The story so far:
Detective Tony Malkos was taking a breather at Starbucks when his stomachache took a turn for the worst after drinking a cup of coffee.
The Starbucks manager stopped berating a cashier for who knows what misdeed and focused his attention on the squirming Tony.
Tony noticed the hobbling manager take a seat opposite him.
"I'm sorry...but I could not help but acknowledge your upset stomach. Does this mean the coffee was not...well...satisfactory?"
"Nah, it's my fault," replied Tony, grunting in between words. "Shouldn't have eaten those blasted Twinkies...but I was in a hurry...there is a case...I must work on..."
"A case? Well it appears that you may have to let a doctor see you."
"I am actually on my way to see a doctor," said Tony. "Well, actually one that pretends to be a doctor, possibly someone who couldn't become a nurse even."
"You are not referring to one of those holistic healers, are you?" the manager asked.
"What if I am?" replied Tony. "In today's economy, people are driven to...questionable actions."
"Well I haven't really noticed anybody pretending to be a doctor," said the manager.
"Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary?" asked Tony.
"Hmmm...." The manager stroked his double chin. "The homeless around here seem to have....well...vanished.."
"Vanished you say."
"Yes...disappeared...because I've seen a lot of unrecycled cans littering the streets and the air seems a lot breathable."
"So I've noticed so I've noticed," replied Tony, wondering if this had anything to do with the mysterious old hag his client had complained to him about.
"Also," began the manager. "Chinese restaurants seem to be establishing out of nowhere."
"I don't see how that's anything unusual. Chinese food is very delicious."
"Yes but you see...well..." the manager's cheeks were coloring.
"What is it?"
"You see...the cats..."
"Cats!? Now stop it!" Tony entreated the manager. His stomach was starting to turn inwards. "I know what you're alluding to. No way do I believe that they include cats in their cuisine...in America at least."
The manager had a sheepish smile. "I also wanted to believe that but ever since these chinese restaurants have popped out of nowhere...I've noticed a decrease in the feline population..not to mention dogs," he said with an akward swallow.
Dogs! This was ridiculous, thought Tony. If this were indeed true, he'd have at least one client come to him to talk about a missing pet.
"Your theory is unsettling and unproven."
"Unproven eh," replied the manager. "I hope it remains so."
"Besides," added Tony. "You'd think it would make the news if it were so."
"I hope you are correct," said the manager. "I haven't let Fredo out ever since I've noticed these strange occurences."
"Yes my pitbull."
"Surely a pitbull can defend itself?!" Tony was so flummoxed that for a moment he forgot about his stomachache.
"I am not willing to risk Fredo's safety."
"Well I'm off," said Tony, raising from the comfortable leather armchair.
"I hope you do well in your investigations."
When Tony left Starbucks, he was actively seeking out any little furry creature he could lay his hands on but could not find a single dog or cat. He did however notice the local mailman prancing around with a smile he'd never seen before in anybody working in the postal industry.