Well, I wrote another super long submission. 😦 But yeah, this was a short story completely unrelated to anything I’ve been writing so far. The prompt was to write an emotionally intense Christmas Story, so I did my best. Enjoy. 🙂 And for curious readers, there are 5618 words in the story.
She sat in front of the computer staring at her mission outline. There were pros and cons to working for Military Intelligence she decided, and boring missions were definitely a con. She was being sent to question some random hobo. She couldn’t see why the Board had to send an agent of her caliber on a simple mission such as this one. A novice could do this.
Casually, she glanced over the background info of the person she was supposed to investigate, then she gasped and focused more intently on the screen. This man had fought in the Vietnam War! He must be at least fifty years old. What was a Vietnam veteran doing on the streets? She wondered. Surely his pension would have been more than enough to support himself.
“Hey Jenny,” a slick voice slid into Jenny’s consciousness and she turned with a sigh.
“What do you want now John?” she asked, obvious distaste coating her voice.
“Hey,” John said, ignoring Jenny’s question. “I just realized that both our names start with ‘J’. Did you know that?”
“You’ve been working in this office for three months now, of course I know that. Now just tell me what you want.”
John feigned a hurt expression, but with his simpleminded countenance, all it did was make him look even more vacuous. “I was just going to ask you out for lunch.”
Suddenly a boring mission didn’t seem like such a bad idea to Jenny.
“Sorry, but no, I just got a mission, and no,” Jenny said, closing her laptop. “You are not allowed to peek.”
Ignoring John’s disappointed look, Jenny stood up and left for the dressing room. When she came out, she was wearing classic street-style clothes. She had memorized the directions to the hobo’s hideout, and headed there without delay.
When Jenny arrived, and saw the junkyard the hobo lived in, she almost decided to give up the mission, but some nagging feeling kept her going, and she headed in. The chilly December air nipped her bare skin as she stepped carefully around piles of garbage. Jenny heard a rattling and whirled around as some garbage slid down from a pile, then she heard a low throated rumbling from behind her and turned around slowly.
The dog before her was a mongrel, some cross between Saint Bernard, Border Collie, and German Shepherd; and it wasn’t happy. It was crouching and slowly approaching her teeth bared. She looked around for somewhere to hide, but knew that if she turned tail and ran the dog would be after her in an instant.
Jenny squatted down and spread her hands in the universal gesture of peace, but the dog just snapped at her and continued approaching. What was she to do? Jenny had never been trained in animal combat. She had no idea how to fight the dog that stood before her. She saw the dog crouching lower to the ground, and realized too late that it was preparing for a spring. By the time she had started ducking, it was already in the air. Then a voice knifed the air.
Jenny vaguely saw the dog twist to the right rapidly. It landed on all fours, then scampered up to the side of a ragged man who stood on the crown of a hill of garbage.
“What are you doing here?” the man called out.
Jenny did not answer, but got to her feet, looking for possible means of escape as she did so. However, she found herself completely surrounded by dogs, and even now, as she looked up at the man, she saw another two dogs step up beside him. Jenny squinted up at the man standing on top of the pile. The sun was against her, and she was forced to look down.
“I will only ask you one more time. What are you doing here?”
“Same as you,” she replied with a defiant tilt of her chin.
“I hardly think so,” the man said gesturing to the dogs around her. “No, you have another reason you are here.”
Jenny thought rapidly. She had to come up with some plausible excuse before this man kicked her out. She had no doubt this was her target, and she slowly began to realize why the Board had sent her. This man was obviously demented to live in such a horrible place with a horde of dogs; And a demented veteran soldier could be very dangerous.
“I was scavenging,” she shouted back up to him. Then she blinked; He wasn’t there. Some nagging feeling urged her to turn around, and she did so, her arms instinctively coming up protectively.
“Don’t startle me like that,” Jenny said, dropping her hands as she saw who stood before her.
He was grizzled, with a strong jaw line. His long hair was a wild iron-grey, and he stood fully four inches taller than her. His clothes were ragged, but decent, and he moved smoothly and fluidly. A glance downwards showed Jenny that the dog she had seen before was still beside him. The man before her caught her quick glance, and Jenny realized that he was more observant than she had thought.
“You’ve had an encounter with Thumper haven’t you?” his voice was a sort of soft rumble, and it reminded her of the sort of ambient droning that thunder makes before it crashes. This man was dangerous she decided.
“Who are you?” Jenny asked, ignoring his question. The dog growled softly at Jenny’s tone of voice, but a slight tap from his master silenced him.
“Oh,” the man said, feigning a look of mock astonishment and fear. “So I’m the one surrounded by dogs ready to do your bidding? I’m the one who intruded on your territory and lied to me?”
“Okay, fine, you got me,” she said irritatedly. “But you don’t have to gloat over it!”
“Tell me your name, the company you work for, and you can go.” the man before her said evenly, crossing his muscular arms as he did so. A chilly wind shot down through the mountains of garbage and whisked both their hair around their faces. Jenny had no idea why, but the gaze of her solitary companion suddenly riveted on one single point, as did the gazes of all his dogs.
Jenny saw the man’s mouth move but no words came out. However, his dogs all turned and followed their leader in one accord. They then trotted off into the distance. A minute or so after they had left, a speaker amplified voice echoed through the junkyard.
“Colonel Gale Oconnell, put your hands behind your head and stand to be taken into custody.”
There is no way to describe the astonishment Jenny displayed on her face as she heard these words. First, she felt betrayed. The report had mentioned nothing about his name. Everybody in Military Intelligence had heard about Colonel Oconnell. Reports said that when American troops had been ordered to withdraw from Vietnam, Colonel Oconnell and his men had not left, having fired on the American troops that had come to force them to withdraw.
The feeling of betrayal that Jenny felt at this lack of information was heightened by the fact that she had been told nothing of a ‘pick-up’ party. Her astonishment soared even higher as John crested the same pile of garbage that the Colonel had stood upon not long ago. How could John have been assigned to a mission like this? He was hardly the competent agent, his vacillating nature having lead to some bad experiences in the past. Surely the Board had gone mad?
“I am not going to repeat myself Colonel,” John said, through the megaphone that Jenny now realized he was holding. “Put your hands behind your head.” As he said this, John gestured slightly with his left hand and a squad of FBI agents crested the hill beside him, their automatic weapons trained on the Colonel’s torso.
Gale gave Jenny a look that said multitudes. Then he slowly raised his hands to place them firmly behind his head. The FBI men slowly advanced, taking turns covering each other, but always keeping their weapons pointing at Gale. If she had not felt so betrayed, Jenny could almost have laughed. What were these men afraid of? He was just one man, one old man for that. None of the criminals who had followed him could still be with him, and he had sent his dogs packing, not that dogs would have been anything to men armed with repeating rifles.
A man got up behind Gale with a pair of handcuffs while the others pointed their weapons at him. Jenny barely saw what happened, except that Gale grabbed the handcuffs from the officer, and before she knew it, had the chain around the man’s neck while placing his hostage in between him and the FBI agents. A fresh agent couldn’t resist, and had pulled the trigger, hitting his comrade in the leg.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” Gale said, with almost a humorous tone of voice, as the man he held cried out in pain.
“Gale!” John shouted through the megaphone, making Jenny’s ears ache. His annoyance was easy to see. “Give up, you have the FBI’s best men standing before you. They are just waiting for my command to open fire.”
“Oh? Is that so?” Gale said, and for the first time, Jenny realized he had a Scottish accent. “Well then the FBI is in its prime at following orders isn’t it?
“You know, I think–”
Jenny wondered why Gale had stopped and looked in the same direction he was looking. A bloody corpse rolled down the hill to stop at Gale’s feet. The man Gale was holding retched and threw up. Jenny had to turn away from the wretched sight. It was a dog, a dead dog, which had been shot in the head.
John now held a puppy in his hand, and was pointing his handgun at its head. “Aww, looks like mommy and baby lagged behind.” John said, with a sarcastic tone of voice. Then his voice turned cold. “Gale, if you do not release my officer and come quietly, your mommy dog will have somebody to accompany her to doggy hell.”
Gale did not even listen to John. Instead he dropped the handcuffs he had been holding around his hostage’s neck and knelt beside the body of his dog. Jenny saw him stroke its soft fur with his calloused hands before two officers grabbed him by the arms and handcuffed his hands behind his back. Jenny rushed up to John.
“You were with the FBI? How could you do that to a dog? Why wasn’t I told about any of this?”
“Send it to the pound,” John said to a man who had stepped up behind him as he handed over the puppy. Then he turned to Jenny. “I’ve always been with the FBI sweet Jenny, only you were too smart too see it. The dog attacked us, so I shot it. And why you weren’t told? Well you’re with Military Intelligence, not the FBI.” With that, John turned and left leaving Jenny staring, her face the perfect picture of shock.
A day later found Jenny in a room sitting across from Colonel Gale. The man looked even more unkept than he had been before. Yet he did not seem to be dejected or even have the slightest hint of a downcast air. Rather, his eyes were bright and searching. He looked directly at the one way window that was mounted in the wall.
“Listen, I–” Jenny began, then threw up her hands in frustration. “I don’t even know where to start.”
“Then don’t, and leave me in peace.” the Colonel retorted.
“Look, I’m sorry okay? I didn’t know they were coming for you like that. If I had, I would have–”
“You would have what? You would have had a better presence of mind for my capturing is all. Listen, if you had anything to do with that, you would have been the one I held hostage instead of that FBI kid.”
“You– you knew I didn’t have any part in that?”
“Look, when you get to be sixty-seven, you know things alright? Now unless you’ve come to let me out, I don’t see any further point to this conversation.”
“Fine,” Jenny said, rising to her feet. “If you want to sulk then go ahead.”
“Me? Sulk?” Gale said, pushing the chair which he was handcuffed to back from the table. Then his chair caught on the ground and he tipped over.
Jenny rushed over to him as the guard in the corner drew his handgun. “Are you okay?” She asked, while the guard barked.
“Get away from him!”
“He’s seventy years old for crying out loud!” Jenny said. “Come and help me sit him back up.”
The guard approached slowly as he sheathed his weapon. The instant he got near enough though, Gale flashed into action. He spun on the floor, using the leg of the chair to sweep out the guard’s legs from under him. Then Gale rolled over onto the guard while using his hands to draw the guard’s loosened pistol. Jenny seemed frozen in place as Gale shot the chain that bound the two links of the handcuffs together.
The shot seemed to wake Jenny up and she ran to the door yelling. “Open up! The prisoner is loose!”
The guard from outside swung the door open but before he could draw his own weapon, Gale shot and the man fell instantly. The colonel shoved past Jenny taking the fallen guard’s gun as he did so.
“Come back here!” Jenny said, rushing after him.
He ignored her and kept on walking down the hall. He passed by a startled guard who went down after another shot from Gale. A group of prisoners clustered at the jail doors asking to be let out, but a shot from the rampant Colonel silenced them. Jenny waited no longer and rushed in to tackle the Colonel. He stepped forward slightly more as she slammed into his waist, then he began dragging her along, shooting another guard as he did so.
Gale stopped in front of a security elevator. Jenny finally relinquished her hold on the Colonel and took up a classic fighting stance. Gale grunted and turned to face the elevator as if waiting for it to open. A second later, a tumult spread throughout the prison as guards began shouting to each other and rushing down the hallways. Naturally, Jenny looked down the hallway they had come from, and the Colonel, taking advantage of her lack of concentration, grabbed her hand and put it on the finger print scanner. Before Jenny knew what had happened, the doors were opened, and she was dragged into the elevator behind Gale.
The doors closed just as the agents arrived on the scene. Gale keyed in a number and shot the camera, then he pressed a lower floor than the one he had chosen. Jenny waited no longer and swung a roundhouse kick at the Colonel. It hit him full in the chest knocking him a few steps backwards.
“Ow,” he said, then grabbed her hand and led her out of the elevator.
Was this man for real? Jenny thought bewilderedly. There was no way he could be this old and still do what he was doing.
“I’m in the prime of my condition,” he told her, as if reading her thoughts, while he led them through a confusing set of hallways.
Jenny tried to break the grip that Gale had on her but it was like his hand was made from iron. Then she steeled herself and bent down to bite it. The Colonel checked around corner as he jerked his hand slightly, slapping Jenny in the face. She jerked perceptibly, and Gale said conversationally as he dragged her on some more.
“Next time you try that I’ll knock you out.”
As the Colonel arrived in the reception area, he fired a few times into the air. People began screaming and running all over the place. He took advantage of the confusion to snatch up a jacket and put it on while pulling the hood down low over his face, all the while never letting go of Jenny. Then he forced his way through the crowd until he was outside. Jenny had just opened her mouth to call for help when he turned to face her, and seeing what she was about to do, put his hand over her mouth.
“Listen up,” he said. “Here’s the situation, you now appear to be my accomplice. Think about it, you pay a random visit to my cell, then cover me with your body so my guard can’t shoot. You call over the guard for me to tackle him, have them open the door for me to escape, and help me access the elevator. That’s quite a résumé for a military intelligence officer. Now keep quiet, and let’s get away from here, unless you want to land both of us in a jail cell.”
“So you’ve been playing me?” Jenny said, as she followed the quickly striding figure of the Colonel.
“Yes,” the Colonel said, rounding a corner abruptly as the uniforms of some of the FBI agents reflected off a window behind them.
“You just killed people and you walk around like you’ve done nothing?” Jenny questioned in disbelief.
“When you become a veteran soldier, you learn how to shoot to disable and not to kill,” he said.
“Where are we going?” Jenny asked.
“Back to my dogs,” the Colonel replied, getting into a taxi.
“You know that’s the first place they’ll look for you right?” Jenny said.
“So you do care for my welfare– Twenty-four Heather Heights,” this was to the driver. Then he gave Jenny a scathing look. “Of course I know that’s where they’ll look for me. That’s exactly why I’m going there. Because they know that I know that they will look there, they will think that I won’t go there. It’s the last place they’ll look. Simple logic,” then the Colonel turned to look out the window.
“But what if they follow your train of logic and thus look there, or what if they send a party to look there and a party to look elsewhere?”
“Look Jenny,” he said. “They won’t. They’ve studied all my records, every single decision I’ve made, they think they’ve got me caged up in a little box and that they can predict my every next move, and unless the imbeciles who run their organization have been changed, it is not likely that they will look there.”
“About ninety-nine point nine percent okay?”
“What about the other zero point one percent?” Jenny asked with a smug smile.
“I’ve already got my mind telling me that, and I don’t need you to reinforce it!” the Colonel said irritatedly. “Listen, I owe those dogs. When I took them in, it made me responsible for their welfare. I can’t just leave them out there, even if it means risking recapture.”
This silenced Jenny– for about five minutes, then she turned to ask Gale another question, only to find, to her amazement, that he was fast asleep. Seriously! Who slept soundly twenty minutes after they had escaped from the FBI? Then she realized that it was twelve midnight, and forcing herself to relax, she managed to settle into a somewhat peaceful sleep.
She awoke to Gale shaking her shoulder.
“Okay, okay,” she grumbled, straightening herself. “I don’t need you to pull my arm off.”
Gale paid the taxi driver and stepped out of the cab. Ten minutes of walking later, they were at the junkyard. Gale let loose a piercing whistle, and a few minutes later, about fifteen dogs entered the clearing. He went around scratching one behind the ear, or petting another on the head. There were two puppies, and he let those chase his fingers for awhile, before making a peculiar noise with his mouth, and two dogs stepped up to him.
One of them, Jenny recognized as the dog she had first met. The other one, she noticed, was smaller in build, and seemed to be a pureblood. Jenny saw Gale mouthing something, but no sound was heard. However, the two dogs seemed to recognize it as a command, and set off side by side at a relaxed lope.
“What was that?” Jenny asked.
“What was what?” The Colonel asked back, turning to hide his smile at the frustrated look that came over Jenny’s face.
“You know what I was talking about.” Jenny said with a frown. “The thing you did, how come they understood it? And where in the world are they going?”
“Dogs can pick up frequencies human’s can’t. And they’ve gone hunting,” Gale told her, sitting down on a particularly clear spot. The dogs instantly swarmed around him, licking him anywhere they could, while he vainly attempted to settle them down, first by petting them, then by calling them by their names. Finally, laughingly, he gave up and submitted himself to their administrations.
Jenny found herself more and more confused as her time with this man lengthened. How could anybody who seemed to be so kind and friendly be the traitor who fired on his own companions? How could a turncoat seem to effortlessly laugh and smile, as if his conscience had no effect on him? And why– why did dogs, who were renowned for their instinct, seem so friendly with a killer? Swallowing several times, Jenny spoke up.
“Why– what– what happened? In Vietnam I mean.”
Gale looked up, and the look on his face caught her by surprise. She had expected anger, or indignation, but the look of sorrow and desperation he gave her had her feeling like comforting him, despite not knowing the cause of his sorrow. Then he recovered, and in a blink, was his usual confident self.
“You know the story as well as most everyone else,” Gale told her evenly. “I was a traitor, fired on my own allies, and led my own men against orders.”
Jenny sensed it would have been imprudent to continue her questioning, and decided to try a different tack. “What are you going to do now?”
“I need to rescue that pup.”
“You mean the one that John sent to the pound?” Jenny asked, then she turned. “How did you know it was sent to the pound?”
“Sixth sense,” Gale replied, turning to look down the path his dogs had gone of on half an hour ago. Sometimes, you had to just take information as it was handed to you, Gale thought to himself.
A few minutes later, the two dogs reappeared dragging between them a large buck.
“Where in the world would they catch deer in a junkyard?” Jenny questioned in disbelief, as the dogs leapt around the deer in excitement.
“There’s a forest just north of here,” Gale told her, slicing off a goodly sized portion of meat with a knife he had ‘borrowed’ from one of the FBI men. Then he faced the lead dog. “Go ahead,” he said.
Jenny was surprised to see the dogs had a certain order about them, as they first allowed the mothers to take a share of the meat, then let the leader take his share, and finally taking their own share.
“Taught them that myself,” Gale said, as he set up a small fire, and began sizzling the venison on a frying pan that Jenny had seen him extract from a sack a few moments before. “In fact,” he said, sitting back to look at Jenny. “I taught them everything they know.”
“Remind me why we chose this place again?” Jenny said, as Gale cut through a padlock with a large pair of wire cutters.
“It’s a sleazy pound where few questions are asked, perfect for an FBI officer to drop off my puppy without questions,” Gale told her, as he pushed open the gate. Jenny winced at his casual outlining of the legality of John’s operations.
They entered the pen area, after sneaking past a sleeping guard.
“Won’t the dogs bark?” Jenny asked as Gale strode towards the cages.
“No,” Gale said, and indeed, as they advanced past row after row of dogs, none of them made so much as a whine. They just watched them with idle curiosity or did not look at them at all.
Jenny got so caught up in looking at the different breeds of dogs in the pound, that she did not notice Gale had moved on. She hurried to look down the next row, but he was not there. She checked down the next few rows as well, but he presence in that area was also lacking. Then thinking he might have returned into the guardhouse, she entered, only to have a blinding light shone at her.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” the guard said, wobbling up to stand in front of her. Reflexively, she drew her badge from her pocket. “Oh, I see,” he said, turning to leave. That was when his light caught the shadow of Gale.
“Hey!” the guard called out, rushing past Jenny. “Dog thief! Come back here!”
Gale gave Jenny a look of pain that burned her to the very core, then he took off, with the guard hot on his heels.
Gale slipped through the gate he had entered by, the puppy nestled inside his jacket. Which way? Not the road, it was much too open. Then he saw a forest, and headed in that direction. Unfortunately for him, the guard had seen him rush in that direction. Branches whipped Gale on his face and hands as he dashed past them. He wiped something warm away from his eyebrow and realized that it was blood, his blood.
A loud crack echoed from behind him. Then he heard something whistle past his body. His mind flashed back thirty-two years, to 1962, when President Nixon had ordered the withdrawal of American troops. He had been chased through the jungle by American forces, just like this.
Then Gale’s forward progress was abruptly stopped as he came to the side of a frozen river. Another shout came from behind him, and steeling himself, he began crossing carefully. A few steps onto the ice, he nearly slipped, but managed to regain his balance. He was midway across when another gunshot sounded. It punctured the ice, and to Gale’s horror, cracks began sprouting from that minuscule hole.
Desperately he pulled open his jacket and gathered the puppy in his hands. Then, as the ice gave way under him, he tossed the puppy onto a snowbank at the edge of the river. He sunk into the freezing water instantly. His arms landed on the ice around him, breaking more of it. Helplessly, he clawed for a handhold, but just broke more ice in the process. He could feel the freezing water seeping into his clothes and began shivering uncontrollably.
His eyes flicked up as he heard the sound of footsteps. Jenny arrived at the riverbank, looking very worried. The instant she caught sight of the Colonel in the river, and she tried edging out to him to grab his hand, but the ice around him was too weak, and she ran the risk of falling in herself. Since that was no longer an option, Jenny began searching the area for something to save him with.
“Don’t worry!” she called out. “Just hold on to the ice. Don’t try to swim! Just rest your arms on the ice and let them freeze there.”
Gale could barely move from the cold, and sluggishly dropped his arms onto a sheet of ice. This one, mercifully, did not break, and he managed to keep his arms there. But Jenny’s search for something to pull Gale out with was turning out to be fruitless, and she was mentally wringing her hands in despair.
Then her ears caught the sound of a soft barking. It was so soft she thought she had not heard it at first, but then she heard it again, and began searching for the source. She soon found the small puppy Gale had saved, jumping around something. She cleared the snow from it, and found it was a long stout branch.
“Good dog!” Jenny said, pulling the branch from under the snow and extending it out to Gale. “Gale! Grab hold of the branch!”
The Colonel moved his gloved hands to grip the branch, and Jenny began pulling, but to her consternation, the branch simply began slipping from the Colonel’s grasp. “Gale! You’ll have to hold on tighter!” She said, pushing the branch back towards him, but he slowly began sinking back into the water.
“No! Gale!” Jenny shouted desperation and fear embroidered her voice, but nothing seemed to be able to pierce the fog that clouded the Colonel’s mind. Then Jenny noticed a tiny black form slinking its way out onto the ice. She made a wild grab for the puppy, missed, and then gripped the branch again, as it nearly slipped from her hold.
The dog edged its way until it sat a few feet in front of Gale, who was slowly sinking into the water. Then the dog began to bark. They were hardly barks, but rather small yelps. However, Gale did seem to hear, them, and his eyes focused, as he saw first the dog, then the branch. A new strength seemed to fill him, and he grabbed the branch firmly with his left hand as he scooped the puppy up with his right. Jenny, upon seeing this, hurriedly pulled Gale in.
An hour later found Gale in Jenny’s house, lying on the couch in front of a roaring fire, the puppy snuggled contentedly up against him. Jenny handed him a warm cup of coffee, which he sipped contentedly, then he prepared himself as he saw Jenny take in the breath to ask a question.
“What happened back there?” she asked.
“You remember asking me about my rebellion?” Gale said.
“Yes,” Jenny said, unsure about the direction this conversation was taking.
“I’ve always had an affiliation with dogs, and on the Christmas of sixty-six, a dog saved my life. She was a tibetan mastiff, two years old at the time, and I had been knocked unconscious by an explosion. She dragged me off the battlefield, and my fellow soldiers later said that they had found her guarding my body. I instantly made friends with her. Through the rest of the war, she was constantly by my side, and she became my best friend. Then, on the Christmas of sixty-eight, she disappeared. I waited, and waited, but she never returned. Shortly after, American troops were called out of Vietnamese territory, however, the FBI contacted me and told me that dangerous nerve gas had been left behind, and they wanted me and my men to retrieve it. I did not realize it would require me and those under my command to fire on our friends. Then, my soldiers and I spent five years looking for that gas. We never found it and received a message that the gas had been discovered previously, and that me and my men could return home.
“We arrived back and caused quite an uproar where we arrived. Then we dispersed to our own homes. One day, one of my best men arrived at my house. He was suffering from multiple bullet wounds, and he managed to tell me that everybody associated with that mission to retrieve the nerve gas was being hunted and killed. He died shortly after. I left my house before the FBI could catch up to me and made my home in an abandoned shanty down near a wharf. I lived there for a few months. Slowly I began gathering stray dogs, helping them and feeding them in remembrance of her. However, life was never the same. The FBI were constantly on my tail, and I had to keep moving.
“Things escalated to the point of tonight. I thought you had betrayed me and called the guard on me. I ran and fell in the ice. It was when I was in there that I reflected on how empty my life was and how everybody would turn on me any chance they could. I no longer had the will to live. Then you came, but by then, my strength had fled me. I was about to let go when I heard the sound of barking. My mind flashed back all those years and I recognized the same sound, the barking of her.
“I decided that I would not waste the effort she had made to save me, and managed to find the will to grab the branch. Then, as you were driving me home tonight, I realized that she has come back to me, in the form of this puppy.” With this, Gale leaned his head into the armrest of the couch.
“I feel so comfortable….” Gale’s voice trailed off. Alarmed, Jenny reached forward to check Gale’s pulse, but there was nothing.
A day later, the FBI found Gale’s body at the edge of a river. He had supposedly fallen in and managed to crawl out but had died of hypothermia.
And that was the story of your master,” Jenny finished, talking to the attentive year old dog that lay before her, head resting on its paws. A decorated tree stood in the corner, and colorful lights hung from numerous places outside the house. All the houses in the neighborhood were embellished in similar fashion, and somewhere, the barking of a dog drifted on the wind.