitticus started. Barker interjected. “I solved the case. While you were sitting in the office chatting.” Barker propped his legs on the desk. Psitticus didn’t look less angry. In fact, he was probably more flushed now.
“You solved the case?” Psitticus stumbled. His face didn’t look very convinced. “Indeed,” Barker said. He made sure to avoid eye contact. He knew how much Psitticus hated that fact.
“The case of the Water Lily?” Psitticus asked. Barker leaned forward. “Unless there was some other secret case, then yes, that one.” Barker flashed his long white teeth. Psitticus grunted and leaned back.
“You know, Barker, you are unconventional. That would bother a lot of people. Your ego is bigger than deserved. You are insubordinate. These things would bother a lot of people.” Barker tried not to smile again.
“I, on the other hand, see your work. You may put on a front, but you really dig down deep.” Psitticus stood to his feet and moved around the desk. He tapped on the glass and motioned for Lucky to join them.
“Lucky, Barker here has solved the case.” Lucky looked down with shame on his face. “I tried my best, sir.” Psitticus wasn’t listening to Lucky. No one ever did.
“So, let us hear the deduction. I want to know every detail.” Barker could tell Psitticus still had no belief in him.
“I need two things from you, Psitticus.” Barker slammed his legs down onto the floor. “One, I need time in the church alone. I need you to control the crowd. Because when I announce the culprit, there will be trouble.” Psitticus nodded. He wasn’t committing, he was still just pushing Barker’s buttons.
“Two, I need you to file the paperwork to retire. Because I should be running this place,” Barker stood and patted Psitticus on the shoulder. “Oh, and Three! The culprit is at the Priest house. You may want to gather him up first.”
He didn’t stick around to hear what Psitticus had to say. He would lay into Lucky. The poor guy was the grunt of the operation. Barker didn’t care though, Psitticus was gaining on old father time, and soon Lucky could just stay at home.
Barker walked out the small precinct again into the sun. He was pleased with how nice the day turned out to be. He stretched his arms and walked up the sidewalk path.
Barker had to wade through the gathering crowd. He was almost shocked no riots had started. Usually, by now the church doors would be swung open. The Priest would ramble about some nonsense. Then the gates would be opened to those whose pockets ran deepest.
Instead, the white doors stood closed. The white building vacant; aside from one scared Priest. Barker parted another small group.
They didn’t bother with him. Their attention was on those doors. Rumblings were starting in small pockets, but mostly it was a calm wait.
Barker moved up the stairs and into the smallest section of the crowd. Here the crowd started to push back. This would be the section of individuals who had paid to enter. Barker pushed them back, flashing his detective star.
Some saw the badge and moved. Other’s grumbled and stood their ground. Barker didn’t care about their protest. He pushed on the handle of the church. It was locked from the inside. He pounded on the door with his paw.
“Open up, Tiam! This is Detective Barker.” The crowd behind waited with baited breath. “Tiam, I need to speak with you now…” the door began to open. Tiam stood with stress apparent upon his face.
“Hurry in, detective,” he said, not bothering to look at the growing crowd. Barker threw his paw into the air. “All will be explained soon,” he announced and moved into the depths of the chapel.
“Have you found the gem?” the Priest looked disheveled. Barker thumbed his collar. “You have a nice home, Tiam,” he said moving towards the golden lined pews.
“Excuse me?” the Priest said. Barker turned, running his paw across the backing. “Oh, I was just commenting on your living residence.” Tiam looked confused.
“I am not sure why you are talking about my home detective?” he said, rightly confused. Barker nodded. He then reached into his pocket pulling out a small, folded paper.
“I took a trip out to your neighborhood. It is a nice place. Good neighbors, I assume?” he said, flipping the paper into his other paw. Tiam’s eyes followed the paper.
“The neighbors are fine, yes. I am not sure what this has to do with the Water Lily?” he said. Barker closed his hands around the paper.
“The doctrine of the Water Lily church does not allow for marriage by a Priest, correct?” Barker asked. Tiam nodded his answer. “I thought as much. It also does not allow for relationships, correct?” again, Tiam nodded. “I see, and yet, I found something quite interesting in your residence.”
Barker paused and opened his hand again. Tiam’s face looked even more stressed. “How does your congression feel about same-sex relationships?” Barker asked. Tiam didn’t answer. “You see, I am for them. I say to each their own. If one loves another, then love away.” Barker fiddled around with the paper again.
Tiam was silent. His eyes glued to the paper in Barker’s hands. “The people outside, do they feel the same?” Barker asked. He started to unfold the item in his hand. He could tell by the look in Tiam’s eyes, that he recognized the writing.
“I do not know how you got that, but this is my personal property,” Tiam said, his paw rising to grab the paper. Barker refolded the paper and placed it in his pocket.
“I thought as much. Now the way I see this situation concluding is one of two ways.” Barker relaxed his shoulders and leaned against the pew.
“The first way and I do prefer this. The first is you go silently with me. You admit to stealing the gem. You go away into protective care. You live your days out in some remote location.” Barker tapped his pocket. “Or two, and really this is gruesome. I walk out those doors and convince a thousand people you stole the gem. Because I don’t need anything more.” He patted his pocket again. “A foreign Priest, with a foreign lover; it is basic work. The crowd will be able to place the evidence together on their own.”
Tiam shook his head. “I didn’t do it.” He said. Barker shrugged his shoulders. “No one ever does.” He said. Tiam adamantly shook his head. “They will believe I didn’t do it!” he was bordering hysterical.
Barker patted his pocket again. “I am afraid not Tiam. People are very unforgiving. Better to count your losses. I’ll tell you what. You go in quietly I will even let the brown cat walk free. No one will be the wiser of your relationship.” Tiam stopped his head shaking.
“You will keep silent about him?” Barker shrugged. “I can do at least that.” Tiam paused a moment. Barker pushed off from the pew. “We can go through the back way. I am sure you will be wanting to avoid the crowd.”
A few minutes under the twenty that Barker had asked for, Tiam the cat walked through the back door of the church. Waiting outside was detective Psitticus with a look of shock on his face. Barker passed the cat to the bird. “You will find him very open to questioning,” Barker said. Psitticus nodded and took the cat.
“Remember your promise, detective.” The cat said. Psitticus paused. “Promise?” he asked. Barker shrugged and turned away. “I will calm the crowd. Move them on their way.” He said. Then he turned into the rays of the sun, walking back towards the front of the church.
The Priest, Tiam, confessed to everything an hour later. Barker wrote up the report. Lucky was instructed to drive Mr. Brown Cat home. He would be leaving for the mountains by nightfall. The others were still confused how he fits, but Barker kept his word.
Tiam was taken off to some remote lockdown. Barker would never hear from him again. As for the Water Lily, it was long gone from the church. It would probably make someone a lot richer someday.
“Good job, Barker,” said Psitticus. Barker looked up from his report. “When have you known me to fail?” Barker said. The parrot shrugged. “Like I said, Barker, if it wasn’t for your track record, you would be a homeless beggar.” Psitticus moved around to the other side of the desk.
“Lucky has not made it back?” he asked. Barker looked up again. He didn’t keep track on the dopey fellow. He shrugged. “Do you see him?” he added.
“Just strange, that house isn’t but ten minutes from here.” He flipped open his phone. “No calls,” Psitticus looked out the window. “Oh well, probably just traffic.” He put his phone back into his pocket. “Good job again, Barker,” he said and closed the door to his office behind him.
Barker sighed and leaned back. He had finished the report already. He was just not interested in the conversation skills of that yapping bird.
He looked back making sure Psitticus was comfortable in his chair. His head was down, and his eyes shut. That meant he wasn’t moving for the next few hours. Barker stood and grabbed his hat. Fixing his collar, he stepped out into the night air.
The rays of the sun were gone. Barker had solved another case. Soon things would be different for this little hole in the wall. Barker swung his coat across his shoulders and walked off into the night.
News Day Report:
A fatal car crash has been reported:
Detective Lucky was found in a single car accident this evening. His remains were identified by his Chief, Detective Psitticus. Any other details will be forthcoming soon.