Here it is the end of the week, the first day of March, and I made a rash promise on Monday that I'd post something here today. I've been thinking about this all week and I've been coming up blank. I seriously could not think of one thing to post about.
Okay, actually I thought of a whole bunch of things - a photo essay of my bookcases, my cats, organizing my books, what I've been reading lately . . . But none of those ideas appealed to me. So then I thought I'd tell you a story.
This is one of the first stories I ever wrote, and while it is a short story, I'll still be breaking it up into four parts because it's just too long to present all in one go. But hey, look on the bright side. At least I know what I'll be posting on Friday's for the next four weeks. :-)
Mama McAndrews believed that her son Dougal was born to be sheriff of Sweetwood. He was a tall, husky man with short blond hair, piercing blue eyes and an impressive start to his middle age spread. He had no discernable talents or hobbies, no ambitions for higher education. In truth, it had been all Mama could do to see that he finished high school. The sheriff's uniform suited Dougal as nothing else ever did. Mama said so, and when Mama McAndrews said a thing, folks around here listened.
It was Tuesday, the crisp kind of day that set a man to thinking about the hunting season. Dougal was sitting in his office reading a fishing magazine, feet on the desk, chair balanced carefully on the back legs, when a woman rushed in through the open door.
She had short, dark hair and was dressed in a very short, metallic gold dress, with a silver trench coat overtop. Shiny white boots covered her to her knees. Her eyes were hidden behind an oversized pair of rhinestone studded sunglasses.
"Please," she said, in a breathless voice, "Has anyone reported a murder?"
The front legs of Dougal's chair hit the floor with a bang. "What?"
She caught her lower lip between her teeth. "I suppose you'd have to have a body for that, wouldn't you? I mean, you couldn't just take my word for it."
"Now see here ..." Dougal began.
"You see, my husband and I are from out of town. We've been staying at a cottage by the lake and my nephew came to visit. We've always been very close, my nephew and I, that is. Well, as close as one can get to a child like that, but now, oh dear." The lip caught again. "Maybe I should just come back tomorrow. Surely something will have turned up by then. I just thought I should check around while I was doing a few quick errands. Sorry to have troubled you."
With a swirl of her silver trench coat she was gone, before Dougal could say a thing. He stared at the door a minute, then shook his head and leaned his chair back up on its hind legs so he could finish reading his magazine.
"Flaky tourist," he muttered.
She was back the next day.
"Are you the same officer I was speaking to yesterday?" she asked hesitantly. This time she was dressed in metallic blue with red boots and sunglasses.
"I'm the sheriff, ma'am. And I'd -"
"Oh, good!" her face lit up. "Is being the sheriff an important job? I guess it must be or they wouldn't leave you here alone. It's a beautiful office, all this wood panelling and all. I'm sorry I left so abruptly yesterday but I really don't like to be away from Julien, that's my nephew. The girl who comes to clean has agreed to watch him, but only while she's cleaning. She gets very testy if I'm gone too long. By the way, my name is Jendra," she flashed him a smile and held out her hand.
Dougal shook it absently, wondering how she could talk so fast without stopping for air.
"I feel I should explain myself to you. About yesterday I mean. It would take far to long to explain my whole self to you, wouldn't it?" she giggled, then went on. "I suppose I sounded a little irrational. But Tibor, that's my husband, is away and so it's all up to me, isn't it? And when I'm upset I get flustered easily, and when he told me what he'd done I became very upset."
"Who told you what?" Dougal was having trouble following her train of thought.
"As I've told you, we're from out of town. We've been staying at one of the cottages at the lake for a holiday. May I sit down?"
Dougal nodded and she perched on the edge of a chair.
"My nephew came to visit yesterday. No one else would take him. He's a little on the psychotic side. He's very prone to temper tantrums, well, more like psychopathic rages. I think he gets it from his father's side, certainly we've never had any problems like that in our side of the family."
"And someone's trying to murder him?" Dougal jumped to the conclusion.
"Goodness, no! Who would want to terminate, I mean murder, an innocent child?" She shook her head in disbelief. "As I was saying, he's got a very nasty temper and everyone thought that perhaps a change of environment would do him worlds of good. Oh, dear -" she looked at a large watch on her wrist. "I've got to be going. He's been left alone too long now as it is."
She was gone before Dougal could protest. He stared thoughtfully at the door a long time before picking up the phone and dialling.
Doc Snowden wasn't in, but Madge, his nurse, assured Dougal that Doc would be at tonight's poker game.
"Can I give him a message?"
"No, thanks. It's official business," Dougal replied importantly.
Madge snorted as she hung up the phone. The last time Dougal had 'official business' for the doctor was when he had a hangnail on his big toe he needed removed so he could swagger down the street without limping.