Jillian here. I decided I’ve been whining too much on my posts and, instead of bemoaning the direct hit hurricane we had here in September and the loss of power for several days, I thought I’d share a little story I wrote for a contest (I didn’t win or place)–The theme was all about smells. I picked New Orleans as my setting as it is full of smells, both good and bad. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.
Beauregard, Canine Cop
Stale beer and vomit. Stale beer and vomit. The mantra played in my head as I trotted along at the end of my leash. The New Orleans French quarter has a distinctive character as well as scent. Being a canine cop for the city police department comes with some perks. Like all the andouille sausage I want because, after all, who’s a good boy? Me. I am. Especially when I find the bad guys. Or a corpse.
Today is a corpse finding day. Maybe. There was a shooting outside the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street last night. And several people called in sightings of someone gut-shot staggering down the street. That street called Bourbon that didn’t smell like bourbon, but stunk like the rest of the Quarter. Stale beer and vomit with a side order of urine and semen in some of the darker corners.
My partner has me out following a spotty trail of blood. It started out thick and viscous but petered out as we went on. I ran quickly at first, barking once in a while to show my enthusiasm. Not that I’m ever very thrilled to chase scents on city streets. Too many distractions. Meats cooking, stir-frys, strong perfume, cigarettes, and tourists sweating. I try to focus, but this area of town is tough. I’d rather be out near the old abandoned Six Flags Park as it’s easier to follow human scent in the wild. At least we weren’t over by the Cafe Du Monde today. The odor of the donut grease and powdered sugar is really almost too much.
Powdered sugar makes me sneeze which I guess is good to clear out my sinuses to be a better tracker, but I like to stay away from that street if I can help it. Too many people there, too. It’s easy to lose the thread of the quarry’s trail when there’s a big crowd and there’s always one at Jackson Square.
Sadly, I’m not the master of my own domain. I go where I’m taken. Crime fighting is not for everyone. My partner, who egotistically calls himself my handler, sometimes makes me mad when he pulls me off a trail that may lead to something I want. Like that time last week I absolutely craved locating that dead possum and having a small little snack. My partner jerked me away and tossed that lovely carcass in the closest ravine. Brat.
Focus, focus. Find the dead man. Find the dead man. Stop thinking about snacks.
I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. Is that a faint tinge of human blood?
Before I can lift my snout and determine where it’s coming from, my partner jerked a bit on my leash. “Come on, Beauregard. It’s not time to rest. You need to earn your sausage.’
Humpf. Earn my sausage. Right. Give me a minute, old man.
My partner turned to another officer. A detective I like a lot. She’s a real lady. Always smells clean, like soap. A refreshing thing in this town full of bad aromas. She also usually carries a few pieces of kibble in her jacket pocket.
“Beau seems to be off his game today, doesn’t he?” my partner asked her.
“Give him a chance. The droplets have virtually disappeared. He needs to recapture the scent.” She knelt down and slipped me a bacon flavored treat. Ahh, bacon.
This is another reason I like her. She doesn’t rush me. My partner sometimes gets a bit impatient. He should know better. He’s supposed to be trained, too.
She patted me. “You’ll find the man, Beau. I have faith in you.”
Refreshed by the bacon and her praise, I lifted my nose in the air and concentrated on the odor of the dead guy’s blood. Trying to locate the scent by isolating it out of the atmosphere was harder than usual. Some guys up on one of the balconies were cooking burgers and hot dogs. The smoke wafting out from the wrought iron balustrades was distracting, to say the least. Yes, I just had a snack but surely it must be lunch time by now.
Although lunch time usually found me sitting in the station eating kibble or in our rig with the air conditioner running while my partner ate at 9 Roses Cafe near the cop shop. Trying to hit on the pretty detective. I don’t think he’s ever going to get her to go out with him even though I’d like it too. Since I live with him, she’d surely come by if she was dating him. I’d get lots of attention from her. In fact, I think she likes me better than she likes him. Oh, to be human.
As I pondered all the fun times we’d have if she came over, I caught a faint wisp of that blood I was seeking.
Without letting my partner know what I was going to do, I took off in a run. I probably pulled his shoulder out of joint judging by the way he yelped when I jerked him into a trot. Serves him right for acting like I’d lost the trail. Never mind that I had for a moment or two. What does he know?
Down the block we went until we ended up at a shotgun house painted yellow with green shutters. I loped up onto the porch and clawed at the door. The guy is in this house. I got a whiff of him. He smells like decayed leaves and something metallic.
There was another aroma as well. Fear. Sweat. Someone inside was terrified. There was someone in there with the guy. The stench of the terror came at me in waves.
I sat back on my haunches and whimpered. Man, I wish I could speak English and warn my partner there was danger inside to whoever was trapped in there with the bleeding man. The dude most likely wasn’t a corpse if this other person was so afraid.
Since I couldn’t tell him my thoughts, but knew I alerted on the door for a reason, my partner didn’t wait for me to do anything else. He knocked on the door and called out, “New Orleans Police.”
Nothing happened for a moment. Just me, the detective and my partner on the porch in silence.
Then a lady’s voice, “Please go away. I’m ill and can’t let you in. It’s contagious.”
“We can’t go, ma’am. We’re looking for someone who was shot before dawn and the trail leads here. We need to come inside and check for this man.”
“I don’t know what you mean. There’s nobody here. I promise.”
“Please let us in.” The detective knocked herself. “We can’t leave without checking the premises. Even if the man is dead, we need to come in.”
“There’s no dead person here.” The lady’s voice quavered.
At her words, my concern for the woman inside the house grew. She said there wasn’t a corpse. That meant I was right and there was a live person in there, holding her hostage.
Luckily, my partner had dropped my leash. He trusted me to stay put. This time, I wasn’t going to obey the rules. Someone was in trouble and I was the only one who knew it. I couldn’t verbalize what I knew, so I was going to have to act. Somehow.
I sidled away from the porch, hoping to find an entry point. If I could get my teeth on the guy, this would all be over.
Slinking around the corner, I inspected each window to see if there was one left open. I could see a couple of window unit air conditioners and hoped some of the windows without them were open to catch a cross breeze. No such luck. They were all tightly closed.
Luckily, the back door was a little bit ajar. I could see some blood droplets leading from it into the center of the next room. The guy must’ve been too hurt or lost too much of his vital fluids to have thought about closing it all the way. Stupid move for him, but lucky for me.
I nudged the door open with my nose and hoped my toenails didn’t give me away on the wood floor.
As I crept deeper into the house, the smell of the blood grew stronger as well as the stench of that lady’s fear.
I could hear my partner and the detective still trying to communicate from the front porch. There was no response from inside the house.
Small sobs alerted me to the hostage’s location. She was somewhere near the front door. Now I needed to know where the man with the bullet in him was sitting. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be standing based on the amount of blood on the ground at the crime scene and along my path to this house.
“Stop crying or I’ll shoot you now.”
She gasped in fear, but I knew he’d never do it while officers were within hearing distance. All his words did was make her cry harder—but still almost silently—and alert me to his location.
As soon as I had a bead on him, I tore directly toward him, counting on the element of surprise.
I threw myself at him, paws out. My full weight hit him in the shoulders and chest.
Gore and mucus and other nasty smelling stuff from his gut wound covered my stomach where I hit him. Ugh.
Luckily, the weapon he was holding skittered across the wood floor.
The lady had the sense to grab it while I barked with my whole being.
Before the hostage could open the door, the injured man was screaming at her. “Get your dog off me. Get your dog off me.” I bit down on his arm to lock him in place although he didn’t seem to have much strength left to fight me.
The lady of the house stood there in a daze with the gun in her hand as my partner and the detective came in from the back.
“Beauregard. Are you okay?” my partner called out.
“Get this foul beast off me.” The wounded man fought against my hold on his arm. He was causing himself more pain. My teeth tend to create more damage when people fight against their grip. I might also have bit down a little harder. Foul beast? Me? Look in the mirror, mister. I’m not the foul one here. Except for your guts all over me.
While my partner called for an ambulance and took the man into custody, allowing me to release my grip, the detective turned to the former hostage who seemed a bit perkier now. “Do you know this man?”
“No. He barged into my house and said he was going to wait here for help. He called someone and they were bringing a doctor. He said he’d let me go when they got here. Then you knocked on the door and he threatened to kill me if I let you in.” She drew in a shuddering breath.
By this time, the man had passed out. Blood loss was my guess. He was really pale and barely breathing. No more fight left in this one.
The detective knelt down beside me. Even though I reeked with the man’s guts all over me, she kissed me on top of the head. “You’re such a good boy, Beau. Even if you stink and broke the rules about leaving your partner. Great work.”
She didn’t have to acknowledge my stench. With my nose, I was more aware of it than anyone in the room. It was nice to be kissed by a pretty detective, but a bit embarrassing to be so disgusting from my work. Just wait until I have a bath. Then she’ll see I’m worth not only a kiss on the head, but also some belly rubs. Oh, and being given extra andouille sausages and bacon treats. Mustn’t forget those.