Jerry stared at his laptop, the words dead on arrival. He looked over to the couch where Winifred and Murphy watched him.
“What? No Bronx cheer from the cheap seats?”
Winifred and Murphy looked at each other, then closed their eyes for a nap.
“You’re right. Let’s get some air.”
Pulling ahead on a long rope leash, Murphy led the way along the rocky trail beside the river. Winifred hung back closer to Jerry, leash hanging loosely from Jerry’s hand. He enjoyed watching Winifred’s nose vacuum the damp earth exploring the scents and sounds of birds and critters along the riverbank.
Jerry found her ears marvels of Bugs Bunny mechanics; twin periscopes, sometimes in perfect unison, other times operating independently, one ear scoping left, the other tweaking right. Ears up and leaning forward, you had her full attention. Spread eagle east and west, she was interested and curious. Laid back flat against the head, a sign of serious concern.
Jerry’s cell rang. Winifred stopped, ears periscoping to Jerry who checked the caller ID, let the call go to voicemail.
“Al. My editor. Still wants the stuff. Golf Astrology.”
Winifred held him in her gaze.
“Right… I’m a fraud, Sweets. Pretender to the stars! And then I got lucky. Predicted who would win the Open… And you know what? He did! Worst thing that could’ve happened. People began to take me seriously. Thought I knew what I was talking about. I know… Anyway, I quit. Before I started believing it. But Al… Still wants it. So… man of principle that I am, I give it to him. Plagiarizing from myself. How low can you go…”
The way Winifred looked at Jerry made him wonder if she actually understood.
“You are a man of many talents, Edmund.” Stanton stood at the greenhouse door watching Edmund tend to his Bonsai.
“But it appears you have lost some of your vigor for your previous line of work.”
Edmund turned to face his boss. “It won’t happen again, sir.”
“No. It won’t.”
Stanton moved into the greenhouse, pushed past Edmund until he stood between him and his beloved Bonsai. “Because if this situation isn’t disposed of…”
Stanton smiled at the perfection of the Bonsai forest, then snapped off the top of one of the seven Foemina Junipers and tossed it in the air with a soft, “Ka-boom!”
Edmund gasped, looked ready to kill.
“Ah, that’s the spirit! By tomorrow night.”
Confident that Edmund understood the full consequences of failure, Stanton turned and headed out.
Edmund grabbed his new shears, started after Stanton ready to stab him in the back.
Stanton stopped, turned back. “Good to be home. New York is a jungle.” And Stanton was out the door.
Edmund stood still, eyes slowly moving down to his right hand holding the shears in a death grip.
Edmund took the scissors in his left hand, ceremoniously placed his right on a workbench, raised his left arm and… SLAMMED down, the shears impaling the workbench between fingers, snapping the little tool in half.
Edmund eyed his unbloodied hand. Shrieked disappointment.
~ ~ ~