You may remember that we left our inveterate inspector face-to-face with Feline Vion in the bathroom at Ecaesars Palace. Now Saul Greyjack is back. Well actually, he's leaving, since he's determined to enjoy a few days' rest away from the crowded streets and grimy goings-on of Ecaflip City…

I'd given up on the idea of getting out of the game for good. Many before me had tried. Most of them had won a nice bout of depression and lifetime membership to the shrink's office at the ECPD (Ecaflip City Police Department). No thanks. I had to face the facts: My job was never going to get out of my hair. So, rather than struggle, I decided to hit the road just for a while. It would be the first time in my whole career.

Last time I left Ecaflip City, it was for an open-ended vacation with all expenses paid by the department itself. My superiors thought it necessary to sideline me after I came so close to making a blunder.

I needed a change of scenery after the Feline case. All it took was another face-to-face encounter with myself in the mirror to make me realize how urgent it was to get some sun and swap the city's sticky, stifling atmosphere for some quiet, sandy beaches.

Moon Island was the obvious choice. Wearing the only colorful shirt in my closet, with my bike's trunk crammed full of crossword books and sunscreen, I set off on the road, with the wabbit of my engine more enraged than ever.

When I was halfway there, I decided to make a little detour and go to one of Gwimace Le Nald's restaurants, where you could get the best wild sunflower fries around. Behind the counter, a pretty Ecaflip with ash-blond hair was serving a guy who was leaning against the bar and clearly paying a high price for a long night. At the other end, an Ouginak was compulsively snapping his fingers to call the waitress.

"Do I have to send a pigeon to get served around here?" he growled without even looking at her. 

The Ecaflip, who had been casting sidelong glances at him for a few minutes now, seemed reluctant to please her customer. I decided to sit near the "wreck", ready to react if things got tense between beauty and the beast.

"What can I getcha?" she asked me while dropping a generous amount of butter in a skillet.

Any charm I thought she had instantly vanished behind her hoarse voice and her typical local accent. Within minutes of taking my order, she served me a strong cup of coffee and a generous portion of fries on a plate depicting a rural scene with gobballs grazing in meadows, and I gulped down the contents. The rumors were true: They were perfectly crispy. As I was washing it all down with a nice swig of caffeine, I waved my hand, calling the Ecaflip over. She wiped her paws on the apron she had tied around her hips and leaned over to me.

"Y'need somethin' else?"

I slowly moved my head toward hers and, looking in the Ouginak's direction, quietly said to her:

"What's up between you and pooch over there? Things seem a bit hairy, am I right?"

"It's all just trouble."


"Meaning he and all his kind literally CLEANED OUT THE WORLD OF TWELVE'S KIBBLE SHELVES," she replied, deliberately raising her voice and glaring at the Ouginak.

"You mean the kibble you and your kind devoured like scavengers, down to the last crumb?" the mutt barked back at her, without raising his eyes from his newspaper.

The Ecaflip flipped her lid on the spot. They both launched the worst insults at each other. In this infernal commotion, there was talk of ransacked kibble stalls, Ouginak clans, and Ecaflips tearing one another apart to find out who the culprits were.

I had another sip of coffee, but it was bitterer this time. I couldn't get a moment's peace… Even on the far side of Ecaflip City, Twelvians were doing everything they could to pick a fight. Behind me, the bell at the top of the door rang, interrupting them. Everyone went completely silent. They both turned toward the entrance and stared at whatever was behind me.

"Fellas, ladies…"

That voice… It took me back fifteen years. I turned around in disbelief.

"Lary Blösh!"

"Saul Greyjack, fancy seeing you here!"

"What are you doing here, old-timer?"

"The same thing as you, my friend! I'm here to get my fill of the best wild sunflower fries around here! Ha ha ha!"

When we hugged, it was friendly and genuine. Lary was an old hand at the ECPD. He taught me everything about the job, starting with loyalty. He was one of those cops with unyielding morals whom you could count on the claws of one paw.

"So, are you still at the top of your hill of cracklers?"

"You'd have to go through me to make me leave!"

"Ha ha ha! You haven't changed one bit, buddy! Tell me what you're really doing here."

Lary suddenly looked all serious just as my smile faded away.

"You didn't just come for the fries, did you…?"

"If I'm being honest with you, no, I didn't."

"Well go on, just say it…"

"I've got a case for you. It's got plenty for you to sink your teeth into, too. Have you heard of the kibble scandal?"

"I feel like I have, yeah," I said, turning to the waitress, who was frantically drying a beyond-parched glass.

"It's been stirring up trouble everywhere for the past few days. At markets, delis, and even wholesalers, there's not a crumb of kibble in sight. It's a whammy for your kind and mine. Things are getting real bad."

"You know as well as I do, people don't need that for them to start stabbing each other in the back…" I said to him, wiping around my whiskers with my napkin.

"'This time, it's different, Saul. We're this close to civil war."

"You always had a taste for grand talk, you old dog!"

Lary's serious face was starting to give me the jitters.

"I heard you were taking a few days off nearby, so I…"

"So you thought it was a chance to give me another case to deal with, right?" I interrupted him bitterly.

"Oooh, pretty please, Saul… You're one of the best in the business! You're the only one I can put on the case! You know… with the young cops we got nowadays, it's different. They're not as committed."

I heaved a long sigh while playing with the temples of my sunglasses, whose multicolored lenses were reflecting a psychedelic image back at me. Lary was a sorry sight. His long career and all the seedy cases it was full of had marked him forever. His weathered face was testament to this. It was simply unthinkable to leave him by the wayside.

"You won't mind if my outfit isn't strictly regulation?" I said to him after a long moment's hesitation.

Lary smiled at me kindly.

"You've never looked so great, Saul. And you couldn't do better if you want to go undercover."

After he told me all about the case and wolfed down two plates of fries, Lary paid the bill and walked me to my bike. As I jumped onto it, I got an unpleasant feeling that the reality of this doggone life would always catch up with me in the end. 

"Afterward, I promise I'll give you the vacation of your life, Saul."

"Do me a favor: Take me to another dimension, somewhere I'm sure you won't come looking for me due to some candy shortage."

"Trust my nose, Saul: This whole kibble thing is far more complex and important than it looks. I can just feel it…"

After one last friendly hug, I sped off, leaving the big old hound behind in a cloud of dust.

"I'll rest when I reach Externam."

And that's how good old Saul ended up with a new case… What would he discover at the end of his investigation? Perhaps you'll find out when you read the rest of his adventures!