Lemon didn’t speak on the way back to the station. The fact that Barry was a suspect in a serial juicing case had him feeling like he’d been sliced and served with a glass of iced tea.”This whole thing’s got me feelin’ like I’ve been sliced and served with a glass of iced tea,” said Sheriff Lemon.
Mango didn’t respond. His eyes seemed distant. Granted, he had those weird fly eyes, so you couldn’t really tell where he was looking anyway. They pulled up to the station, the brakes of the old cruiser squeaking as he put it into park.
“Sounds like this thing needs a good lube job,” said Mango. “I hear Olive & Sons has a deal on oil changes this week.”
“Oh, yeah?” said Lemon. “I usually take ’er to Canola’s across town.”
Inside, Lemon removed his hat and nodded to the receptionist, a plump purple ear of corn.
“How ya doin’, Ms. Maizy?” asked Lemon.
“Oh you know me, sugah. But you look like yo corn dog just died. How can Ms. Maizy help you?” asked Ms. Maizy.
“You seen Barry lately?” sighed Lemon.
“Jus’ walked inta his office,” answered Ms. Maizy.
Lemon nodded, twisted his mustache, and put his hat back on. He walked across the station floor, followed by Mango. Lemon knocked on Barry’s open door. The avocado looked up.
“Hey Barry, mind if I have a word with you in my office?” asked Lemon.
“Sure thing, Sheriff,” replied Barry, following after them.
They all sat down uncomfortably in Lemon’s office. Lemon’s mustache wobbled up and down as he cleared his throat.
“Barry, where were you from the time you left the crime scene until now?” questioned Lemon.
“Uh, well. After I left, I went down to Robusto’s to get a cup of joe and a donut,” said Barry.
“Was Arabica there?” interjected Mango.
“Yeah, of course. She asked me about some new surveillance equipment,” said Barry. “After that, I got a bite to eat at CHIPS. Then I came back here,” said Barry.
“So you were never at the Trail Mix RV park today?” asked Lemon, narrowing his eyebrows.
“Oh, uh, er… Of course not!” stammered Barry.
“He’s lying,” said Mango.
Barry looked back and forth nervously.
“We were down there followin’ up on a lead. Mango saw you sneakin’ around,” said Lemon. “Now are you gonna tell me what’s goin’ on or am I gonna have ta get sour?” threatened Lemon.
“Ok, ok! Yes, I was there today. I love The Flying Saigons! I’m Esmerelda’s biggest fan! I just wanted to get her autograph!” confessed Barry.
Lemon fell back in his chair so hard that he squirted lemon juice in Mango’s eye.
“Is that all, son?! Here we were thinkin’ you were gettin’ ready to sprinkle her on some applesauce!” said Lemon laughing.
The room filled with lemon freshness as the phone rang. Lemon answered it, still laughing.
“Sheriff’s department, Lemon speak-”
“Sheriff! Please hurry! The avocado, he’s back! Ahhhhhh!” screamed Esmerelda as the phone went dead.
Lemon stared across his desk at Barry, stunned.
“We gotta go! The juicer’s down at Trail Mix, and it sounds like he’s got Esmerelda!” said Lemon.
“No!” shouted Barry, jumping up.
He flew out the door followed by Sheriff Lemon. Mango slammed his head into the window six or seven times before realizing he couldn’t get out that way, then ran after them.
Sheriff Lemon, Detective Mango, and Deputy Barry jumped into Lemon’s cruiser and took off with the siren blaring. Lemon was on the radio calling back-up while swerving in and out of traffic. He cut across two lawns, crashed through a chain-link fence, jumped a swimming pool, and almost made apple pie out of Granny Smith. He slammed on the brakes and skidded into Trail Mix with a cloud of dust.
“Barry, you go around back! Mango and I’ll go in the front! Let’s move it!” shouted Lemon.
They surrounded the trailer, bananas drawn. Lemon kicked open the front door and leapt in, his mustache and eyebrows scrunched into a scary face.
“Freeze, fruit pop!” yelled Lemon.
A moldy avocado with snaggleteeth and bloodshot eyes turned to look at the Sheriff. He had Esmerelda tucked under his arm and a mini-grater in one hand. The avocado hesitated, then threw Esmerelda down and sprinted for the backdoor.
“I said ‘freeze’!” shouted Lemon, firing his banana. It splattered on the doorframe missing the avocado by inches. Lemon ran to the door. Barry was lying on his back on the ground outside. He held up a palm.
“I’m okay, get him before he gets away!” said Barry, trying to catch his breath.
Lemon ran around the edge of the trailer just in time to see Mango fire his banana at the fleeing avocado. The banana splattered under his feet, and he smashed into the ground, splitting his rind. Before he could get back up, Lemon dove on top, wrenching his hands behind his back.
“You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law!” shouted Lemon as he slapped a pretzel on the criminal’s wrists. He stood the avocado up and shoved him into the back of the police cruiser. “You’re gonna spend the rest of your days in the Composter, buddy!” slamming the door.
“Not bad for a day’s work,” said Mango.
“That was a heck of a shot, Mango. I don’t think I coulda made it myself!” said Lemon, slapping him on the back.
Barry walked up, taking a deep breath.
“You alright, Deputy?” asked Lemon.
“Just a little bruised,” said Barry, nodding.
Two squad cars sped around the corner, sirens wailing. Lemon dropped his head, shook it once, and took a sideways glance at the cars as they skidded to a halt.
“You’re a little late, Officer Molasses,” said Lemon.
“Sorry,” was the crackled response from the car’s PA.
Lemon put his hands on his hips, looked at Barry and Mango, and laughed.
Lemon, Mango, and Barry sat in Lemon’s office. Barry shuffled through some paperwork.
“The juicer’s name is Hass D’Cado. Age 35. He’s wanted in six states for everything from petty theft to cantaloupe rustling,” summarized Barry.
“If it were up to me, he’d go straight in the disposal, and I’d throw the switch myself,” shot Mango.
“That’s enough, Mango,” said Lemon, leaning forward. Then to Barry, “Why don’t you go see how Esmerelda is doing, and take her statement. Make sure she signs it twice.” He winked.
“Yes, sir!” said Barry excitedly, jumping up.
“Shut the door behind you,” said Lemon as Deputy Barry ran out.
Sheriff Lemon looked across his desk at Mango and laughed through his nose. He leaned to one side, pulled something out of a desk drawer, and tossed it to Mango. Detective Mango deftly caught the badge.
“Welcome back,” said Lemon. “I hope I don’t regret this.”
Mango stood and put the badge in his coat pocket. He paused at the door.
“You probably won’t,” said Mango before leaving.
Sheriff Lemon’s mustache drooped.
“What have I done.”