The Flesh Assembly
Skunk burst through the doors of the police station with Officer Fanny Duster and Temaru in tow. The slick white walls, boxlike glass booths, and tall metal beams all seemed to be mocking him. He turned a corner into a room with checkered floor tiles and several wooden desks set up. The patrol shift sat in the office chairs, eyeing their watches. Skunk looked at his own.
“You’re all early,” he declared, scanning the crowd. Giles stood. He was taller than Skunk. His eyes were a deep brown and his hair was contrastingly fair.
“What is this all about, Mr. Mayor?” he asked. Although his voice spoke innocence, his stance was that of defense. “Nothing happened last night. There were no occurrences.” He looked behind him at his comrades, and they all simultaneously bobbed their heads in agreement. Skunk could have laughed. They looked like a collector’s display of bobble heads. Giles certainly had the group under his spell. The combination of fame and fortune had a tendency to ensnare people. Skunk looked the man directly in the eyes and crossed his arms, mimicking the man’s aggressive stance.
“No occurrences, eh?” he said. Giles looked past the mayor at Temaru, who, under the bully’s gaze, deflated. Skunk could feel his skin growing hot as his temper began to inflate. People like Giles were disgusting. “Temaru informed me he saw the vandal head into the Elm Valley Trail last night,” Skunk went on. Now Giles appeared nervous. Skunk took a step closer to the guard. “He pursued the vandal into the forest and called for back-up. But no back-up came. Explain that to me, Giles.”
The man responded in a fluster, “I―I don’t know. We never received a call from him.” Skunk reached up and grabbed Giles by the collar of his uniform.
“Maybe that’s because you were all devoured by ravenous bears!” he spat. The patrol officers sat ogling their mayor in terrified confusion.
“What?!” Giles threw up his hands in defeat. “What are talking about?! We weren’t devoured by no bears!”
“Obviously,” Skunk replied, still stoic. His calm demeanor soon crumbled and he lashed out at Giles, slapping him hard across his well chiseled features. “Then tell me how it is that a sane man comes to me in shambles over your violent deaths?!” he shouted. Giles slunk under one of the wooden desks, cradling his stinging face in his hands.
“I don’t know,” he squealed. “I just don’t know.” Eyes that had once looked at Giles with admiration now looked at him in repulsion. Money couldn’t purchase loyalty for long.
“Perhaps it was the hallucinogenic properties of the mushrooms you fed him!” Skunk cried. He heaved the desk aside and snatched Giles up by his pretty hair. “You and your comrades gave Temaru here a nasty trip. Did you think that that would be funny?!”
“P―please don’t hurt me,” Giles wined. “We weren’t doing shrooms, I swear!” Skunk threw the man to the floor.
“Listen to me, you piece of trash, there’s no point denying this. Temaru here just drank a good litre of tea. I can have his urine tested for psilocin, the primary psychoactive substance in the mushrooms with which you poisoned him.” Giles bawled pathetically. The other officers all kept their gazes glued to the floor.
“I’m sorry!” Giles wailed. “I―I didn’t know!” Officer Fanny Duster stepped in front of Skunk just then, his hands clenched into fists.
“You’re all fired!” he screamed. He then turned apologetically toward Temaru and added, “except for you, of course.” Skunk motioned for Temaru to follow him out of the building while Officer Fanny Duster finished chewing up his guards. Once outside of the station, Temaru flung himself at Skunk’s feet.
“Thank-you! Thank-you!” he wailed, polishing Skunk’s shoes with his tears. “No one has ever stood up for me like that!” Skunk was at a loss for words. Temaru straightened himself up and saluted. “I will forever be your servant,” he said, bowing. Skunk chuckled and patted the man on the back.
“At ease, Temaru. You don’t owe me anything. I was just doing my duty,” he responded.
“There must be something I can do for you,” Temaru insisted. He stood thoughtfully for a moment. “I know!” he cried. “I can help you select a new team of security guards.” Skunk nodded. Temaru’s insight would be helpful in selecting a new team. Policing seemed to attract a certain male and female personality: the kind of personality that victimized other smarter personalities. Skunk knew this personality well. He was disappointed in himself. He should have had more sense than to hire Giles and his clique in the first place. With the help of Temaru, Skunk would be certain not to make the mistake of hiring these types of personalities again.
The side door of the station burst open. Skunk cringed as it slammed into the brick wall. Officer Fanny Duster wriggled his way out the exit. He reminded Skunk of a cat too fat to fit through a door flap. His arms were piled high with disheveled uniforms.
“Get your naked patooties out here!” he screamed. The officers obediently exited the door one by one in the nude. Their eyes were downcast and their arms were shamefully wrapped around them.
“Good lord,” Skunk sighed, averting his eyes from the fleshy line. Officer Fanny Duster was truly extreme when it came to his punishment techniques. Skunk had never heard of an officer demanding the return of a uniform while it was still being worn. Temaru’s face turned a ridiculous shade of red. He turned his back on the squad.
“Embarrassed are we?!” Officer Fanny Duster jibed as the shivering pink bodies filed past him. “Now you know how it feels!”
“Pervert!” one woman shouted in response.
“Don’t flatter yourself!” Officer Fanny Duster shouted back. “There are three things to be learned today,” he said. “Number one: embarrassing another officer will only result in your own embarrassment. Number two: listen to your mom. Always wear a clean set of underwear― I’m talking to you Giles! Finally, never go commando!”
When the ex-officers had all gone, Officer Fanny Duster dropped the mountain of uniforms in front of Skunk and hiked his pants up over his slopping belly.
The officer sighed, “We got that many uniforms to fill out.”
“Can I look now?” peeped Temaru, his back still turned on the station.
“It’s okay, boy. The rats have emptied the nest,” Officer Fanny Duster replied. “A bunch of ugly little buggers if you ask me,” he murmured.
Skunk, still slightly traumatized by the sight of so many unclothed bodies, scooped up the uniforms and told Officer Fanny Duster to put out an ad in search for some new security guards.
“There’s not really much we can do about security,” Skunk said, “I’ve already left several messages with a locksmith. Until he gets back to me, you, Temaru, can let the shop owners know to barricade their doors.” Temaru bowed and dashed off to complete his given task.
“Well, Mr. Mayor,” said Officer Fanny Duster, placing his arm around Skunk, “We may as well get back to our wives. The missis promised me a good feast tonight. You don’t get to be my size eatin’ scrawny leaf lettuce. Am I right?!” The officer punched Skunk playfully in the shoulder. Skunk laughed. In his opinion, the officer could probably use a little more scrawny leaf lettuce.
“Yes, I suppose it is getting rather dark,” Skunk added, stealing a glance at his watch. “It’s not even six’o clock.”
“Earlier and earlier each day I’m afraid,” Officer Fanny Duster called, halfway into his car. Skunk waved him off and then entered his own vehicle. It wasn’t until he turned on the engine that he realized how truly hungry he was. He hadn’t had a single morsel of food all day. Somehow he doubted Mink had prepared him a feast. Mink wasn’t really the sort to cook lavish dinners. She usually left the cooking up to whoever was hosting that night’s dinner party. Skunk didn’t know how, but Mink always seemed to get away with attending, but never hosting dinner parties. Skunk hoped she wouldn’t try to whisk him away to another of her famous soirées. He was far too fatigued to deal with a table of boisterously laughing women.
Skunk had nothing to worry about. When he arrived home, he found the house empty. A note was stuck to the fridge in his wife’s loopy handwriting. It read:
I have left for the twenty-four hour nail salon on account of a cuticle disaster. I managed to scrounge up some leftovers from a dinner party for you to eat. They are in the fridge beside a rather sad looking sprig of broccoli.
Skunk chuckled upon reading the message. That certainly was his wife―always dashing off to who-knows-where during who-knows-when. He opened up the container beside the ‘rather sad looking sprig of broccoli’ to find a chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Skunk swallowed back a painful lump. It was the same meal he’d had at his mother’s reception.
A golden brown bird oozing at the centre with rich cheese would normally have him foaming at the mouth, but that day the sight of it had made him sick. His mother had been done up like a doll on display for all to gawk and grieve, as though they’d actually loved her. One moment people were weeping and grasping each other for emotional support, the next they were gorging themselves as though nothing was wrong. The whole display had put Skunk off his appetite. His father’s forced tears most of all. Even now Skunk could still taste the foul bird: salty but otherwise flavorless. He shook his head, shaking the image of teeth-like tombstones from his mind. This chicken would taste better.
His wife walked through the doors just as he was taking the first bite.
“I’m back!” she sang, twittering her freshly manicured nails in front of his face. Skunk looked up at her, his mind still a fog with funeral visions.
“What was that, Dear?” he asked. Mink crossed her arms, turning her eyes up at the ceiling fan.
“I just can’t leave you alone for one second without you going all eyebrow scrunchy on me, can I?”
“Not everyone’s eyebrows are meant to look as dainty as yours, you know,” he replied. She took a seat next to him. Her furs looked so soft, Skunk was almost tempted to pet her. Instead, he stroked her hand.
“My security guards turned out to be lousy,” he said.
“Lucky for them, their mayor isn’t,” Mink responded. Her lips spread to either side of her face. Skunk loved the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled. Though he didn’t feel the same, Skunk mimicked the expression on his own face.
“I just can’t stop thinking about this vandal,” he admitted, frowning again. “One of my guards, the only one that turned out not to be lousy, claimed he saw the vandal last night in the forest.” Skunk dug the deformed fold of paper from his pocket. “Look what we found when we went there.” A pair of pointy-framed plum spectacles perched on the bridge of Mink’s nose as she stared at the death certificate inquisitively.
“This looks like something from one of my mystery novels,” she piped.
“Can you make out the doctor’s name?” Skunk asked. It was a long shot. Whoever signed the medical had atrocious writing and on top of that, the document had suffered severe water damage. It would be a miracle if anyone could decipher…
“Archie Boo Boo,” his wife declared.
“What?!” Skunk looked to her in wonder. “How can you tell?”
“Elementary, my dear Watson.” Mink dangled the certificate just out of Skunk’s reach. Her newly done nails, Skunk noticed, matched the colour of her spectacles. “The doctor must have been in a real hurry to sign this because when he did, the document was upside down.” She raked her long nails down Skunk’s cheek, sending tingles down his spine. Sure enough, she was right. When Skunk turned the paper around, he found the name― though still hideously written― to read Archie Boo Boo.
“You clever, clever woman!” he exclaimed, kissing his wife on the lips. “What would you say to a little adventure tomorrow?” he said, kissing her again.
“I love adventures,” she responded, throwing her arms around his neck.
“First, we’ll talk to this Archie character, and then, we’ll go on a little stakeout downtown,” he proposed. His wife tore off her fur coat.
“I say we go on a little adventure right now,” she declared and ran up the stairs, leaving a trail of furs for Skunk to follow.