But I screwed up.
It’s been long enough that I can no longer get my dates right (fake scream). Yes, you heard that right. I got the word for the blog battle all screwed up in my head. Which means that this story no longer counts. But rather than shun it for the archives, I figure that I’ll still put this out there for you all to enjoy. Granted, I am more than a bit chagrined at this, but it is what it is. In the future, I will attempt to do better.
But then again, it’s me.
Ah, well. You should recognize the names though. Back are Stephanie Hawthorne and Daniel Atwell from my upcoming novel The Red Dress. But this time, instead of finding murderers, they find a dog.
On a side note, I will admit that this #blogbattle was more than a little inspired by my dog Nynaeve. Now if I could only get my writing partner to settle down when I’m at the computer.
Lost Dog: Found
I was too busy staring at the thing in the middle of our office floor to catch what Stephanie Hawthorne had said. Looking up, I turned to face Stephanie in all her glory. Shoulder-length red hair shone in the late morning sun streaming through our office window in direct contrast to the camouflage and leopard print checked sweater she wore.
“I said,” she said when I asked her to repeat herself, “that I want to call it ‘Leviathan’.”
Cocking an eyebrow, I looked back at the thing on the floor. “It already has a name.”
The thing thumped its tail on the floor as he knew we were talking about him. Of course, he was right. We were. A tongue that rivaled the Nile River in length lolled out of his mouth.
“Not him. The case.”
I knew that. But, of course, I ignored it
“Not that I’m against it,” I said. “Leviathan’s a good name. Isn’t it boy?” The tail thumped faster. “But it does seem an odd name for a dog that doesn’t stand much taller than your calves. Maybe when we get our own dog we can use that name. Besides, his tag says his name’s Buddy. ”
“Who calls their dog Buddy?” Stephanie grumbled. “It isn’t the 1950’s.”
“Someone who loves him very, very much. Isn’t that right Buddy? Isn’t it? Who’s a good dog? Who’s a good dog?”
Buddy, no longer able to resist the siren’s call, rushed forward. I had only enough time to lean back before the dog sprang forward and landed on my lap. From that point forward, it was all downhill. I remember laughing and the scrape of the dog’s tongue on my day’s growth of beard and, once, the taste of his tongue that left me sputtering.
Stephanie was not amused. She grunted and crossed her arms under her breasts, succeeding in only accenting her sweater. Buddy noticed that my attention had shifted from him to Stephanie and tried to jump off my lap. My hand on his collar kept him in place.
“I meant,” she said, her voice harder than before, “that I wanted to name this case file Leviathan.”
“This isn’t a case.”
“It is what I say it is.”
“You can’t make a case out of nothing.”
“Does he look like nothing?”
Buddy wagged his tail and wandered in a circle before settling down on my lap.
“You found him in the back yard,” I said. “Unsupervised.”
“A case implies that work was involved and that pay is deserved. I wouldn’t consider doing the right thing work.”
Stephanie grunted and took a sip of water from the glass on the corner of her desk. I gave her a moment to brood before releasing Buddy. Of course, that’s when the dog decided that he wanted to remain on my lap. Granted, I could’ve cajoled or forced or tricked the dog off my lap, but that left me with a different problem. How was I to keep my lap warm?
I know what you’re thinking. Why does a guy need to worry about a warm lap in the middle of the summer? Didn’t I mention that Stephanie was wearing a sweater? Our house could double for the North Pole, so I’d take what warmth I could.
As I turned back to my desk, the front door opened and Buddy jumped off my lap barking. He hit the floor at a full run and almost lost any traction while shooting around the doorway. I was a bit slower in getting to my feet when I heard a little girl’s squeal of delight. Best to give them some time to get reacquainted.
The front room held—along with one ecstatic dog—a girl in a yellow sundress and a thirty-something woman in a red shirt and tan shorts that I assumed to be the girl’s mother. I was ignored by the girl as I entered thanks to a thorough washing with the dog’s tongue, but her mother looked up at my entrance. A smile which was already wide on her face grew larger as I came to a stop beside her.
“Thank you so much for finding him,” she whispered, shaking my hand. Her fingers were delicate, but the handshake firm enough to make a politician proud. “Sandy was beside herself when we found out Buddy’d run off this morning. She wanted to put up signs all over the neighborhood. We were about to when you called.”
She pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it. It was a reward poster alright. A picture of Sandy and Buddy filled the center with information about the dog surrounding it. It left a smile on my face as I folded it up and handed it back to her.
“Glad we could help. Little girls should never lose their dogs.”
The mother smiled and reached into her purse to pull out a floral wallet.
“Here. Let me give you something for your efforts.”
I tried to resist. Honest, I did. But she was just as insistent as I was. Eventually, I gave in as so not to hurt her feelings. By the time the pair left, leash clipped to Buddy’s collar, I had two crisp sawbucks in my pocket. She’d wanted to give me more, but I’d at least talked her away from that.
Back in the office, to the untrained eye, Stephanie hadn’t moved at all, but in the center of my desk sat a manila folder that hadn’t been there when I left. Since no one had entered or left the office besides myself, I didn’t have to think to know how it got there. See? Detective.
Written in bold, black letters on the front was a single word. Leviathan. Smiling to myself, more at the memory of Sandy and Buddy than at Stephanie’s stubbornness, I pulled the two tens from my pocket and put them in the empty folder before I filed it away.