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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