"Murder, Misfits & Mutts" - Chapter 4 - Carmel Dog Tales

Chapter 4


Tent canopies lined both sides of the Monterey Peninsula College parking lot. Shoppers perused produce, pastry, plants and flowers at this weekly Farmer’s Market.

     At the far end of the row, portable pen enclosures held a conglomeration of outcasts, mixed-breeds, purebreds and mutts. Behind the pens, a banner with a FHARP logo proclaimed:

Forever Home Animal Rescue Project

     At the end of the last dog pen, a good-looking guy chatted up Vicki, a cute twenty-something, wearing a form fitting FHARP t-shirt.

     Behind the pens, Abby emerged from the FHARP van with water bowls for the dogs. She looked good sporting a FHARP cap and sweatshirt. The guy making nice with Vicki noticed, smiled at Abby.

     Seeing Abby lugging water, Vicki said goodbye to the guy and joined Abby’s water brigade.

     “What do you think?” Vicki asked.


     “Josh. Adorable, isn’t he?”

     Abby nodded.

     “I think he really likes me.”

     “What makes you think so?”

     “I can tell. The way he looks at me. He has a good heart.”

     “Mmm. The way he looked at me… I got something else.”

     Vicki’s face tightened.  “You know, Abby… Not every man is looking at you.”

     “You’re right. My mistake.” Abby headed back to the van.

     “Abby…” Vicki went after her. “I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry.”

     “Me too. Just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

     The two women hugged. Over Abby’s shoulder Vicki saw her guy at a vegetable stand, more interested in the shape of the gal beside him than the tomatoes in front of him.

     Over Vicki’s shoulder, Abby caught the eye of Max, a salt and pepper miniature Schnauzer in one of the pens.  Breaking Vicki’s embrace, Abby reached into the pen and picked up the little guy whose eyes locked on Abby.

     “When Max looks at me, there’s no one else in the world. No checking out the passing parade. Just the two of us.”

     Max leaned in for a lick on Abby’s nose.


     Heading down the row of vendors, Jerry Newman was having his usual wretched day, looking like crap in grungy golf cap and dirty khakis. With bags of veggies drooping from his hand, Jerry was almost past the FHARP stand when a sharp bark stopped him. He turned and stared into the eyes of the miniature Schnauzer in Abby’s arms.

     “Want to hold him?”

     Jerry stiffened.

     “It’s all right. Go ahead. His name is Max.”

     A body-blow. Jerry back-peddled.

     Abby watched Jerry escape into the shoppers, hugged Max close. “It’s okay, sweetheart. You deserve better.”

~   ~   ~


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