The suspect obviously felt secure, probably because Columbo looked dumb and harmless. Columbo always looked dumb and harmless right before he wrapped up the case.
“Better blow, punk,” said Candy, stepping around the corner.
Her arrival sent the perp scrambling under the pyracantha next to the house. Poised in his best predator’s crouch, Columbo followed his erstwhile prey with a quick head jerk. When the last millimeter of mouse tail whipped out of sight, the cat sat back on his haunches. Mottled tail twitching, he slowly swiveled his scruffy head to pin Candy with an accusatory golden glare.
“I get that.” She scooped him into her arms and nuzzled. “But trust me when I say this isn’t a good night to drop masticated mouse at my feet.”
In so many words Clammy Hands Carmichael had suggested she mind her own when it came to George Price. Well able to picture the tiny hamster-wheel that passed for the principal’s brain, she hadn’t been surprised. His complimentary psychoanalysis, on the other hand, had come as a complete surprise.
Carmichael had evidently decided her aversion to his late, lamented public grope-and-grab was symptomatic—he’d actually said that, symptomatic—of psychological problems detrimentally affecting her relationships with men. This expert diagnosis he considered confirmed by her attitude toward the school’s other resident bonehead, George Price.
“Perfectly understandable, my dear,” she mimicked in a nasal whine as she swung open the back door. “As a woman working in the male-dominated field of sports, you no doubt feel threatened by men. You push them away. It’s very simple, really.” She set Columbo on the kitchen floor. “Jackass.”
“Not you, Carmichael. God knows I won’t get any help from that quarter,” she groused, scooping food into the cat’s bowl. “I’ll have to dig somewhere else.”
“Mmrrow,” said Columbo, pouncing on his Purina the moment bowl met floor.
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