I slept in next morning--- until Spot set up her whining. Jasmine had done her usual. She walks past the pen where Spot often spends the night and must have scattered the rubbish bag again, leaving some scraps of food tantalizingly close to Spot. Of course that is a bit on the nose for her, as she can’t reach them, hence the hissy fit.
‘OK you two---- Knock it off. Let me shower and have some breakfast. I let Spot out of her pen and go for my shower. By the time I finish and put the kettle on, heat the hotplate, fry the eggs and left-over potatoes, turn the news on; this time the BBC news and settle down on the couch, I suddenly wonder why Spot is quiet. She’s outside on the deck chewing at something. I hope like hell it’s not a rat. God---- I k now she’s a ratter by nature, but I hate cleaning up the remnants.
‘What’s that you’ve got girl?’ She gives me that, aren’t I clever look and continues with her prose. I take a closer look. ‘Who gave you that?’ I said.’ It’s one of those bones you can buy form the pet shops. Harmless, but who gave it to her. I don’t remember the partner saying anything about buying one. I must ask later.
Spot wasn’t too interested in her usual food after chewing on the bone for half an hour. It felt quite warm, so I thought I would take advantage of the nice morning and take Spot for a walk at the bay. Hopefully the ladies would be there. Saturday mornings were also good because there were often a lot more dogs there. As far as Spot is concerned, the more the better. Her strike rate for finding like-minded nutters goes up exponentially. Ten minutes later, we pulled in the car-park. There were quite a few cars. I mange dot score the last car park, alongside Marge’s wagon.
‘Off you go naughty one.’ Spot launched herself out the front window as soon as the gap permitted. She was off without a backward glance and headed towards the group of walkers accompanying Marge. By the time I had caught up, Spot had managed to run back three times to hurry me along and steal a ball from someone who had been trying to train their puppy to retrieve, The chances of me rescuing it any time soon were remote, unless something else attracted her attention. It did. Sammy appeared and it was all on. The ball dropped and Spot grabbed the long lead. The two dogs began their duet--- Spot leads and Sammy follows, His two owners, Tania and Janice, watched on, bemused that such a small dog could take over their larger pooch.
Marge had a strained look on her face. “God--- you look terrible,’ I said. I suppose on reflection that it’s not a great thing to say to a lady in her late fifties.
‘And good morning to you too Garry. I hope you slept well too and how’s your day? I hardly got to sleep. Butch kept barking. I would go and check through the curtains, but there was nothing there. I know he barks when a cat walks along the porch, but that’s usually enough to make it go. Maybe it was the wind.’
‘That guy rang you again, last night. I was listening. Sometimes I wonder if he’s been watching us for ages. Look at all those cars here now—how do we know he’s not doing it now?’
‘The thought has crossed my mind a lot over the last twenty-four hours Marge.’
Cecelia stopped in her tracks. ‘You know what? I had this weird feeling that I was followed home last night. After I left the car park here, a white van followed. I didn’t pay any attention at the time but when it turned into my street, I kept on going. I’m not sure what made me do that---- just a feeling. Well---- anyway---- I went through the mall--- sorry I still call it that----and it finally turned away, when I went past the library. I can tell you, by the time I got home; I was a bit of a wreck. I rang my daughter and she came over and told me I was a silly old lady---- the bitch. I’m not so sure now.’
‘Look we shouldn’t underestimate what’s happening here,’ Shirley said as Spot and Sammy came flying past, Sammy’s lead in Spot’s mouth. They ran, scything their way towards two other walkers, entrapping them in the lead. A few loud curses later and they were away further down the pathway, just missing a man walking about fifty metres ahead.
‘Those two are bloody lethal with that lead,’ Marge said. ‘It’s affecting you too then, Shirley?’
‘Of course---- look--- a man died, Marge. That’s damned serious in my books.’
‘Killed more like--- we saw those cuts. I can’t get them out of my mind. Victim Support helped, but it keeps coming back to me, especially at night. It doesn’t help when I think about what we are hearing on Garry’s show either. How’s it going for you Garry?’
‘It’s not so much during the show, cause it all happens so quickly,’ I replied. ‘It’s later, when I’m alone. Or driving--- I’m getting a bit like you. I keep looking in my rear-view mirror. You’ve heard what he says. Shit--- I wish he’d stop ringing, but the bosses all think it’s great for the ratings---- cynical bastards.’
‘Are you on tonight? --- cause if you are, you can expect a lot of calls. There was something about it in the paper. My daughter says it’s even on her Facebook.’
‘Yeah Cecelia---- I’m going in early cause I know Jean--- that’s the one who normally gives me grief. She wants to talk to me about it with the manager. God--- she sounded excited. It’s not her who has to talk to the creep, when he rings in--- well not for long anyway.’
‘Maybe we should ring you online and rark you up a bit,’ Shirley said.
‘There’s enough of that happening without my mates doing that,’ I said, almost angrily.
‘Oops--- sorry Garry. You’re right of course. Some of those twits that ring in are enough to get me going, and I’m just listening, not having to respond. I don’t know how you do it really.’
By now we had wandered about half way around the lagoon. I was conscious of everyone we passed. Was he the one, I thought as we manoeuvred our dogs around him. He glared at us. That’s not so unusual--- some people out for a walk get a little intimated by the sight of four or more exuberant dogs crossing their paths. We continued around the lagoon, before returning to the car park. I left them then because I needed to get to the butcher so my partner cold put something in the slow cooker for the next day. Once again I arrived home and the house was empty.
I checked the mail on the table: Bills, bills and more bills, plus a plain white unaddressed envelope. While Spot went looking for Jasmine, I opened the envelope. A handwritten note fluttered to the floor. It read ‘Be nice to me tonight.’ Well it wasn’t my partner’s writing. Who would---- Oh no---- surely not? The thought that ‘Todd’ had put it in our letter box had me grabbing for the card Detective Alex had left me. I dialled is number.
‘Detective Alex---- No time for niceties. ‘Alex--- it’s Garry. I think that creep has just left me a message.’
‘What--- while you were away from the studio--- that’s not unusual.’
‘No you got it wrong--- he left it here--- at my house, well in the letterbox.’
‘OK--- don’t touch it any more--- I’m coming up--- what’s your address again, I’m not in the office.’
I gave him directions and put the kettle on. BY the time it had boiled a car pulled up in the drive. Alex came to the door, smiling as if to say--- Aren’t I clever getting here this quick? Once inside he carefully placed the envelope in a sealed plastic bag.
‘I doubt there will be any prints on this, but we have to try. The watch should be here soon. This just kicks things up a notch or two. I wonder if any of your friends have received anything like this.’
‘No one mentioned anything this morning--- I just left them, down at the park.’
‘What--- are you still going down there? I really think you should give the area a wide berth until we get to grips with this.’ Alex said. He looked far more serious than I seen him so far.
‘Look--- Sure I’m a bit creep-out about this, but stuffed if I’m gonna let him get to me that much--- anyway---what about my mates there?’
‘I suppose there’s safety in numbers. How about we all meet and nut out a few sensible strategies. From what I’ve seen--- you’re all a pretty down to earth lot and those dogs would be hard to get past if someone tried it on.’
‘I’m not sure I would go that far, but you’d be surprised if you know which ones were the [protective dogs.’
‘Right Garry--- what time are you heading to the lagoon this afternoon?’
‘I’m not--- they will be there on their own--- I’m on the four til midnight shift today and I’m going in a bit early to talk to the boss—actually both of them are there today—they have a meeting.’
‘OK--- you’ve got my number Garry--- use it if you need to. I’m going to a meeting too. Your situation is attracting a lot of attention.’
‘Oh--- by the way Alex---I prefer dealing with you. Your side-kick is a bit of an arsehole or is it good cop, bad cop bullshit going on?’
‘You never know Garry,’ Alex said as he left, but I’m sure I noticed a wink.