(Author's note: after reading Tracey Butler's one-off 'what-if' episode titled 'Beam' where Rocky is so proud of being complemented at last by Mitzi that he cat-a-stropically overloads spacetime with fatally explosive results, I started wondering if other characters, in their own ways, might be in danger of doing something like it…)
'Lackadaisycats' is of course entirely Tracy J. Butler's; this is offered in homage and appreciation…
Dominic Drago sat in his office at the end of a long day. The Police Station was busy as always; even before Prohibition, St. Louis had had its share of big-city crime. Now, there were bootleggers fighting it out on the streets, not to mention normally honest citizens getting deranged on denatured alcohol and breaking any laws within stumbling distance. Radiator fluid belongs in automobiles, he sighed to himself.
His thoughts returned to the folders on his desk. As usual, the files classified 'what everybody says' was ten times thicker than the one he had mentally labelled 'what might stand up in court.' The Marigold Hotel for instance – he could draw lines linking it to a whole range of scattered crimes from bootlegging to murder, via known associates – but proving it was another matter.
A slight smile played on his muzzle as he glanced at another folder. The evidence in all his files was indexed by month and year – while every month on the Marigold folder was getting thicker than the one before it, this one had started substantial then thinned remarkably. Like… the rings on a tree, Dominic mused, his paw tapping the Lackadaisy folder – wide rings for good growth years, narrow ones for poor seasons and hard times. And Lackadaisy was like a lightning-struck tree, clinging on to life with just a few green leaves and stubborn roots rather than the great spread of green canopy it had once enjoyed. Someday I might be the one that finally takes an axe to it – if it doesn't just blow down first, he told himself.
Suddenly his ears went up as he noted a commotion in the police station outside. From his office he commanded a wide view of everywhere from the counter facing the public, to the door to the cells. At the counter he could see the grizzled grey fur of Officer O'Grady, conspicuous even from behind by his missing right ear-tip (courtesy of a hoodlum with a razor) having a conversation with two visitors. Officer O'Grady was looking at some paper they were showing him – his tail bottled out in shock, his ears going right up – and then his body posture changed, as he deferentially, almost worshipfully opened the door and let the visitors into the precinct house, pointing towards Dominic's office.
"Interesting," Dominic murmured as he put his pipe down on the desk, his curiosity moving to high gear. He studied the two approaching felines carefully. Both were tall, dressed in identical black business suits a year or so out of fashion, and looked close enough to be twin brothers. Their one obvious difference was their fur colour – one had plain light grey fur, and one light brown fur. Other than that – Dominic had trained himself to memorise fleeing figures in dark alleyways and vanishing over rooftops, and had a keen eye for silhouettes. Their silhouettes were identical.
Just on a hunch, he turned away from the advancing pair and made ready a certain item of equipment that he had been itching to try out.
"Gentlemen." He turned back and rose to greet them. "I'm Treasury Agent Dominic Drago. What can I do for you?"
The grey-furred feline spoke first. "We are also Agents. But not of your Treasury." He pulled out a document, evidently the one that had caused Officer O'Grady to lose his customary granite-solid composure, and placed it carefully on the desk. "Our credentials. I think this will explain things."
Dominic looked hard at the paper. For an instant there was a strange distortion effect as if he was looking through heat-haze – he blinked and shook his head; it had really been a long day. Then his eyes went wide.
"Special Agents Jackson and Johnson, on detached special duties, Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," he read. It had been just the Bureau of Investigation till a few months ago, he knew. "These agents are acting under direct Presidential warrant on matters of National Security." There was the seal of the White House, and a recognisable signature that looked genuine. He blinked, sitting forwards in his chair, his gaze fixed on his visitors. "Well, gentlemen, you certainly have my attention. I repeat, what can I do for you?" He gestured for them both to sit.
The two sat, somewhat stiffly, and glanced at each other. The brown-furred Agent spoke. "Mister Johnson and myself are tasked with what might seem an unusual mission. We are tracking an individual who has currently broken none of your laws. And yet – present a clear and present danger. This individual we have tracked to an area you are associated with."
"Oh? What sort of danger?" Dominique sat back, intrigued.
Mister Jackson looked uncomfortable. "We are not cleared to release exact details. Our Authorisation should be sufficient."
"Oh, really." Dominic's finger-claws tapped at his desktop. "We have laws in this country, gentlemen. I am here to enforce them." He waved a paw at the bustling police station outside. "These fine officers are here to enforce them. No crime, no criminal. The United States is not in the habit of handing out what the French Revolutionaries called 'carte blanche' – 'Whatever this Agent has done, has been for the good of the State'".
The grey-furred Agent Mister Johnson, sighed. "Very well. This may be difficult to explain."
"Do tell. I'm all ears." Dominic's ears were certainly raised and alert.
"We have been given access to your file. At the seminary you received a current technology scientific education, it is recorded. You are aware of the current laws of what your scientists call Physics." Agent Johnson seemed to be pronouncing the words with special care.
Now I AM interested. Dominic's tail started to slowly twitch from side to side. "I believe so. I keep my technical reading up-to-date. But those are the kind of laws we hardly need police to enforce. They run themselves."
The two Agents flashed glances at each other. "Not entirely. I said this would be difficult to explain." Agent Johnson said. "There are certain individuals who have innate – abilities. Whether or not by criminal intent, they have the potential to cause disruption extending over an area that would greatly surprise you."
"Including where you come from." The fur on Dominic's neck began to bristle. "And I don't mean Washington." He tapped the warrant on his desk, with the image of the great seal of the President on it. "I'm guessing you're from someone like Interpol."
"Correct. More correct than we are cleared to explain in any detail." Agent Jackson said flatly. "I see you are a person we can do business with."
"That depends on your business, gentlemen." Dominic's ears pressed flat on his skull. "What, specifically, do you need of me? I assume it is one of these 'certain individuals' you're hunting before they cause havoc."
"Correct again." Agent Jackson paused. "You are aware of the various – forces, your physicists have listed. Electromagnetism, gravity and the like? There are others." He grimaced. "These are not exact translations. But you might recognise the effects of what you call Cuteness and Perkiness when you see them. This – individual has them to an extent that is causing – distortions, around her. We wish to find her."
Agent Johnson pulled out a colour photograph of startlingly good quality, and dropped it on the desk. "This is her. We will be in touch." With that, they stood up, shook hands with Dominic, and left.
Dominic Drago stood looking at the picture for a long minute. Then he went to the door and called for Officer O'Grady. "Officer! Those two who were just in here. What exactly did they say to you?"
"Well, sir," the senior patrolman said, his scarred face almost set in awe. "They couldn't have been from a higher place! It was a document they had, from the Vatican City, signed by His Holiness Himself!" He crossed himself devoutly.
"Mmm. Definitely interesting. And I saw the same piece of paper you did," Dominic nodded, picking up his pipe. A definite three-pipe problem was in front of him, to quote the greatest of detectives. He remembered the touch of the hands he had shaken with the two Agents – it had not felt like normal fur at all. He had touched artificial velvet that felt similar. "Can you get this developed, right away?" He reached into his vest pocket and pulled out the tiny hidden buttonhole camera that he had used for the first time tonight.
"Yes sir! The lab will be on it straight away, so they will!" O'Grady took it, saluted and headed out.
An hour and a half later, Dominic Drago was staring at two photographs. One was of a blank piece of paper, with no Pontiff or Presidential signature on it that a camera had seen. The other was a colour photograph of a pretty young feline he realised he had indeed seen before, and could even put a name to.
"Ivy Pepper," he said, putting it in the Lackadaisy folder, as he turned out the light and went home to think about it.
[Possibly the end?]