Chapter One

Jeffree had 9 cats living in his basement. Unfortunately, they were the only thing living in his house, as he had been dead for nearly 3 weeks. 19 days to be exact. 19 days 8 hours and 54 minutes. This is the story of how Jeffree ended up dead in his basement with 9 cats, and dont worry, the cats will be explained too.

Hi, my name is Abel Harrison and I am a sherrif in Vernon County Wisconsin and I’ll be narrating this story. Vernon county is a largely rural county is southwest wisconsin of about 40,000 people, meaning my job is pretty slow, being filled with traffic stops, frequent drunk drivers and the occasional drug related incident. That’s the issue with these small towns, people get bored. When people get bored, far too often it folks down a path of drugs and alcohol. In the 90’s we had bowling alleys, movie theatres and mini golf for the kids, but after the market crashed a lot of our small businesses couldn’t keep above water and had to close their doors permanently. That’s what I’ve been told at least. I transfered here in 2012 from Chicago for a change of pace. A strongly recommended change of pace. Okay, I was reassigned, but that’s another story. I could sit here and tell the big city cop moved to small town USA story, but that’s not what this is about. I’m here to tell you about a case that happened a few years back, the one that started with poor Jeffree being found is his basement, unrecognizable. Take that as foreshadowing as to why all 9 cats were alive and well. Alright, let me take you back to exactly 3 weeks before we found poor Jeffree.

21 Days Earlier: Monday Morning

Jeffree opened his taxidermy shop at 9am per usual. He was a tall slender man, 45 years old, with delicate hands that helped in his work. It was winter, meaning the traffic in the door had slowed, but he had plenty of work to do. In rural Wisconsin, taxidermists spend most of their time preparing and mounting whitetailed deer, big bucks, and various fish. His work adorned the walls of man caves and garages across the county. He enjoyed his work, it was meaningful and paid his bills, but it had never been his plan. When he was a boy, he had been very intersted in the enviromental sciences, and went to college to be a veterinarian. He flunked out after his second year and tried to become a DNR officer. That hadn’t panned out, so he started doing basic taxidermy to pay off his student debt while deciding what to do next. Here he was, nearly 20 years later, still doing it. The bell at this shop door chimed, signaling a customer and pulling Jeffree back to the present.
As the local taxidermist, and member of the church and various other organizations through town, Jeffree knew most of the folks that came through his door, so it came as a gentle surprise to Jeffree when a short stout man he did not recognize came through his door this morning. The man glanced around, adjusted himself, and approached the front counter.

“You the owner?” The man asked.

“The owner and expert” Jeffree replied, his attempt at a joke.

“Good” The man replied, not smiling. “I’m looking for someone to make a mount for me, can I bring it in tomorrow?” The man had a hard to place accent, certainly American, but what part was unclear.

“Sure,” Jeffree replied. “We can get started today by figuring out what kind of mount you’re looking for. What type of game is it?”

“Big game.” The man replied. “Just a Texas mount’ll do”

Jeffree nodded, knowingly. A Texas mount meant that the skull and antlers are the main display, with a small wooden backing.”What kind of timeline are you looking at?” He asked the man.

“How quick can ya do it?” The man asked, looking around the shop again.

“If you have it dried and ready I could do it in a week or so.” Jeffree replied, without mentioning it would be an upcharge. “Otherwise I could get it to you by the time the snow melts”

“Nah, its fresh.” The man replied “Just heard you’re the guy around town for this sorta thing.”

“I sure am, is springtime going to be okay?”

“Yeah, that’ll do.” The man replied. Was it a southern accent maybe? Jeffree was still trying to place it.

“Do you take cash?” The man asked

“I prefer it” Jeffree replied, glancing down at his floor safe under the counter.

“Hundreds fine?”

“No problem”

The man nodded, seeming satisfied. “Alright, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

He turned towards the door. Nearly at the door he paused. “Say, could you break a $50 for me today?” He asked.

“I usually wouldn’t, but you seem like a nice guy.” Jeffree lied.

“Thanks.” The man pulled out a black billfold and presented the cash. He watched intently as Jeffree took the key from his hip and popped open the register.

“10s okay?” Jeffree asked. The man nodded. Jeffree presented the change and the man took it, Jeffree noticing a faded tattoo on his hand as he did so. “Here ya go, what time can I expect you tomorrow?”

“Mornin’.”The man replied, as he headed to the door. The bell chimed as he exited. Jeffree watched as he climbed back into his truck, adjusted his mirror, and pulled away. Diesel, Jeffree thought to himself as the man pulled away.

Later that night, a truck rumbled slowly past the taxidermy shop, before speeding away.