Mystery at the Dog Park Part 6 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Dos – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
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“Because They Matter”

 

Part 6 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here.

Trigger warning: Dog violence.

 

Jean was in her black jeans, a black t-shirt and a black sweatshirt, which she’d just bought today. It could be chilly out in the woods and she wanted it with her. She’d spent Saturday afternoon reacquainting herself with her big camera. Usually she used her little hiking camera or just her cell phone to take pictures. She made the house as dark as she could to practice shooting without a flash. Frustrated, Jean had to download a YouVid how-to video to get it right. She had a sandwich for supper and fidgeted as she stared out of her patio window watching the sun go down.

It was after six when Karen pulled up in her Jeep. “Ready?” she asked as Jean hopped into the car.

“Yes. I thought this afternoon would never end.” Jean buckled her seat belt. “I have everything. We just need to get there and not get caught.”

Karen pulled away from the curb. “That’s the trick. Isn’t it?”

They rode in silence, even after turning onto Forest Road 222. Jean watched behind them. “I see lights two switchbacks back.”

Karen nodded. “We’re almost down.”

Jean twisted in her seat to watch more comfortably. “Hurry, but don’t crash.”

Karen snorted. “Thanks.”

A minute later, “We’re down, now to find that spot.” Karen crept along, not wanting to miss the turn off. “Got it.” She pulled in and around the bushes and turned off the car and lights.

Jean spun around in her seat and watched out to the road. “They’ll be right along.”

They sat, hardly breathing, staring through the bushes. Even in the Jeep, they could hear the roar of a diesel truck engine. A moment later, they watched the lights pass, engine loud enough to make the Jeep shake. They sighed at the same time, then giggled with nerves. “Okay. Let’s get out and do some sneaking.” Jean gathered the camera and her sweatshirt. “Ready? Open doors, get out, close doors so as little light as possible shows.”

Karen nodded.

“One, two, three.” Jean opened her door, slid out and closed it as fast and as quietly as she could. “You there?” she asked into the dark.

“Yep. I’ve got my flashlight and a hiking stick.”

“I’ve got my camera and my flashlight.” Jean pulled the camera strap over her head. “I guess we’re ready.”

“We should cross the road here. Then keep to the woods along the way. If we turn off our flashlights when we hear a car, they’ll never see us.” Karen came around the end of the Jeep and waited for Jean.

“Sounds like a plan. I’m ready.”

The two women picked their way to the road and hearing nothing, crossed it, moving as far away from the forest road as seemed prudent. They kept their flashlights pointed down. It meant that they could only see a couple of feet in front of them but better than making themselves a target.

Jean’s heart pounded. Every step they made sounded like it could be heard in Greyson but without being able to see too far ahead, there wasn’t much they could do about it. As they moved forward, more and more cars passed on their left. Each time they shut off the light and hunkered down. With every car that passed, they grew more comfortable. “They can’t see us.” Karen whispered.

“They’re not looking.” Jean whispered back as a pick-up truck, every external light known to man lit up on the truck, passed by. It’s very hard for the human eye to pick out shapes in the dark unless they’re looking for them, are lit up in some way or are moving. It’s when we get to the ring that we’ll have to be careful.”

By the time they made the third of a mile, festivities were in full swing. From the edge of the woods they could see trucks surrounded the ring, lights on. At the moment, it was empty. One guy was selling beers from coolers off of his tailgate. Men and women were standing around the fence, laughing and joking, while others sat on the truck hoods, able to see over the heads of those standing.

Men and dogs were at the poles Jean and Karen had noted earlier, one dog tied per pole. People wandered among the tied dogs, as men debated the merits of the dog or the dog in relation to some other dogs. Jean took pictures of the dogs and their owners as best she could without a flash.

Karen pointed out that the men were giving their dogs rubdowns and checking their paws. “They’re treating them like boxers.”

“Yeah, but a boxer has a choice.”

She saw a number of smaller dogs, ones that didn’t look like fighting dogs at all. “I wonder why the little dogs?”

“No idea,” Karen whispered back.

They were interrupted by an announcement. They looked at the ring. From the back of a huge white pickup, a man stood with a microphone. “To start the evening, a demonstration by Bill Munson on training your fighting dog.

The gate farthest from them opened. Jean moved to get shots of the man in the ring. He led a German Shepherd. Behind him another man led a small terrier on a leash. Jean moved closer, standing on a fallen pine to get higher. Karen followed.

The man in the ring spoke without a microphone. He slipped the leash off the shepherd and began to talk. She was too far away to hear. Jean could see Karen straining to hear. The second man let the terrier loose. The first man called a command. Before she knew what was happening the shepherd ran straight for the little dog. She began snapping. The dog grabbed the terrier by the neck and with only a small squeal, the shepherd shook its head and tossed the small dog in the air.

The man called the dog back and snapped the leash in place. Jean stopped snapping and got off the log. Her hands were shaking so hard she was glad she had the strap around her neck. Karen was bent over, retching.

 

Thank You!

1025 Words

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 5 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Captain – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Part 5 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here.

 

It was Friday after school before Summer had something to report. Jean and Karen had continued to search for Sandy without luck but they became more observant of all the handyman and other contractor trucks parked in neighborhoods. They were especially suspicious of a truck just parked and the contractor sitting inside. Sometimes he was on the phone. Sometimes eating. None of them looked like they were casing the neighborhood where they were parked but who could tell?

Karen called Jean with the information. “It’s outside of town, to the south, down Forest Road 222 about three miles.”

“We should check it out.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.” Jean switched the handset to her left hand. “This is a chance to check out the place while it’s daylight.”

Karen took a deep breath. “What if somebody is there?”

“Put your hiking stuff on. We’ll just say we’re looking for new hikes?”

“I don’t know, Jean.”

“Better to go prepared, right? We don’t want to go tomorrow and not know what we’re up against. In the dark!”

“I guess. I’ll drive. Your Prius won’t like a dirt road.”

“Okay. See you in a few.” Jean hung up and hurried upstairs. This is perfect. We’ll scope the place out when it’s deserted and be ready for tomorrow night. She put on jeans and a tee-shirt. Then kicked off her flip-flops and put on hiking socks and her boots. Karen’s car horn sounded as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door.

“You were quick.” Jean put on her seat belt.

“I already had jeans and a tee on.” Karen backed out of the driveway and headed down the street. Just had to put my boots on.

“This is great.” Jean tapped a tattoo on her thighs with both hands. “We’ve gotten dull since summer.”

“We’ve not gotten into a fight with a crazy woman, you mean.” Karen shook her head. “I’m starting to think you’re an adrenaline junkie.”

“Nah. I just like things to be interesting.” She watched out of the window as Karen drove them south, out of town. “This is nice. I get to look around. Why is it I always drive?”

“Because you’re a control freak.” Karen laughed. “But I do drive sometimes.”

“True.” She watched another three blocks pass. “Do you know this forest road?”

“No. There are so many leaving the highway, unless it’s for something specific, I don’t try them all.”

Jean nodded. “So we’ll just cruise down the road, try to spot the place, take a look around.”

“Sure. Let’s say that.” Karen licked her lips. “I just hope no one is there.”

“Me, too.” Jean watched the scenery go by as Karen drove. It was six miles south of town where Karen slowed down and put on her turn signal. Jean perked up. “Alright.”

Karen waited for northbound traffic to pass, then pulled across the highway and onto the dirt road. “So far, so good.”

“It’s going to be hard to spot in the dark.”

“Yep. Probably a good thing we’re checking it today. Even if I am being a worry-wart.”

Jean grabbed the hand hold over the window as Karen’s Jeep hit a pothole. “Glad I didn’t bring my car.”

Karen nodded. “Sometimes the dirt roads are in really good shape, sometimes, like this one, not so much. Anyway, I set the trip odometer to zero so we can tell when we’re close.”

“Good idea.”

They traveled along the road without too many bumps until the odometer read 2.8. “We’re almost there. Keep an eye peeled.” Karen slowed down.

“That must be it.” Jean pointed to the right. The road had dipped down into a canyon about a mile from the spot. The landscape changed from high desert to wooded in the protected canyon. The spot didn’t have much to recommend it. There were no buildings. A chain-link fence circled the ring with a gate on opposite sides. Karen stopped the car and they got out. “Well, it’s secluded.”

Jean nodded. They walked around the fence. “What are these?” Away from the fence was rebar or pipes sticking up out of the ground, each one separated from the others by several feet. She crouched down to look as Karen walked up to her. She studied the dirt. It was rocky and pitted with small holes. She lightly touched a spot. “This is a chain mark. I think this is where they tie the dogs.”

Karen had her arms around herself. “I can’t help but think about these poor dogs.”

“Me, too.” Jean stood up and brushed the dirt off her hands. “Makes my stomach roll.” She looked around the barren area. “So we can’t drive up and park and come in. They’re going to know we aren’t fans. Did Summer say if they charged admission?”

“No. Just where it is. And you’re right. We can’t just walk in. We’ll have to park up the road and hike in. Then come around the back in the trees.” Karen pointed to the forest edge away from the road.

“That’s going to be tricky, the drive into the canyon was kind of narrow. We’d have to park at the top.” She turned to look down the road. “You know what’s that way?”

“Nope. But I brought the maps. Let’s see.” They went back to the car and Karen pulled USGS maps out of the cargo compartment. “Here’s the one.” She put the rest down and opened the map on the cargo compartment floor. She traced a line from Greyson to the forest road then along the thin line of the forest road. “We’re about here.” She pointed at a spot on the map. “If we keep going,” her finger traced the road, “we end up…nowhere. The road just ends. Probably at a canyon.”

“Darn it.” Jean leaned over the map. “Look, as the road reaches the canyon bottom, it opens up. We could park here.”

Karen studied the map. “Maybe. We’ll check it out on the way out.” She folded the map. “I know I’d rather not have to hike down that narrow road with traffic coming up behind us.”

“Or hike back up it. Let’s check it out.”

They closed the cargo door and got in. Karen drove slowly so they could check out possible hiding places along the way. “Look here.” Jean pointed to her right. We could pull the Jeep in behind that stand of trees. The shrub oak would hide it, especially at night.”

Karen pulled off and drove the Jeep into the spot. “Let’s look.” They got out and walked back to the forest road and then back at the Jeep. “Not hidden well for daylight but at night, no one is going to be looking over there.”

“I think it will work and it’s only a third of a mile back to the ring.” Jean stuck her hands in her jean pockets. “We’ll want pictures. Of the people, of license plates.”

“The dogs?”

Jean sighed. “I don’t know if I want to see that. Or get too close. I’ll bring my camera. It will be better than our cell phones.”

Karen nodded. “Yeah. Makes sense.” She scrubbed her face with both hands. “We’re going to regret this.”

“No we won’t. We’ll be helping to shut down this horror.” Jean pulled her hands out of her pockets. Her voice grew hard. “And send these jackwipes to jail.”

“True.” She headed back to the Jeep. “Let’s get out of here.”

 

Thank You!

1254 Words

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 4 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Bowen – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Part 4 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.

 

“See you then.” Jean hung up and got up to put the water on to boil. Karen would want a cup of tea when she came.

They took their tea out to the patio where Karen read what Jean had written. “Hmm.” She dunked the teabag in her cup. “A good list. But I had a different idea.”

“What’s that?”

“We ask Summer and the kids if they know about it.”

“About dog fighting?”

Karen nodded. “Summer still has those links to her old life. She may be able to find out.”

Jean chewed her lower lip. “It won’t get her in trouble, will it?”

“I don’t think so. If she thinks it will, we won’t let her do it.”

“Okay. When she gets home from school, we’ll ask.”

Karen grinned. “Good. Finish your tea and get your hiking boots on. We’re going to go out looking for Sandy again.”

“I’m good with that.” Jean fished her teabag out of her mug.

They spent the hot, sunny morning traipsing around every pond, pool of water and stream bed with water in it but no Sandy. “It’s not looking good, Karen.”

“True.” Karen wiped the sweat from her forehead. The car unlocked and she got inside. “Ahh. Feels good to get off my feet.”

“Yep.” Jean cranked the air conditioner. The car was stifling. “Ready for lunch?”

“I am. Dog hunting is hungry work.”

Jean laughed. “Okay. Where to?”

“Sammy’s? We were just at the Highway Diner.”

“Sounds good to me.”

At the diner, they discussed garden clean-up for the end of the year until their food arrived. As they ate, they could overhear four men in the back-corner booth.

“Yeah, it was a good take last week but we need better dogs.”

Jean froze, fork halfway to her mouth and she stared at a wide-eyed Karen. She started to turn to see the men when Jean put her hand on Karen’s arm and shook her head. Karen nodded. They listened, Jean’s eyes on the table.

“You gotta get bigger dogs. Those 30 pounders just don’t cut it. The people want to see big dogs fighting it out.”

“They’re the warm-up rounds. They get bets.”

“No, they don’t. No one bets till the big dogs come out.”

One of the men lowered his voice. Jean couldn’t make out the words. It must have been a joke because at the end they all laughed. She realized she had a death grip on her fork, her nails had dug cuts into the palm of her hand.

“I’ve got a guy comin’ Saturday. He’s got a Rottweiler that will take out Morgan’s German shepherd for sure.”

“No way.”

“Way. You wait and see.”

“I gotta get back to work. You boys keep it clean.”

They all laughed and got up from their booth. Jean and Karen pretended to eat as they passed. It wasn’t until the men paid and left the building that Jean dared to breathe. “Oh, my God!”

Karen nodded, face white as her napkin. “They just talked about it like it was no big deal.”

“We need to find out where the ring is. Saturday is in two days.” Jean dabbed at the cuts on her palm with her napkin dipped in her glass of water.

“Do we tell Paul?”

“What do you think?”

“I think we should. These are not nice guys.”

Jean nodded despite wanting to track it down. “When he gives us his missing dog report, we’ll tell him.”

She picked up the check the waitress had left on the table. “I’m not hungry. Are you?”

Karen shook her head. “Not anymore.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

When they got to Jean’s house, the phone was ringing. She dashed to pick it up. “Hello?”

“Jean, it’s Paul Oliver.”

“Hey Paul.” Jean waved Karen over. “I’m putting you on speaker so Karen can hear. Okay, go ahead.”

“Glad I caught you two together. Let me say, I didn’t realize there were so many missing dogs.”

“How many?” Jean asked as she nodded to Karen.

“Just this year, fifty-three. All kinds of dogs.”

“That’s more than one a week, Paul!” Karen said.

“It is. Here’s what gets me. Many of these reports say they don’t know how the dog got lost. They were in a secure back yard or in a kennel in the back yard or like your missing dog, at the dog park. I went over to the dog park and checked out the fence. No dog is getting through there.”

“Dog-napping. Margaret over at the Humane Society was telling us. The thieves dress like workers, walk right into the yard and take the dogs. No one pays any attention to those vans parked in the neighborhoods.”

“I’ll talk to Margaret. I thought you two were being over-dramatic.”

“Not this time,” Karen gave Jean a glance. “We have some more news for you.”

They could hear him sigh. “What is it?”

“We overheard four men at Sammy’s diner at lunch. They were talking about dog fighting.”

The line was silent for a moment. “In what way?”

“Like there was a fight last Saturday, with betting. One of the men said the betting could be heavier. He has a guy coming this Saturday with a Rottweiler that would take out the current reigning German Shepherd.” Karen looked to Jean, who nodded.

After a pause, “You don’t know the men?”

“No,” Jean said. “We did our best not to draw attention to ourselves.”

“Probably for the best. Don’t you two go sticking your noses into that. These guys are dangerous.”

Karen nodded.

“Do you hear me? I’m taking this to Nick. He will not like it if you two get involved.”

“Okay, Paul.” Jean rolled her eyes.

“I hear you,” Karen said.

“Good. I’ll email the report on the missing dogs to you. There’s nothing classified about it.”

“Thanks, Paul.”

They hung up.

“Well. Isn’t that a fine thing. We bring him this news and he shuts us out.”

“Don’t you think we’ve been attacked enough?”

“I suppose.” She put the phone back in the cradle. “But let’s see what Summer can find out, anyway.”

 

 

Thank You!

1023 Words

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 2 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Azula: Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

If you’ll notice, the picture illustrating this week’s serial section is of a local dog, Azula, currently at the Humane Society awaiting her furever home. The next 5 sections will also feature one of the many dogs awaiting a home. If you’re looking for a new member of the family, please consider contacting the Humane Society.

 

Part 2 of 7  See Part 1 here.

 

After lunch, Jean and Karen drove over to the radio station instead of calling. In the office they talked to the secretary, Barbara.

“Dogs for sale?” Barbara asked.

“Yes.” Jean showed her the lost dog flyer. “We’re trying to find this dog. The Humane Society told us there’s a market for stolen dogs and that they get sold through the newspaper and radio, sometimes. So we thought we’d look.

Barbara’s eyebrows went up. “I had no idea.”

“Us either.”

“Let me look.” She pulled up a list on her computer. “No.” She shook her head. “No dogs for sale. Sorry.”

Jean saw the woman slump a little, then she brightened. “Let me make a copy of the flyer. I’ll keep my eyes open for an ad that resembles the dog.”

Jean handed her the flyer. “Thank you.”

When they left, Karen propped her arm on the window and tapped her fingers. “Why don’t we do the same thing at the paper. Go over and give them a copy of the flyer and have them keep an eye out for a dog sale?”

“Good idea.” Jean grinned. “We can get the whole town looking for the dog.”

After they finished at the paper, Jean drove Karen home. “Maybe the dog is really just lost. Keep your eyes open for Sandy on your walk, tonight.”

Karen got out and held the door open as she leaned in. “Sure. You too. If she did wander off she could be anywhere by now.”

“Talk to you tomorrow.”

Karen nodded and closed the door.

At home, Jean stood and looked out of her garage door. It was late summer and hot. If Sandy was lost, she was going to be thirsty. There were a few water sources, ponds and such, in town. If the dog was going to be anywhere, it should be around the water. She went inside and closed the door. Something to do with Karen tomorrow.

#

The next day they hiked around every pond and stream in town. After a long, hot morning, they stopped at the Highway Diner to eat. Jean bought a paper from the newspaper box despite the fact she knew one was lying in her driveway. She opened it to the want ads and skimmed the page. “Darn. No dog.”

Karen sipped her iced tea. “Well, Margaret did say thieves wouldn’t advertise to sell a dog in its own area.” She sighed. “The dog is probably gone.”

Jean nodded. “Probably down in Phoenix or even Tucson by now.”

“Maybe the police have a handle on this. We should check with Nick.”

“I like checking the police department but I don’t think the Chief of Police is going to be aware of every lost dog report in town.” Jean thought he’d laugh himself silly at them.

Karen shrugged. “Then we’ll ask Paul. He’s not so prickly as Nick is. Anyway, they owe us for helping them with the last murder.”

Jean laughed. “I don’t think getting beaten up by a crazy woman counts as helping.”

“You know what I mean.” Karen laughed too.

“Sure. We can stop by there after lunch and see if Paul can help us out.”

#

At the police department, Lieutenant Paul Oliver came to the window to talk to them. “You want what?”

“We want to see a report on the number of missing dog reports you have.” Karen told him.

He raised an eyebrow. “We don’t track that.”

“You should,” Jean said. “The Humane Society said it’s becoming a problem.”

“Lost dogs?”

“No, stolen dogs. The owners just don’t realize the dogs aren’t lost, they’re stolen.”

Paul rubbed a hand over his sandy-brown crew cut. “Sounds nuts but let me dig around. I’ll let you know.”

Jean and Karen both grinned at him. “Thanks, Paul,” Karen said.

“Talk to Margaret over at the Humane Society. She has the whole story.”

“I’ll do that.”

Jean and Karen left. Jean felt pretty good as they walked to the car. “That’s progress, don’t you think?”

“I do. Paul has always been a good guy. If there’s something, he’ll find it.”

“But what do we do now?” Jean got in the car and clicked the lock to unlock the door for Karen.

Karen got in and put on her seat belt. “How about animal control? We could call them and ask questions.”

“I like it. Your house or mine?”

“Mine. I’ve got a roast in the crockpot I want to check.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

At Karen’s, it took only a second for her to check on her food. She brought the phone book over to the kitchen table with the phone handset and sat down. “Glad I made fresh iced tea this morning.”

Jean nodded. She’d already drank half of her glass. “Me too. I’ve started making fruit water.”

“Fruit water?”

“Yeah, a two-quart pitcher of water, some apple slices, or mint, or lemon, or orange or a mix. Let it set for a bit. Then drink whenever. I get tired of iced tea all the time.” Jean wiped condensation from the glass onto a napkin.

“That’s a great idea. I’ll have to try that.” Karen opened the phone book to the page with town listings. She ran her finger down the page. “Here they are, Animal Control.” She dialed the number and put it on speaker.

 

Thank You!

899 Words

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Mystery at the Dog Park 1 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Little Dog by Randy Cockrell

Hi,

I had this idea for a Jean Hays story but it wasn’t enough of a story for even a novelette so I’ve decided to make it a serial short story. Not every section is 1000 words or less. Some run over to 1200 but I didn’t think you all would mind too much.

I hope you enjoy it.

Mystery at the Dog Park

Part 1 of 7

Jean pulled the leash around her body as the lab-pitbull mix lunged forward.

“She’s giving you a run today.” Karen laughed

“It’s not funny.” Jean puffed. The dog was wearing her out. “Can’t wait to get to the dog park and let her run.”

“I hear ya.” Karen stopped to untangle the two Chihuahuas and the Yorkie mix she was walking.

They arrived at the park and herded the dogs through the gate. Karen took her dogs to the small dog enclosure while Jean let her dog loose in the large dog area. They stood next to each other on opposite sides of the fence to talk as the dogs played.

A woman left the group of dog owners at the picnic table provided and came over to them. She handed them a flyer with a picture of her caramel colored cockapoo, Sandy. “Have you seen my dog?”

Jean took the flyer and held it so Karen could see. “No.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I haven’t.”

Karen shook her head, too. “No. How long has she been gone?”

“Since yesterday.” The woman sniffed, eyes red, as she scanned the area. “I was talking with the usual people yesterday,” she waved her hand at the group around the table, “while Sandy and the other dogs played. Then, she was just gone when I looked for her.” Her voice quavered. “I don’t know how she got out of the dog park.”

“We’re walking the humane society dogs,” Jean explained. “But we’ll keep an eye out for Sandy.”

Shoulders slumped, the woman nodded. “That’s my number on the bottom. Call anytime if you find her.”

“We will,” Karen said. “Good luck.” They watched her shuffle back to the table. “How awful. I wonder what happened?”

After hearing the woman’s story, Jean looked for her dog, Arthur. She spotted him chasing a squirrel on a tree trunk around and around the tree. It looked to her that the squirrel was teasing the dog on purpose. “It’s not a big dog, probably got through a hole in the fence.”

Karen turned around to watch the dogs she brought. The Chihuahua’s were chasing each other while the Yorkie dug a hole. “Poor woman. I hope the dog doesn’t get caught by a coyote or a hawk. One of my neighbors lost her little dog when an eagle swooped in and plucked it right out of the backyard.”

Jean’s eyes went wide. “That sucks.”

Karen nodded. “Yep.”

Back at the humane society, the women turned the dogs in. It broke Jean’s heart to make Arthur get back in the kennel. They stopped in the office. “Margaret,” Jean pulled the flyer from her pocket and unfolded it. “Have you seen this dog come in?” She handed the shelter manager the paper.

Margaret looked at the picture and shook her head. “Nope. Poor little thing. I had a call from this woman this morning.” She sighed. “I told her to do the flyers. And talk to the neighbors around the park. What I didn’t tell her was that the dog may have been stolen.”

“Stolen? Who would do that?” Jean asked.

Margaret handed the flyer back to Jean. “People who then sell the dog on Craig’s list or in a newspaper ad.”

“Oh no!” Karen looked horrified.

“Yep.” Margaret went back to her desk. “Happens all the time in the bigger cities but we’ve been seeing it more and more up here. There’s a market, especially for little dogs like that one. And the bad guys just scoop up the little ones when no one is looking.”

“They don’t take big dogs?” Jean leaned on the counter.

“Oh, they do. They’ll disguise themselves as handymen or maintenance people and take dogs right out of their backyards. No one pays any attention to those guys coming or going in the neighborhood. Purebred dogs are the target, German Shepherds, Labs of any sort, those kinds of dogs.”

“That happens here?” Jean couldn’t believe that people would just go into someone’s backyard and take another person’s pet.

“Not that one, so much. That’s more in the big cities, too. Also, they disguise themselves as animal control and knock on the door. They tell the owners that a complaint of abuse has been filed and they’re taking the dog under protective custody. They show the owner some sort of legal looking document. In confusion and fear, they hand the dog over planning to go to court and get it straightened out but it’s too late. The dog and the thieves are long gone.

“I would be so ticked!” Karen said.

“Me too. Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Jean asked.

“Not usually. They don’t advertise the dog in the area where it was stolen from so you can’t even check the paper or anything to try and find it.”

“How awful.”

Margaret nodded. “Yep. Unfortunately, little Sandy, there,” she nodded at the flyer in Jean’s hand, “wasn’t microchipped. If she had been, there would be some chance of finding her.”

Jean and Karen said their good-byes and left. “Who knew there was a market for stolen dogs?” Jean drove them both to lunch as was their habit after their turn at walking the humane society inmates.

“I had no idea. I mean, you see dogs up for sale in the paper and on the radio all the time. It never occurred to me they might be stolen.”

“Let’s grab a paper and see if there are any dogs for sale in there.”

Karen nodded. “Good idea. Though the current paper came out Friday and Sandy was stolen yesterday. Tomorrow’s paper would be a better bet.”

“You’re right. Tomorrow we’ll look. In the meantime, let’s call the radio station and see what they have on their ads.”

“Great idea. After lunch though. My tummy’s growling.”

 

Thank You!

974 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Author Interviews: Jason Meadors

jason-authorpic-rs

Today we’re talking to author Jason Meadors. An eclectic author of suspense and mystery, Jason has three books out and three more on the way. Here’s a little bit about Jason.

Married for nearly 42 years

Three kids, five grandchildren

One old dog

Court reporter, mostly in Colorado, some in Wyoming, occasionally coast to coast, in Alaska, and in South Korea.

Former Marine

Former soccer player

Decent cook

Appreciator of single-malt scotch and fine tequila

Motorcycle enthusiast, except currently without a motorcycle

Writer

Multiple articles in state and national trade journals

Blog: grandpa-tells-stories.com

Titles for sale on the Internet:

Chance Encounter, a novella of suspense

Up and Down, a collection of short stories

Out of Time, a novella of mystery

Pending completed works:

Tomas, a novel of suspense

Hidden View, a literary dramatic novel

Pending, nearly complete

One for All (working title), a story of apocalypse

Chance-Encounter-Cover

That’s certainly a full life, Jason! So, let’s get started, shall we?

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

It actually, really, is writing. Then photography, if you don’t want to count writing. But I also like to cook, travel, and work out. Social media is a bit of a curse as a hobby. (See, I’m starting out by not answering your question correctly.)

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

Living or anyone ever?

Currently, Barack Obama. Not because I’m a fan or not a fan, but he’s had unparalleled experience and views in current world affairs and goings-on, and I’d like to hear about them. Plus, he likes craft beer, so we could drink beer and chat.

Anyone ever, Theodore Roosevelt, just barely ahead of T.E. Lawrence. Roosevelt was just so well-traveled, had a marvelous array of experiences, and it would not only be interesting but provide a wealth of stories, I’m sure.

Out-of-Time-Cover

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Coffee, although I wouldn’t turn down the tea.

 

4. What are you working on right now?

Expanding my novel Tomas out to a size that an agent wants before she looks at it. (I recently blogged about my frustration with that.)

 

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Cooked straight up with mild seasonings, and calculated to finish off with a final surprising taste.

Up-and-Down-Cover

 

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Read, hobnob with writers and others in the profession, and keep writing. Just keep writing.

I can’t offer marketing advice. I’m still trying to find my own way there.

 

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

Ideas come to me out of experiences I’ve never had, mostly, and I pepper them with things I know from my own life to give the stories a dash of authenticity.

 

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Blog: grandpa-tells-stories.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Jason.meadors and facebook.com/grandpatellsstories

I have LinkedIn and Twitter, but don’t use them much.

 

Thank you so much, Jason, for taking the time to chat with us all. I certainly appreciate it.

So readers, look for Jason’s books on Amazon, stop by his website (lots of good stuff there including recipes), or visit him on Facebook!

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Room with a Knife

Oil Painting, still life, wine bottle, glass, knife

je tuemais pour tu m’aimes mon amour by jackieducrostudio

I submitted this last spring in a response to a writing prompt. The originators of the contest challenge never got back to me. So, here it is for you to enjoy.

Room With A Knife

Detective June Weaver stepped into the hotel room. The blonde woman on the floor was in silk pajamas but with all the blood, it was hard to say what color they were. A knife was in her right hand, her arm stretched away from her. Her left arm was covered in cuts. Defensive wounds, June thought. She tried to fight whoever it was off. On the small table, in front of the hotel window, there was a half full bottle of chardonnay. Beside it, two plastic hotel glasses, one half full, the other tipped over. The bed was still made.

She turned to the uniformed officer who was standing at the door. “Any luggage?”

“Suitcase in the closet, Detective.”

June nodded, green eyes thoughtful, visualizing the room and running scenarios through her head. “The chairs were in place when you got here?”

“Yeah. Right next to the table.”

June scratched her head. “I don’t get it. Only one cup tipped over. Bed made, furniture in place, but there was a hell of a fight, she has defensive wounds all over her arm. Blood on the carpet indicates she was killed right here. I’m not getting it.”

Her partner, Lin Chow, entered the room. “We have video of the hallway. A guy, about six foot, dark hair, left the room about ten-seventeen last night. No reports from neighboring rooms about noise.” The petite detective paced around the room. “She looks like she was in a fight, but the room doesn’t. Any ideas?”

“Fresh out, you?”

Lin put a glove on and opened drawers in the dresser. “She didn’t unpack, drawers are empty.” She squatted next to the body. “Hotel says she was registered to stay three days. So why didn’t she unpack?”

June tucked a strand of her long red hair behind an ear. “Is there video of the guy leaving the hotel? Tell me there’s video in the parking lot.”

“Yeah, he left through the lobby. No video in the parking lot.”

“Too bad, plate numbers would have been nice.”

“We’ll have to hope for prints on the bottle or the glasses, June. M.E. is on the way.” She pulled evidence bags from her suit jacket pocket. “I’ll get them to the lab and see if we get lucky on the prints.”

Two days later, June and Lin were at the door of a tidy Craftsmen style cottage in the suburbs. A man answered, six feet tall, black hair, dressed in khaki Dockers and a dark blue polo shirt. “Can I help you?”

They showed him their badges. “We’re with the City Police, I’m Detective Walker, this is my partner Lin Chow. We’d like to ask you a few questions, Mr. Ross.”

He stared at them then recovered. “What’s this about?”

June noticed a sheen of sweat form on his temples. It was only sixty-six degrees on an overcast spring day. “We’re investigating a murder, Mr. Ross. Where were you two nights ago?”

“Uh, that was Monday. I have bowling on Monday.”

June could see his knuckles turn white as he gripped the door edge. “And when did you return home?”

“Um, ten-thirty, eleven. I’m not sure.”

Lin was jotting notes. “Anyone in the house that can corroborate that?”

“No, I’m divorced. It’s just me here now.”

June watched a drop of sweat run down the side of his face. “And your ex, she still live in town?”

Ross shook his head. “No, she went back to California, her home town.”

“Do you mind if we call her, Mr. Ross?” She smiled at him. “We just want to touch all of our bases.”

“No, not at all. I’ll get the number.” He left the door open and went inside. June nudged the door open with a toe, to get a look. The house was a mess, take out containers were piled all over the living room. There were blank spots on the wall facing the door where it looked like pictures used to hang.

They heard the sound of a door. “Crap,” June said as she drew her Smith and Wesson. He’s running.”

They leapt off of the porch, June turned right and Lin went left. They circled the house, June saw him leaping over a four foot picket fence two yards away. “Call it in,” she yelled to her partner.

She jumped the fence and sprinted across the yard. She saw Ross run around the third house, as she closed from behind. As she reached the street she saw him duck behind a white Victorian across the street. Behind her, June could hear Lin on the radio, giving responding police cars their location as she followed her partner.

Sprinting across the street, June ran into the house’s back yard. Ross was struggling over a six foot chain link fence separating the back yards. June charged forward and grabbed a leg just before he got it over the fence. After a short struggle, she pulled him back. Lin ran up and helped her subdue him and put him in cuffs.

“I didn’t mean to,” he sobbed into the lawn. “It was an accident. How did you find me?”

“Finger prints, Mr. Ross. The chardonnay tattled on you.” They hauled him to his feet just as two radio cars pulled up in front of the house. Lin read him his rights as they walked him to the police cars. The uniformed officers took him into custody.

“I guess he never watches police shows,” Lin commented as the cruiser drove away.

“I’m glad. We’d have never solved it if he had.”

 

The End

929 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Racing through October

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Red Rocks of Sedona by Randy Cockrell

Is the month going by as fast for you as it is for me? Wow, it’s been a crazy month. Last week my hubby and I went to Sedona with several of our hiking friends and had a good time hiking that area. The picture at the top of the post is from there. Too beautiful for words. Of course the weekend before was the craft fair, that was exciting. The 4th was my visit to the Sedona book fair.  Then there are the meetings for the book festival we’re planning for Payson, dental appointments, HOA meeting, project management phone calls and a luncheon for the neighborhood ladies.

In between all of that, I’m prepping for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). I want to have stories scheduled for every Friday in November so I don’t have to worry about that while I’m writing my newest draft. I have 2 scheduled, 1 written and ready to be scheduled and one still to be done. I still need one for the 31st of October, too. That should probably be kind of Halloweeny, don’t you think? Other NaNo planning is my outline. It’s going to be a cozy mystery, the first one I’ve tried to write. I have five plot lines and about 30 scene sentences completed. I think another 30 – 40 scenes will fill the story out nicely. If you don’t know, NaNo is a writing challenge. Every November thousands of authors, new and experienced, try to write 50,000 words or more in the month. It turns out to be 1667 words per day, minimum. You can go to the website and check it out. www.nanowrimo.org/en/sign_in It’s free to join and there are forums to visit to talk with others about writing. I need to think about a cover for my cozy mystery, too. Hmmm.

The garden is still producing tomatoes and the sweet and hot pepper plants still have a couple peppers on them ripening. Otherwise the garden is looking a little worn and tired. Soon I’ll have to pull everything out and prep the beds for the winter.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know if you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Flash Fiction Friday: 12 Days of Christmas Gone Wrong

I got the prompt for this story from the Writer’s Digest newsletter. I had to look up the Twelve Days of Christmas. This is a religious time, from December 25th until January 6th. Traditionally, like Hanukkah, a gift was given each of the twelve days. I turned the prompt into a mystery. Hope you like it.

12 Days of Christmas Gone Wrong

I received the first gift on December 24th. It was sitting on my desk when I got in that morning. The tag read, “To Bethany, The first gift for the Twelve Days of Christmas.” It wasn’t signed. I looked over the four foot cubicle walls. Hardly anyone was in the gaily decorated office. Most of my fellow sales account managers had taken today off to prepare for Christmas Day. Since David and I don’t have kids, I decided to work. With him out of work, every dollar counts.

I opened the festive package. There was no note, but there was a lovely silver picture frame with black velvet trim. How thoughtful, I thought. Just the thing to hold that picture of David and I at our third anniversary dinner last July. I slid the frame into my purse and got to work. There were still four clients I had to finalize sales with.

On the twenty-sixth, I was back at my desk. There were two gifts sitting there each addressed to me and saying they were for the 2nd and 3rd days of Christmas. Joy, across the aisle from me looked over. “They were on your desk when I got in.” She grinned at me. “Who are they from?”

I shrugged. “No idea. I found one on Christmas Eve, too.” I pulled the bows off of them and opened them up. The first was a set of two porcelain teacups and a teapot. All in a Chinese design. Joy’s eyebrows went up. The second gift turned out to be a black lacquer Chinese design tea tray.

Joy got up and stepped over to see. “They’re beautiful!”

I put the pot and cups on the tray. It was obvious the whole thing went together. “I love Chinese tea. These are so nice.”

Joy patted me on the shoulder. “Someone has an admirer.” She went back to her desk.

I shook my head. “I’m happily married. Maybe it’s David.”

Joy smiled. “That is so romantic!”

I busied myself with my clients. I didn’t say anything that night. I didn’t want to spoil David’s fun.

It went on like that for eleven days. After the weekend, I had 3 gifts on my desk. On the twelfth day I was full of anticipation. Each gift had been better than the last but today would be the final gift.

I unwrapped the box before the rest of the account reps arrived. It held a lot of tissue paper but I finally pulled out a photo. My heart stopped. It was a picture of David, sitting at a table. Piles of paper money were in front of him on a table along with a mirror covered with lines of white powder and several handguns. I blinked. This could not be real. I looked around quickly, no one was near though I could hear the voices of the others coming in. I flipped the picture over. “Put $10 grand cash in a holiday bag and leave it on your desk tonight or that photo goes live on the internet tomorrow at noon.”

I sank into my chair, picture in my hand on the desk. Where would I get ten thousand dollars? Why is David with all of that money and guns? Was that cocaine? I stared at the photo. There were other people in the picture but just arms or torsos. No faces. What is going on?

Joy approached with one of the other account managers. I shoved the wrapping paper and box into my trash can and hid it under my desk. The picture I slid into my suit jacket pocket.

“Bethany, did you get a gift today?” she asked as she pulled off her coat. “What was it?”

I shrugged. “Nothing. No gift on the desk this morning.”

Her face fell. “I thought for sure there would be something fantastic. It’s the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas.”

“Yeah. Me too.” I turned on my computer and pretended to work. I’ve got to figure this out. There was no way to pay the extortion. We had about $400 in the savings account. My only hope was to figure out who was blackmailing me. I made two calls to clients then told Joy I had to run an errand. I went to the coffee shop in the next building. At a table near the windows I pulled out a notepad and wrote down the gifts. There had to be a clue here, all of the gifts were thoughtful. The blackmailer knew me and obviously, David.

I wanted to go home and confront David, but there wasn’t time for that. Think! I told myself. Who knows us and has access to my desk? Who would do this? If they really knew us they’d know we don’t have any money. While the gears in my brain spun furiously, I watched a trio of men in the uniform of my building’s maintenance company walk by. One of the men had a snake tattooed around his right wrist.

I stared, then dug the vile picture out of my pocket. One of the hands on that table had that same tattoo!  I tapped the photo on the table while I thought. I didn’t know any of those men. I kept staring at the picture. There it is! I pulled on my coat and went to the police department.

The next morning the police were staked out in my office. The guy with the tattoo showed up at my desk at 3am where they nabbed him.

At 7am David and I were in the police station. The guy and his two partners had photo shopped David’s picture from my desk into their extortion note. The gifts were all stolen property that I had to return. It didn’t matter. David and I signed the last of the paperwork and went out to breakfast, bad guys behind bars.

The End

985 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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