Title: The Mongoose Conspiracy
By: Tidia & Mog
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Notes: I know we said Sunday, but that is the day that our friends went back to their homes and then we had to recuperate. We had a great time! Thank you for the great reviews! We are so glad you are laughing!
A map of 19th century San Francisco lay across the coffee table that John was using for a desk. Under the map, a lump was ringing. John pushed aside the map, a book on gypsy folktales, and a pad of paper before he found the phone.
"John, where are you?"
"South Carolina," John said, surprised at Jim's curt tone. "Why?"
"You need to get here, right away."
"What about the boys?" His sons were at school and due home shortly.
"Leave 'em!" Jim retorted.
"You hate it when I do that." John had received many lectures about his poor parenting skills, and a sore point had been how often he left them alone. "What the hell is going on?"
Jim paused before answering. "Bobby got us into a mess. Actually, don't worry about the boys, Bobby will come watch them."
John couldn't recall ever hearing the pastor sound so confused and lost. John left a note and some money for Dean and Sam, though he was unsure about when Bobby would arrive.
The drive to Jim's was long, but doable within a few hours. Outside the pastor's house, John threw the car in park. He took a moment to strap on a shoulder holster before heading to the front door. In the kitchen, Jim and Mac were seated at the table, each with a tumbler filled with amber liquid.
"Alright, I'm here. What's going on?" He looked from Jim to Mac. "Caleb?"
"Caleb's fine," Mac said. "He's at school. Jim called me in to consult on another problem. But we need your expertise in the matter."
Jim studied the whiskey in his glass before answering. "Bobby left me a talking mongoose."
"Come again? A what?"
"It's like a ferret," said Mac.
"I know what a mongoose is." John gripped the back of a kitchen chair. "I drove from South Carolina; I left my boys, for a rodent?"
Jim gazed at his friend. "We're dealing with something unnatural, John. It's touched by something not of this world." He squared his shoulders. "It is something The Knight should deal with."
John was tired. He wasn't in the mood to argue. He would kill it and be back on the road in five minutes. "Where is it?"
"In the bedroom the boys use." Mac pointed to the stairs.
John pulled the pistol from his holster and headed for the second floor. Mac and Jim followed at a distance. John cautiously opened the bedroom door but was startled by what he saw. Sitting, dejected, on the home-spun carpet was a very wet, furry animal.
"It's wet," John said. He stepped into the room to get a closer look.
Jim and Mac replied in unison, embarrassment in their tone. "Holy water."
John stared at the two men. "It's soaked."
"We had to make sure it wasn't possessed," Jim said.
"We'll leave you to get on with it." Mac gave Jim a nudge toward the door. He closed it behind them and John was left alone with the mongoose.
Mac and Jim returned to their whiskey and their seats at the kitchen table and braced themselves for the sharp crack of a pistol shot. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. After thirty minutes, the sound of footsteps on the stairs caused the two men to look up.
"There were no shots," Jim said. The pastor stood as John appeared in the doorway, his gun holster and the mongoose, quite alive, tucked under his arm. "And you brought it downstairs with you." The pastor dropped back into his chair.
"So you didn't kill it?" Sam asked. He wanted reassurance that his father was not a killer of defenseless animals.
John sighed loudly, perturbed over his position in the scenario. "No, I didn't kill it! It kept looking at me with those damned big eyes. It was quoting 'Old Yeller' for God's sake." He spoke again, more to himself. "I loved that movie when I was a kid."
Bobby shook his head. "Oh, that's dirty pool."
Dean smothered a chuckle. Caleb didn't bother to muffle his laugh. "So what happened to it? Did it give you the slip?"
A few seconds of silence followed before John answered. "Kind of. I thought we should all sit down and talk things out."
"Whoa, Johnny, what happened to shoot first and ask questions later?" Caleb asked.
"You want to hear the rest of this story or what? 'cause I'm not above shooting you."
Caleb grinned and leaned back, gesturing for John to continue.
The Triad was at an impasse over Jim's unwanted guest. It didn't seem wise to turn it loose on the world, yet they certainly didn't want to take responsibility for it. Jeffrey paced around the kitchen. Shuffling about on all fours, he was vocal about his needs and will to survive, until Jim lured him to the television and showed him how to use the remote.
The Triad's discussion in the kitchen was interrupted by a knock at the front door.
"What now?" Jim whispered, glancing to the heavens. He left The Knight and The Scholar with a veiled threat. "Keep him quiet."
Jim opened the door just enough to wedge his body into the opening. He recognized the woman standing on his porch as one of his neighbors and parishioners.
"Hello, Barbara, lovely day today. How can I help you?" To Jim's ears the greeting sounded trite, but he felt the need to rush the woman along.
"Hi Pastor Jim, I wondered if you could stop by my house this week and pick up my mail while I'm away?" She smiled hesitantly, noticing how Jim blocked the door.
"Going on vacation?"
"Nothing as nice as that. My Aunt Gretel is ill. She's going through a tough time. I'm hoping to help her out for a few days to get her back on her feet. You know how it is."
Jim sensed that Barbara sought a sympathetic ear. An image flitted through his mind of the middle-aged woman engaged in an endless conversation with Jeff over tea and biscuits. He shook it off just as a loud, warbling voice echoed from the room behind him.
"If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
Barbara's brow furrowed and she gave a high pitched, uncomfortable laugh. "Sounds like it might be time for a new television."
Jim weakly laughed in return and called over his shoulder. "John, could you take a look at the t.v.?"
A narrow sight line afforded Jim the view of Jeff sitting in the overstuffed chair, raising and dropping one small foot repeatedly onto the remote to flip through channels. The mongoose suddenly darted from the chair, aware of John and Mac bearing down on it.
Jim turned back to Barbara and pulled the door tighter against his body, hoping to block any noise. An unmistakable high-pitched voice broke through the barrier.
"Normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happen to pull this shit while I'm in a transitional period so I don't wanna kill you."
John and Mac's voices rose above Jeff's.
"Shut up! Shut up!"
However, the squeaky voice continued. "I've already been through too much shit this morning over this case to hand it over to your dumb ass."
Jim winced. Barbara was stunned. Jim hazarded another glance over his shoulder and watched his friends wrangle the mongoose and toss it in the bathroom before pulling the door closed.
Jim inwardly sighed and walked out to the front porch, placing a hand on Barbara's arm. "You're always so giving. This must be a lot of responsibility for you."
Barbara's expression warmed and she let herself be guided down the porch stairs. "Auntie's almost totally deaf, but so independent. I'll be lucky if she lets me stay a week."
"Remarkable," Jim said. Years of counseling provided him a collection of supportive replies. "She must be a wonderful woman. I'll make sure the congregation says a prayer for her this Sunday."
"Oh, thank you."
"Of course." Jim gave her a nod. "And don't worry about the mail. I'll take care of it."
Jim placed his hand on her back and gently guided her toward the large, brown station wagon parked in his driveway. He smiled and waved even as he backed toward the house. He returned to the kitchen and slumped in the doorway. "This is the problem with a talking mongoose!"
John and Mac avoided making eye contact with the pastor. Jim shot them a look of disgust as he stalked past them and opened the bathroom door.
'Have to deal with everything myself... Never should have involved The Scholar or The Knight... This whole Triad idea is overrated. Maybe one person should control it all.'
Jim interrupted his own thoughts as he looked in the bathroom. "Where is it?"
John and Mac rushed up behind him. Three sets of eyes fell on the open, unscreened bathroom window.
With mutual realization, they ran to the porch. Barbara had turned her station wagon around in the driveway and was pulling away. Jeff's small head was visible through the back window. He twitched his nose several times before dropping out of sight.
The Triad stood in silence for a moment, watching the car leave.
"Should we do something?" asked Mac.
"I'm not sure there's anything to do," said Jim. "They're headed for deaf Aunt Gretel's house."
"Problem solved," John said. "I'm going back to my kids."
Jim grabbed his arm before he stepped off the porch. "It's agreed, we're never to speak of this."
The three men exchanged looks.
"Ever," Mac said.
"Ever," John agreed.
The church van rolled along. The occupants sat in silence, but each for different reasons.
Dean wore a shocked expression. "You let Bobby baby-sit us?"
"Hey!" said Bobby.
Caleb gave Dean a shove. "That's the least of the questions, man. The Triad was burned by a talking mongoose. No wonder they never shared the story."
Jim eyed the boys in the rearview mirror. "I don't want to hear any mongoose jokes, ever. I will take away your rings, and Samuel, you will never get one."
It was times like these that the boys realized how truly powerful their friendly pastor was. Jim turned his attention back to the road. The three younger hunters gently hit the tops of their fists together - one day, they would have to use this information for their benefit.
The seven hunters stood in front of the dusty red tent and stared at the colorful canvas poster.
"Jeff! The Incredible Talking Mongoose"
An older man in jeans and a denim shirt shuffled around the tent opening, cleaning up litter and preparing for the day. He livened up when he saw the potential customers. "Come on in fellas! You will never see anything like this miracle of nature in any of your born days! The small fee you pay is nothing compared to the wonder and amazement you will experience in the presence of Jeff the talking mongoose!"
Jim pushed Bobby forward, hat in hand. "We need to see him."
"Yes, sir – he's a wonder. Talks real loud on account of him living with a deaf woman for a few years."
The three older hunters exchange furtive glances while the younger three tried not to laugh.
"Can we meet him?" asked Sam.
"He usually not up this early. Hold on." The handler disappeared into the tent but returned a few seconds later. "You're lucky. He's awake."
The man positioned himself in front of the tent. "That'll be eight dollars per person."
John looked at the handler. "We paid at the front gate."
"That was to get into the carnival. But this, my good man, is to bear witness to a once in a century phenomenon."
Jim looked at Bobby. "Yes, I suppose a man would be fortunate to deal with a talking mongoose just once in his life."
Mac stepped forward and pulled out his wallet. "Can we just get this over with? Here." He held out three twenty-dollar bills but withdrew them a second later. "Wait, what about child's price?"
"Twelve and under – five dollars."
Every set of eyes turned to Sam.
The boy replied hesitantly. "I'm…twelve."
Jim dropped his arm over Sam's shoulder. "He's twelve."
The carnival worker's lips pressed tight together as his eye flicked from Sam, to Jim's pastor's collar, and back to Sam.
"Fine. Fifty-three dollars."
Inside the tent, the hunters waited as their eyes adjusted to the dark.
"Hi!" Sam called out to the darkness.
"Hello, anyone there?" Caleb asked.
Dean cupped his hands around his mouth. "Hellloooo."
A wood dais, covered with large jewel-toned, velvet pillows, sat in the center of the tent. Resting on a royal purple cushion was the mongoose they'd all seen in the photograph the day before.
They waited for a response. The older hunters leaned in further. The small animal ruffled its fur under the scrutiny, but it made no sound. It yawned and stretched on the large purple cushion before bringing one back leg up to scratch under its chin.
"Does it look like him?" John asked.
"That was the only time I ever saw a mongoose," Bobby said. "Don't they look alike?" He looked to Mac, who tapped a finger to his own chest.
"Neurology. I work with brains. Why is it so hard to remember that I'm not a veterinarian?"
"Hey, do you think it knows any Schwarzenegger movies?" Dean asked. "Can it do accents?"
Bobby cuffed Dean on the back of the head. "Hush, boy. You have no idea what this mongoose is capable of."
They stared at it for another moment.
"Dad," Sam said, "it's not talking."
"I can see that, son," John replied, in an annoyed tone.
"This is lame," Dean said. He nudged Caleb. "Wanna check out the bearded lady?"
"Sure. Maybe we can meet the Snake Girl too." Caleb ushered Sam out, despite the younger boy's protests. "Come on, runt. Let's give the elders some time alone before they sink even further."
"Man, are they losing it or what?" Dean said to his brother and Caleb. "Next thing they'll be saying is that vamps are real."
The older hunters stood in silence after the boys left. The mongoose paid them little attention.
"I think its time to go." Jim said, sounding relieved. He turned and headed for the flap that marked entry to the tent. The other men followed.
As Jim reached for the canvas flap, a warbling voice, with an affected southern accent, floated through the tent. "Rhett! If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?"
The four hunters slowly turned.
Jeff waited until he had his audience's attention. He looked regal, sitting up on his purple cushion.
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
CONGRATULATIONS TO LARAMEE AND HER DOG MISHA! Misha was chosen after a long process (WOW! You all have some wonderful dogs and it was a hard decision!) as Boo who will appear in To The Victor Go The Spoils by Ridley. A photo will be at the hunterstomb shortly.