Nothing irritated Tessie more than pigeons. Well, except pigeons in large groups. She glowered at the offending fowl from over the rim of her sandwich, daring any of them to come close enough to warrant a swatting.
It was nearing noon, and Tessie was sitting on a fence - both literally and figuratively. Though the railing dug into her backside, there was no way she was risking sitting on the curb again. The last time she'd done that, she'd nearly been run over twice. Not to mention it would bring her down to the level of the hated pigeons, and that was something she would never do. If they wanted her lunch, they could damn well come up and get it from her.
Tuna was one of Tessie's few key weaknesses. Though she hadn't been back to the cold, misty corner of the world where she'd first landed after tumbling through the gap for several weeks, tuna sandwiches were a comforting reminder of home. America was big and strange and noisy and, though Tessie loved the sights and smells and opportunities for mischief, she sometimes found herself cuddling her pillow at night wishing for her little room above the fishmonger's. At least the seagulls there had been well-mannered enough to wait outside before she dusted the remnants of her breakfast onto the windowsill and didn't just sit there, eyeing up her toes like a horde of bug-eyed predatory-
A sharp, irritating bleep from her pocket distracted her from her reverie. She snarled and fished the battered item out from its hiding place and snarled into the receiver, "Tessie Holmes, what do you want?"
"Tess, we need you to come home. Right now."
"Jackson, I'm not due on the show, didn't Allen tell you that?" Tessie resisted the urge to bite the receiver. Jackson Prows, the so-called ringmaster of her troupe and a man whose intellect was surpassed by everything except a particularly daft amoeba, was the last man she wanted to talk to now.
"It's not about the show, Tess," said Jackson, very fast. "Seriously, we need you back here right-"
"Why?" Tessie snapped. "I'm busy."
"Someone's broken into the house."
Tessie nearly fell off the fence. "What!?"
"We don't know when, but it can't have been long ago. A bunch of stuff is missing, mostly nicknacks and a few pieces of equipment, but ..."
"But?" Tessie felt a familiar cold tingling rising in the back of her neck. "What is it, Jackson?"
"Nate must have come in at some stage after you left - we found his boots by the door. We think he ran into the thief ... there must have been some sort of fight, we've called the police in. He's in A and E, but Pat just got back from seeing him. He says ... he says they found the strong box."
To those passing by, the disturbance in the air would have been little more than a gust in the morning breeze, the scream of the hovering ravens, and the soft squelch as the half-eaten remains of a tuna sandwich fell to the ground, seemingly out of mid-air.