“Well, you tell me what you think it means,” queries the Detective.
“I think it means that…that…the perp knew what he was doing. Right from the start, I suppose,” says the Chihuahua.
“Can you expand on that, please?”
“Not really, no,” replies Mañuel. The Detective looks up, irritated.
“What do mean, not really? Why? You called us, remember?”
“Well… actually Inspector I can’t elaborate on that, either.”
The Detective flusters, incredulous.
“So, what exactly can you tell me about the whistling dog? You called me — us — and so far all we’ve ascertained is that you may or may not have spotted the public enemy known as Whistling Dog.”
The Detective’s partner shifts his feet. He hates confrontation.
“You are aware,” the Detective reminds Mañuel, “that it is a federal offence to provide false or misleading information to an Officer of the Law? Especially one conducting an ongoing investigation of extreme public interest?”
“Especially offensive. That’s right.”
“Well, no sir, I didn’t, but… I mean I want to help you…I’m really not…It’s just that…”
“Just that what? What? Speak, son. For your own sake and the Public’s. Speak. There’s a pooch on the loose and he’s partial to bumblers. Know what I mean?”
“I think so, sure. Sure. Anyway Colonel — ”
“Detective, sorry. I’m…I’m a dog, see,” Mañuel places a paw behind his neck and massages it, smiling innocently. He is a handsome dog. A good boy. “You know, as in woof woof? Pee on your leg, poo poo indoors, beg for scraps and whine when you leave Dog. I — ”
“I see,” says the Detective. He raises a hand to shoosh the Chihuahua. “Tell me then,” he grimaces, “Mañuel — that’s your name? Mañuel?”
“Si, señor,” replies the dog.
“Tell me Mañuel, why would you contact the Police and invite us into your crate if you knew you would be unable to convey any and all information pertaining to the so-called whistling dog?”
Mañuel clears his throat to stifle a chortle.
“Well, I — ”
“Wait. Hang on. Hang on. What, are you Spanish, now? You speak Spanish?”
“No señor, I’m not. Lo escuché una vez durante un período en la detención de Juveniule.”
“I see. I’m sorry to hear that, that’s a rough way for a pup to start out. Anyway I’m curious. Which centre were you detained at?”
“Which, Sir? You mean which juvenile detention centre I learned the phrase ‘no, señor’?”
“Si, si.¿En qué centro de detención aprendiste a pronunciar la frase ‘No señor’?”
“Sorry. I assumed you…uh…” the Detective looks at his partner, confused. His partner inspects his thumb and chews the nail. It crunches audibly.
“You’re doing really well,” he mumbles to his partner, chewing audibly as he prompts him to continue.
Mañuel licks his paw. His brother once said if the heat thinks you’re speaking mierda de caballo, feign boredom. Or irritation. So Mañuel licks his paw and sighs, like he has somewhere to be besides in his crate answering the Detectives’ inane questions.
“Somewhere to be?”
“Mmh? No, no. I just need to…” Mañuel’s eyes dart round his crate. “I just need to…relieve myself,” he says “Do you mind if I just….” he pretends to squeeze between the Detectives to the training pad behind them.
“Oh. Oh, of course. Sorry, I — we didn’t realise. Yes, yes of course,” he says, clearing a path for Mañuel. “Did you need us to…uh, vacate? Your crate, I mean?”
“No no, it’s fine,” says Mañuel. He grins behind the Detectives and bites his lip to stifle a laugh, then circles the synthetic pad as looks for the perfect spot to defecate. He rotates in one direction, then the other, back and forth, finally squatting.
The Detective checks his watch and mutters something.
“63 was a hellish year for them, OK?”
His partner rolls his eyes. Behind them, Manuel licks his anus clean and sighs with exaggerated relief.
“Yes, thanks. Thanks for your understanding.”
“That’s a good boy,” says Detective Enriqué. Now. Please can you tell me which juvenile youth centre you learned to say no señor in? As you’re probably aware, the Whistling Doghappens to hail from Tijuana.”
“He does?!” cries Manuel, feigning shock.
“Yes he does. Which make your origins rather, shall we say…dubious.”
“I didn’t know he was from Tijuana. That’s just, just crazy.”
“It’s been all over the news. You don’t watch the news?”
“I’m a chihuaua.”
“Right. The name of the facility, if you please?
“Yes. The name. The name…It’s…the name. Geez you know what? I can’t remember the name. No. Wait. Yes. Yes I can.” Manuel pulls his phone from the satchel under his snug-rug. “It’s this one. This one right here, officers.”
The detective leans in for a better view.
“Mmh,” says the Detective, disappointed. “That’s not in Tijuana. That’s located in Melbourne, Australia. Off Park Street. Near Mooonie Creek. I worked as a guard there for seventeen mephistophelian years before transferring to the police force to work my way up to Detective.”
The chihuahua rolls his eyes, or imagines it. He catches the Detective’s partner do the same.
“Really,” Mañuel says. “Oh…Well that’s odd. I thought it was in Tijuana. I can’t read so maybe I didn’t understand the sign properly. I’m a chihuahua.”
“Yes we’ve established that, Mr Mañuel.“
“Also I don’t speak Homo lingo,” Mañuel adds.
“Excuse me?” The inspector looks up from his notepad. His neck swells and his fists clench till his Bic breaks and ink fluid explodes on his white shirt and yellow tie. His face is red like a ripe Sicilian tomato.
“Cool it, Enriqué, he didn’t mean anything by it,” says Enriqué’s partner, Enriqué’ It is the first time Manuel hears the other Detective address his partner in front of him.
“Wait. Your name’s Enriqué too? You’re both Enriqués?” they ignore him as one Enriqué holds back the other.
“No, no, Enriqué! I want to hear what the little mutt just said. Did you just say Homo?”
“Wait, what? What’s wrong with that?” Mañuel is confused. “Homo, what? What did I say? I said homo. As in homo lingo. It’s canine-alingus for People-lingus That’s what we call it…Am I missing something? I thought everyone knew that? Sorry I didn’t mean to offen — ”
“You creepy little Prague Rat!” The Detective lunges at Manuel but Enriqué intervenes.
“Enriqué, please! Please,” Enriqué shrieks. He turns to Mañuel. “We’re leaving, Mañuel, Mañuel we’re leaving. So sorry to have — Enriqué enough! — I said we’re leaving. Come. Come. Thank you for your time today Mr…?”
“Gosh I’m so sorry, Inspectors, please believe me when I say I’m not the gay bashing sort. Buh-lieeeeeeeve me. Mañuel adjusts his cravat gracefully. “Oh, and it’s Szymański, Detective. My last name.”
“Oh, my. That’s, well! That’s a lovely name,” says Enriqué. He bites his lower lip. “How do I…? Sssh — can you repeat it? Sssh — ”
“It’s a tough one,” Mañuel smiles, “I’ll say it phonetically. Ready? I’ll go slow.”
The Detective giggles while his partner smoothes his hair, angry.
“Is it Polish? Oh sorry. She-”
“It is, yeah OK ready?She-”
“I can always tell! The Poles have such exotic names(!) — oop sorry say that again — she-”
“That’s OK! Ha-ha it’s she…maaaan — ”
“That’s it. Then ski. She-Man-Ski. That’s it. Try again.”
“She-maaaan-ski. Is that right? Is that right? Oh! Beautiful. Just gorgeous.”
“You got it babe.”
“Is it Jewish? Are you Jewish?”
“ Only my good half,” jokes Mañuel. It’s not Jewish.
“Jesus,” says the upset Enriqué. “We’re leaving. Enrique? Let’s go.”
Enriqué lingers. His partner hates it when he flirts; it’s humiliating and erodes trust in their relationship. “Let’s go. Enriqué? Mr Shebabliboo, if you please?” He points to the crate’s exit.
“Honey, please, it’s Shamootski,” says the Detective to his partner. “Have some respect.”
“Oop, ha-ha. Almost. She-man-ski. You’ll get it eventually. Just takes practice,” says Manuel.
“Jesus let’s just leave,” says Detective Enriqué to his fawning partner, Enriqué.
“Alright. Alright well thank you for your time, Mr Mañuel. Sorry about the name thing. I’m Brittish and — ”
“ — is that what that is? I couldn’t place it but it’s lovely! I — ”
“Oh, thank-thank you! It is! But everything sounds foreign to us Brits ha-ha-ha. Butchers! We’re butchers! Anyway if you see anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us, would you please?”
“Of course, Detective Enriqué.” says Manuel as he takes the business card from the Detective’s outstretched hand. His paw touches the tip of the the Detective’s finger and the Detective gushes.
“You’re unbelievable, Rico,” says Enriqué to his partner. “I’m leaving. Are you coming? You know what I don’t care. Take the subway for all I care, I’m beyond caring.”
Enriqué shrugs at Manuel and motions with his eyes to his business card. He mouths call me as Enriqué drags him toward the crate’s swinging door.
“How do I — ” Enriqué rattles the door “ — why can’t I, ergh! Can you please, can someone please let me out? Hello Mr Manuel’s homo? I mean person, homo, whatever! Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Somebody please? Hello?” The Detective panics and his breath labours.
“Jesus, alright. Is he alright? Jesus. Just… calm down, would you? Dad!” shouts Manuel to his homo. “Dad! Can you open the door please?”
They hear a faint grunt from the toilet in the hallway.
“Stop whining, moojie-toots,” cries a voice in BabyTalk from the toilet. It’s Mańuel’s homo’s voice. “Ten minutes, OK? Ten more minutes then I’ll let you out. Jesus Christ with this dog I can’t get any peace!”
“Dad! Dad! I’m not asking for me, Dad! I’m asking for the Inspector’s, so they can leave!”
“Moojie toots?” grins the smug Detective, “Really? That’s cute. No, really.”
“It’s his pet name for me,” retorts Manuel. “Anyway aren’t you supposed to having a meltdown or something, Señor Rico? Dad!”
“I have claustrophobia you son of a bitch!”
“Dad! …” Manuel sighs. “Looks like we might just have to wait a moment. He’s, he’s on the toilet and sometimes he takes forever when he takes his phone in there.”
“Oh! It’s terrible, isn’t it, says the flirtatious Enriqué as he motions to his partner with his eyebrows. Terrible he mouths, rolling his eyes.
Manuel mouths back I know. “I’m constantly competing with it. Did you watch The Social Dilemma on Prime? Terrifying. Just terrifying.”
“No!” says Enriqué, “I don’t have Prime! I’m on a detox for that exact reason but that’s what people say! That it’s terrifying.”
“I watched it,” the upset Enriqué chimes. He appears less upset now; probably because Data Privacy Laws fascinate him.
“Really?” They both look at Enriqué, surprised.
“It just so happens to be one of my passions. You see? You never take an interest in me! And for the record it’s on Netflix. Not Prime.”
“Huh. Well, there you go,” Manuel says. “You know how they had actors doing scenes throughout it? That was so lame. Yawn, am I right?”
“Oh. I couldn’t agree more. Almost detracted from the message.”
“Almost!” Manuel and Enriqué squeal at the same time. Then, “Jinx! Personal jinx! Ahhh!”
The Flirtatious Detective huffs. He pretends to stare out of Manuel’s crate, feigning interest in Manuel’s Kong shell. Greasy bacon lines the toy’s innards.
Finally the chatter perishes till an awkward silence replaces it. Each avoids the others’ gaze till finally Manuel speaks.
“Shouldn’t be long now,” he says. “Say, is that a Frogman G-shock?”
“It is, yeah. It was a gift from David-Ben-Gurion.”
“He gave it to me right before he died. You know, in ’63? It was a crazy year.”
“Oh, 100%. Pro-Zion all the way, that’s my thinking. It’s about time they had their own land.”
“Say,” says Manuel, “do you guys wanna see a neat trick?”
“Sure,” they say, unenthusiastically. Dog shit wafts and both Detectives grow impatient in the hot, confined space.
“So. I’ve been watching these YouTube videos, you know, during lockdown? Anyway…It’s just a work in progress. But hear goes. You ready?” He waits but neither Enriqués nod.
Manuel purses his lips then lets out a pathetic whistle. Inspectors Enriqué and Enriqué exchange glances.
“What’s wro — ah shit the whistling. Look, Inspectors, I can expl —
“ — that’s Detective to you, you sonofabitch.”
Detective Enrique recites Miranda’s right to Mañuel. A toilet flushes and his homo appears from the bathroom with a wet paper towel in his hand.