Oh where oh where is California Blat?
He’s vanished utterly.
His bones are bleachin' on the Grand Canyon floor
And the Moment Men will pay the penalty (poor boys)
They’re gonna pay an awful penalty.
For the Moment Men, it never rains but it pours. (It never rains in Arizona anyway, but you do realize it’s a metaphor.) Barely had they got Eustace settled into his hospital bed, when they were arrested and hauled into the Coconino County sherriff’s office for close interrogation.
You have to admit that appearances are against the Moment Men. As the chief interrogator, Detective Sergeant Finn MacCuhal (who came here from Ireland five years ago “for my asthma”) pointed out, dozens of witnesses saw them chasing California Blat out of the Market Plaza parking lot. The BlatMobile was found abandoned at the edge of the canyon, near the place where Park Rescue airlifted the Moment Men to safety.
“But we didn’t kill him!” protested Hiram. “He walked over the edge.”
“Then why haven’t we found him?” asked MacCuhal. “Because you went down there and disposed of the body, isn’t that so?”
“There weren’t never no body,” said young Jesse Earl Pickin (“Banjo” to his friends and “Booger” to his enemies). “The devil done turned him into a vulture. We seen him flyin’ off.”
Strange to say, Sergeant MacCuhal didn't believe Jesse Earl, and charged all the Moment Men with first-degree murder. When he emerged from the interrogation room he was shaking his head. “Sure I’ve seen some nutcases in my time, but this takes the biscuit, so it does.”
Hiram didn’t help matters when he made his one permitted phone call - to RALPH, of course. He’d forgotten to program RALPH’s number into his new cell phone, but he insisted he knew it from memory. But when he tried to dial it he got a pizza parlor, an escort service, an old man who spoke only Ukrainian and the Rolling Thunder Tabernacle (famous for its Roller Derby Worship Hour). Finally the police searched his truck and found the phone number, being used as a bookmark in a copy of The Laird of Lephari Cove.
RALPH maintained his cool admirably until he asked to speak to the detective in charge. When he heard Sergeant MacCuhal’s accent, he went through the roof. “I KNEW PIAPS WAS BEHIND THIS!!! SENDING AN IRA FENIAN DEMLIB TERRORIST TO DO HER DIRTY WORK!! THE WHOLE SHERIFF’S OFFICE SHOULD HAVE THEIR ASSETS FROZEN!! THEY SHOULD BE SHIPPED OFF TO GUANTANAMO!! THE COCONINO COUNTY SHERRIFF’S OFFICE HATES AMERICA!!!!! GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM, LIBTARD, AND TAKE THAT UNSPEAKABLE PIAPS WITH YOU!!!!”
“Did you say this guy was running for President?” asked Detective Sergeant MacCuhal as he hung up the phone. “You’d better plead insanity – the jury may just believe you.”
So now the Moment Men are at the Coconino County Detention Center awaiting their first court appearance (except for Eustace, whose hospital room is surrounded by armed guards). Since California Blat is a folk hero in these parts, the local residents are, to put it mildly, very upset. A small crowd gathered outside the jail last night, waving signs and chanting slogans. Radio talk-show lines are jammed with callers describing what they’d do to the Moment Men if they could. The unknown author of the “Blatwatch” blog has just announced an essay contest on the theme, “Why I’d like to Throw the Switch on the Moment Men.”
“All we can do is pray RALPH will step in,” said Hiram sadly. “Anyone got any cream soda?”