“Okay, okay, okay…” Abby said to the whining little girl in back, pulled the car over and parked on Stuart Way. Abby opened Winifred’s crate and leashed up the wild child who pulled Abby on a double-time potty trot along Scenic Drive.
Passing the butterfly house, they reached the open road with a view out to sea and Pt. Lobos. Winifred squatted on the soft shoulder and heaved a sigh of relief.
“Keep going girl. I know there’s more.”
Pulling Abby down the one-way street, Winifred explored all the good smells on the narrow strip of ice plant, wild grass and salty earth dropping off to the rocky shoreline directly below. Neither woman noticed the plain sedan with Big Hair behind the wheel half a block behind them.
Big Hair scoured the homes on the left side of Scenic Drive for any witnesses. No one in sight, she punched the gas pedal.
Winifred led Abby to the hairpin turn at the tip of Scenic Drive. Winifred squatted in front of a yellow sign with a big arrow pointing left around the blind jack-knife corner.
Prey dead ahead, the sedan with Big Hair picked up speed.
Abby picked up poop, lifted her head and saw the sedan zeroing in for the kill. Scooping up Winifred, Abby was about to take her chance over the side to rocks and ocean when a Chevy Suburban appeared from around the blind hairpin. The car SCREECHED to a stop smack between Abby and the sedan.
Big Hair slammed on the brakes. The sedan skidded, lurched sideways to the right, rear end swinging around missing the Suburban’s grill before grinding to a stop, front end hanging over the edge of the soft shoulder.
Two glasses of whiskey in hand, Evelyn marched across her kitchen past the Boys, and thrust a glass at Abby, arms wrapped around Winifred.
“Go on. You’ll feel better.” It was less an offer than an order.
“No. Really, I’m—”
“Drink it. I’ll feel better.”
Abby took the glass, a sip… deep breath, then a good swig. “She tried to hit us. Run us off the point.”
“She? Who was it?”
“I don’t know. Dark glasses. Big blond hair.”
“Looks like someone is afraid you know something.” Evelyn looked at Winifred. “Or Winnie does.”
Abby nodded, took another drink. “I got the vet’s report. Her pads were only slightly bruised. It was the top of her paw that was crushed. She didn’t get that from clawing back up the cliff.”
Abby and Evelyn looked at Winifred. In no mood to join the conversation, she curled up tight in Abby’s lap, head buried under her paws.
“Oh, Winnie girl… I wish you’d talk to me. Murphy was right about the shoe, wasn’t he? But those slashes and stick thing… I need to get it from you. Help me, girl.”
Winifred’s eyes peeked out from under her bandaged paw. She began to shiver.
“She’ll be fine,” Evelyn said. “You… look like crap. Go wash up.”
Evelyn scooped up Winifred. The moment Abby was out of the room, Evelyn dipped two fingers into her whisky and offered Winifred a lick.
Derek paced Evelyn’s living room – a large room furnished with an eclectic blend of mismatched chairs and couches mingled with favorite lamps, coffee tables and armoires begged, borrowed, and more often, purloined from various stage and film productions dear to Evelyn’s heart. Unlike Norma Desmond’s mausoleum in Sunset Boulevard, Evelyn’s home was a happy tossed salad of tasty bits and pieces – mementos from a life filled with more comedy than tragedy.
“Always been a bad corner,” Derek said.
“I guess that’s why they changed it to one-way,” Evelyn said, reclining on an ornate Victorian fainting couch, the Boys standing guard on either side.
Snuggled into the corner of an old sofa, Abby and Winifred watched Derek do his detective thing.
“We did a quick check on the car. Rental. We’re getting the driver’s paperwork.”
“You didn’t talk to her?” Abby asked.
“Gone by the time we got there. You’re sure it was a woman.”
“She had dark glasses. Big blond hair. Maybe it was Dolly Parton.”
“Or Miss Piggy?” Evelyn added.
“Want me to bring her in for questioning?” Derek smiled at Evelyn.
“That would be lovely,” Evelyn said. “Haven’t talked to Miss Piggy in years. Wonderful woman!”
Derek couldn’t tell if she was kidding.
Abby wondered about that herself.
“She’s actually quite a delightful pig,” Evelyn said. “I was a guest on one of her specials with Kermit. Now there’s a frog!”
Derek nodded, then turned to Abby. “We talked to the driver of the Suburban. He gave us a good account of the accident.”
“It wasn’t an accident. She tried to hit us.”
“Abby knows something someone is afraid of,” Evelyn said.
“Tell me what it is and I’ll check it out.”
Abby considered the offer, checked with Evelyn.
“Have you talked to Lucky Chucky?” Evelyn asked.
Derek’s look suggested he didn’t have a clue.
“Charles Stanton. You know, Mr. Alpha Dog. I was a client when his father and Knox ran the company. Good men. And then Junior rode into town. Like the Mexican bandito in The Magnificent Seven. The fearsome Caldera! Eli Wallach was exquisitely evil, wasn’t he? Anyway, Lucky Chucky was all about ransacking the village, leaving the survivors in his wake, poorer, but wiser. I got out… before Chucky’s luck ran out.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Derek turned to Abby. “If you have anything to tell me, Abby… Any tangible evidence…”
Abby looked at Winifred in her lap.
Derek was not going there. “Then there’s nothing more I can do. If anything else happens… You know where to find me.”
“Yes, we do,” Evelyn said, escorting Derek to the door.
The Boys sniffed around Derek’s cuffs and shoes. Finding nothing to get their blood up, they slouched away and climbed onto the fainting couch for an afternoon snooze.
Evelyn waved goodbye to Derek at the door and offered a sweet, “I know we all feel safer with you on the case!”
~ ~ ~