I walked for what seemed like a long time, yet I saw nothing but sand. The quiet was completely deafening, with only a slight wind which occasionally blew whisps of sand into the air. I was somehow thankful for this distracting disturbance as it broke the infernal silence amidst the deadly heat. Overhead vultures squawked, circling, no doubt drooling and awaiting their next meal, waiting for the desert to claim another victim.
I blinked my eyes, squinting into the distance as if not believing what I was seeing. I wiped the sweat which was trickling down my face, blinding me as much as the sun was searing my eyeballs. Was that a person walking towards me, the figure drew closer, suddenly the guy was directly in front of me. I shook my head, how did he possibly cover the distance so quickly, it must be the mirage that I had read about in a desert, just my imagination coupled with my addled brain which was being slowly cooked.
The stranger extended his hand. I grabbed it and shook hard, my palms were clammy, he didn't seem to mind.
"Hello there, I'm Axle, I have no idea how you got here, but am I glad to see you"! I really hope he was not here to kill me.
"Daved Flinch P.I., I work at another branch of the company. I figured you could use a hand out here, I was close by and decided to help after I heard what was going down". Phew! What a relief.
"I could not be happier to see another person. I am looking for this tree....".
"I am aware of that, which is why I am here. I know exactly where it is. Follow me, quickly, we don't have a lot of time"!
I sure hope this guy knew what he was talking about, he was dressed to kill, his suit dapper, not a sign of sweat was visible, his Louboutins put my Bottegas to shame. They were filled with sand and very uncomfortable at this point. Yet Daved was striding across the sand like a man with a definite purpose, while every step I took felt like I was walking in wet concrete while being drenched in hot dripping water.
Finally, after an hour or so, within which time he spoke not a word, only walked ahead with a definite purpose to his strides. I spotted a tree way off upon the horizon. Should I believe my eyes, this was the desert, mirages abound in plentiful supplies. I had seen many so far. From his rather chic small waist pack, Daved handed me a miniature bottle of water. I was very grateful since I had not thought to grab one from the cooler in the car. I noticed that he did not indulge in any drinking.
Finally, after what seemed like a cruel hot baking, we arrived at the tree, we pulled off two large branches and hurried back in the direction of the car. I could have sworn that I heard a cat purr. I prayed that someone had arrived in the meantime, or that Daved had driven here. After the long hot trek back however, there was only one car there, I briefly wondered how he had gotten here without a car.
"Check the trunk, you never know what is in there". He laughed as I lamented my bad luck at being stranded here.
Sure enough, a full jerrycan was sitting invitingly in the trunk. I do remember seeing Jozie open the trunk. This fully proved my point about the great judgement of female partners. Thank you Jozie, you may just have saved all of our lives.
Daved declined my offer for a ride, he was ok, he said, his ride was all taken care of. Out here in the desert, he must have a really wonderful friend indeed. I filled up the gas tank, dusted out my sand-filled shoes, dried myself off a bit, wrung out my shirt, and prepared for the journey back.
The hours had flown, a whole day had almost passed since this all began. At least Jupiter would be aligning with Mars or whatever the hell the aligning process was supposed to be. Back at the Horton house, Jhon had refused to allow the cops in until I returned, he told them that the attic could not be disturbed, or the women would die. They left him alone.
Jhon and I brewed the tea with no sign of a full moon, at least Jupiter and Mars were cooperating, we had no choice. The women's mouths were sealed shut, so we used a dropper to drop it into their wide open eyes. Nothing happened. Everyone waited anxiously for results. People slept in cars, some kept watch. I fell asleep in the attic. Bright lightbulbs had now replaced the dying ones. I was not taking any chances in case the cat lady returned.
An officer was dispatched with a flask of tea for the bodies at the morgue. Alas, their time had run out. They were as dead as their crooked intentions of thieving. Afterwards, it had been determined that the strength of the cat venom had been twice as lethal for the crooks as it had been for the two P.I.'s. Very strange indeed.
I woke up after a few hours and went to the car to check on the name Daved Flinch in the database.
"Daved Flinch P.I. Died in the line of duty April 16, 2016". It was now August 2024, he had died two years before I joined.
"Say, Tony, did you know of a P.I. named Daved Flinch"?
"Yep. Everybody knew him, what, maybe 8 years ago. He saved a bunch of children, sacrificed himself to save them. He was a hero; may he rest in peace".
A ghost had walked with me in the desert, a shiver ran down my spine!
Jozie and Minha woke up. They drank some more tea and made a full recovery. I had read more of the story in the book while awaiting the women's return to wakefulness.
Apparently, if Catwoman got hurt, she too would go to the tree for healing. Jozie was pissed off about the 'acid' in the face and insisted on returning to the tree for sweet revenge. We got there after ensuring that we had enough gas for the return journey. Someday, I would tell her about my ghost.
Jozie and I braved the heat and annoying sand in our shoes, we were sweating from the get-go. We followed the footsteps in the sand to the tree, luckily the place was as still as death itself, not a wind strong enough yet to fully cover the prints. This time we were prepared, hats, sunglasses, water in our fanny packs and a means to return to civilization. There was no sign of my very helpful ghostly friend.
All we found was the complete outer white bloody fur of the cat, it was as if she had just shed the old skin and moved on. We bagged the evidence and prepared for the hot trek back to the car. I was sure that we would meet the cat thing again.
This time it was Jozie's turn to marvel at her tiny existence, as she whispered to the taunt of the burning hot sky and sun. "Yesterday I almost died, I am eternally grateful for life, for now engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind".