And here is the final installment of the DNA detective case M and his crew are tackling.
By N.A. Souer
Later that afternoon, Mousy and Tweak knocked on the door to the stall-suite number five, at the end of a long hall at the Sunnyvale equine assisted living facility. When the door was answered, both were stunned.
Standing before them was a silver gray mini horse, with a light colored mane and tail, and faint dappling along his flanks.
“Yes,” the mini horse said.
“We’re here to see Rosie Mae,” Mousy said. “Are you her grandson? We spoke on the phone. This is Tweak and my name is Mousy. We’re from the M&T Pony Detective Agency.”
“Oh, right,” the mini horse said. “My name is T&T, but you can call me T.”
He stepped aside and invited them into the suite. Mousy and Tweak accepted the invitation and walked inside, astonished at how much T resembled their boss, M.
“This is my grandmother, Rosie Mae,” he said, motioning to a frail, small, chestnut mini mare in the corner, eating soaked hay pellets. Her expression brightened at the company. “Grandma, these are the detectives I told you about. They have come to talk about Willow.”
“Please, come in,” the elderly mare said. “Can I offer you some apple juice or peppermint treats?”
Tweak tried some of the peppermint treats, but Mousy declined.
“So the reason we are here”, Mousy began, “is because your granddaughter’s case is being re-examined using advanced DNA technology.”
“That’s nice,” she said. “I miss her so much!”
“Can you tell us about her?” Tweak asked. “If she had any enemies? Anyone that would want to hurt her?”
“No,” Rosie Mae said. “Everyone loved Willow.”
“My sister was very outgoing,” T added.
“How about old boyfriends? Coworkers?” Mousy asked.
Rosie Mae shook her head.
“Willow did not have an enemy in the world,” she said.
“What about her singing? Mousy asked. “Her former boss said she was an aspiring country singer.”
“Yes,” Rosie Mae said. “Willow could sing like an angel, and was very talented. She was saving up to move to Nashville, but when her Dad was deployed she didn’t want to leave home. It wasn’t long after that. . . “
Rosie Mae could not finish her sentence.
“I didn’t know your son had been in the military,” Mousy said, glancing over at Tweak.
Both knew it was not true.
“Oh yes, he was deployed to the Middle East, but he didn’t come back.” Rosie May paused, trying to hold back tears. “It was so hard to lose both of them.”
After a few more routine questions, Tweak and Mousy politely said goodbye and left.
Halfway down the aisle, T trotted after them.
“Hey,” he said, cathing up, “I just want you to know what my grandma said about my dad being in the military is not true.”
“We know,” Mousy said, as Tweak nodded.
“My dad’s work with NPSS put him in contact with dangerous characters. A lot of them were involved with the life, you know?”
“You mean the mob?” Tweak asked.
T nodded sadly.
“It would have broken Grandma’s heart and she would have only worried,” he went on. “It was easier to tell her dad had been deployed and didn’t come back.” T paused and looked away a moment, then added, “Dad was in a difficult position.”
“What do you mean?” Mousy asked.
“My father found out he was illegitimate from a one-time fling Grandma had years ago with Antonio Maloney. She never told Antonio she’d gotten pregnant, and raised my dad on her own. Then a few years after my father started working for NPSS undercover, Antonio made some discreet inquiries. I remember some really tough characters coming to the barn where we lived. Not long after that Dad said he had to go away.”
“Witness protection?” Tweak asked.
“I don’t know,” T said. “I was young at the time.”
“What about Willow?” Mousy asked, “Did she know about your dad’s involvement with the underworld?”
“I don’t think so,” T answered. “As far as I know what happened to Willow was just a cruel coincidence.”
Tweak and Mousy looked at each other.
“What about Willow’s music?” Mousy asked, changing the direction of the conversation. “If she died in 98 how did her music get out on the internet?”
“I uploaded it to a song writers’ site,” T said. “Willow wrote all her own material. The site provides demo material for a fee to upcoming singers.”
“And why did you do that? Tweak asked.
T motioned around the posh lobby of the senior living barn where they stood.
“Look around,” he said, “this place is not cheap. Any song royalties from Willow’s music goes towards Grandma’s board.”
Tweak and Mousy nodded, and then thanked T for the information.
“You know,” Mousy added, “If you’re ever near our barn you should stop by the office and meet our boss, M.”
“Why is that?” T asked.
“Because you are distant cousins, and there’s a very strong family resemblance.”
The next day, M came out of his stall and announced, “One of the agents from NPSS just called, and the DNA sample we got matched up to a distant half-brother to Carlose Maloney.”
“What does that mean?” Tweak asked.
“It means there is good news, and there is bad news,” M said.
“What’s the good news?” Tweak asked.
“We know who killed Willow,” M answered.
“Who?” Mousy asked.
“Tommy ‘The Ax Pony’ Maloney”
“And the bad news?”
“Tommy Maloney was found with his head chopped off back in 1999.”
“Was it a mob hit?” Mousy asked.
“Apparently,” M said, “as much as the Antonio Maloney disapproved of Carlose testifying against the family, he disapproved even more of his son, Tommy Maloney, murdering his half-brother’s daughter in revenge. Although, he likely did not know who she was at the time.”
“Well, at least it’s some kind of justice,” Mousy said.
“How awful,” Mama Kitty said.
“That poor girl,” Sasha said. “All she ever wanted to do was sing her songs.”
Everyone was silent.
After while M quietly returned to his stall, and began finishing up some paperwork. Mama Kitty came to his stall, and sat down in the doorway.
“I’m sorry it’s not the result you wanted,” Mama Kitty said.
“It’s okay,” M said, “I had wanted to make some kind of connection with distant family. I just had no idea what a tangled web that side of my family was.”
Mama Kitty walked over and rubbed herself reassuringly against M’s leg.
“You know what they say,” she said. “You can pick your friends but not your family.”
After she left M clicked on his computer and selected one of the songs his cousin, Willow, had recorded. He chose one called Lesson Time Blues, a slow tune that pointed out how the most important lessons in life are not learned in the show ring or awarded any kind of blue ribbon. As Willow’s sweet voice sang out the simple, reflective lyrics M thought not for the first time that his cousin had been wise beyond her years. He was sad he had never gotten to meet her, but he was glad to have honored her memory and helped solve the crime that took her life. Yet as much as M wished things had been different he knew, on the other side of Rainbow Bridge Willow was still singing to her students. She would always be singing.
N.A Souer (Nancy) got talked into submitting the first Pony Detective story by her mini horse, M&M, who fancies himself a writer. When Nancy explained to M that no one would believe a mini horse could write, he told her if she did not submit his stories under her name he’d dump her out of the cart on the next trail drive. LOL M (and Nancy) live in the south-metro area of MLPS- St. Paul and when M is not writing, he enjoys going with Nancy to visit nursing homes and competing in agility and driven dressage classes offered in on-line horse shows. M also shares ownership of his person with his barn mate, Sasha. Together, they keep Nancy busy and out of trouble, or in trouble depending on how you see it. 🙂