Chapter Fifty-Seven – Interrogation

Nick leaned against his counter casually, examining his claws as if there was dirt he would find in their beds. "What did you say?" He asked, not bothering to glance up.

Officer Fangmeyer gritted his teeth, baring fangs, and repeated his question. "Can you give any details on the driver Mr. Wilde?"

The tiger and his elephant partner were squeezed into the space of Nick's entryway which really claimed to be part of his kitchen square footage. They looked hot and uncomfortable on the warm summer day, and cross at having to track down one of their witnesses.

Judy had rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stood in the living room doorway, waiting for Nick to divulge any particulars she had missed.

Nick was in no hurry to delay their misery, having had to deal with their ilk his whole life. A little discomfort at the close quarters was a small price to pay in his estimation. He knew he should be more generous in front of Judy, but his past dealings couldn't let him.

"I didn't get a good look at them," he said truthfully, leaving out the facts Raymond had divulged from Big's own investigation. "But I might be able to identify their car if I saw it."

The elephant snorted, sending enough air through her trunk to bang his cupboards. "How could you have seen the car and not the assailant?"

Nick crossed his arms. "You approached this establishment, right? You know it's a repair shop for vehicles, yes? I know how they work far more than most mammals."

The elephant jotted down a note and looked to her partner, who scowled.

"What's the make and model then?" Fangmeyer asked curtly.

"As I said," Nick felt his own irritation rise. "I would need to see the car. Are you even listening?"

The tiger remained undeterred, even as a bead of sweat from the humid air trailed and soaked through the fur of his brow. "Give me your best approximation sir."

Nick heaved a heavy exhale and rattled off the specifics he remembered, unsure if he wanted to prove his prowess or just shut the larger predator up.

The officers froze as he finished, and for the first time, seemed unaffected by the heat or the small apartment.

"Say that again," Fangmeyer uttered, leaning forward. "Slowly."

"Why?" Nick asked, the question sounding more like a defensive bark than he meant it to.

Judy left her roost, rounding the counter and sliding a hand around his waist. "They're just trying to help," she said softly. "Nothing was our fault babe, let them do their job."

Nick was unprepared for the intimate-title-drop and felt his puffed chest and arched fur deflate suddenly. He had never been anyone's 'babe'. He found himself repeating details of the tailgater's car before he realized his mouth was even moving.

The elephant and tiger shared a glance, before turning back to the couple before them.

"We know this car," Fangmeyer said, flipping his notebook closed. "Unfortunately, yours isn't an isolated instance."

Nick stiffened. This wasn't what Big had told him. "What?"

The elephant sighed, moving cabinets again as her trunk released a rush of air. "This driver – if she's the same one – has been targeting specific mammals."

Nick didn't understand, and tilted his head to the side, as if to clear his ears.

"The driver is a sheep – we don't know her name yet – and she purposefully chooses mixed couples – ones with a predator and a prey – and runs them off the road."

Judy covered her mouth with a palm. "This was… on purpose?!"

The elephant nodded, looking downcast. "A hate crime."