Hair of the Dog
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by Cindy Davis
Description: Angie needs more than a little 'hair of the dog' the morning after her neighbor is killed--when she's accused of the crime. Angie Deacon thought her vacation in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire would be relaxing. But the dog next door would not stop barking. Finally she confronted the owner, Simon York at the local diner. Their 'discussion' ended in a near knock-down drag-out. The next morning he is found dead. And she's the prime suspect. Angie must seek out the real killer before they stuff her behind bars till her skin wrinkles and arthritis knobs her joints. Her search leads to a cosmetics factory that's putting out some very questionable products. When the owner of the factory, Simon's wife, turns up dead, Angie must prove she wasn't involved before she becomes the next victim.
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2010 Spring, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [401 KB]
Reading time: 247-346 min.
Angie Deacon hammered on her neighbor's door.
Footsteps thundered through the small cottage. She pounded again. The barking changed from the unrelenting noise of the past two days to a bottomless rumble that stood the tiny hairs on her arms at attention. A heavy weight launched against the door. Angie stepped aside in case the massive animal burst through.
She pounded again. The barking stopped. She imagined the creature perking curious ears and tilting its head to see through the convex glass of the peephole. Another bang on the door got the dog barking again, its growl like a storm rolling across Lake Winnipesaukee. Where was the owner? Good to confront him while she was angry--better to make her point.
He was probably in the bar across the street. She'd seen him head there this morning, tried to catch up to his long strides but the phone had rung, Jarvis calling from the police convention in Boston. She'd taken his call and wished a dozen times since that she'd followed the neglectful dog owner and gotten things out in the open without any more delay. Damn, damn and damn again. Why couldn't the guy just stay home and care for his dog?
She let the screen door slam, stomped down the three porch steps, blinking at the intrusion of late September sunshine. She marched across the street. A freshly painted sign hung from the peaked eaves of the shanty-type building--Hair of the Dog, Good Eats & Booze. The building looked like it once housed a fisherman's crew. Muted music pushed through the weathered barnboard siding. Colorful fishing paraphernalia swayed in the wind carving half-moon arcs on the weathered shingles.
Angie heaved open the big door, feeling like John Wayne. No guns drawn, just a solid wall of anger ready to unleash on her unsuspecting neighbor. A few people turned at her entrance. None looked like him: handsome and well dressed, oozing self-confidence. But good looks and confidence didn't give him permission to let his dog bark nonstop. It didn't give him permission to ruin the only vacation she'd had in four years. Bad enough to listen to from her cottage twenty feet away, how could he stand it being in the same house? He had to be deaf.
Her resolve wavered. If the man was handicapped...
Still, he knew about the noise, the cops said he'd been issued eleven citations already. And having a physical affliction was no excuse to break the law.
Angie took another step. Seeing she wasn't focused on them, the customers went back to what they were doing. She braced herself and strode up to the bar. A smiling dark skinned man with wide shoulders and a gold hoop earring stopped wiping the shiny surface to wave the rag in her direction. "Sit anywhere you like."
She gave a determined headshake and recited the name from the mailbox. "I'm looking for Simon York."
"I saw him come in." Since she'd seen him coming here at ten-thirty in the morning, she assumed he worked here. Otherwise he had to be a rip-roaring drunk and was snockered out of his mind by now. Great Angie, confront a drunk. But she wouldn't back down. Two sleepless nights compelled confrontation. Police had been no use--the latest citation remained taped to the door beside the please shut your dog up notes she'd left at three a.m two nights in a row.
"I saw him come in," she told the bartender again. "I want to see him. Now." Angie turned left and scanned a group in the corner. She swiveled right. Not there, either. "I saw him come in."
He leaned over the bar, but didn't lean on it. Muscles undulated inside the dark T-shirt warning her not to antagonize this man. "He was here. This morning. He left."
She wanted to challenge him to prove it and considered storming around the place examining each face. Suddenly the mission seemed ridiculous. If these people knew she was angry over a dog barking...
Without even a thanks for your time a deflated Angie shuffled out. Where was the man? Had to be around somewhere, his car with its mist-coated windows sat in his driveway.
And the dog was still barking. Anger rejuvenated. She started for his house again, would thrash the door till the timbers rattled. Angie touched a foot to Simon's cement walkway. From his blue front door, the taped pages mocked. Her hands clenched into fists. Good. Fists were a perfect shape for whaling on his door. The dog stood at the living room window, the disembodied face between the cotton drapes.
He was smaller than she imagined.
Of course he was smaller, she'd pictured a Sasquatch.
Angie shuffled into her cottage for car keys and then drove her Lexus south. Ten minutes down Route 28 she swerved into a pull-off and stopped. To the right, Lake Winnipesaukee lay calm and quiet, as if resting once the tourists had gone. After Labor Day, the area filled with older people, ones who'd waited for the camera-bearers and stroller-pushers to leave. Three quiet weeks, then early October, things revved up with an influx of leaf peepers seeking New England's unparalleled explosions of color. By the end of the month, near silence would descend over her hometown of Alton Bay until winter and the influx started all over again with cars carrying skis instead of rubber rafts.
How could she have made such a scene over a dog? Confronting the poor bartender was inexcusable. She could never show her face in that bar again. Not that she'd been a regular or anything. She and Jarvis went once, for a sandwich before he left for Boston. She'd so looked forward to the weekend, completely alone, no responsibilities. She wouldn't even have to make conversation.
Angie pulled the car to the right, and stopped in a parking space. She blinked one, twice, and then shook her head. Without realizing it, she'd driven to the Olde Bay Diner in Alton Bay. Funny how the psyche worked. She'd been thinking about being totally alone, yet she'd gravitated toward people, friends. Calm now, she felt able to interact without making another scene. She got out of the car, hit the button to set the alarm and...there he was!
Angie slammed the keys in her pocket and advanced on the unsuspecting man coming out of the diner. He let go of the glass door and stepped left off the porch.
He spun on the heel of a Converse running shoe, a wide toothy smile prepared to greet the unfamiliar female voice. The smile wilted like ice on a hot burner when she said, "I want to talk to you about your dog."
A perfectly shaped nose wrinkled. He finished shoving his wallet in the side pocket of an LL Bean sweatsuit before saying, "Do we know each other? How do you know I have a dog?"
"I rent the cottage next to yours. Your dog barks non-stop. I haven't slept in two nights and I'm not taking it any more." Go girl, said her little voice. Don't back down. "People like you shouldn't be allowed to have pets."
He took a step toward her, a well-manicured finger pointed at her left breast. "Guinness is very well taken care of. He's happy and--"
"A happy dog doesn't bark all the time!" She slashed her hand at his pointing finger. "Never mind. Just keep him quiet."
Simon moved back, prepared to leave.
"The police just issued your twelfth citation."
Simon York shrugged. Took a step forward.
"You should be reported to the YMCA. The...the NRA--oh damn. The SPCA. You should be reported." Shocking that he didn't erupt in laughter.
"I can't believe you'd say something like that without even seeing him. He's a great dog. Loves everyone. You should come meet him."
"I don't want to meet him. I want you to keep him quiet!" Faces appeared in the diner windows. A lot of faces.
"You, lady, need to get a life. Do something besides--"
Angie closed the space until they were breast to sternum. "Besides what! Staying up listening to your dog? Look, I'm not taking any more. Shut the dog up or I'll--"
"Or you'll what?"
"That's enough you two." A tall man in gray sweats stepped up, took Simon's left arm and tugged. "Come on, there's been enough of a spectacle."
Simon gave an infuriating pat to her right arm. Both men spun around and began jogging up the hill.
"Wait! You can't just--"
Angie started after them, but stopped when a hand touched her shoulder. Judy, a waitress and friend, urged her out of view of the crowd. "What's going on?"
"Th-that..." Words wouldn't come. Angie settled for a growl and a shake of her fists at the disappearing males. "That man!"
"You know Simon?"
"I don't know him. Don't want to know him." She growled again, this one came the same time as an inhaled breath that made the growl sound like a snort. Judy laughed. So did Angie. But she wasn't ready to calm down yet. She wanted to get in her car and chase down that inconsiderate moron.
Judy leaned against the white shingles of the diner and crossed her arms. Anyone watching would think Judy relaxed, but Angie knew she was ready to leap on Angie if she decided to take off after Simon. "I thought you were on vacation."
Angie gestured to where Simon had stood. "We rented the cottage next to his. His dog has barked non-stop since I got there. NON-stop. I asked him--" Angie realized there had been no asking, no polite request. She'd demanded he keep the animal quiet. No wonder he'd reacted with antagonism. Well, too bad. The situation required firmness. "I um, told him to keep the dog quiet. I called the police last night. You know what they said? He's had eleven--eleven--other citations. Why don't they do something?" She took a breath. Judy had dogs, a couple of them, she would know the rules. "Isn't there something that can be done?"
Judy laid a hand on Angie's arm. "Come inside. You need coffee."
Angie didn't think caffeine was the answer. And she certainly didn't want to face people. Since she lived in town, chances were she knew most of the people in the diner.
"Come on," Judy urged, then suddenly seemed to read her thoughts. "It's all right, really."
Angie stepped inside to a gaggle of cheers and catcalls. Funny, they all assumed, she was the vanquisher instead of the vanquished. She settled in a booth facing the window. She felt gawking eyes on her back. Better than them staring at her face. A silly thought occurred--she'd invented a new season. New Hampshire had mud season in April and leaf peeping season in October; September could be gawking season.
Margie, the owner, brought a huge plate of comfort food: the diner's famous onion rings. The three women sat and munched while Angie lamented her last few days.
Judy pushed a cell phone across the table. "Simple solution. Call the rental agent and ask for another place."
"I did. The place on the far side of mine is vacant. I thought--"
"You think that would be far enough away?"
"Definitely not. What I meant was, I figured this time of year he's probably got plenty of others available."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing. He's on vacation."