"Murder, Misfits & Mutts" - Chapter 8 - Carmel Dog Tales

Chapter 8

 

Charles Stanton stood at the entrance to his French country kitchen basking in the warmth of his little family. Across the large room, Edmund Witherspoon perused a rack of fine Wusthof cutlery.  The cherubic middle-aged man selected his blade, plucked a Roma tomato out of an ornate basket and began carving a Lotus flower out of the firm red flesh.

     Marveling at Edmunds’ culinary artistry, Stanton’s gaze moved under gleaming pots and pans hanging from beams to a table at a garden window where his housekeeper was happily engrossed in a book, Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death.

     Rosa Molina ran the estate with a stout body – somewhere in its 60’s, perhaps younger, hard to tell with Rosa. Major-domo of Stanton’s domain, Rosa was a quiet observer, not afraid to put the hammer down when things were not done to her satisfaction.

     On the other side of the table, a muscular hunk, Harley Hudson, was deeply involved in a Peace is the Way podcast on his iPad.

     “Violence may be innate in human nature, but so is its opposite; love,” Deepak Chopra droned from the iPad. “The next stage of humanity, the leap we are poised to take, will be guided by the force of that love.”

     Stanton watched as Harley struggled with Chopra’s proposition, a bit beyond his body-man/driver’s pay grade.

 

     Stanton’s library was fit for a man of culture, intellect and curiosity. The old-world charm of the room featured a floor to ceiling wall of West African hardwood shelves filled with the world’s great literature. A Honduras Rosewood ladder on casters climbed to the highest shelves of books – not that Stanton would ever consider climbing it, but the impression it made delighted him. The rolling ladder was exactly what a man of his stature deserved.

     Stanton stood at the open French doors gazing out to his gardens filled with rose bushes, fruit trees and vineyards rolling across the hills. Stanton turned from the doors and strolled to his wall of books. On the way, he removed a polish cloth from a drawer and began caressing the side rails of his Rosewood ladder when a knock at the library door interrupted.

     “Come in.”

     Hearing the door open and close, Stanton acknowledged his visitor with a back-of-the-head nod, went back to polishing his ladder.

     “Anything I should be concerned about?”

     “No.”

     “And his dog?”

     “Disposed of.”

     “Good. No loose ends. Everything neat and tidy.”

___________________

 

Neat and tidy was nowhere to be found in Jerry’s trailer. Sitting at the dinette, Jerry stared at his laptop… nothing happening. He looked up, eyes landing on a small framed clipping on the side of a kitchen cabinet. The words were almost too faded to read, but they had been branded into Jerry’s soul long ago.

“Words are innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this,
describing that, meaning the other. If you get the right ones
in the right order,  you can nudge the world a little.”    
Tom Stoppard

     The right ones.  In the right order.  All Jerry ever wanted. Was that too much to ask?

     “Nothing to it, you miserable– ” Jerry muttered.

      A painful moan came from across the trailer where Winifred curled in a corner of the couch. The little dog’s discomfort offered escape from Jerry’s own suffering and he went to the couch, sat on the edge and stroked Winifred’s head and ears.

     “I know you hurt, but I just gave you a pill.”

     Winifred gave him a sad look.

     “What happened to you…?”

     Jerry was bothered more than he was prepared for. But he had a solution, went to the kitchen and pulled a croissant from a paper bag in a cupboard. Jerry tore off a little piece and set it in front of the little dog’s nose.

     “From that new La Fayette bakery. Really yummy…”

     Winifred licked a bit of crust… turned and curled up tighter into the corner of the couch.

     “Okay. Maybe later.”

     Jerry ate the piece himself, started chewing on the rest of the croissant when he had another idea, leaned close to Winifred’s ear.

      “A pony walks into a bar. Whispers to the bartender he’d like a beer. Bartender says ‘I can’t hear you. You’ll have to speak up.’ Pony says, ‘I’m sorry. I’m a little hoarse.’”

        Winifred whimpered and buried her head under her injured paw.

~   ~   ~

 

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