Yoharie: Jeremiah (part one)
“Yeah, Beatty, come on.”
Savannah, aged ten, had been so keen on having an Australian Shepherd. Hibbler remembered searching with Kate online for a place they could drive to, open on a Saturday.
Take the girls…don’t take ’em.
“It has to be both their dog.”
He was against surprises. He remembered never a good one from his growing up years. Kate gave him the point, on the grounds (tacit between them) that Raelyn had been born with a stubborn radar for unfair treatment. She’d bring it home to them, if she felt left out.
(“Honey, can you walk the dog?”
“It’s not mine. You better ask her.”)
And yet, their youngest was the responsible one. Raelyn would probably, for a few bucks a week, look after a puppy. Savannah, bored with it, wouldn’t.
“Sorry, I’ve got paperwork drawn up for that cutie.”
The kennel owner, saying this, had steered them away from a handsome, keen-eyed yearling with a clean black and white coat. She’d laughed, seeing the girls. “No, I don’t think you’re gonna want that mongrelly one. Look at him.”
The mongrelly one, brindled, splay-footed, had charged round and round in circles, disappearing out the pole-barn door. Reappearing, face decked in trails of slobber. The Hibblers, being played, had agreed…um, yeah…they could put their name on a waiting list, sure…
“I like this one!”
Beatty, in his seven years had fattened up…on brownies, grapes, other bad snacks…
Which was a thing, Hibbler interrupted himself, thinking of it.
Because people (like Roberta Witticombe, or way more, Cathlyn Burris) were always waiting ’til you’d done something and couldn’t help it, to get in and tell you…well, in this case, that you were killing your dog.
Beatty didn’t care what he ate. If there was one thing about Beatty, it was that. He wasn’t fierce, even for looking kind of mutant-freaky with his two eyes different colors. No, the dog was friendly, too crazy friendly, wanting to jump on every stranger and hurl himself with every head pat into a back-roll.
Cathlyn, who believed in spending money on things like taking your dog to fucking boot camp, was always telling him, “I think Beatty would be very trainable.”
He supposed she thought he didn’t mind if Beatty thudded up against the back of her legs and half knocked her over while she was out jogging. No, Hibbler liked it. He could say that to himself. He chuckled inside when he saw it.
He clipped on his holster, and snugged in the Glock…subcompact, 9mm, street legal; he clipped on the Taser, which he did not take out of its holster putting it away, because he’d accidentally zapped himself with it, once. He clipped on his walkie-talkie, to the breast pocket of his shirt, which seemed to him cooler than yet another holster. He had some plastic zip-ties stuffed in his jacket pocket. Not that you couldn’t buy handcuffs, but that Todwillow had joked about him cuffing a perp.
It crossed Hibbler’s mind, true, when he thought of detaining suspects, that he’d never really had a physical fight with anyone. Where there were stakes. He’d done Todwillow’s training exercises—“I give you an F…maybe D minus, ’cause you try, Chunko” (here again, sort of joking).
He didn’t do a lot of running.
Zack, carrying that gene of fine-weighed judgment Raelyn had inherited—from a grandparent, Hibbler guessed—had never tussled with his brother, either. A little thump on the head, he’d light off. Mom would look out the back door. “Where’s Zack?”
Jeremiah would say, “I don’t know.”
“I thought I saw you guys kicking the soccer ball.”
“Um, yeah, but I don’t know where he went. Just booked.” And this was incriminating. Zack started things. It wasn’t always the older kid’s fault.
“Well, it’s supper time. You’d better find him.”
All the jangle and weight of his equipment gave Hibbler an aura, one donned and doffed, subordinate to Kate in the house, but strong on the street. He was dressed in his black polo and slacks, windbreaker; his cap, neighborhood watch insignia above the bill. He came along with a tick, tick, tick, like a warning.
(copyright 2018 Stephanie Foster)