Inside the high-end cutlery shop, Edmund carefully scanned several displays of specialty garden shears. Finding a suitable replacement for his Bonsai scissors, he turned to a salesman at the next counter tending to a middle-aged businessman enamored by several wicked looking hunting knives. Taking one from the display, the salesman gave it to the businessman suggesting he get a feel for it.
“One fifty-four CM stainless steel, reverse Tanto, Axis lock,” the salesman said. “Black class all the way. Used by professionals where life and death situations are all in a day’s work.”
The businessman was impressed.
So was Edmund who moved beside the businessman for a closer look.
Abby turned right at the Riverside RV Office and headed down the row of motorhomes and trailers. The park was nearly full except for the last couple of spaces next to Jerry’s trailer.
Winifred and Murphy sat inside the trailer, noses pressed against the screen door watching Jerry pull one of the trailer wheels off. They saw the Subaru before Jerry. Murphy slapped the screen door open, galloped to the car and threw himself onto Abby before she got out of the driver’s seat.
Winifred jumped into Jerry’s arms and both watched Murphy and Abby smother each other in hugs and kisses inside the car.
Extricating herself from behind the wheel and shedding Murphy’s big body, Abby opened the back door and Murphy climbed inside. Abby turned back to Jerry and Winifred.
“Guess I was missed.”
Jerry nodded and carried Winifred over to the car.
“How’d it go with Evie and the Boys?”
“Evie seemed pleased. We’ll see.”
Jerry loaded Winifred into the travel crate, carefully locked the crate door before checking the latch on Murphy’s crate.
“So… I guess there were no problems…?”
“Naw… We had a good time. The Three Amigos.”
“My pleasure. They’re welcomed back, anytime.” Jerry stuck his head back in the car next to the dogs’ crates. “Fine by me, if you want to drag her along.”
Abby smiled and climbed behind the wheel.
Jerry stepped back, then, “Best restaurant in town.”
Abby nodded and drove off.
Outside Abby’s second floor office on Mission Street, the sun was breaking through the thin layer of afternoon summer fog.
Inside, the fog was winning – no bright light breaking through the haze in Abby’s brain as she stared at her drawing of the shoe bottom with the slash marks and twig thing.
Abby drank the last of her coffee. Maybe it was all nonsense to begin with, she thought. Whatever. She’d had enough. Abby tore the page off the pad, crumbled it up and tossed it in the trash. It was the last page on her drawing pad. She smiled, Maybe it was a sign…
The iron gate to the subterranean garage of the Heather Glen Court office complex opened. Abby drove out, turned right and disappeared down Mission Street.
Across the street an old VW Beetle pulled out from the curb and followed the Subaru. Behind the wheel, Edmund’s disguise was not quite up to his Big Hair assassin, but the mustache, Clark Kent glasses and porkpie hat would serve his purpose.
Jerry studied the text on his laptop screen:
There are many ways to access your powers of communication with the animal world. Real connection will be easier if your spirit resonates with one of the following: Empath. Clairsentient. Clairaudient. Which are you?
Jerry looked over to his empty couch. “What do you think, guys?… Let’s find out.”
Jerry scrolled down the webpage and read: “Empath: someone able to psychically receive impressions regarding the emotional state of an animal.”
Jerry looked back to the couch. “Right… I don’t think so, either.”
Scrolling down further, Jerry read: “Clairaudient: a person who can psychically hear the ‘voice’ of an animal – hear sounds through a heightened sense, other than normal hearing.”
Leaning towards the couch, Jerry listened intently, then… “Strike two.”
He had one last shot and read: “Clairsentient: someone who receives the information through a sense of inner knowing… bypassing rational thought process.”
“Ah! Bypassing rational thought process… Now we’re talkin’.” Jerry flashed a big grin at the ghosts of Winnie and Murphy, giving him paw high-fours from the couch.
The FHARP benefit shop was full of energy, shoppers exploring nooks and crannies hunting bargains of furniture, dog paraphernalia, books, clothing, household décor.
Rosa entered the shop, arms loaded with shopping bags, waved to the cashier and marched to the back of the store, disappearing into a side room.
The Receiving room was stuffed with the latest donations. An energetic senior volunteer, Gladys welcomed Rosa with open arms. She was even more delighted when Rosa pulled out men’s shirts, sweaters and a sport jacket from her bags.
“You always bring us such beautiful things,” Gladys said.
“The man I work for, he doesn’t like to wear more than once or twice… Some people!”
And then Rosa pulled out the pants, held them up for Gladys to see the stitched repairs near the cuff.
“Not the same man,” said Rosa. “Maybe not good enough? Okay.”
“No. They’re very much appreciated. I’m sure we’ll find them a good home. Always someone in need.”
~ ~ ~