"Damn it!"said the old woman as she smelled the old familiar scent as she was weeding her lawn. "Nothing smells worse than cat piss!" She noted that someone's dog had deposited another "gift" a few feet away. "Lazy, lazy pigs!" She got up off her knees, took her trowel and heaved the offending item into the paper bag where she threw all other unwanted items.
Elsie noticed as her neighbor walked by with his cocker spaniel. "Quit using my lawn as your dog's toilet." She had previously caught him nonchalantly allowing the animal to whizz on the grass. "No wonder my lawn's in such bad shape. You're poisoning my garden with its waste!"
Thomas waved her off but continued walking to his house across the way.
"Irresponsible, damn people," she muttered. She grunted as she stood up. "I have half a mind to throw that piece of crap at your door. See how you like it!" She scowled at the lawn that stubbornly remained patchy, thin and interspersed with a lot of yellow stalks and stomped on an especially ugly clump angrily. "It's not like I don't water and fertilize you!" It's so embarrassing, she thought, when everybody else's lawn is so much better looking.
"You'd like a new lawn?"
Elsie turned to see a woman smiling at her. "You're making fun of me?"
The woman was in a "No, actually, I could offer you some grass that would be a lot easier to take care of than what you have right now."
Elsie looked at her warily. "I can't afford anything expensive."
"It's fairly reasonable and I assure you that . . ." said the woman as she looked around. "It'll look better than any of the neighbor's lawns."
Elsie smiled at her lawn. Ever since she installed her new grass, it had been so much more lush and easier to maintain than her previous one. She didn't even have to rake it but simply cut it and the lawn would easily absorb itself. The saleswoman had reassured her that the clippings would compost themselves and would not cause a mess. It had made her puzzled but as it seemed weed resistant and trouble-free, she decided not to worry about it.
A woman from a nearby apartment building, Marilyn, walked up to her holding several sheets of paper. "Excuse me, but have you seen this cat?"
Elsie glanced at it. The picture was of a grey tabby named Munchkin that had been missing for about a week. "No, can't say that I have. Was it an outdoors cat?"
"Yes, she was."
"Well, I heard all sorts of things can happen to them . . . I'll tell you if I find her," Elsie said, noting that there was a fifty dollar reward.
After the woman walked off, she turned on the sprinkler.
Elsie was serving a slice of her almond pound cake with a thin smear of Meyer lemon curd on top to a friend of hers. Alicia would occasionally would come over and have tea with her in the kitchen. While Elsie found Alicia rather long-winded and a little loud, she often kept her informed of what was going on and after her husband had died, one couldn't be too picky about who she decided to entertain.
"Have you heard?" said Alicia.
"Have I heard what?" said Elsie as she poured herself and a friend a cup of tea.
"A lot of pets in the neighborhood have gone missing. People are starting to wonder if there's some cultist or serial killer in training wandering around."
Elsie shrugged. "Perhaps someone is stealing them for ransom?"
"Nobody's asked for any money or responded to any of the signs people have posted."
"We do live near a valley where there are deers and other wild animals. Maybe something wild's been getting hungry. It has been a dry year."
"True, but our area's not known for cougars or anything like that."
"I can tell you the deer have been eating my bushes. Well, they haven't for a while but if it weren't illegal, I'd blast them and make venison pies out of them."
Elsie shrugged. "I'd eat Bambi for breakfast if he kept making a meal out of my garden." She noticed her guest's empty tea cup and said, "Want some more tea?"
The phone always ring when you're about to enjoy yourself, thought Clark as he watched Chloe chat with someone on the phone. They had gone to the new deli just a few blocks away from the Daily Planet and had just sat down with their lunch when it had gone off.
"Who was that?" said Clark as he watched Chloe clicked off her cell phone. He took another bite of his tuna sandwich and drank the deli's coffee.
"An elderly woman was taken to the hospital late last night. She had been attacked from behind and was unconscious. She's currently in the intensive care unit, recovering from a blow to the head. They want to make sure that there's no bleeding within the brain itself."
"And I'm thinking that there's more to it than just that."
"The ambulance driver just happened to be an old friend of mine from Smallville."
"Yup. He knows how much `weird' stuff interests me. He said when he found the victim that she was wrapped up in long grass tightly and that it was radiating heat like an electric blanket."
"Are you saying it's a job for you-know-who?"
"You could say that. It's worth taking a look."
"Let's finish lunch first."
"Oh, hey," said Ted.
"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" said Superman.
"I don't know," said Ted. "We're not supposed to discuss the case with anybody outside the department."
"But the department has given him honorary status as a law enforcement officer so technically it's OK," said Bill.
"Right," said Ted. "What do you need to know?"
"What are you findings so far?"
"Well, according to the ambulance driver, the victim was tightly wrapped in long strands of grass that he had to cut in order to get her to the hospital. There are no chemical residue on the grass or any other material to account for this behavior. The weapon was a brick that seemed to be part of a project the victim was planning."
"That sounds like it's a crime of opportunity rather than something that was planned. The victim was either surprised or had voluntarily turned her back to her attacker. We're going to send it to the lab and see if the perpetrator left any evidence on it. However, our best bet would be for the victim to tell us who it is that attacked her."
"I've asked her neighbors and nobody claims to have seen the incident though everybody says that she seems to keep to herself and spends hours on end gardening."
"We checked the house and it appears that nothing's been stolen. The motivation doesn't seem to be robbery."
Superman looked around and noticed that there were a few sheets of paper on a nearby telephone pole. A couple were for weight-loss scams or musical groups but there were quite a few of them were fliers for lost pets.
"Well, no," said Chloe. "I did get to talk to Chad a bit more and hear how she's doing. Chad said that her head was hit on the right side of her head and on top so I'd say the attacker was right-handed and at least not too much shorter than her. There was quite a gash on her scalp but there had been a lot of grass wrapped around her head like it was trying to staunch the bleeding. She's out of danger but she's pretty fuzzy on pain medication so . . ."
Clark told her what the investigators had told him but also added, "I noticed a lot of fliers for lost pets on a nearby telephone poll. I wrote down the information and decided to talk to the owners. It looks like the wave of missing pets seem to be a fairly new phenomenon. They've all disappeared within the last month. None of them have returned."
"Could they be connected?"
"There's not much of a motive to attack her otherwise. Unless . . . was the head injury the only thing . . ."
"Yes, that's the only injury."
"So, there's not much in terms of motive. It's not robbery or sexual assault . . . I did hear from her friend Alicia that she was constantly complaining about how people used her lawn as a litter box. Perhaps she started doing something about it and one of the pet owners caught her? Hey, why are you smiling?"
"It's just that it looks like I've rubbed off on you."
"You're finally thinking outside the box."
"Finally? I need a pin."
"I think someone's head needs a little deflating."
"That still leaves the problem of why only in the past month or so, she would do such a thing. She's been living there for years and I'm assuming this has been going on for years."
"Well, according to Alicia, she got the new lawn around that time. Perhaps she didn't want to see the new lawn torn up and abused as well?"
"And it doesn't explain why Chad said about the lawn. He said that the only long grass in the lawn was strictly around her."
"Maybe there's something special about the grass?"
Chloe said, "I was wondering who sold you the lawn. I heard from a friend of yours that it's new."
"Are you saying the woman who sold me the lawn is the petknapper?"
"I'm just wondering if there's a connection. Do you remember her name?"
Elsie thought for a while. "I don't recall offhand what her name was. I might have her card somewhere."
"We'll get back to that. Is there anything special about the lawn?"
"Special? It's easy to take care of. I haven't had to weed it ever since I got it. And there hasn't been any problems with animals leaving their poo behind."
"Bill, Ted," said Superman as he landed .
"Yes, Superman," said Bill.
"You might want to dig here," said Superman, pointing at the spot where the latest victim was buried.
Bill and Ted looked each other but neither were inclined to ignore a tip by a superhero. Taking a shovel, Bill plunged it into the lawn . . . only to have the lawn start to ripple.
"Achhh!" yelled Bill who let go of the shovel and jump back.
"Bill, are you OK?" said Ted.
"Yeah, but . . ." said Bill as the lawn seemed to spit back the shovel that he had left half embedded in the ground.
Superman said, "Stand back, I'll get it."
In a second, a large rough cube of dirt had been ripped from the front yard and was on the driveway. After brushing off some of the dirt, a patch of long black fur was seen.
"And there's more where that came from," said Superman.
"More?" said Ted.
"I believe that we've found your dog or what's left of your dog. Do you mind answering a few questions?" said Ted.
Mr. Houston was about to refuse but he saw the superhero standing several yards behind them and nodded. If Superman was on the case . . .
Sitting on the porch, they listened to his story. It was a gruesome one. He usually walked his dog at night after he got home from work. After a long walk, the cocker spaniel liked to dump on his neighbor's lawn. Often he didn't bother to bring along a plastic bag with which to pick up his pet's waste. Of course, Elsie bitched relentlessly about it but he ignored her.
One night, however, his dog had hopped on the lawn only to be pulled down into the ground, whining and barking, unable to pull itself out as the grass seemed to act like quicksand. He had tried to pull his pet out by its leash. There had been a sound like a loud snap and a bark had been interrupted by a choking sound. He had fallen on his butt as there was suddenly slack on the leash and he realized that all he had now was a bloody leash as the dog's head sank into the grass.
He had jumped on top of the lawn and tried to dig out his dog with his bare hands. Elsie had caught him and had assumed that he was on drugs. When he had accused her of being behind the pet disappearances and told her what the lawn had done, she had told him to get the hell off her property and that she would call the cops if he didn't. She had turned her back to him, extremely peeved. He had picked up one of the bricks she had left out for her new project and smacked her on the head with it. Once he had struck her and she had collapsed with a groan, he had panicked and ran home with his leash. He knew that nobody would understand.
"Oh, we understand all right," said Ted. "But you're still going to jail."
"Like what?"Clark said as he locked the door behind them.
"How did Elsie get a lawn like that in the first place? I asked who sold it to her. She couldn't remember the woman's name but later she said that the company was called Fairy Godmother Inc. I've looked all over the web. There's no such company, at least anywhere near Metropolis."
"A new supervillain?" Clark groaned.
"A very peculiar one. Another problem is what do we do about the lawn?"
"I'll take care of it. I'll be back for dinner."
As he hovered above the woman's house, Clark suddenly felt a little pity for the lawn. It had shown loyalty towards the one who had cared for it and had reacted against someone who had not been doing the right thing. However, leaving it alone where it could repeat what it had done was out of the question. It was a danger not only to animals but had given many people reason to grieve. And a lawn like that had the potential to be a deadly anti-personnel weapon.
As Clark set the lawn on fire, he could swear that he heard it make a kind of muted scream as it was turned into ashes.
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