A Foggy Night in Buno
by John Padula, 3.49am March 10th 2022

The interrogation room smelled terrible and neither the suspect nor the detective wanted to admit that they peed themselves a little. The detective, Rodney, was overworked and didn’t have time to change. The suspect, Owen, had a blatant disregard for hygiene and took a secret pride in stained underwear.

“Alright kid, walk me through what happened last night.” He was sweating through his shirt while the suspect, Owen, shivered small in his chair.

Police Chief Francis crouched hidden in the corner. His uniform used to belong to a much larger man, but he didn’t mind the bigness. He liked the roominess even if his hat sometimes drooped over his eyes. The Chief had a particular interest in certain crimes as of late, so he would hide in little spaces in the interrogation room and spy on the detectives, even though he didn’t have to.

Owen had his arms wrapped around himself. “I don’t have to say shit to you.”

Rodney dripped over the table. “Why were you walking down Buno at 2am?”

The kid just sat there shaking his head.

“I know what you did.” The detective walked over to Owen’s side of the table. “All the evidence is right there on your little rat face.” He put an arm down on the table, got real close to Owen. “You might as well tell me now, make things easier on yourself.”

Owen spit on him.

The detective grabbed a fistful of tissues and wiped the loogie off his face. He plopped the pile on the table in front of Owen. “You’re going to eat that.”

“You can’t make me.”

“You know, kid,” Rodney lifted a 38 special out of his pocket, “I have a bit of a second sight-that’s what makes me such a good detective. Right now, I’m getting a feeling that if you don’t start eating that pile of snot… well maybe I’d have to shoot you for my own protection.” He stared the kid down, then he lightened up, “your choice, though.”

After a moment of glaring at each other, Owen started picking at the lump of tissues, putting pinch after pinch in his mouth.

“Good,” said Rodney. He took his seat across from Owen and made sure his gun was always visible. “I’m gonna show you some things, ask you some questions.”

Owen picked around the pile, trying to avoid the spit.

“That looks a little dry, doesn’t it?” And the detective hawked into the pile. He gave Owen a smile, “there you go. Anyway,” Rodney put some pictures on the table, “you recognize this body?”

Owen winced at a particularly wet tissue he was chewing on, but he didn’t answer.

“Well you should. It’s the body of the kid we found you dragging.” He held up a bag containing a bloodied knife. “You recognize this? It’s the knife we took off you. Blade matches the cuts on him. Same blood.”

Owen chewed.

“You see kid, it doesn’t matter if you talk or not. You’re fucked. No jury in the world’s going to give you anything less than the electric chair.”

Owen gagged on semi-solid booger and accidentally let out a whimper.

Rodney laughed.

Then, the Chief hopped off his haunches, bounced over, and popped himself up on the table. “Good work detective, but if you don’t mind I have a couple questions to ask the kid.”

Rodney and Owen both had the same reaction to the chipper little man who sprang up out of the corner.

 

They looked at him wide eyed.

“Go ahead, Chief,” said Rodney.

The Chief nodded then turned to Owen with a smile. “Hello son, we picked you up off of Buno Road, right?”

“I… Uh, yeah. That’s right.”

“And when you were on Buno Road, did you feel something creepy, like you weren’t alone.”

“Uh…” Owen leaned over to look at Rodney.

Rodney shook his head and shrugged.

“It was creepy, sure. Um, I don’t know, maybe there was a presence there?”

The Chief sprang up, snapped his fingers, and paced around the room. “Can you describe this presence, what was it like?”

“…uh, it was strange, I guess.”

“Yes, good, what else.”

“…creepy…”

The Chief kept nodding at Owen.

“Yeah, it was really strange and creepy. It was like a very strange… creeping thing, I guess. Like something very creepy and sort of, um… sort of-”

The Chief narrowed his eyes. “Frog-like?”

“Uh, yeah sure.”

The Chief turned his back on Owen but spoke loud enough to fill the whole room. “My God!” He turned to the detective. “He’s free to go.”

“What!”

Owen ran out of the room.

Rodney approached the Chief. “What are you doing?”

“I knew it,” he said to himself. He turned around and grabbed the detective by both shoulders, rocked him hard with fear. “I knew it, Rodney. Frog Man!”

#

Squad cars flooded Buno Road, they blocked every exit, every intersection. Teams of trackers combed through the vast woods that surrounded the road.

Each cop was specially outfitted with salt packets, extra bullets, and extra-large bug nets.

The Chief was cruising down Buno when he drove up on a scene. Two cars pulled up on the side, lights on. He pulled over, “what’s going on, boys?”

“We found this kid messing around in the woods.” Standing between the officers was Owen.

He was covered in blood and dirt.

“We found him with this shovel standing by some open graves. There were three bodies in those graves, sir.”

The Chief rubbed his forehead like he was trying to peel it off. “My God, he’s struck again.” Then, he went over and patted Owen on the back. “Good job digging up these bodies, Kid. Let me give you a ride to the station, it’s a dangerous place out here.”

“Uh, thank you sir,” and Owen sat passenger while they tore it down Buno.

#

Rodney was sipping a coffee when two junior deputies came scrambling into the station.

“Rodney, aren’t you supposed to be out looking?”

“Looking for what?”

The deputies looked at each other. “Well, for Frog Man. Who else?”

“Jesus Christ, are you two serious?”

Owen walked passed the detective, “evening, dick.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ! Why aren’t you in jail?”

“What?” said Owen, “for what?”

“You’re covered in blood. You’ve been killing people.”

Owen popped open the door and hung in the doorway just long enough to say, “nuh-uh, it’s that Frog Man that’s been killing everyone, dickhead,” and he slammed the door behind him.

Rodney pinched his nose.

The deputies stood and watched the detective until one pipped up, “so you’re gonna help look, right? Cause you really haven’t been pulling your weight on this.”

The detective didn’t even look at them, he turned around and walked straight to the Chief’s office.

#

On the left side of Chief Francis’s office was a brick fireplace. He kept all his little trinkets on its mantel; group photos, awards, a big stick he found in the woods once.

It was at this fireplace that Detective Rodney found the chief hunched over when he slammed his office door open. “Sir, you need to call this search off, it’s silly.”

The Chief didn’t look, he kept hunched over the fireplace throwing in little papers and baggies into the fire watching it flare and die flare and die.

“Chief, did you hear me?”

The Chief didn’t acknowledge him.

Something caught the detective’s eye, a bloodied rag in a bag. The Chief tossed it in the fire. Rodney ran up and tried to dig it out, but it was already engulfed.

“Are you burning evidence!”

The Chief turned from the fire, eyes deep in his head. “Maybe I just see the good in people, Rodney. It doesn’t matter anyway, we both know it’s no good.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“It’s all false leads, Rodney… we have our man, Frog Man, we just have to find him.”

Rodney glared at the Chief. “That Owen kid is the murderer, it’s incredibly obvious.”

“What? No.” The Chief shook his head, jumped up and towered over Rodney despite being six inches shorter. “Are you too blind to not see it?” He pushed the detective across the room with the sheer force of his voice. “He’s a good kid, not a killer. Why would he be? He has no reason to. No, it’s Frog Man.”

The Chief spun around and knocked everything off his own desk. “Frog Man!”

“Will you get ahold of yourself, there’s no such thing as a damn Frog Man.”

The Chief turned around, gave Rodney a shifty look. “Aren’t you supposed to be out looking for him? Why are you here?”

“I’m not looking for a Frog, you’re being a moron.”

“I’m a moron? You’re the one sitting on your ass while there’s a murderer on the loose.”

Rodney grabbed the chief by the collar. “Listen you idiot, I don’t care what you think. You got everyone all panicked and you’re wasting everyone’s time. There’s no such thing as a fucking Frog Man!”

The door slammed open, in burst a young officer with just enough breath to push out words. “Sir, we found him.”

They both looked at him with open eyes and open mouths. Rodney’s hands let go, the Chief brushed himself off. “Take me to him, now.”

#

“Where’d you find him?”

“Hiding in a drainage ditch, sir.”

The young officer, the detective, and the Chief were walking around a holding cell. In that holding cell was a cage and in that cage was a frog cuffed to the bars by his neck.

The frog was about the size of a loaf of bread. He barely fit in the cage, but it wasn’t a very big cage to begin with.

“God, he’s massive,” said the Chief.

“He put up one hell of a fight. Billy took a bullet to the shoulder.”

Rodney sipped his coffee. “That frog shot Billy?”

“Well, no. Williams misfired, said he was startled.”

“Mmm,” said Rodney. He sipped more coffee.

The Chief held the bars, watched the frog closely. “The Frog Man is a master manipulator, fear is his specialty.” He slapped the officer on the back, “good work son, go on and get some rest.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Then it was just the Chief and the detective. “Rodney, you’re a damn fine detective but I want to question this thing myself.”

Rodney let out a sigh. “Whatever, I don’t care,” and he walked over to the far side of the room.

The Chief circled the frog for minutes, not saying anything. Ten laps around then he grabbed the bars, took a deep breath, coughed, then sprang into it. “Why’d ya do it, Frog Man?”

With a reptilian coldness, the frog didn’t say anything.

“Don’t you give me that load of malarkey, we both know what you’ve been up to.”

The frog croaked.

“Huh, you think you’re pretty smart, huh?” The Chief took out a night stick, ran it along the bars of the cell. “Listen here, Froggy, you’re not in your little pond anymore. You’re in my house.”

The frog jumped, his cage leapt forward with him.

The Chief jumped, took cover behind Rodney. He drew his gun. “I’m not here to play games, Froggy, I’ll blow your ass to hell.”

A cop walked in and the Chief fired a shot that sent the officers hat spinning like a top. It stopped with the brim over his eyes. “Sir?”

“Sorry son, you startled me. What is it?”

“A report from Buno Road, another body turned up. Fresh, we estimate they were killed within the past twenty minutes.”

The Chief rubbed his chin with his gun. “Twenty minutes? When did we get Frog Man into custody?”

“About forty-five minutes ago, sir.”

He threw his gun on the floor like a baseball cap, it went off and shot right through Rodney’s mug. The Chief turned to Rodney. “Do you know what this means?”

Rodney grabbed a handful of napkins and tried wiping the exploded coffee off him. “Yes Chief, I know exactly what it means.”

The officer pipped in, “sir, we have a kid named Owen in custody, he was on the scene when we found the body. In fact, it was actually his brother’s body that we found. Should we question him?”

“Oh, poor fella. It’s rough to lose a brother. No, let him go.”

Rodney stopped wiping himself, “What!”

He turned, spoke low to himself, eyes on the frog. “It’s even worse than I could have imagined.” The Chief looked up, spoke loud enough to fill the station. “It looks like Frog Man has resorted to using voodoo magic to telepathically kill his victims.”

Rodney threw his wet clump of napkins on the ground. Instead of arguing he just put his head in his hands.

“I’m not excited about it either, Rodney. We’ll have to go to the higher ups for this one, the way higher ups.”

#

The station was nearly empty when the man in the suit came knocking. The Chief opened the door.

The man pulled out a badge. “Special agent Norm Gaf, FBI. You’re Chief Francis, I presume. I understand you have a psychoactive frog?”

“Yes. Nice to meet you Mr. Gaf,” and the Chief stuck out his hand. The agent hesitated but ended up shaking it.

He noticed the agent’s hand was a bit slimy, but he thought it would be a rude thing to mention.

“As per the instructions you have received over the phone, you have sent all the officers home, correct.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good.” The agent entered the building and they started toward the holding cell, “you can appreciate, Francis, the need for absolute privacy in matters like this. We can’t have the press knowing about the existence of supernatural creatures like this, it would send the country into mass hysteria.”

“Of course, sir. That’s why I contacted you, this Frog Man situation is far more than me and my men can handle.” The Chief opened the door for the agent, they stepped into the Frog Man room.

“You were smart to do so. Would you unlock the cell, please?”

“Of course, sir.” The Chief worked the lock. It clicked open and he turned to hold the door for the agent.

 

“After you, sir-”

The Chiefs’ eyes fell to the gun in the agent’s hand. Agent Gaf pulled the trigger and the bullet ripped through the Chief’s chest.

He collapsed, “what are you doing!”

“Helping you commit suicide.” He stepped over the Chief and grabbed the frog cage. He left the cell and hung in the room’s doorway.

“But why,” said the Chief, “why!” Then it sunk in. The Chief grew pale, he felt cold, he tasted metal in his mouth. “Wait a minute… Norm Gaf….” And with a little rearranging, “Frog Man!”

Agent Gaf ripped off his mask and eyed down the dying Chief with cold glass frog eyes. “Bingo.” He pulled the trigger and sent a bullet straight through the Chief’s head.