5. The Scent Of Success

Ming Takes The Piss

Another member of The Rat Pack, Frank The Tank, coaxed out a small toolbox that was kept hidden underneath a storage compartment near the garage entrance. ‘It’s protocol in these situations to leave the captor where he is because the agency never negotiates with kidnappers,’ he said, holding up a small, rat size rifle. ‘The Rat Pack, however, have our own protocol where we shoot the bastard in the back of the skull!’

‘Calm down,’ Big Carl hushed. ‘We’ll deal with it.’

‘What happened? What are you guys doing here?’ asked Gypsy. ‘And why do you have stuff hidden in our garage?’

‘I think you’ll find that most of us have stuff hidden in your garage,’ said Arlo.

‘We’ve just come back to get some tasers and smoke machines, and, ugh, where is it…’ Frank said, rummaging through the box. ‘Ah, found it!’ He held up a tiny grenade, the pin catching the light of the sun.

‘What the hell!’ yelled Ralph, scrambling from his position near Frank to under my desk. ‘Get down, everybody!’’

Frank looked to the grenade then back to Ralph. He chuckled, pointing to the guinea pig. ‘Civilians. They’re so cute.’

‘They really are,’ agreed another rat.

‘What are you guys planning to do? Blow up the whole street?’ I asked. ‘My house is near Mac’s place, you know.’

‘Well, the plan my good man, is this. We’re gonna lasso Johnny through one of the skylights in the roof, and winch him the hell outta there,’ said Carl, throwing ropes into his duffel bag. He pointed to Frank, smiling. ‘Then we’ll throw that bad boy in the hole.’

Frank held up the grenade, wiggling it around in the air.

‘Boom!’ The Rat Pack said in unison.

‘Be careful!’ Ralph shouted from underneath the desk.

‘The Kid’s school is also near Mac’s place,’ I said, my hackles standing up.

‘Relax, we’re not gonna blow up anything larger than a backyard with this thing,’ said Carl.

‘Or maybe a soccer field, but definitely no bigger than that, right Carl?’ said Frank.

‘Oh yeah, no bigger than that.’

‘You’re going to blow up half the neighbourhood!’ Bentley said, panicked.

Nodding crazily, Frank stopped shaking the grenade and placed it in his pocket.

‘Boys, I know you want to get Johnny back, but this plan is far too dangerous for so many reasons,’ I said. ‘I’m telling you right now, if you even think about pulling that pin, I’m gonna personally rip your minuscule heads off your impressively buff bodies. You’re not gonna hurt The Kid. Surely there’s a thousand better ways to do this.’

‘There is no other way, dorkulous! Those cats can smell us when we’re close. But the roof is just far enough away from them that we might be able to get Johnny out of there in time before they smell us. Even then, even with the element of surprise, it’s unlikely we’ll get it done, but we can’t leave him there. This isn’t the first time he’s been held hostage and now the Director is all up in our arses about KPI’s,’ Carl said, spraying deodorant under his pits. ’This isn’t to help cover me up from the cats, by the way, I stink like a dog’s arse from all the commotion. You need some, Ming?’

‘Fuck off, idiot.’

‘Alrighty, then! Got everything, boys? Let’s go rescue Johnny!’

The Rat Pack gathered in a circle, heads back and chests out. They cried ‘Whoooop!’ and bumped their chests before picking up their bags and last minute supplies. They turned for the door.

‘Stop right there, Big Carl!’ Moxie Jane stood in the garage entrance. Heidi by her side. Cayman, Jack and B-Max flanking them.

‘Outta our way, ladies! No time for booty calls now,’ said Frank.

The Rat Pack started laughing, patting Frank The Tank on the back.

‘Gentleman!’ Carl nodded a casual greeting as he strolled by our security team. ‘Hey B-Max! You’re looking taller. For a midget.’

B-Max frowned.

The rats continued their laughter as they walked around Heidi and Moxie, excitedly planning what rope tie would be best to pull Johnny out.

‘Wait!’ yelled Moxie.

The Rat Pack ignored them.

Heidi let off a long whistle, and something moved in the bushes to the right of the garage entrance.

The Rat Pack stopped.

A couple of branches snapped and out of the gardenia bush, a long haired cat; fat, with a squished in face, wandered out. ‘Hello, boys,’ she purred, licking her lips.

Frank The Tank was the first to start screaming as they all ran back to the garage, dispersing in every direction, into any area of cover they could find. ‘I’ll pull the pin, kitty, so help me God, I’ll blow you away!’ Frank yelled as he took cover under my desk.

‘Noooooooo! Not here!’ screamed Ralph scurrying away from him.

‘Stop it!!’ Heidi commanded and let off an enormous bark. Her bark was so high pitched, it felt like my ears might bleed.

The garage stopped still.

Heidi waited a moment, her eyes narrowing while she looked around at us all.

The cat sat down next to her and Moxie, her tail flicking back and forth. She looked bored, licking her front paw.

‘Listen up! This is Pudding,’ Heidi announced. ‘And she’s going to help you save Johnny.’

*

The Rat Pack, our security team, and I, stood together in one long line on the lawn under the gumtree. When Heidi and Moxie had explained the plan, it hadn’t seemed so ridiculous. But standing here now, in goggles, waiting…

Pudding took another long slurp of water. She took a walk around the backyard, smelling the grass, and looking at the fish in the pond until she was ready.

‘OK,’ she announced. ‘It’s time.’

‘Finally,’ mumbled B-Max, eager to get going on his first actual mission. He wiggled his goggles into position.

Pudding strolled over to us. Her whiskers twitched and she rubbed at her eye with her paw. ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’

‘It’s ok, Pudding,’ Heidi said gently. ‘I know this is weird but think of it as a good samaritan act.’

‘If you say so. You better pop out the way, sugar.’

Pudding stepped closer to us. She slowly turned around, her tail moving from side to side in a hypnotic motion.

I closed my eyes under my goggles and held my breath.

As the first feathery-soft, warm sprinkles of cat pee touched my face, I wished I had never agreed to the plan.

Moxie and Heidi covered their faces with their paws, horrified, as Pudding sprayed us all. Pissed on us with all of her non-threatening, disguise-those-rats-and-dogs, piss. The only scent that would allow us to sneak past the cats at Mac’s studio so we could rescue Johnny The Rat.

My dog senses went into overdrive. The smell was overwhelming, and I started to see rainbows. Or maybe that was just the sun reflecting off the stream of urine as she sprayed us all. The sour mist kept going, and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold my breath. I heard Jack beside me take in a huge breath, then he started to gag.

As the stream weakened, Pudding backed up closer to me, pushing out the last droplets onto my feet.

I glanced over at Heidi, who was smiling.

Moxie’s mouth hung open in shock.

Cayman’s shoulder’s jumped up and down a little, he looked away trying to hide his chuckling.

‘Very funny,’ I said, pulling off my goggles.

‘Yeeehhhaaaarrrr!’ Frank shouted, jumping up and down on the spot, shaking off his drenched paws. ‘Whoooo! Alright, alright!’

The Rat Pack gathered their supplies, and as we started to move out, a mobile phone rang in Big Carl’s ninja suit pocket. The ring tone was Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up.’

Carl held the phone out to his crew. ‘Shit, it’s Director Liebchen again. She’s called nine times.’

‘Just answer it,’ Frank said. ‘Buy us some time before she sends in the hounds to pull us all out of here.’

Carl nodded. He swiped his phone to answer and put the Director of The Animal Kingdom Intelligence Agency on loud speaker.

‘About time!’ bellowed Liebchen, a mini schnauzer, whose rise to the top of TAKIA had been an arduous journey of hard work, extra intelligence and twice as many hours put in as her male colleagues. She was the Agency’s first female director, and she was never in the mood for idiocy.

‘Hello, Director. My apologies for the delay, and yes, we’ve got a situation, but as always, we’re on it. By 1200 hours this will all be over. You won’t even need a report on your desk  about it,’ said Carl, smiling at his crew.

The rats nodded, smiling back, thumbs up.

‘Like hell I won’t need a report,’ Liebchen hissed. ‘Carl, you and your team have lost Johnny three times since you’ve become 2IC. Here are my thoughts on that. Either you’re trying to make me look like an idiot, you’re trying to have Johnny killed so you can take his position-‘

The rats all gasped at this. Carl waved them away, rolling his eyes.

‘-or Johnny has a death wish. Whichever one it is, you’re all going to get pulled back in from the field and stuck on filing duties in the basement for the rest of your careers if you don’t tell me what’s going on right now!’

‘Director, OK, we’ve fucked up. Again. But give me some time and I’ll make this right.’

‘Oh, yes, Carl. You will make this right with me, but I’m sending over Sheriff Ivan and Deputy J-Money to babysit you idiots while I assign some other agents to make this right with Johnny. Stay where you are until Ivan and J-Money arrive, you hear me? I’m tracking you, so don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing, Carl.’

‘What? No. Director, that isn’t necessary, we have a plan. I’m undercover in cat piss over here for fucks sake!’

‘You listen to me. The Rat Pack have been pulled from this mission. Do I make myself clear? We’ll fix this for you.’

Carl looked to his crew.

‘Do you hear me, Special Agent Carl? Come in,’ Liebchen said, getting angrier.

Carl and Frank looked at each other, then to their pack. Each of them thumped their chests with a tiny fist, a look of determination crossed their faces.

Carl pulled back his short, muscly arm, and with all the force he could summon, threw the mobile phone across the lawn in the direction of the fish pond.

As the phone sailed through the air, we could still hear Director Liebchen yelling. It hit the pond with a splash.

‘Let’s go!’ shouted Big Carl.

 

 

 

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