Detective Peter Turner paged through the contents of the manilla folder and pulled out a charge sheet. He studied it for a moment before raising his eyes to the angry, wild haired young woman on the other side of the table.
“I’ll be frank Miss Black, it doesn’t look good for you. If you weren’t robbing the jewelry store, what exactly were you doing? At 3am, with a gun, in the jewelry store.”
Camilla Black leaned across the table towards him. She shook her head and the fountain of red curls bounced. “First tell me, where’s Wally?”
“Miss Black, this isn’t a game.”
“Where’s Wally? My Parrot? Wally? Where is he?”
“Oh, the bird. He’s out the front, entertaining the desk Sergeant.
“Has he said anything?”
“The parrot? Yes, he’s said a few things.”
“What? What’s he said?”
“I’ll tell you what you want to know when you’ve told me what I want to know, Miss Black. What happened last night?”
She fixed on the wall, her mouth clamped shut.
“This is your last chance Miss Black. Tell me your story and or I’ll have no choice. I’ll have to charge you.”
Camilla Black glared scornfully at him, tucked her hair behind her ears, and began her story.
“I was in the main tent, practicing with my knives…”
“Remind me why you have knives?”
I’m a knife thrower. I already told your partner all of this. I spent time in juvie, saw the error of my ways, and swore never hold up another milkbar. When I got out I took up with the Bunco Brothers Circus. I started as an usher and, long story short, I ended up a knife thrower.”
So I’m practicing with my knives when I hear a noise outside. It sounds like my caravan door slamming shut.”
“How did you…”
“I’ve attached a wind chime to my door. It sounds like pan pipes. That way I can tell if someone is going into my place. Like I said, I spent time in Juvie.
Anyway… I look outside and I see a couple of shadowy figures heading for the carpark, and one of them is carrying something under his arm. I call out and they take off, so I get after them. Then I hear the squawking and I know they’ve stolen my Cockatoo, Wally.”
“Why would they steal a parrot?”
“Wally’s not just any parrot. Firstly, he’s a cockatoo. Secondly, I’ve been training him for a new circus act.
“A circus act?”
“It’s hilarious. Wally wears a tiny balaclava and holds up a pop gun. I’ve taught him to say ‘This is a stick-up’ and ‘Hand over the cash’. Hey, don’t look at me like that, it’s a great little number. Besides, I have to work with what I know right? Is it my fault that’s all I know? I would tell you about my family but it’d take all night.”
“Okay, so they’re stealing the bird. Continue.”
They’ve just about reached the carpark when Oscar – he’s a clown – jumps out and tackles the one at the back. They’re on the ground, tussling. I stop. I’m trying to see how I can help Oscar, and that’s when I spot the gun. I think it must be the thief’s gun so I pick it up to make sure that he can’t get it, and then I notice that the other guy is about to get away, and he’s still got Wally, so I start running again.
He reaches the car park and he’s looking all around, like he’s in a parking garage and he’s lost his car. Then I hear him calling out ‘Bert, where the fuck are ya?’ and I realise there must have been a third guy who was supposed to be their getaway driver. So anyway this bastard who has Wally runs to the nearest car, which just happens to be Arnold, our strongman’s car. It’s a beat up old Toyota that he’s had forever.
Arnold keeps his keys in the ignition because he can never remember where he’s put them, and because he reckons no one would ever steal that car.
Just as this arsehole starts pulling away, I catch up with him and jump in the passenger side. It’s mayhem. He’s swinging the car around like a madman and trying to punch me in the face. I’ve got a knife in one hand and a gun in the other, and I’m trying to fend him off, but not actually stab or shoot him. Wally’s going bananas in the back seat, squawking and shrieking. He’s really upset.”
Turner runs his hands through his hair.
“Never mind about the bird, what happened next?”
“We’ve got out onto the main street, and this idiot and I are still fighting for control of the car, when he starts to scream and jerk the car all over the road. That’s when I realise Arnold’s pet python Teddy is in the car with us. Teddy’s woken up and he’s coming over the armrest between the two front seats. He starts sliding down into the driver’s footwell and this is when the thief has total hysterics. He throws open the driver side door and bails. The snake is all over the pedals so the car just keeps going faster and faster and we hare up the main street and go straight through the window of the jewelry store.”
Detective Turner folds his arms. “There was no snake when the police arrived”
“Teddy was out the car before I could do anything. He’s a big snake. I couldn’t have held onto him if I’d tried.”
“And the gun you pointed at Mr Batista when he came downstairs to see what was going on?”
“I didn’t point it at him, I was just holding it. I didn’t even see him come down the stairs.”
“And the demand for cash?”
“That wasn’t me, that was Wally!”
“The jewellery store owner said it sounded like your voice.”
“Of course it sounded like my voice, He’s a parrot. He mimics. Poor Wally. He was very upset. He’d just been kidnapped. I’m not surprised he was shouting his head off and I’ll bet he’s been saying ‘hand over the cash’ to your desk sergeant too.”
Detective Turner keyed a few numbers on his phone and after a short phone conversation there was a knock and the door opened. The desk sergeant held a large cage. The cage held a large cockatoo.
“What’s he been saying, Roberts?”
On cue, Wally yelled “Run, it’s the pigs… run, it’s the pigs…craaaa…. I have the right to remain silent… remain silent.’ He puffed up his feathers, tucked his head under his wing, and wouldn’t utter another sound.
“Miss Camilla Black, you have the right to remain silent.”