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The Case of the Helpless Guineafowls: A Boo-Boo and Slither Mystery
An ambiguous shape glided across the savannah, its presence betrayed only by a slight rustling in the wind-swept grass as it passed by. The shape zigged and zagged, seemingly invisible as it passed over rotten tree-stumps and overturned rocks. The rustling stopped as quickly as it began, and a shadow darted across the open ground and onto a tree. A perfect stillness fell upon the grassland, but a pestering whine near the edge of the jungle disturbed the otherwise hushed night. Sighing with satisfaction at the noise, the shape adjusted its monocle and continued the journey towards the tree-line. At last, the object of the shadow’s desires came into view; a large herd of Crested Guineafowls lay sleeping underneath a mammoth acacia tree some thirty yards away.
Certainly, they become more absurd as each day passes, pondered the shadow. The mysterious figure certainly spoke the truth; each guineafowl wore a pair of tremendously overlarge maroon trousers. Every pair appeared ready to slip away without notice, but each was held in place by a matching set of suspenders. Pitiful, truly pitiful, thought the shadow, as it silently departed the safety of the grass and made its way toward the acacia tree. In truth, only an owl could have caught sight of the two foot long chameleon (for that is what the shape was, you see) before it reached the sleeping guineafowls. Lyme Diseeeease, croaked one particularly plump bird, and the rest of the group immediately repeated the sentiment. Rupert (the chameleon - Sir Rupert, to be precise) froze, waiting for the unrest to come to an end. The phrase slowly passed through the entire flock until it died out as quickly as it had come. As Rupert noiselessly inched his way towards the group of female guineafowls, his eyes darted each way, looking for a tell-tale flash of brown. Within seconds he had spotted his target underneath a small bird. Rupert stopped within inches of the guineafowl and loosened his bright green tie. In the blink of an eye the Chameleon’s sixty inch tongue lashed out, sticking to the large brown egg. And then, he was gone.
* * *
A piercing voice echoed through the sparse trees that lined the edge of the savannah. The sun had just risen, and a loud pounding noise followed close behind. The trees above shook as a flock of birds took flight crying Too Loud! Too Loud! That was not the response Slither was looking for, so he began to ascend the enormous tree in front of him, looking to reach the sizable tree-house above. While the sight of an almost thirteen foot python would have normally been enough to clear a three mile area of the forest, Slither was a particularly classy thirteen foot python. He adjusted the top hat perched upon his head, and slowly made his way up the tree.
When Slither reached his destination, Boo-Boo was still nowhere to be found. Slither worked his way through the tree-house, looking for a sign to explain his friend’s absence. Boo-Boo’s gray and green checkered fedora lay upon the floor, but there was no other sign of life to be found amongst the vines and tree branches that made up the house. Just when the python had given up hope, a humungous chimpanzee swung through the door of the tree-house and ran to pick up the fedora, promptly placing it on top of his head.
“Sorry for the delay, Slither,” Boo-Boo said with a grin. “What’s on tap for today?”
“You’re not even going to tell me where you’ve been off to? I’ve been waiting for you for…why, I’ve been waiting nearly an hour! Where the devil were you?”
Boo-Boo chuckled, waving his hand through the air nonchalantly. “Oh you know, just getting my morning exercise. I really must stay in tip-top shape.”
There was a moment of silence between the two animals. Boo-Boo continued to grin, while Slither shifted his adjusted his top-hat uncomfortably. Finally, Slither broke down.
“Well, go on then!” the python said. “What sort of exercise was amusing enough to keep your entertained that long?”
“I’ll tell you exactly what,” Boo-Boo replied. “I was walking along the tree-line this morning when I happened upon a sleeping pack of guineafowls…”
“Please tell me you didn’t!”
“Don’t judge me Slither! They have grown lethargic in their enviable state of interminable safety! For all we do to solve their petty disagreements, I think I am entitled to a bit of fun at their expense. Calm down, calm down. I can assure you, it was all quite jocular…but my goodness, you must see how fast they run once they reach top-speed!”
Slither lunged at Boo-Boo, but the smile playing across the snake’s face betrayed his true feelings – the guineafowls were rather out of shape.
“Well Boo-Boo, if you love the guineafowls as much as you attest to, I know you will appreciate our next case. An unknown culprit has been pilfering their precious eggs.”
“You don’t say…” muttered the chimp, his mind racing.
“I have informed the birds in question to expect me later this afternoon. I assume you will accompany me?”
Boo-Boo’s face changed so drastically at the prospect of meeting the guineafowls face to face, Slither could not help but to laugh out loud.
“Come on then!” Boo-Boo said, “We might as well get it over with!”
The snake and the chimp climbed down from the tree-house, and quickly made the journey through the forest to the savannah. Soon enough, the guineafowl’s acacia tree came into view, followed by the birds themselves.
“Good gracious, Slither, what in Zombi’s name are they wearing?”
Every bird wore a different pair of shoes and absolutely nothing else. Each pair of loafers was more dreadful than the last, and there was not a single shoe didn’t clash terribly with the one next to it. As Boo-Boo and Slither approached, a series of startled cries passed through the flock.
Our new feet will protect us from his fast-run!
Curse the monkey!
With that resounding sentiment echoing across the grass-land, the guineafowls raced away, leaving naught but dust where they had been but a moment before. The intrepid pair of animal detectives took the flock’s sudden absence as a gift, and moved closer to examine the guineafowls’ abandoned nests. Every nest was empty; the guineafowls had taken their eggs with them.
“Boo-Boo,” hissed Slither quietly, “look under the tree.”
A lone guineafowl lay underneath the acacia tree, fast asleep atop her nest. The bird’s plump form covered the eggs beneath entirely; the white and browns shells perfectly cocooned against their mother’s soft underbelly.
“Wait here,” whispered Boo-Boo.
He crept towards the nest, startlingly quiet for a chimp of his size. Once he was within ten feet of the sleeping bird, Boo-Boo inched his way forward. Silently reaching out towards the nearly invisible eggs, the chimp’s fingers were mere inches away from his prize when a minute twig snapped beneath his foot. Immediately the mother guineafowl leapt to her feet, shouting at the top of tiny guineafowl lungs,
THE MONKEY HAS RETURNED!
Boo-Boo grimaced as the bird sped away toward the rest of her flock, her eggs safely in tow.
“As fool-hardy as that little experiment was,” said Slither from where he stood, “I must admit it was incredibly enlightening. A sleeping guineafowl is incredibly, shall we say, jumpy. It would be impossible for a thief to catch one unawares.
“Nearly, Slither. It is nearly impossible.”
“I see,” Slither said, catching on at once. I believe it is time to pay a visit to Sir. Rupert, wouldn’t you say Boo-Boo?”
“Slither,” said Boo-Boo, “I could not agree more.”
* * *
“It appears as if no one is home.”
Boo-Boo and Slither stood inside a lavish tree-house as the sun began to set; sprawled across multiple trees, it was easily the largest in the forest.
“So it would,” said Boo-Boo loudly. “I just wish that imbecile chameleon were home so we could talk to him about how disgusting his crimes are. Of course, he left behind so many amateur clues at the acacia tree that we don’t even need to question him. Honestly, Slither, I wish we could deal with a professional criminal for once! Why, these inexperienced and incompetent thieves simply pose us no challenge!”
Slither stood with his mouth open in shock, aghast at Boo-Boo’s monologue. But before the snake could speak, a faint, crimson red shape began to appear on one of the tree-house walls.
“Sir Rupert,” exclaimed Boo-Boo, “how wonderful to see you! I am truly embarrassed that you heard our conversation just now; I honestly had no idea you were here!”
The chameleon stepped onto the floor of the tree-house, swiftly regaining his normal coloring.
“Quite alright my dear chimp,” said Rupert cordially. “I shouldn’t have concealed myself like that. I thought you were an unwelcome intruder; surely you understand. Anyway, that is enough formality; how might I be of service?”
“I’m sure one as connected as yourself,” said Slither, “has been informed of the guineafowl thefts?”
“Why of course I have,” replied Rupert. “I really try to stay on top of things, you know. Dear me, that was some ingenious work by the thief, wouldn’t you say?”
“Certainly. Have you heard any information on who the culprit might be? Any reason he might have for stealing those poor birds’ eggs?”
“Well, I have heard that the mongooses up north pay very highly for guineafowl eggs, but I have no idea who the brilliant criminal in question could possibly be. I do, however, know that a mongoose’s appetite is not easily quelled, and if I was a hungry mongoose, I wouldn’t grow tired of fresh eggs.” This is naught but speculation, of course.”
“Sorry I couldn’t have been more help, my good detectives,” said the chameleon with a wide smile, “but I really must be going.”
Rupert changed colors to match the floor of the tree-house, and was gone before either detective could respond. Once they were safely away from the chameleon’s dwelling place, the chimp and the python looked at each other.
“Guilty,” they said together.
“He was taunting us,” said Boo-Boo, “He means to strike once again tonight! He all but asked us to try and stop him!”
“Then stop him we will,” said Slither, “but tell me, how are we doing to stop an invisible thief?”
“Oh come now, Slither, that’s the easy part! Now let’s hurry, for we must outrun the guineafowls.”
* * *
Night fell once more upon the grasslands, and the guineafowls were sleeping peacefully beneath their tree, their eggish woes entirely forgotten. If the oblivious birds had only looked up, they would have been treated to an incredibly odd sight; a python and a chimp were perched amongst the branches of the tree above them. The detectives were silent, fearing even the slightest noise would awake the flock beneath them. They had been waiting for hours, but the thief simply did not appear.
Suddenly, there was a slight flash of brown amongst the flock beneath them, and Boo-Boo called out to Slither in a hushed voice.
“Why did the Lion lose at poker?”
“Because he was playing with a cheetah!” replied Slither in the same hushed voice.
“Why was the whale unhappy?”
“He had no porpoise in his life!”
On the ground below, a light pink shape had begun to appear, creeping away from the guineafowls. Boo-Boo went for the kill.
“What does a well-dressed snake wear?”
At that, the chameleon’s color changed to the brightest pink you can imagine, and Slither flung himself from the tree, catching up to Rupert and wrapping him in his many coils. Boo-Boo swung to the ground and strolled over to the captured criminal. “Sir Rupert, I see you have a highly sensitive funny bone. Now hand over the egg.”
The egg fell from the chameleon’s mouth and Boo-Boo picked it up gently.
“I’ll just return this to the guineafowls,” he said, “and then we’ll be on our way.”
Boo-Boo shambled over to the disoriented flock (Danger! Food! Tired!) and gingerly held out the egg to the rightful mother.
THE MONKEY HAS RETURNED!
And away they ran.