3. Chapel Perilous
The pocket monster dropped me, still tangled in the butterfly net, onto a table. He flew away and I was alone.
I pinged. The echo came back. It was Chapel Perilous, all right.
Two entered the chapel and approached. ’Toons. Anthropomorphic. Human size, dwarfing me. One of them had long ears and a short tail. He was smoking a cigar. The other had big ears and a long tail. He was holding a flyswatter.
They stepped closer, and I pinged them. The echo came back and I saw who they were. I’d know those faces anywhere. The long-eared one was Bugsy. The long-tailed one was Rickie-the-Rat.
Those two. Together. In Chapel Perilous. With me. This couldn’t be good.
“The mayor and the crime lord?” I squeaked.
Rickie-the-Rat hit me with the fly-swatter:
It hurt. I said, “Hey, cut it out, I—”
“What are you doing, I—”
Bugsy said, “Hey! Stoppit widda vi-linss!” Rickie-the-Rat stopped hitting me. Bugsy said, “Gimme a toin.” He took the flyswatter from Rickie-the-Rat.
Bugsy stood over me, flyswatter held high. I watched him, wary.
Bugsy said, “Ya know, da funny ting ’bout Rickie-da-Rat is, he’s a noyce goy.”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “Yes, I am!”
Bugsy said, “He’s a foin an’ upstandin’ memba of sa-sigh-itty!”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “That’s right!”
Bugsy said, “An’ if ya woiks widdim, den he ain’t gonna give ya no trubble.”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “None at all!”
Bugsy said, “But if ya upsets him, see, den he moit lose his tempa.”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “That’s true, I might!”
Bugsy said, “An’ den he moit do sumpin notty. Like dis.”
“Or even dis.”
WAP WAP WAP!
“Ya see, lil boidie?”
“I get it, I get it!” I squeaked. Bugsy handed the flyswatter to Rickie-the-Rat, and I said, “But don’t call me a bird! I am not a bird!”
Bugsy said, “Heey, but aincha wun spunky lil mousie?”
“I am not a mouse!”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “Well, if you don’t like being called a mouse – ”
“ – or a bird – ”
“–then guess how we feel about being compared to–”
Bugsy roared, “DA BLEEPIN TOOT FERRY!”
Suddenly I was glad that Bugsy wasn’t the one with the flyswatter. Rickie-the-Rat said, “You see, it’s just not nice to say we’re like… her.”
“It ain’t respekful!”
“Reputations are involved.”
“An’ moolah, too,” said Bugsy. “Alla da moolah!”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “So what’s your game?”
“Are you a troublemaker?”
“Stop it!” I shouted.
Bugsy said, “Aww, ya gottim awl roiled up agin!”
“Stop it, stop it, stop it!” I wailed. “This is all a misunderstanding!”
Rickie-the-Rat stopped hitting me. He and Bugsy leaned close. Rickie-the-Rat said, “A misunderstanding? About what?”
“I didn’t say anything about you two. Not a thing!”
Bugsy said, “Ya dint?”
“What my client wants– it’s not about you!”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “So what does your client want?”
“My client just wants the dirt on the Tooth Fairy!”
Bugsy said, “Da doit?”
“Yeah, the dirt! What’s the real story?”
Rickie-the-Rat squeaked, “The real story?”
“Yeah, the real story! Like, where do the teeth go? Where the money’s coming from? And what’s in it for her?”
They looked at each other. They stood up straight.
Bugsy said, “He dunno!”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “So innocent. So pure.”
They rolled their eyes.
Bugsy said, “Oh, brudda!”
Rickie-the-Rat went to a window and opened it. Bugsy picked up the butterfly net and shook me out. I flopped face-down onto the table-top. Ouch!
Bugsy said, “Hey, kiddo, sorry ’bout alla da trubble, huh? But we can’t help ya nun. We dunno ’bout no Toot Ferry.”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “What do you mean? My little cousin Perez–”
“Shaddap! We ain’t met ’er, we ain’t seen ’er, we ain’t got nuttin’ to do wid ’er, no way, no how! Dere ain’t no k’nek-shun, ya see?”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “Oh! I see! You’re right, Bugsy.”
Bugsy said, “So we dunno nuttin’ ’bout ’er.”
Rickie-the-Rat said, “Nothing at all!”
Bugsy said, “Sorry, kiddo. Yer on yer own.”
Rickie-the-Rat brandished his fly-swatter, and I left by the window.
I flapped away, wondering about what I just heard. I don’t have these big ears for nothing, and I could hear that those two were lying.
They knew. I could tell, from their tone of voice. The mayor and the crime lord were in on the scam somehow. They were covering up something big.