“Over here, Sheriff! We got another one,” said Deputy Barry.
Sheriff Lemon’s handlebar mustache twitched as he looked down at the sidewalk. Applesauce. Applesauce everywhere. Sheriff Lemon’s bushy gray eyebrows lowered into a look of disgust. It didn’t matter how many times he saw it, this kind of thing always turned his pulp.
“Doesn’t matter how many times I see it, this kind of thing always turns my pulp,” said Lemon. “Any evidence?”
Deputy Barry shook his head.
“Same as last time, Sheriff. And the time before that. And the time before that. This guy does a thorough job of covering up his tracks,” said Barry.
Sheriff Lemon sighed heavily.
“Alright. Go over it one more time, Barry. I’ve gotta go make a call,” said Lemon.
Lemon sat down behind his desk and reached for the phone. He paused, leaned back in his chair, and rubbed his lemonhead. A zesty scent filled the room. Lemon sighed, sat forward, and slapped his desk before picking up the phone.
After a few rings, someone picked up on the other end.
“Mango,” said the voice.
“Mango, it’s Lemon. How’re things goin’?”
“Can’t complain,” said Mango.
“How’s the family?” asked Lemon.
“Expanding at an exponential rate. How’s the Missus?” asked Mango.
“Just as sour as ever! Hahahaha!” answered Lemon.
“Hahaha! So, what’s the real reason you called?” asked Mango.
“What, I can’t just call an old friend to catch up?” asked Lemon.
“I don’t think so, Lemon. Last time we talked, you took my badge and threw me out of your office,” said Mango.
Lemon’s mustache twisted.
“Alright, Mango. I got four juicings this month. I can’t get a profile to stick, and there’s gonna be more if I don’t catch this guy soon,” said Lemon, flustered.
“So what do you need me for?” asked Mango.
“I need your help finding this guy, Mango,” said Lemon.
“I don’t know, Lemon. I’m not really qualified to wear a badge. You said so yourself,” taunted Mango.
“Dangit, Mango! I need a fly in the sky and nobody can sniff out a bad piece of fruit like you! I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but this is bigger than me or you. This whole town’s gonna be a fruit salad if we don’t take this guy down!” said Lemon, flying off the handle. “Sorry, Mango, I didn’t mean to fly off the handle like that.”
“Alright, Lemon. Open the door, it’s locked,” said Mango, hanging up.
Sheriff Lemon pulled the receiver away from his head and stared at it as the dial tone beeped loudly. There was a knock. Lemon looked at the door, hung up the phone, and stood. On the other side of the door was a short fruit fly wearing a trench coat.
“Let’s get going, Lemon. The longer we wait, the rottener this is going to get,” said Mango.
Sheriff Lemon and Mango arrived at the scene of the latest crime. Lemon’s pulp twisted.
“Well, there’s what’s left of ’em,” said Lemon.
Mango approached the sauce, four hands in his pockets. Barry stood up.
“Long time, no see, avocado,” said Mango. Barry stood, looked at Mango, then at Lemon.
“What’s he doing here? You’re bringing HIM in on this, Sheriff?” questioned Barry, irate.
“Nice to see you again too,” said Mango as Barry pushed past.
The fruit fly looked down at the applesauce, sniffed, and turned his head. Lemon hung his hands on either side of his belt and sauntered over.
“Four apples in a little over three weeks. What’s this guy up to, Mango?” asked Sheriff Lemon.
“Tell me, Lemon, what goes good with applesauce?” asked Mango. Lemon looked perplexed. “Are there any cinnamon sticks in town?”
Lemon scratched his lemon.
“Uh… yeah. Yeah, that travelin’ show. The Flyin’ Saigons. They’re stayin’ down at the Trail Mix RV park,” said Lemon.
Sheriff Lemon knocked on the door of The Flyin’ Saigon’s travel trailer. Lemon had a bad feeling about this.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” said Lemon.
The door swung open and a fat stick of cinnamon nearly fell out on Lemon.
“Whadya want?!” shouted the cinnamon stick.
“Er, well, my name’s Lemon. I’m the Sheriff in these parts, and I just wanted to ask if you had noticed anything strange goin’ on around-”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact! There was this big-headed Lemon who knocked on my door and started askin’ me questions when I’m tryin’ ta sleep!” yelled the cinnamon stick before slamming the door.
“Friend of yours, Lemon?” said Mango sarcastically. Lemon’s mustache twitched.
As they turned to leave, Mango spotted Barry slipping behind another trailer. The fruit fly followed, but he was already gone. Lemon caught up to him.
“What is it, Mango,” asked Lemon.
Mango sniffed, then turned his head to the side.
“I smell guacamole.”
“Excuse me.” Lemon and Mango turned to see a young female cinnamon stick waving to them from the door of a trailer. They walked over. “Are you the police?” asked the girl.
“Yes, Ma’am. I’m Sheriff Lemon and this is Detective Mango,” said Lemon.
“Please, come in. I need to speak with you,” said the girl.
Inside, black-and-white photographs of cinnamon sticks performing stunts lined the walls. Lemon looked from one to the next slowly, feeling the romantic history of the Saigon family.
“Have a seat, please. My name is Esmerelda,” said the girl. Lemon nodded.
“What can we help you with, Ma’am?” asked Lemon.
“Well… I think someone is stalking me!” said Esmerelda, distraught.
Lemon leaned back in his chair. His mustache bobbed uncomfortably.
“Can you give us a description, Ma’am?” asked Lemon.
“I have never seen his face. All I know is that he is an… avocado!” said Esmerelda dramatically.
Lemon turned up one side of his mustache, rubbed his chin, and hmmmed.
“Hmmm,” said Lemon.
“Barry,” accused Mango.
“What?!” spouted Lemon, surprised.
“I saw Barry sneaking around when we were talking to that disgruntled bark strip,” said Mango.
“Oh, I have to apologize for my father,” said Esmerelda. “He can be cranky when he hasn’t had his nap.”
“It’s fine, Ma’am,” said Lemon. Sheriff Lemon grunted as he stood, pulled out a card, and handed it to Esmerelda. “Give us a call if the guy shows up again, Ma’am. And lock your door.”
Sheriff Lemon and Mango stepped outside, shutting the door behind them. Lemon put his hands on his hips, sighed, and turned his mustache up in a grimace. He looked one way, then the other, kicked the dirt, then spoke.
“Whadya make of this, Mango?” asked Lemon.
“You know as well as I do, Lemon. A good avocado can turn bad real quick,” said Mango.
Lemon kicked the ground hard and walked away.
“Let’s go find Barry.”