Crimes Past(12)By: Lauren Carr
She tossed the cigarette to the ground and stubbed it out with her toe.
“Constance,” Edward called to her again, “there’s an insurance agent waiting for you on the phone. He says he’s returning your call.”
“Why didn’t you say so?” Seemingly no longer in need of the cane she was leaning on, she hurried up the driveway. “Come along, darlings,” she cooed at the three cats before snatching the phone from her husband.
“Looks like we have another divide among the people,” Bogie said while climbing into the passenger seat of David’s cruiser. “Cat and dog lovers.”
David and Bogie peered at the space between the stone pillars. Storm climbed up onto the console between them and nudged David’s arm until he gave in to her demand for a petting. On her other side, Bogie did the same. They could hear the Kleinfelds bickering before going inside their house.
“If one of her cats was missing, she’d be calling in ASPCA to have Gnarly crucified by now,” Bogie said.
“What happened to the cat that Gnarly killed?” David asked.
“Cats do have nine lives,” Bogie said. “Maybe Gnarly just knocked the wind out of it and after Mac left, he went on his way.”
“Am I paranoid?” David asked Bogie in a low voice. “Could that woman be so fixated on a dog that she’d try to frame him for a crime.”
“She’s clearly not working with a full deck.”
“We need to run a background check on her.” David started the cruiser’s engine. “Get Tonya on it. She knows every animal person on the lake. Have her get the low down on this fruitcake. Dog, cat, or amphibian lover—no one sets up our mayor and gets away with it.”
“Okay, Storm, what do you say to a game of fetch?” David pushed the chair back from his desk and waved a red tennis ball. The corner office that had belonged to his father had a glorious view of the boathouse, docks, and lake.
Storm sat up from where she had been sleeping on the sofa. Her ears perked up. Without moving, she followed the ball with her eyes as David made his way around the desk and tossed it from one hand to the other.
Whining, she begged him to proceed.
The ball bounced off her forehead, onto the end table, and then dropped to the floor. Without moving from her spot, Storm watched the ball roll under his desk. Then, she looked back to him as if to ask if he was going to get it.
With a groan, David reached under the desk for the ball.
Without knocking, Mac threw open the door. Upon seeing David on his hands and knees, he asked, “You and Storm playing fetch again?”
“How can you tell?”
David threw the ball out from under the desk in Gnarly’s general direction. The German shepherd jumped into the air and easily caught it in his mouth.
Mac closed the door. “Did you get rid of the body?” he asked in a low voice as if there was someone else in the room to overhear their conversation.
“We couldn’t find it?”
“What do you mean you couldn’t find it?” Mac spun a chair around from the conference table and straddled the back. “He was lying right there on the sidewalk in front of the porch. There’s no way you could have missed him.”
“Maybe Gnarly just knocked him out. What color was he? I saw your fruity neighbor with three cats this morning.”
“I know those cats,” Mac said. “They’re always on our property taunting Gnarly.”
“But there’s no leash laws to prevent cats from running loose,” David said with a shake of his head.
“I’ve never seen this cat before,” Mac said. “He was big and white, and he had two black dots on either side of his head.”
With both index fingers, Mac pointed behind his ears. “They looked weird to me. That’s why I noticed them.”
“He must not have been dead.”
Mac paused to mull over that suggestion. “He certainly looked dead to me.”
“Cats do have nine lives.”
David took the ball from Gnarly, who was wagging his tail in anticipation of another throw. Storm regarded Gnarly’s enthusiasm with curiosity—not unlike a foreigner trying to figure out the point of this game called “fetch.”