Posts Tagged ‘Merlin’

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

April 17, 2013



Merlin and Leland and his Euthanized Dog

(Episode 40)

 Merlin was already in town, so he dropped by Leland’s office and they walked out to the Sheriff’s SUV.

“Mind if I drive?”  Merlin asked, hopping into the driver’s seat.

Leland paused, finally taking the passenger’s seat.  “I’m just the Sheriff.  And this is the Sheriff of Kimmel County’s car.  Why would I mind?”  He frowned, pounding on the dash with both fists.

Merlin didn’t reply.  Instead, he started the vehicle and started heading north.

“North?”  Leland asked.

“That’s where the bodies were,” Merlin answered.

Leland rolled his eyes.

Merlin said, “No?”

Leland shook his head again, and indicated Merlin should keep driving.

“Okay.  Where are we headed then?”  Merlin asked after they had pulled out of town .  It was midday and the sun was high overhead.  Merlin turned on the air conditioner.

Leland never replied, his thoughts being on just what it is he might be missing.  Harriet had said, “Who are you working for, Leland?”  Which was a puzzle Leland had no answer for.  Why would Harriet think he was working for someone?  Or that he was other than he appeared to be?  He’d known Harriet since she was the lonely little fat girl, sitting in the room’s corner all through elementary school drawing pink and blue tractors, which plowed orange and purple rows.  He was guessing she owned maybe 3 dresses in all.

All Leland really knew about her in the thirty or more years that passed were that she was a lot shrewder than she looked, and that she never took bullshit from anyone.  Plus, she was a damned good shot with a rifle.  It wasn’t like Harriet to be believing random aspersions.  If Harriet hadn’t been ‘down to earth’, then no one was.  So…

Merlin pulled the car over with a quick swerve and stopped.

‘…why would Harriet say such a thing?’ Leland wondered again, grabbing the door jamb.

“Okay Leland.  I’m tired of this.”  Merlin fixed him with a look.

Leland was shaken out of his reverie.  He paused to think, as the clouds of dust dissipated around them.

“Are we breaking up?”  He smiled.

“And by the way, shut the fuck up,” Merlin said.

Leland nodded.

“I’m going to say some things, and I want you to listen.”

Leland raised his brows.

But it seemed Merlin was having a problem putting what he wanted to say into words.  Finally he spoke:  “Okay.  Here it is.  I didn’t kill your dog.  I ‘put him down’.  There’s a difference.”


Merlin raised his hands quickly.  “Let me finish.”

“I know how attached you were to Trevor.  It showed all over you.  Everyone knew it.  But he was riddled with cancer and in extreme pain and there was no denying it.  And euthanasia was the best thing we could do – YOU could do – given the circumstances.  And I don’t blame you for it.”  Merlin paused.  “So don’t blame me.”

Leland was astonished.  “I never blamed you for killing my … dog.”

“Oh yes you do!  You don’t know you do.  But you do, nevertheless.”

Leland didn’t know how a man could respond to this.

“Don’t think I haven’t seen it before.  It’s one of the commonest ways a Veterinarian loses his clients that there is around.  An animal lover loves his animal.  But the animal is suffering.  So the animal lover comes to the Vet and he asks, “What can we do?”

Leland thought about Trevor, which was interesting, as he hadn’t thought about Trevor in some time.  God he missed him.  Especially, what with all of the craziness of late.”

“Well,” Merlin turned towards Leland.  “The answer is, there isn’t much we can do.  We’re not God.  We don’t have those powers.  So we give them the choices.  I gave you the choice.”

“He was a great dog,” Leland interrupted.  “Just the very antithesis of all the craziness that has been going on around here of late.”

“And then we may even tell them what we would recommend.  But the owner makes the final choice.  And then, we put them down.”

“That’s what he was, Merlin.  That’s what Trevor was.  He was sane!”  Leland realized.


“I can feel it so clearly now, after what’s just gone on around here.  What with all the awful, vulgar killings, and the shootings of the Weeds.  Trevor was absolutely sane.  And you just can’t say that much I’d guess for the rest of us.”  And inexplicably Leland could feel himself begin to bawl… great racking sobs.  “He was so sane.  So very sane.  He was just a great, sane dog!”

“Maybe I’m just crying for the loss of my sanity,” Leland said later, with a strangled laugh.

Twenty minutes later, Leland indicated to Merlin that he was ready to roll.  And Merlin started the vehicle and pulled out, heading north.

In another half hour things seemed in the vehicle as if they were back to normal.  Maybe even better than normal, Merlin thought, glancing over at Leland and then looking ahead.

“You know,” Leland said.  “It’s strange.  For the past few months I’ve felt as if I’d somehow gotten a chicken bone lodged in my throat.  But I couldn’t figure out where, or when.  And now, it’s gone.”  He swallowed a couple times.  “Yeah, it’s gone.”

“So you feel better?”

“Yeah.  I do.”

“Good.”  Merlin smiled.

Merlin nodded at a road sign and Leland nodded back.  They were almost there.  The Weed’s turn off was just up ahead on the left.

Photo from Google Images

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

March 3, 2013
"I leave clues!  Whodathunkit?"

“I leave clues! Whodathunkit?”

Merlin’s Clinic

(Episode 34)


 “Are you going to talk, or are we going to ride like this all the way to the Vet’s?”  Agent Hailey asked.

“I’m just trying to stay out of trouble for a few minutes, so I can concentrate on the matters at hand,” Leland answered, staring ahead down the main street of town as he drove.

“Goodness, you sulk like a little girl,” Agent Hailey said.

Leland stopped the patrol car.

“Why are you trying to bust my balls here?”  He asked.  “I didn’t lose the evidentiary material.  And I didn’t blame you about it.”

“Oh, here we go: “ball buster”, “loser”.  …any other moniker you want to add?”

Leland nodded.  “You’re fingering your weapon.”

“Oh.”  Agent Hailey blushed, drawing her hand away.  “Habit.”

“Uh huh,” Leland said.

They drove the rest of the way to the Vet Clinic in more silence.  Not knowing that all the while, Nancy Gillis, girl reporter, was hidden under the back security shield taking notes of everything.

When they arrived, Merlin was dealing with a scared housecat.

“Best stay out for a minute,” he advised, from beyond the door.

Leland shut the door, as Merlin donned some thick, padded, elbow length leather gloves.  They heard a low, rumbling yeaorrrwwwl!.  Then it was like all hell broke loose inside the closed room, stuff being knocked all over, until finally it was all quiet again.

“There,” Merlin said reappearing.  And he didn’t say anymore.  He shut the door behind himself.  “What have you brought me?”  Merlin’s brows rose.

Leland held out the sample.

“I meant ‘her’,” Merlin smiled, most courteously.  Like Leland, he was another of the single, marriageable men in this small community.  And a new, good-looking woman was like a greased pig dropped ring center at the local rodeo.  Merlin removed his long leather gloves.

“This is Agent Hailey.”  Leland introduced her reluctantly.

“How do you do?” Merlin gave Agent Hailey his most winning smile.   “You can call me ‘Bones’.   He reached to shake hands.

“I’m fine, thanks.” Agent Hailey shook.   “I believe Sheriff Kelly here, has some evidentiary material he thinks you might be able to help us to better define.”

Leland laughed to himself, at Merlin’s quick reassessment.

Merlin turned away to do so, facing up to Leland.  “So!  It’s back to the Private Sector again?”  He smiled.

“I need you to look at this and tell us what you can.  I think it’s probably cow manure fallen from a boot tread.”

Merlin looked at it.  He opened the bag to sniff.  He spit on his thumb and index fingers and reached in and made a quick slurry of it to sniff.  “It’s pig shit,” he said, handing it back, and smiling again at Agent Hailey.

“Can you tell us any more?” Leland asked.

“Possibly,” Merlin said cryptically.  “So where are all the other boxes of evidentiary material you retrieved from the scene?  The government gets all of that, and this is what I get?”

Agent Hailey was about to open her mouth when Leland spoke.  “That’s right.”

“You give the government their hair and tissue samples, their tire treads, and boot tread casts, their spent bullet casings and blood and slugs along with God-Knows-What-Else-including-possible-belly-button-lint-off-of-the-rapist I’d-suppose… that you scoured the area for and found and must have delivered to them in umpteen cardboard evidentiary boxes all nicely sealed in plastic and labeled ‘such and such’ – and me, you handle a little pellet of pig shit?”  Melvin asked.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much the all of it,” Leland responded.

“Do you realize Leland, for even one millisecond, the disrespect with which you employ the Private Sector?”

Leland stared at Melvin blankly.  So did Agent Hailey.

“Well, there it is.”  Melvin shrugged and spread his arms haplessly.  “Nothing to be done about the Bureaucratic Mind, …  the old forms in triplicate lockstep, I suppose.  Except to add that I would guess that the entire resources of the Federal Government brought to bear on your problem have not been able to provide you with the information which you suspect might come from one little cubelette of pig shit, handed to the correct person in the Private Sector.  Am I right?”

“There you go.”  Leland and Agent Hailey both nodded.

“Which! I will take as a concealed compliment, and proceed to do my examination.”

“Okay.”  Both Agent Hailey and Sheriff Leland nodded.

Merlin took the sample into his small lab, mixed a measured amount of it with various reagents, heated it for a specific time, and then placed the concoction into a small laboratory spectrometer which gave him a number which Merlin wrote down on a small scrap of paper.  Then, Leland and Agent Hailey followed Merlin into his office where he sat before his computer.

“Depending upon what the farmers around here feed their pigs, the pigs excrete more or less nitrogen and phosphorus.  Pigs and other domesticated animals around here subtract from the total carrying capacity of the surrounding ecosystem by helping to bury us in all their shit…”  Merlin droned on as he trolled the computer screen.

Nancy meanwhile had slipped out of the patrol car and was overhearing as much as was possible with her ear pressed to the clinics thin window panes, thankful that Merlin worked with all of the blinds closed.  She took notes, writing phonetically any of the words she was unacquainted with, for further clarification later.  While Merlin continued…

“…the most toxic elements of which are phosphorus and nitrogen.  So!  The Bureau of Ecology runs a contest in which each pig farmer submits a shit sample to see who of them is feeding their animals diets which produce the least phosphorus and nitrogen waste in their shit.  Which isn’t really as easy as it sounds.  Every pig is a little different.  So the farmer has to really know their animals.  The Bureau gives them informational brochures to get them started, and then the farmers take it from there.  The winning farmer gets 500 Eco Credits, which can be spent on all sorts of things, such as clearing away a swath of forest which has been hindering him, or draining a damp portion of the pasture, or shoring up a creek bank.  And if you go on their website you can see how the various farms around here stack up – who is in the running and who isn’t.  So, let’s do that.”

Merlin brought up the website on his computer.  And there was quite a long list of farms.  Merlin looked at the number in his hand and went down the list.  “Well, our boot does not work at one of the better farms.  It looks like he falls in somewhere right around here…”  Merlin selected out 3 farms with competing pigs.

Looking closer, Merlin remarked, “Hmmmm.  This is interesting.  Bob Weeds is in here.  Usually, he doesn’t play.  Says it’s because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Government.  Which is understandable.”  Merlin glanced at Leland.  “Except that he seems to have changed his mind.  And he’s doing pretty well.  Each of these past three months his farm has risen in the stats, which is unusual.  Usually it’s only the competitive ones near the top which continue to improve and grab the credits.”

“Why do you think Bob would be doing better?”  Leland asked.

“Knowing Bob, I would say it’s because someone has been giving him help.” Merlin nodded.

“I think maybe we ought to see who that someone might be,” Leland said.  “What do you think, Agent Hailey?”

“I think that’s a good idea, Sheriff Leland,” Agent Hailey replied.

Leland and Merlin made a little more small talk, and then Leland and Agent Hailey left.  This gave Nancy Gillis just enough time to run back to the Sheriff’s SUV and jump back in the clamshell, shutting it softly behind her.

Photo plucked from Google Images

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