So for no apparent reason, I started a new story. And since I have no other thing to blog about, here's a snippet...
David strolled down the block, the dog leash held loosely in his fist while Max the Mutt drifted from side to side, pausing to sniff every few feet. David had no idea what Max smelled, but he was content with the slow pace as it offered him plenty of time to case the quiet street. Due to Max’s insatiable curiosity, David was lounging under a huge oak tree near the corner when the ladies suddenly descended on Myrtle Whitmore’s house.
Myrtle was the last of the three possibilities in the file F had given him. So it was a distinct shock when he recognized two of the visitors as the other women he’d already checked out. Coincidence stretched a long way in David’s world, but he immediately rejected any notion that this meeting fit in that category.
Though he’d tentatively eliminated Katherine Milson, based mostly on her apparent age, Iris Brooks was still a possibility. The thick glasses could be a disguise. Actually, he hated to admit that none of the women really rang his chimes. He leaned against the thick tree trunk as he reconsidered the information in the file. Each of the women had heavy strikes against her.
The thought crept out of his consciousness that F might be smoking weed or mixing up his meds. David just couldn’t envision any of the women as a superspy. But he did wonder what drew this group together. A librarian, an executive secretary, and a schoolteacher. What did they have in common?
He scratched his chin thoughtfully as he considered ways and means. He needed to find out what tied them together. Tugging on the leash, he headed around the corner.
“Max, we have work to do. Let’s go home.” Eagerly, Max trotted past him with both ears perked up, leading the way back to the car. “Yeah, I know. You just want to get back so you can check out that sexy poodle next door. I tell you, Max. Flashy women are dangerous.”
When they reached his car, David opened the back door so Max could jump in, then slid under the steering wheel. He sat for a moment, studying the quiet neighborhood, noting the houses with toys in the yard or obvious signs of pets. Searching Myrtle’s home was a last resort option, but experience told him he might have no other choice so it was best to scope out the area while he was here.
The Sunday morning quiet was shattered by the roar of a lawnmower and the thud of slamming car doors. When a noisy trio of young boys whizzed by on their bicycles, he started his car and pulled away from the curb. No need to draw undue attention to his presence.
At home, once he let Max out into the back yard, he settled in front of his computer and started new searches on the license plate numbers on the four cars parked in front of Myrtle’s house. Two of the women arrived together, but that still left him with more possibilities than he had when he left that morning.
Within the next hour, he had three new names. Maryellen Klipper, a housewife married to a dentist, Jayne Andrews, an accountant, and Rose Wilson, a bank teller. He began compiling files on the three new women, searching for the common link. His eyebrows shot up as he whistled silently when he looked at Maryellen’s bank accounts.
Unless he missed his guess, Maryellen’s marriage was on the skids.
Without hesitation, he began a new background search on Dr. Henry Klipper while the other searches continued to compile.
It was growing dark when Max’s muffled bark captured his attention. He stretched and pushed his chair back from the computer before switching on the desk light. Time to eat, he decided as he made his way through the shadowy house, turning on lights and the TV on the way through the living room. When he reached the back door, he could see Max waiting on the back stoop.
Shaking his head, he swung the door open, admitting Max to the warm kitchen. “Sorry, Max. You really should have barked before now,” he chided. “I missed lunch. I depend on you to keep us on schedule. Now we’ll have to eat lunch and dinner together. You know what that means…no dessert!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but that’s the rule.” David opened the refrigerator and took out the dish of shrimp alfredo, setting it on the counter. He added a bag of salad and a bottle of salad dressing.
Max sat next to the stove, watching every move with big sad eyes.
“No, we had a deal,” David said as he piled salad on his plate. “Besides, I bet you spent the afternoon romancing that sissy poodle. You should be ashamed of yourself. No self-respecting mutt would fall for that wiggle in her walk.”
Sighing mournfully, Max collapsed in a heap on the kitchen floor.
“Now, that’s just not right, Max. Don’t use that moan on me. You know I can’t deal with the moaning.” David opened the refrigerator door and fished out a mozzarella string cheese stick. “All right. Just one. Then you eat your dog food.”
Max’s ears stuck up, though his muzzle still rested on his leg as he shot David a wounded look.
“Geez, Max, give it up. No puppy dog eyes, right? One cheese stick is all you’re going to get.”
Slowly, Max stood up and edged closer, his fluffy tail wagging from side to side. David peeled the plastic from the cheese stick and held it out to Max who delicately lipped it between his teeth before turning to walk out of the kitchen. “And don’t leave little bits of cheese all over the rug!” David admonished as he poured dressing over his salad.
He opened the container of alfredo and forked some onto a plate. Staring down at the pile of noodles and shrimp he considered for a moment before shrugging and adding some more to the plate. Setting it in the microwave, he punched buttons and pressed start. Then carrying his salad out to the living room, he put it on the coffee table while he set up a wooden TV tray. He sat on the couch just in time to catch the local news.
As he ate, he caught occasional snatches of murder, mayhem, a broken water pipe, a robbery, and a fatal car accident on the beltway. The weatherman jovially warned the listeners about the rain headed their way. When a commercial came on, David went out to the kitchen to put his salad plate in the sink and retrieve his alfredo from the microwave.
He was looking forward to the rare treat, a dish his great aunt Millie prepared for him two or three times a year. Max loved it, but the vet had warned David not to let Max have any as it upset his digestion.
David settled on the couch to finish dinner while he watched the rest of the news. After several bites, he noticed Max stretched out on the rug in front of the TV. But Max wasn’t watching television. He was watching David, wearing the saddest expression David had ever seen on a dog in his life. If he hadn’t known better, David would have sworn Max was part basset hound.
Determined to ignore Max, David shoveled in another bite. His jaw tightened as he chewed though the delicious pasta lost its appeal. Swallowing with difficulty, David glared at Max. Then he picked up the dish, carried it out to the kitchen and shoved the food into one of his lunch containers before sticking it in the refrigerator. He couldn’t stand Max’s sad face.
After cleaning up the kitchen, he went back into his office to check the status of the searches he had running. The television was dull background noise as he sat down at his desk and studied the new information.
As he suspected, Dr. Klipper had been spending time in bed with someone other than his wife, Maryellen. His eyebrows lifted when he realized the sleazy dentist was a switch hitter. Jason Belden. Well, well. That was interesting.
He scrolled through the other files, stopping occasionally when something caught his eye. Jayne Andrews had recently shed her third husband, an officer in the merchant marines. Rose Wilson was in line for a promotion at her bank. And Iris Brooks had been a teacher at the same school for more than twenty years.
David frowned at the screen. How had F’s researchers missed that? There was no way Iris could possibly be the woman he was searching for. None of the timelines worked. Irritably, he delved deeper, pulling up credit histories, tax records, every scrap of information he could find.
Finally, he pounded on the desk and leaned back in his chair. Without question, Iris Brooks was eliminated from consideration. He pinched the bridge of his nose before rubbing his eyes. What the hell was F up to? Why was Iris included in the file compiled by the agency?