By Jon Moray
This story first appeared in print for Grey Wolfe’s Legends Anthology Series in August 2015. This another story featuring my dog Gunner with fantasy elements sprinkled in. Enjoy!
I came home early from work, opened my front door, and my loving beagle greeted me with a howling serenade and a whirlwind tail. As I ventured further in, I discovered my home fell victim to burglary. The house was pretty much in order except my most valuable electronics, three flat screen TV’s, two tablets, and two laptops were gone. My wife’s jewelry was also stolen.
I called 911 and dispatch sent an officer over within a half-hour. A slew of questions was asked, and I answered with stunned responses, while my dog barked and howled unmercifully.
“There has been a rash of burglaries in this area the past few months,” the officer announced, blandly. Two other investigators stopped by and dusted for fingerprints. The trio wrapped up their work and the lead informed me there wouldn’t be much luck in retrieving the stolen articles.
I called my wife at work and left a message on her extension and on her cell. She did say she was busy with meetings for most of the day when we ate breakfast that morning. I decided to leave her several text messages briefly explaining the terrible days’ events.
I was lost in thought and while writing my next text, my dog began to howl and bark at the front door. I quickly jumped to my feet, opened the door and saw my neighbor down the street, walking her dog past our house on the concrete walkway. I rendered a patronizing wave and went back into my house.
I rubbed my dog behind the ears and went back to my text draft. I sat down at the dining room table and noticed there was already text in the draft window.
“Get away from my yard, you mangy mutt,” is what it read. I muttered the text repeatedly in wonder and at a major loss of understanding. I didn’t write that, why would I write anything like that, I reasoned to myself. Suddenly, my beagle howled, and again directed at the front door. I went to investigate and found it was the mailman dropping off a package for me. I retrieved the parcel, acknowledged my dog by scrubbing his nape, and went back to my phone.
“Hurry up with your business and get out of here, Postman,” is what the text read this time. I looked at my phone and at my dog and volleyed my spies back and forth at them as I tried to piece together any sanity I had left in me. My wannabe detective fantasies were now becoming a reality and being put to the test. The dog barks and then I get words on my phone, and in English, no less. Somehow, someway, my audible text messaging application translates my dog’s barks into real words. That’s what I’ve come up with so far, but way too early to tell anyone for fear they would have me committed.
I paced the living room as if I were part of some kind of unorganized line dance as my dog mimicked my steps, with his tongue wagging. I sat back down and peered at my phone and back at my tri-colored beagle.
“Gunner, do you know who robbed our home?” He barked once and tilted his head. I looked down at my phone and it read, “yes.” Just then the door bell rang and my dog barked, which was par for the course when the bell rings.
I ran over and opened the door. “Hi, I saw the police at your door, is everything alright?” asked Ms. Lacey, my neighbor next door that had just moved into the house beside me three weeks ago.
“My house got robbed,” I said, and invited her in. Gunner expressed his disapproval of her intrusion to no end, while I tried to provide her with an explanation of what happened. I also tried to silence my dog, but the more I tried the more he relented and I began to get an eerie feeling something wasn’t right with his baying disapprovals.
I made my way over to my cell and saw a continuous string of words in the text draft window. “It’s her. She’s the one who robbed us. She fooled me with bacon treats to keep me occupied. She got in through the garage where she somehow knew the door code. She’s the one.” Just then, Gunner raced out the partially opened front door while I desperately followed in pursuit. Ms. Lacey trailed behind us.
Gunner bolted towards Ms. Lacey’s front door and his momentum sent him forcing the door open, over the threshold and into her home. I followed him in and to my surprise, all of my valuables were situated neatly on the floor in her living room. I called the police and learned Ms. Lacey was a career criminal that would bounce around from place to place, befriend neighbors, and rob them blind. She knew my neighbors across the street worked during the day. After police got done with their work, my valuables were returned and all was back to normal.
My wife got home from work and after filling her in on all the fantastic details of the day, I decided to feed dinner to my nose-to-the-ground, detective dog. I scooped up his portion of brown rice and chicken dog food and heard him bellow out a few barks. I looked at him and turned to my phone.
“C’mon, you can do better than that. I just solved a mystery. Give me the really good stuff you usually preserve for holidays and my birthday,” read the text draft. I chuckled, showed the text contents to my wife, and went for the rare gourmet meal.