Crimes Past(11)

By: Lauren Carr

“May I ask what the hell you’re doing?” The crackling, deep throated voice snapped from the end of the driveway.

Like a couple of burglars caught in the act of doing something wrong, both men jumped at the abrupt demand for information.

Spencer Manor rested at the end of the most expensive piece of real estate on Deep Creek Lake—Spencer Point, also known by locals as The Point. The peninsula housed a halfdozen lake houses that grew in grandeur. The road ended at the stone pillars marking the multimilliondollar estate.

Mac Faraday’s neighbor, Constance Kleinfeld leaned on her cane between those two pillars. A cigarette hung from between her lips as she scowled at the police chief and deputy chief searching the grounds.

Taking note of two cats twirling around Constance’s legs, David tried to think of a way to ask if she was missing any of the numerous cats she had moved next door to Spencer Manor.

“Mr. Faraday’s security system notified us of a break in,” Bogie answered her question. “We’re checking it out.”

She took the cigarette out of her mouth and blew a stream of smoke in their direction. “And you think the burglar could be hiding in Faraday’s bushes?”

“We’ve already determined that the breakin was a false alarm,” Bogie said. “We thought we saw an animal moving around in the bushes and wanted to see if it was all right.”

“Most likely it was that strange dog of his. Gnarly.” She spat out the name. “Viciousvicious dog.”

“Gnarly is not vicious,” David said.

“He’s aggressive and weird! You people think it’s okay for him to be strolling around wherever he wants just because the morons in this town elected him for mayor.”

“You surely don’t,” David said. “You call us out here every time he so much as sneezes too loud.”

“There are laws—county laws about barking after dark!” she said with a hiss. “There’s also leash laws which Mr. Faraday seems to think his dog is above.” With a broad smirk, she wagged her head to and fro. “How many tickets does that make for letting his dog run loose?”

“You really have no concept about what it takes to be a good neighbor,” David said. “Number one is tolerance. Dogs chase cats—especially when they’re attacking the dog in his own territory.”

“There’s no leash laws for cats.” She smirked. “But there are for dogs.”

“I’d watch whose bad side I’d get on if I were you,” Bogie said. “Our town is very proud of Gnarly. He’s a genuine hero. Saved his unit while serving his country overseas. He’s also served side by side with our local law enforcement. Before that, he saved a hundred and one kittens from a burning building—not counting their mother.”

The cigarette in her mouth bobbed up and down when she said, “If you ask me, he’s nuts.”

“Because he chases cats and squirrels?” David asked. “Are you kidding me?”

“That dog has been stalking me!” She pounded the bottom of her cane on the ground. “He sits on top of that stone wall and stares at me. I swear he doesn’t blink. How does he get up on top of that wall anyway?” She pointed with her cane at the stone boundary between Spencer Manor and the Kleinfeld home.

“Most likely he’s watching your cats.” David gestured at the two cats at her feet. He noticed a third one lurking on the other side of one of the stone pillars.

“I don’t own any cats.” The corner of her thick lips curled up into a snarl. She raised her chin up and glared at David through the lower half of her thick eyeglasses.

“With all due respect, Ms. Klein—”

“Constance, there’s a call for you on your phone.” An exceedingly slim man waved a cell phone while shuffling to the end of driveway.

“Can’t you see that I’m busy?” She snapped at him from over her shoulder.

“Sorry, dear.” Hanging his head, he stared at the phone while lingering nearby.

She took another deep drag on her cigarette before turning her attention back to David and Bogie. “You tell Mr. Faraday that he’s on notice. There are leash laws in this county. Every time I see Gnarly wondering around loose, I’m calling it in. Not only that, but I’m within my right to protect myself if I feel threatened. I’ll shoot that dog if he so much as sets foot on my property. You tell Mr. Faraday that.”