Spouse was just over at the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar, metaphorically speaking. He needed to borrow the use of a paper guillotine (and I ask you, why does anyone call that something so boring as a paper cutter, even when it is something so boring as a paper cutter?). But he got interrupted by the arrival of a set of state police detectives. Because, yes, there is intrigue afoot. In between the long, boring intervals when Spouse looks out the window multiple times a day, grumbling, was für ein Schietwetter, because, in a development not so far outside the ordinary for Northern Germany, we haven’t had a summer so much as a seemingly endless extension of April, it’s like an especially outlandish episode of The Archers out here in these boondocks.
We think it all started shortly before the alpacas were sheared in early June. Hmmmm, said the shearer, which is more words than this fellow normally uses during the six hours he’s here each year, looks like someone has cut your alpacas. And, yes, once their coats had been trimmed, it was clear that someone or something had. Several of the six or seven younger male alpacas held in the field across the street to keep them from being, ahem, abused by the older male alpacas who are kept next to the house, had half-healed deep slashes on their flanks.
The jaw drops under the onslaught of questions. Who would do this to a bunch of cute little alpacas???? The police who came by a month later, called once it happened a second time, said a sexual predator in training (more or less). Apparently, a lot of them begin with violence (and then sexual violence) towards animals and around here that mainly means barnyard animals. The police said that at the moment there are no known active “animal slashers” (yes, there is a German word for that) in the county, although there are a few at large in the state. Usually, these guys (generally, it’s guys) target horses.
But how does someone with a sharp blade manage to sneak up on an alpaca? Not to blame the victims here, but do they sleep that heavily? But of course I should have known better because, living next door to about 30 of them, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Alpacas are stupidly curious. Stand in their enclosure quietly for a minute or two and they’ll come up to you. Who are you? What are you? Do you have food?
Third question: wait, what? There’s a sexual predator in training roaming around the street I live on out in the middle of nowhere after dark?! Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus, I don’t like that. I’ve spent my whole life roaming freely, even at night, without fear of assault. I don’t want to have to feel nervous about going for a walk after dark or along an empty track that runs between cornfields, and I don’t want to have to start getting nervous about being home alone with nothing but some chickens, an elderly cat, and an exuberantly friendly terrier to defend me. They’d better nail this guy, and fast!
After the second attack on the alpacas, our neighbors began carefully photographing the wounds before applying the antibacterial silver spray and the antiseptic blue spray and giving the alpacas an oral antibiotic that the deep wounds called for. Then they wrapped the top of as much of the fence as they could with barbed wire without having to go out and spend several hundred euros on more barbed wire. They also wanted to set up cameras to see how the alpaca slasher was arriving (by bike? on foot? in a car?) and from which direction but the police officers told them they couldn’t do that. After the whole Nazi debacle (Papers, please!), Germans take their privacy laws very seriously. So you can’t legally record people’s comings and goings on a public road. Although I suppose our neighbors could set up a camera to monitor the field, and if it just happened to catch a critical slice of the road…?
Then the alpacas were slashed again about a week ago, which means the attacks are increasing in frequency and this time it wasn’t just flanks and legs but also necks, which is both unsurprising (alpacas have a lot of neck) and unnerving (neck slashes being potentially fatal). Then the reason the detectives were called in today was because when our neighbor went out to feed the alpacas this morning, she found what was either a pile of slug slime or a sperm deposit.
Just crazy. I really hope that turned out to be slug slime (which there is no shortage of around here), but I suspect it won’t, because slug slime looks very clearly and unmistakably like slug slime.