After a dreadfully long lession with Mrs Morter, Lola and her classmates moved out to their schoolyard, which was situated behind the school buildings. Some of the boys and girls in class including Chris and Cherie wasted no time in lighting their cigarettes, while Steve and Mary kept a lookout for any signs of a teacher.
"Jeez, I thought the old hag would never finish."said Chris while puffing on his cigarette.
Most of the classed nodded in agreement.
"Tell me about it, on and on like an old gramaphone."said Cherie.
"C´mon guys. She´s not that bad."said Steve not noticing the incredulous looks he was getting.
"Moving on, I heared that you had a small dinner yesterday and one if its guests was Mr Miles, Lola."said Nina.
"Yup. We dined with the Hubbubs in our yard and he was there too."Lola answered, though Miles was the least of her worries right now.
"I can´t understand how you can look at it so casually, Lola."said Annie and most of the girls present nodded their heads fervently.
"Yeah. If I had someone like that round my house for dinner I would freak out."said Gabriella, her comment once again meeting with agreement from most of the girl population.
Lola was about to reply, when she noticed a certain boy walking towards them.
"Ask Billy and see what he tells you."she giggled and he joined the group.
"Don´t even mention yesterday. I´m still feeling the after-effects. I can´t understand how he and Chichi can eat that stuff."he said moving from side to side in obvious unease.
"You mean the hellfire chilli pepper?"asked Lily and as Billy nodded she and Lola went into a fit of giggles.
"You find it funny. But seriously, that stuff burns twice."he said wincing again.
"What d´you mean?"asked Joe eyeing his friend while the two girls giggled even more.
"It burns both when it goes in and when it comes out."said Billy while scratching his head frowning.
The teens laughed and even Billy joined in though begrudgingly.
"I´ll have to bring some to school and will see what you think."he said in mock-offence, turning away from the others with his arms folded.
"Aww... my poor baby."said Lola as she approached him, ruffling his hair and kissing him on the cheek.
He threw her a small glance and raised his eyebrow.
"Not gonna cut it, dear."
Lola giggled and walked infront of him. She raised his chin with her fingers and kissed him full on the lips.
"Better?"she asked slyly.
"Not yet..."he said while wrapping his arms around her.
"...but I think you´re on the right track."he finished before kissing her passionately.
Watching the exchange, some of their classmates laughed, Lily and Nina exchanged a "How romantic" look, Steve threw Cherie a longing look while she and Chris rolled their eyes in annoyance.
After a small while the two parted.
"Better now?"asked Lola.
"Much better."chuckled Billy and the two turned to their classmates.
"But I still can´t understand it. Ok, with Miles I can imagine that he´s used to it and all, but Chichi?"he said shaking his head.
"Looks like your little bro is becoming quite the tough guy, isn´t he?"said Lily with a smile.
"After locking up the drug dealers in Megacity and in Beauvillage, I´d imagine."said Mary nodding.
"I envy you Lola. Wish I had a bro like that."said Annie with a sigh, comparing to her pest of a younger brother currently attending the same class as Chichi.
"Believe me, Annie you don´t. You wouldn´t believe all the trouble he can get into."she said and Lily nodded.
"But all the same, all the things he can do. Not everyone has a genius in the family, Lola."said Daphne and Billy nodded to both Lily and Lola.
"Yes, but he can be pretty immature just like any other kid brother. All the same I wouldn´t trade him for anything in the world."
Everyone smiled and nodded with the exception of Cherie and Chris who scoffed.
"The idiotic brat."said Chris under his breath.
"Excuse me?"growled Billy, who heared exactly what Chris had said.
"N..nothing."stammered Chris and Billy fixed him with a look.
He didn´t like anyone bad-mouthing either Lola or Chichi. And Chris had learned a long time ago, that Billy is not to be messed with.
"Anyway Lola. A few of us have a small problem, which only you Tofus can solve."said Gabriella and a few of the boys and girls nodded.
The trio looked at eachother already guessing what problem could it be.
"Some of our pets have been sick for two days now."started Mary.
"My guinea pig, Blackie hasn´t eaten anything since yesterday."explained Annie.
"Our dog, Freeda either."added Steve.
"My hamster, Xander is curled up in a ball and shaking since yesterday."said Daphne.
"Hah! My Prince is perfectly fine. I don´t know what could be wrong with your pets."said Cherie with a shrug.
"Anyway Lola, we heared that your mother and grandmother are already treating several pets and we would like to ask if you could do the same for ours."finished Mary.
"You´ve got to be kidding. Why not take them to a vet?"exclaimed Chris.
"Beauvillage doesn´t have a vet. The nearest one is in Megacity."said Steve.
"And not everyone can afford that. Especially when we don´t know, what could be wrong with them in the first place."added Joe and many nodded in agreement.
"Will you, Lola? Will you ask your mom?"asked Daphne, her eyes showing slight desperation.
It didn´t take Lola long to decide.
"Sure. Just bring your pets to our house and we´ll try to help them."
Her reply was met with cheers and applauses.
"Though I´m not sure where we´ll put them all."Lola thought outloud.
"Don´t worry, Lola. I´m sure we´ll think of something."said Billy soothingly.
"And if we don´t, Miles and Chichi definitely will."added Lily.
"By the way, don´t you think its odd, that most of Beauvillage´s pets have turned out sick at precicely the same time?"asked Nina thoughfully.
"Yeah. And a week before the pet convention."said Cherie suspiciously eyeing Lola.
"Strange set of circumstances, isn´t it?"
Chris also fixed Lola with a stare.
"What are you two implying? That the Tofus are the cause behind this?"asked Billy slightly annoyed.
Eversince he came to know them years back, he knew that everyone of the Tofus would way sooner help an animal, than do anything to bring any harm to it. No matter what animal it was. He still remembered the eagerness to save the legendary beast of Beauvillage, even if it turned out to be a wild boar in the end, plus the animal seemed to turn pretty docile while under their care.
"We´re not implying anything, Billy. But the timing is strange, no one can argue that. It looks as though someone has done this on purpose."said Cherie in a calming voice, not wanting to get on Billy´s bad side.
"So you think there could be some foul play at hand?"asked Mary.
"How about we ask detective Wiseman to investigate this?"suggested Chris and the trio froze.
"Yeah. I bet he could figure out, whatever is going on."said Annie in a dreamy daze.
Lola, Billy and Lily looked at eachother. Wiseman snooping around town was the last thing they would want. And it didn´t take a genius to figure out, where his first stop would be.
Mom was just returning home from Home-fix it with Curly, who she took out to get some excersize. She herself had two things to take care of there – bring her beloved husband his lunch and pick up some small tubes, which they could use to feed some of the smaller animals. The house was half-stocked with pets now. But she was sure, that her mother´s herb recipe would heal the poor little things.
As she neared her house, she heared a crack from a nearby tree. Suddenly a man fell off it, landing painfully on the pavement. She immediatly recodnized the figure dispite only seeing him once over a week ago at the town hall.
"Detective Wiseman. What are you doing here?"she asked in a friendly voice as the detective was picking himself off the ground.
"Mrs Tofu. I... you see... I ... was checking if the tree had any apples."he said pointing at the tree he fell from.
"But detective. Apple picking is two weeks overdue and that tree is an oak. It doesn´t hold apples."
Wiseman looked at her, then at the tree.
"One can never be too sure, Mrs Tofu."he said with a serious voice.
Violet laughed yet again.
"You´re funny, detective."
Wiseman scoffed at that.
"I´m not here for fun Mrs Tofu. I am here investigating a small suspition."
He reached into his side pocket for something not even noticing that Curly was starting to chew on the end of his coat.
"Can you tell me what this might mean?"he asked passing her a small paper which she read.
"I´m not very knowledgable in cars, detective. But why buy such an o-zone layer destruction machine in the first place?"she asked confusedly.
Wiseman fixed her with a small stare until she showed him the paper which turned out to be the advertisement for a luxurious new car, now sold for low prices. With a yelp he snatched the paper from her hand and started to search his pockets again.
"I didn´t mean that! I meant this!"he exclaimed while passing her a different paper.
Violet fixed her glasses as she tried reading the handwriting on the paper.
"I can´t very well make out the handwriting, detective. It looks like a cat wrote this."she said in an honest voice.
"That´s my handwriting, Mrs Tofu. The paper contains the list of pets that turned out to be sick for the past two days."
Violet´s eyes opened wide and she nodded in understanding.
"So that´s what you´re here for. Of course. Come on in, detective."she said leading him into the Tofu house.
With a loud noise Curly tore off a piece of Wiseman´s coat, but Wiseman pleased that this was getting somewhere didn´t notice. Even as Curly entered the house first with his trophy in mouth.
The first thing Wiseman noticed when he entered the kitchen was that the house was cramped full of small makeshift dens and baskets, each of them holding small animals. Dogs, cats, hampsters, rabbits, guinea-pigs, even a chinchilla. He immediatly pulled out his small note-pad and started to make notes. Just then Buba entered the house from the yard.
"You´re back. I hope you have the... oh, we´re having a guest."she said noticing Wiseman, who was looking from one animal to the next.
"Yes Mom. I´m sure you remember detective Wiseman. He wanted to check these poor little things himself."said Violet and Buba nodded.
"Nice to see, you´re taking an interest, detective. We don´t know what could´ve caused this epidemic."she said earnesly.
Wiseman looked from a small pup at her and moved forward. But he tripped over a basket holding a kitten and fell on the floor.
"Are you all right, detective."said Buba in worry, but Wiseman was already on his feet.
"Of course I´m all right Mrs..."
"Greenfield, detective. Suzan Greenfield."said Buba holding out his hand.
As Wiseman made to take it, he hit his head on one of the cages hanging from the cieling. Taking a step back, he tripped on another one of the baskets and fell to the floor again.
The animals hearing the commotion started to respond in their own way. Dogs barking, cats mewing, birs chirping as the detective pulled himself off the ground once more.
However one gentle shushing sound from Mom was all that it took to get all of them to calm down. Wiseman fixed her with a stare.
"They seem to obey you pretty well Mrs Tofu."he commented in almost awe.
"They just need a soothing voice to calm them down, that´s all. By the way, I haven´t introduced myself yet, detective. Violet Tofu."she said extending her hand.
Wiseman shook it looking from Mom to Buba.
"Your name is Tofu..."he ponted to Mom"...and yet you are called Greenfield?"he pointed to Buba looking from one to the other confusedly.
"Yes detective. Violet is my daughter. Jacob Tofu is my son-in-law."explained Buba.
"AHA! Now it makes sence!"he exclaimed while pointing in the air in triumph and the two women giggled.
"You´re funny, detective. I like people with a sence of humor."commented Buba.
"This is not funny. Its a serious deduction."said Wiseman and looked confused again as the two giggled once more.
"But jokes aside detective. As you no doubt know, many neighbours have approached us wanting aid for their precious family relatives."said Mom.
"Family relatives? You´re running a hospital as well?"he exclaimed and scribbled on the notepad more furiously.
"Where are the bodies? What have you done with the patients?"he asked in a cold voice.
Mom and Buba looked at him in confusion.
"They´re right here detective."said Buba gesturing to the pets.
Wiseman looked from one side to the next.
"All I see are pets."he said.
"They are the family relatives, detective."explained Mom.
Wiseman looked completly confused now. He even stopped writing on his notepad.
"What are you talking about?"
Buba and Mom looked at eachother and sighed.
"You don´t have a pet do you detective?"asked Buba.
Wiseman looked taken aback by the question for a moment. Then suddenly let out a large sniff and replied tearfully.
"No... I always wanted one, but Father would never allow it. I once brought a small puppy home when I was 5. I wanted to keep it, but Father forbade it and at once placed the pup in the local dog pound."he said, actually sobbing as he sat down on the chair.
"How despicable. To do that to a little child. The rough brute."said Buba, as Mom sat down next to Wiseman and patted his hand in a calming gesture.
"There, there detective. I can see that you also hold love for animals. And you see, these people who have them concider them a part of their families."she said while Wiseman calmed down, removed his sunglasses and wiped his tears on his sleeve.
"I... I guess. But... wait a minute..."
He shot up from the chair as though hit by an electric shock.
"Why are all these pets sick?"he asked looking from one to the other.
"That we don´t know detective."said Mom who got up from the chair as well.
"How can that be? You´re treating them, aren´t you?"he narrowed his eyes in suspition.
"All we know, that they had upset stomaches. For that a herb remedy will suffice."explained Buba and Wiseman started to scribble again.
"And you don´t know the cause? Very interesting. Do you have any other casualties... I mean patients?"he asked.
"They are out in the yard, detective. You´re more than welcome to look around."said Mom and led him to the garden.
As Wiseman was checking out one of the dens holding various small mammals he hadn´t noticed that something was perched on top of it.
With a loud crow, Cracker announced his presence and with a terryfied scream, Wiseman doubled over in fear and fell to the ground again.
"What...what is THAT?"he shouted in a panicked voice, pointing on Cracker, who appeared to be quite pleased with himself.
"That´s Cracker. Our family rooster."said Mom pointing to the purple rooster.
"Rooster?"exclaimed Wiseman as Cracker let out another crow.
Wiseman grabbed his ears.
"Why does it have to be so loud?"he cursed.
From the other side, Suzie approached him and licked him. Wiseman doubled over again.
"AHH! I´m being attacked!"he shouted rolling on the ground and Buba let out a laugh.
"No you´re not, detective. That´s Suzie – our goat."she explained as Suzie announced herself too.
Suddenly he felt something soft on the back of his head. As he looked up he noticed a sheep, its face centimeters from his own. With a "baah", the sheep licked him and Wiseman rolled over screaming again.
"That´s Curly. Our sheep."explained Mom with another "baah" from Curly.
"I know its a sheep. What are they doing here anyway?"asked Wiseman as he pushed himself off the ground again.
"They´re our family pets, detective."explained Buba.
Wiseman looked incredulously at the two women, then the three animals and quickly scribbled down on his notepad.
"And they haven´t experienced anything like the other pets did?"
When both Mom and Buba confirmed negative, he scribbled some more.
"And that Pet convention is due when?"he asked though he knew full well.
"Next Friday afternoon, detective."answered Mom.
"And aren´t some of these pets its contestants?"
"Most of them yes."said Buba.
"It would be fortunate for some to have their competition eliminated before the contest itself."he said in a meaningfull way.
"Oh, that won´t happen, detective. You see, the little patients are showing sighns of healing already. Our herb recipe will have them good as new in less than two days."said Mom confidently.
Wiseman thought about it some more and scribbled one last note before returning the notepad into his side-pocket.
"Well. I think that about wraps it up."he said in a pleased manner.
"Please do try to solve this detective. Whatever is causing this illness could still be out there."pleaded Buba.
"Oh don´t worry, Mrs Greenfield. I will solve this case. For sure."
As he said the last word he turned and stepped on an overturned rake.
Its wooden handle flew up and hit him straight in the head. The hit sent him flying backwards and with a loud splash, he landed straight in the Tofu garden´s pond.
A/N:Well as you no doubt have guessed (unless you possess the deduction skills of one Frederick Wiseman :D), I´ve taken the liberty of providing Mom, Pop and Buba with their own names. So, for future reading...
Buba – Suzan Greenfield (also nicknamed Zaza by her closest friends in the old days)
Pop - Jacob Tofu
Mom – Violet Tofu (nee Greenfield, of course)
Hope I´ve done a good job on the names. :-p