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TC-2: Solange Rolls Up the Scene of the Crime

Deconstruction and Exploration of Down With The Clique

Written By: SweetSweetKiwi



This “deconstruction” is not intended to review the content or analyze the lyrics. The goal here is to explicate the layers of the ensemble, to consider each individual instrument and harmony I hear while I explain my personal reaction to it all. Breaking down the song into increments, I’ll describe the atmosphere set by the sum of the components.

For a better understanding about the Tune Cactus series,
check out Episode 0.

I encourage you to listen along for context.

  Intro, 0:00 - 0:35  

We open by picking up into a moody yet simple arrangement. Melancholic low register grand piano notes confidently hum out a bassline that makes itself known and then drops out, in no rush to come back in. Filling the space, a sporadic, jazzy beat delicately carries the slow tempo while a funky accordion-like synth tone lulls a chiming chord. Splashy cymbals dance in between a tensely off-beat snare drum tap and a dark BOOM every other beat from a looming bass drum that sounds like it would feel more at home in a symphony. The bassline finally returns accompanied by a more interesting synth hit that surprisingly warps down and up and into a sustaining chord like before. Closely following, a higher register piano sings a quick chord, almost to foreshadow the upcoming vocalist.

This whole concept repeats. Again the song takes a moment to breathe. Nobody is in a rush. This beat could wait around all day for the vocalist if it must. However, the expectant, brooding instruments still set up the next phrase by all hitting together – including the higher register piano keys. DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN, in a faster rhythm than anything we’ve heard thus far. The hits themselves sound like hiccups. (Or rather an individual hiccup sampled into itself without letting the prior one resolve, so it’s really more like D-D-D-DUN.) Additionally, an incredibly subtle similar technique of sampling is used on the chord leading into the vocalist’s first verse. To me, this presents the feeling that there are more layers to this piece than expected with the ordinary cast of instruments.

Summarize in 1 word or less:  foreboding

Geddy's First Rushism Church for Singers.png

  Verse, 0:36 - 1:08  

A single angelic voice gracefully glides into the grimy groove. Using the pace already established, the soprano, Solange, sings in patient phrases. Each time the low register piano notes punch out the bassline, the euphonious singer responds in a contrasting high register. All the while, the instrumentals continue on their yet-unwavered path. The first few phrases sung sustain in harmonious vibrato along with the funky synth while the percussion marches on, cymbals still shimmering. This culminates into the final vocal lick that includes the first example of Solange going rogue from the path. She contributes a verse before the bassline and ad-libs a relatively quick mid-register note that’s lower than we’ve heard from her. Finally the verse ends with a hesitancy from everybody signaled by a snare hit before the group enters the chorus.

Summarize in 1 word or less:  Siren's-Call-esque

  Chorus, 1:09 - 1:45  

When the chorus almost anticlimactically hits, the group marches on. The established instruments churn out their complacent compositions while Solange changing the rhythm of her delivery stands as the only signifier that this phrase is in fact the chorus. The subtle echoing effect employed over the vocals here appropriately provides the same feeling as an echo from a large, barren chasm might: a false sense of company in the face of emptiness. If there is a clique, they’re not here yet. A subtle pan-flute jaunties in-and-out in the background of the vocals, leading into the repeated D-D-D-Down. And then the seemingly straightforward chorus repeats.

However, on the first repeat of the chorus, Solange receives backup in two forms. The more subtle but immediate: various additional tones harmonize with their respective instruments’ chords. Backup arrives in the other, more pressing form of vocals. The same echo occurs on the first layer of vocals when a second vocal layer harmonizes in a higher register. Two members of the clique now. The chorus continues, adding two more voices to the chord with each phrase. Four layers of vocals. Four members of the clique.

Summarize in 1 word or less:  harmony


  Breakdown, 2:55-End  

After the second chorus introduces more elements including a baritone Tyler, the Creator–the producer and uncredited vocalist–chiming in with an adlib, all of the introduced elements drop out except for the originals. The jazzy beat keeps the pace for Solange to breakdown the chorus into a more fun and boppy delivery, ad libbing along the way. After the first vocal lick, the moment breathes again. A space of the splashing cymbals and BOOMING bass drum as in the start of the song.

Solange repeats her diddy. Her voice gallops over the constant beat. The repeated vocals wind into the baritone adlib from before, this time preceded by a soprano sing-songy delivery of the same adlib. Here the instruments crash. Like a reel slowing down, a synth grinds out the last bits of the instrumentation. The song is capped by Tyler’s vocals layered with Solange’s vocals, all leading up to the fullest harmony of voices as a choir belting their question: Are you down?

Summarize in 1 word or less:  climax

From Deconstruction to Exploration

When deconstructing and reflecting on Down With the Clique, I focused especially on the harmonies and minimalist instrumentation. This moody, atmospheric song immediately painted a clear image in my head with its opening lick beyond anything presented by the lyrics. Using instruments as a tone indicator, along with moments of the song as story beats, I explored what type of story would fit the score. In the Exploration portion, you’ll find a tale of a noir, cool cat detective dealing with matters beyond the usual parameters of organized crime on the planet Pearth–a fictional world ruled by music with anthropomorphic animals, a cactus full of wisdom, and the unified belief that the life, the universe, and everything was created by the Canadian prog rock band Rush. 
(Read more about Pearth here in Tune Cactus Episode 0)

Sound Breakdown

Vocalist Layers - 5
(4 female vocal layers and 1 male vocal layer)

Influence on Story

Suspects - 5


Synth Layers - 2
(the funky accordion-like synth throughout and little diddy toward the end)

Live Instruments - 4
(hi-hat, snare, piano, panflute)

Victims - 2

Friends Made Along the Way - 4
(Clog, Officer Barks, Pamella the Panda, Tune Cactus)


Tune Cactus Episode 2


    I remember the night I got the call all too well. You see, I was out celebrating alone at my local piano bar because Mrs. Robin Costello f-f-f-finally received the guilty verdict that I helped arrange. Between the evidence I gathered, an anonymous snitch, and dumb luck, the Vocalist Crime Boss of the Drum Kingdom was sentenced to life behind bars. And I felt it was appropriate to celebrate the occasion. While most of the rest of the kingdom attended various Rush Day afterparties, I sat in the moody yet simple pub – two drinks deep and about eight catnip cigarettes in. 
   I hung out at the bar by myself with the only other feline in the room at the far end. The rest of the audience members were mostly humans with a couple marsupials, and they were all planted in groups at tables in front of the stage. Nobody was in any type of rush. They all seemed fixated with the slow live music on stage while I fixated on my drink and judging them. None of those guys had any idea I just put away the worst banned-instrument distributor in the kingdom. 
   I always hated that bar and its attendants, but on any given occasion, I’d take a pianist playing sad tunes over a drummer doing a sacrilegious Neil Peart impression which you’d certainly find at any other local pub.
   A melancholic live-rendition of some Rush song played for the audience as I gulped down the last of my Djembe and Tonic. I remember the bartender trying to cut me off at this point, saying I shouldn’t drink too much in uniform. He was right, of course, but since I was celebrating closing my biggest case thus far, I insisted. It was right as he started fixing another drink that I received the call.

    “This is Detective Boots N. Catssen,” I answered with my words purring together.
    A long string of gibberish came through the other end of my phone that slightly sobered me up. I couldn’t make out anything other than panic. I held my paw out to the bartender to signal that I may not need that third drink after all.
    “You still have to pay! I already poured it!” the bartender shouted over the live music inside the bar and past the gibberish from my phone.
    I promptly pointed to the badge on my collar and threw the bartender enough money to cover either three drinks or two drinks plus a generous tip. The emergency exit wasn’t too far, so I made my way there as the gibberish continued in my ear.
    The bartender behind me yelled something like “no wonder you’re out drinking alone on a holiday!” as I exited his grimey bar. I stepped into the dark and looming night only lit by the stars splashing in the sky overhead.
    “Alright, alright, slow down,” I said to the nonsensical voice. “What’s happening? Where are you?” I lit another catnip cigarette to calm my nerves. Or maybe to heighten them.
    “The Drum Smith has been stabbed!” The voice wailed. My Commissioner’s voice wailed.
    The cigarette fell out of my mouth as my jaw dropped open. I completely tensed up. You see, none of us were prepared for anything like this. We are not violent people. Pearth as a whole is not a violent planet. The Drum Kingdom especially is not a violent nation. Like any other recognized state, they settle disputes with music. A Rift between their kingdom and any other nation – let’s say my home country, the Vocals Vallies – would be fought by way of musical contest, just like any other Rift. 
    “What do you mean he’s been stabbed? Like he fell onto a sharp object or something?” I incredulously responded. Surely he meant there’s been an accident. 
    “A sharpened drumstick. Somebody lodged a sharpened drumstick into the poor rat,” Commissioner Crotales Card roared, apparently finding something resembling composure. “We’re right outside Geddy's First Rushism Church for Singers. Come quick, he’s dying!”
    I froze. Geddy’s First Rushism Church for Singers? Somebody committed the first violent act in the history of the Drum Kingdom outside the temple I attend? A singer’s temple built to welcome any and all vocalists living in King Flamjamaram’s land. It’s the only joint for miles that worships using an acapella group instead of an ensemble featuring a vocalist, a guitarist, and eight percussionists. 
    What would a drum smith even be doing there?
    “I’m on my way,” I lied. I hung up the phone and just stood there, outside the piano bar in the dark. Not only did I need to take a moment to process what I heard, I also needed to wait about ten minutes for the catnip to wear off before I could drive anywhere. 

    About thirty minutes later, I arrived at the church. When I first approached on my motorcycle, I noticed a few vehicles from the station beat me to the scene. Their flashing red-and-blue lights illuminated a small group of various animals and anthropo-plants that gathered around in the courtyard where I assumed the stabbing occurred. On foot, I pushed through assorted primates, dogs, and a few succulents to get to the front of the crowd where I found my big cat commissioner still holding in his arms Velcro Jones, the renowned rodent drum smith. With one hand wrapped around the drumstick lodged into the Drum Smith's chest as though pulling it out would undo everything, Commissioner Card looked up at me and simply shook his head no. 
    I remember I hesitated here. Mostly out of shock that somebody murdered Velcro Jones, but partially out of unsureness in myself. A harmony of questions chimed around in my head. Who committed this treacherous act? What makes an individual capable of doing this? Am I capable of solving the first murder in the Drum Kingdom’s history?
    Ya know, that sort of thing.
    Nonetheless, I knew I had to take the lead on this case. Turning to face the crowd, I reached for my standard-issue megaphone from my belt. Many of the faces in the crowd I knew from attending Geddy’s First Rushism, so I had to assert myself in an intentionally detached manner.
    “Okay, everybody back up!” I sang into the megaphone in my soprano voice. “This is an active crime scene, and we need to block it off.”
    The scared faces scattered, and before I knew it, various station officers set up a blockade between the crime scene and the crowd. I holstered my megaphone and delegated urgent instructions in my speaking voice to a couple officers before debriefing with the Commissioner who was skulking on the outskirts of the courtyard at this point.
    “Okay, now, get the stick out of the rodent and off to burglary forensics. They can analyze for any fingerprints, pawprints, or chloroplast,” I said to one officer. “And I want you to interview any witnesses. Maybe somebody saw at least what kind of plant or animal did this,” I said to another. 
    “We already gathered the witnesses,” the second officer replied. Officer Bass Barks. Good dog. Quite frankly a terrible drummer, but a halfway decent K9 officer.     “The worship leader gave a breakdown of what he heard from inside the church: just a masculine scream. When he and his guests eventually came out here, they saw the Commissioner already on the scene attempting to assist Velcro Jones.” 
    The officer looked down at his notepad. It was of course sheet music with a thrown together drum cadence scribbled along the lines. With him I looked at the sporadic, jazzy beat in his notes as I naturally translated the written language in my head.
    “Does that say the only other witnesses were the Costello Kids?” Struggling to read his scribbles upside down, I hoped I hadn’t read that right.
    “Yep, funny coincidence, huh? They were the guests. Apparently the son sings in the choir, and they were rehearsing his solo for the congregation tomorrow,” Officer Barks chuckled out.  “What’s even funnier of a coincidence is they said they’d only speak to you, Detective Boots N. Catssen.” The dog let out a few playful sneezes. “Good thing you were on-call tonight of all nights, right? Right?”
    “Alright, alright, down boy,” I replied, “Let’s not forget this is a crime scene. Nothing good about this night at all. Now, where are the Costello Kids? I’ll chat with them before I talk to the boss.”
    The officer stiffened and pointed with his snout towards the young mouse boy and adult mouse woman lurking behind me. The Costello Kids–Sawyer, the soprano son, and Barchetta, the adult daughter born with ironically dominant drummer traits– were the two children of the Vocalist Crime Boss, Mrs. Robin Costello. And they wanted to speak to me of all people. Kinda makes sense. You see, Barchetta and I went way back. Even though she was born a drummer, her mother still brought her to Geddy’s First Rushism Church for Singers growing up. And then, much more recently, I put away her criminal mother. Pearth’s just full of funny coincidences.

    “Costellos. You two doing okay? What’d you’d see out here?” I said on approach.
    “Hello to you too, Booty!” Barchetta sassily squeaked back at me. Booty. I hadn’t heard that name since before graduation. “We have the same story the worship leader has. If you heard from him, you’ve heard from us.” 
    “Barchetta,” I spoke in that low intimate voice from our old days, “there’s been a murder here. I need you to tell me your exact recollection of this evening.”
    “Don’t use that tone with me!” The squeaking continued. “You locked up my momma, left me alone to raise my brother, and now Velcro Jones is dead! You don’t get to use any type of tone with me. Not ever again!”
    She looked back at her younger brother who seemed clueless and nonverbally signaled to scurry away. Such a waste of time. I should’ve known going into that conversation she wouldn’t help me. Too much history between us. I figured we’d get her to the station for a proper interrogation eventually anyways. While the Costellos scurried into the night, I caught Commissioner Card leaving the scene and entering his vehicle out of the corner of my eye.
    “Commissioner, wait up!” I shouted towards his car and prowled past the crime scene. He stopped in his tracks, one leg outside of the open door to his car. The commissioner looked shaken up and unhappy that I called for him to stop.
    “Look, Detective,” the lion growled, “I’m soaked with blood. Let me go home and wash up, and then I’ll call you, okay?” He slammed the door shut and drove off. Nobody was in any rush to help me, I suppose.
    I lit another catnip cigarette as I sleuthed through the crime scene tagging evidence. The sharpened drumstick, the murder weapon, had already gone back to the station for analysis. Besides that I found hair from the Commissioner’s mane, short silver hairs, and white mohair fibers around the courtyard. The short silver hair almost definitely came from a mouse, probably one of the Costello Kids, the only mice who belonged to my temple. However the mohair did catch my attention seeing as no goats attended Geddy’s First Rushism. After bagging up all I found, I again waited for the catnip to wear off before I drove home thinking a good sixteen-to-twenty hour catnap would hopefully set my mind right for the rest of the investigation.

    The next evening I woke up with no new messages from the Commissioner or the Pawprint Analysis Lab in Forensics, so I rolled a few cigarettes, suited up, and went prowling for answers. First stop: Velcro Jones’ Drum Emporium. For a renowned artist with an obscene social life, Velcro sure didn’t have too many actual friends. No family either. Naturally I expected his studio and storefront to have more answers than his house would. 
    It took about twenty minutes to drive from my cattery on the outskirts of the capital city to the Emporium in the richest part of the city, the Center Snare. On account of it being a wealthy district entirely populated by high-class percussionists, drum priests, and record producers, the Center Snare made me sick. You see, the entire tacky district epitomized my main issue with living in the Drum Kingdom as a vocalist: all the loud ruckus. But I digress. 
    When I entered the Drum Emporium, I fought back the urge to vomit a hairball. Gauche consumers filled the storefront looking to cash in on an artist’s death. Animals ravaged through the shop. A giraffe threw priceless drum heads like fetching discs from the corner to his buddy standing in line. Gaudy drums flew off the walls and shelves while others were plucked from hanging wires draped across the ceiling like ripe fruits from vines. Amidst all of the chaos, a geeky-looking, white goat stood on a stool frantically manning the front register.
    “Oh, thank Rush,” the goat bleated out loudly when he saw me approaching, “Surely an officer of the law could bring some manners out of these senseless animals.” 
    I lit one of my catnip cigarettes waiting for the transaction to complete before I cut in line. The elk that I cut started to let out a belligerent bugle before he recognized my uniform.
    “Well maybe they should all leave and give us the chance to talk in private,” I replied to the shopkeeper impatiently. He looked at me nervously as I read his nametag.
    “Detective,” Clog the goat sheepishly muttered, “Humblest apologies, but the loss of potential sales must be considered.” The short shopkeep stepped up from the stool and onto the actual counter. He tilted his head up towards my ear and said softly “Mr. Jones always insisted I capitalize on his untimely death whenever it occurs.” With his head still too close for comfort, Clog pressed his green-framed glasses up the bridge of his nose and whispered “Although it was rather timely if you ask me. Mr. Jones was a great artist and socialite, but a terrible salesman and marketer.”
    “Alright, I’ve heard enough,” I said, stepping back from the goat and turning to the crowd. I drew my megaphone and turned on the echo effect for emphasis. “Everybody out! The store is now closed until further notice!” I sang out.
    Everybody stampeded out of the doors. Some shoplifted invaluable drums, but I didn’t care because I arrogantly thought I was about to arrest the first murderer in all of the Drum Kingdom’s history. Luckily right before I could wrongfully make the arrest, I received another call, this time from Forensics.

    “This is Detective Boots N. Catssen,” I answered my phone, staring down at the goat.
    “Tec Cat, my friend!” An overly excited voice bellowed from the device. I could tell from the accent that she had to be Pamella, the Pianist panda from the Pawprints Analysis Lab. “I have some good news and some not so good news.”
    “What do you have?” I replied. I removed my finger from the trigger of the megaphone. The goat relaxed just a little bit. “Tell me you got a hit.”
    “Well that is the good news. I got two hits back,” the panda said. “The first and most obvious prints I found were the Commissioner’s which we expected. The bad news is the second set of prints didn’t match any in our database, but they clearly belong to a mouse based on the grip strength along with the shape and number of claws. Probably whichever one of the Costello Kids is the drummer if you ask me.”
    “Barchetta Costello?” I instinctively thought out loud. “But why?”
    “I knew it!” the goat shopkeeper cut in, “I knew Mr. Jones should not have snitched on the Costellos!” I immediately hung up the phone. My cigarette hit the floor. More catnip lost by way of jaw-dropping information.
    “What did you just say?” I belted out to the defenseless animal.
    “Well my apologies, Detective,” Clog muttered, “But as you know Mr. Jones decided to dog-whistleblow on his supplier’s operation, and from the start I said that would never end well.” 
    Of course. 
    “Velcro Jones was a Costello client. The Costello client who ratted him out.” I heard myself say. I was stunned. Barchetta lied to me. My Worship Leader lied to Officer Barks. Commissioner Card withheld information from all of us. Why would he not tell me Velcro Jones was the client who snitched?
    “Well more like he was her main investor,” the goat continued, “Until, as you know, he found Costello was dealing vuvuzelas which naturally scared him straight.” The shopkeeper caught my shock. “Oh dear. I am starting to believe you did not know any of this.”
    Without saying another word, I holstered my megaphone and exited the wrecked Emporium. I had to get to Barchetta’s club across town before she could do anything else. The city lights illuminated the night as bright as day. I pounced on my motorcycle and powered up the sirens.

    Sometime past my bedtime I pulled up to Barchetta Costello’s club, Bravado. All sorts of different critters and creatures lined the wall outside the standalone brick building waiting to enter. On approach I noticed on the side of the building a broken window leading to a dark office. While the other windows on Bravado pulsed with various colors, this one remained unaffected by the strobe lights. 
    Clubs like this weren’t meant for a cat like me. You see, I always preferred live music over that whomp-whomp stuff. 
    Trying to not let the music at Bravado distract me, I advanced towards the window. The smell of burnt rubber stained the air. Tall grass hid several large shards that I carefully stepped around until I reached a good spot to pounce through the opening to the club.
    With a single motion I blindly leaped through the window and landed on all fours in the dark room. Once my eyes adjusted, I saw the horror that greeted me. Barchetta Costello laid dead, a drumstick lodged into her chest. Blood was still spreading, soaking the office supplies that surrounded her. 
    Why her too? I thought for sure she killed Velcro Jones. Was she another loose end?
    I quickly inspected the murder weapon to find similar claw marks that Pamella described earlier. If it wasn’t Barchetta, it had to be the other mouse. Sawyer Costello, just a kid, murdered his sister and the Drum Smith to tie up loose ends for his mother. That had to be the full story. What other explanation was there?
    I pounced out of the club through the same window and landed on one of the smaller glass shards in the grass. I let out a small yowl as I removed the shard. I yowled again this time thinking about Barchetta. She didn’t deserve any of this.
    Lighting a catnip cig to numb the pain, I hobbled towards my motorcycle when it all started to click. The blood still spreading. The glass shards in the grass. The burnt rubber smells. Sawyer has his solo in the congregation tonight at Geddy's First Rushism. He’d have to rush there to make it on time if he was just here. It’d be the perfect alibi for him though. I had to get there as soon as possible. Sawyer would not get away with this. I inhaled the rest of the cigarette in one draw and drove away from the club and toward the church.

    My head was spinning when I finally reached Geddy’s First Rushism Church for Singers. Whether it was from the catnip cigs I didn’t let wear off or the death of an old sweetheart, who’s to say? Regardless I powered through because I was fuming and ready to take down the pipsqueak Costello. After parking my motorcycle near the courtyard, I sprinted towards the entrance of the church. 
    Not paying any mind to the congregation inside, I slammed open the double doors to the temple with so much force, the large paintings of Rush album covers fell from the interior walls. The pews were practically full. Every head turned towards me, and the pothos priest ceased his sermon. I locked eyes with Sawyer who stood on stage with the other choir members. He must have realized I was there for him because he ran off stage and towards the side exit. I darted down the center aisle to chase him while the members’ heads tracked my movements.
    He didn’t make it too far outside the church. Sawyer really was just a kid, and a mouse one at that. You see, he didn’t stand a chance against my agility and reflexes. I pounced a good ten feet and landed directly on my prey who began to cry.
    “I swear, I only have it because it reminds me of my momma!” Sawyer Costello whined out.
    “What are you even talking about?” I immediately replied while I started to cuff the kid.
    “If this is about the vuvuzela,” Sawyer cried, “I was never going to use it! I swear!”
    I didn’t even bother acknowledging what I figured was an attempt at confusing me. My adrenaline was flowing and complementing the intoxicating catnip in my system. 
    “Sawyer Costello,” I shouted belligerently, “you are under arrest for the murders of Velcro Jones and Barchetta Costello! Anything you-”
    “Barchetta?!” The kid started wailing. “What does that mean? What do you mean the murder of Barchetta? What happened to my sister?” He squirmed in panic.
    I froze. Again. This twerp was either the best actor I’ve seen, or I just made a colossal mistake. He continued to convulse and cry on the ground while I tried to process things. Suddenly the dark night around us lit up red-and-blue. I remained frozen as I heard a car door slam from behind me.

    “Catssen!” Commissioner Card roared out. “We gotta get him back to the station.” The lion walked right past me and picked up Sawyer. He threw him over his shoulder with complete disregard for the mouse’s cries. 
    “Please,” the Costello kid pleaded in between his wails. “Don’t let him take me.”
    “Shut up, you murdering rat!” Commissioner retorted instantly. He then turned to me. “Come on, Catssen. You should ride with me too. You look like an unkept litter box, pal.”
    Everything happened so fast, I didn’t have it in me to resist. We walked towards the Commissioner’s vehicle in the front of the church as the attendees ushered out from the front door to watch the commotion. While Commissioner Card shoved Sawyer into the backseat of the vehicle, I opened the front passenger seat to ride along with them.
    I settled into my seat as I watched the Commissioner walk around the front of his vehicle. Stopping in front of the crowd to deal with them, he let out an aggressive roar to command the crowd to disperse. My pothos priest looked mortified as his people scattered. I locked eyes with the worship leader next to him who looked deeply concerned.
    “You can’t trust that one,” Sawyer said from the backseat. “He works for my momma.”
    “Who?” I asked. “The worship leader?”
    “No. The lion,” the kid replied.

    Commissioner Crotales Card opened his door and sat down to power up the vehicle. After locking the doors and buckling himself in, he turned the key to start the engine. I hatched a plan with no clear outcome. I hit the unlock button for the vehicle doors and opened mine.
    “Catssen, what in Neil’s name are you doing, child?” Crotales catechized me.
    “When I get your door, you run!” I yelled to the cuffed Costello in the backset.
    Jumping up from my seat at an awkward angle, I landed as close to the outside back door handle as I could. The master plan was to quickly open the door, grab the kid, hop on my bike with him, and figure this all out as I drove somewhere safe. Crotales worked for Mrs. Robin Costello according to her own son. I began to speculate the situation further in the brief moment it took to realize the car doors locked again. I pulled at the handle to no avail.
    The vehicle sped away before the kid could escape.
    I didn’t remotely hesitate at this point. I didn’t freeze. Although I admittedly thought about it, I didn’t even reach for a catnip cigarette to help process the complete bewilderment I faced. With the utmost urgency and decisiveness, I raced towards my motorcycle. The chase was on.

    The revving from my motorcycle’s engine grinded in my ears like an abrasive accordion-like synth preset. Loud BOOMS of thunder startled me as wild winds washed my whiskers against my face. My riding goggles were my saving grace as I scanned for the Commissioner’s car through the impending rain. Even though the downpour picked up, I spotted the taillights of what I thought was Crotales’ speeding vehicle.
    I sped up. Pushing the limits of my motorcycle, I eventually confirmed my suspicion. The station vehicle which sped along the empty road had the markings of the Commissioner’s. I then could only watch as it began to swerve back-and-forth.
    The racing vehicle glided over the road sporadically. The roads, already slick from the rain, didn't keep up with the tires' aggressive movements and eventually let go. Easing off my acceleration, I witnessed in horror the Commissioner’s vehicle twist to the left until it faced perpendicularly to its trajectory.
    The vehicle started to roll.
    It rolled violently and aggressively.
    Over and over.
    The rolling eventually settled down, and I drove up to the car which sat upside down. As I grew closer, the sound of Sawyer struggling grew louder. Leaping off my motorcycle, I ran towards the battered vehicle to hopefully help the Costello Kid.
    Sawyer Costello dangled upside down, buckled into the seat behind the Commissioner. His right hand was free from the cuffs and looked broken to say the least. I peered at Commissioner Card who lifelessly dangled from his own seat. Gravity drew his mane away from his neck which revealed early signs of bruising all around, matching the width of Sawyer’s cuffs. I ignored this and helped the kid all the same.
    When I reached through the broken window of Sawyer’s door to unlock it, a fire erupted from the engine. The rain still persisted relentlessly, so I was living on a prayer that it would combat the engine fire long enough for us to escape. Opening the door after seeing I unlocked it, Sawyer started saving himself.
    He unbuckled his seatbelt causing him to fall against the roof of the vehicle. His right hand and right leg looked broken. The poor mouse was probably concussed too. I reached into the car to assist him out. Sawyer grabbed my hand and crawled towards me. Using my weight as support, he stood vertically on his left foot.
    When I took a step back to help Sawyer gain better footing, my ankle felt like it was caught in a bear trap. I looked down to see lion claws attached to my leg. Reaching from the window, Commissioner Card held me in place. Sawyer fell to the ground.
    “You don’t understand,” Crotales spat out. “You may think the King or whoever wins the Crescendo next rules Pearth, but Mrs. Robin Costello still pulls the strings. She holds all the Cards captive. I had to kill them for my family's sake.”
    I unholstered my megaphone and turned on the 5-part harmony setting.
    “Let go of me!” I belted into my megaphone. The 5-part harmony setting took my voice and layered it on top of itself in real time to create the most harmonious telling-off of my whole nine lives. “When you get to the hereafter-party, tell our gods I say ‘No encore necessary as long as I’m here.’”
    I unclicked the trigger of my megaphone as Card let go of my leg to reach for his now bleeding ears. After holstering my weapon, I hobbled towards Sawyer to get out of range of any potential explosion from the still flaming vehicle. When we reached an appropriate distance from the car, we both collapsed in the grass off the side of the road.
    “Now what?” The scared Costello kid queried.
    I sat in silence while I tried to come up with an answer. The kid would need hard evidence against the Commissioner if he were to prove his innocence of the murders. Especially when you consider he more or less just killed the Commissioner himself. Where could he go? Who would even take him in knowing all of the controversy around him?
    It was as if the thunder caused the vehicle to explode.
    “You can stay with me,” I eventually responded. 

    Two days later, I’m celebrating at my local piano bar.
    You see, Commissioner Crotales Card was an idiot. While it’ll still take time to absolve Sawyer from any legal repercussions, proving Crotales’ guilt proved easy. Not only did I find evidence of a deleted report filed by Barchetta regarding her stolen stick bag (which we’ll presumably find somewhere on the Commissioner’s property), I also found on his personal cell phone messages between him and Robin Costello. The exchange between the two of them confirmed that she arranged the killings from prison to tie up loose ends and to leave evidence framing various people including poor Clog from the Drum Emporium. 
    These messages also revealed Robin blackmailed Crotales by kidnapping his family. She still holds the Cards captive, but we’ve got our best detective on the case: me.
    I’m on the prowl, but tonight I'm taking time to celebrate. And to avoid burnout.
I stand alone at the bar judging the cat on the far end smoking her eighth catnip cigarette while the bartender’s giving me an earful about my last visit. When I start to apologize, Officer Bass Barks approaches me with Pamella, the Pianist panda from the Pawprints Analysis Lab.
    “C’mon, Tec Cat!” Officer Bass Barks barks at me. “You’re gonna miss the special show!”
    “Alright, alright,” I chuckle as we make our way towards our table in front of the stage.
    Clog, who’s already sitting at our table, waves us down as the curtains draw open. We all find our seats when the greatest surprise any Vocalist or Instrumentalist could ever dream up actualizes in front of my eyes: Tune Cactus the Wise stands front and center of the stage.
    “Alright, I’m here to celebrate my new friend,” Tune Cactus shouted over the cheering audience. “Boots N. Catssen solved the first murder case in the history of the Drum Kingdom. Boots N. Catssen, are you in the audience?”
    I raise my hand in shock.
    “I’m here,” I say, almost embarrassed.
    “Well,” the majestic cactus shouts, “Why don’t you and your friends come up here, and we’ll play a few songs together?”
    We immediately rush to the stage. I grab a microphone, Clog hops on the drums, Pamella sits in front of the piano, Bass grabs a tambourine, and Tune Cactus fills in the rest. Playing the entire Rush discography, we jam until our bodies hurt. 
    “Boots N. Catssen! Boots N. Cattsen! Boots N. Catssen!” The drunk audience rapidly chants over and over until it sounds like they’re beat-boxing.

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