Humpty Bumpkin – Book 1: Country Cousin Mysteries
The whole communication revolution thing is a mixed bag of wonderful and tedious. Things like cell phones are a revelation, allowing twenty-something women like me, who have trouble sitting still, to stay in touch with the important people in their lives.
But even the best innovations have their downside.
For example, a wise woman once told me never to answer a phone call whose number you don’t recognize. Answer at your own risk, my cousin Felicity proclaimed one rainy day in the arboretum.
And I’ve since learned the intelligence of her advice. Several times over.
One would think I’d learn. Wouldn’t one?
“Is this Miss Joey Fulle?”
I frowned, not liking the “I want to sell you a bridge” tone of his voice. “Nope, sorry. I think you have the wrong number.”
“Actually, I believe I have the right number, Miss Fulle.”
“You’re not right,” I said quickly and disconnected before the man on the other end of the phone had a chance to give me bad news. I had no idea what kind of bad news I was expecting. But I knew it was there, lurking like a vulture in a tree, ugly and ravenous.
My dog, Cacophony, Caph for short, bounded up and stopped in front of me, a clump of fur between her jaws. I grimaced. “Caph, what did you do? Have you killed something again?”
A blond pitbull with gorgeous green eyes, Caph bounced several times, her muscular haunches springing her several feet off the ground each time, and then barked happily and ran off again, tail whipping the air. I sighed, knowing I should follow her and see if I could save whatever she’d decided to “play” with.
My phone rang again. I hit Ignore and trudged after Caph. “Caphy girl, where’d you get off to?”
The distant sound of barking drew me to a copse of old trees, their gnarled branches bigger around than I was and tangled together high overhead. It was behind one of these, an elegant old Elm tree whose knobby arms spread wider than the rest, that mostly hid my dog. I could see her butt wagging happily as she moved around behind the tree.
My sweet Pitty bounced out from behind the distant tree and grinned at me, her entire body vibrating with excitement. “What have you found, girl?” I murmured to myself. “Come on, Caph.”
But she turned back to whatever she was exploring. That was when I realized she must have cornered something. I picked up the pace and hurried in her direction.
By the time I was fifteen feet away I smelled the rotting stink of meat and knew that, whatever she’d found, I wouldn’t be saving it.
Real panic set in. “Caphy, you come here right now!”
My dog disappeared behind the tree and I growled with frustration. But a moment later she reappeared and started heading in my direction, something hanging out of her mouth. “Ugh!” I fought an impulse to turn and run. Being corpse-woman was not tops on my list of favorite things.
In fact, I was pretty sure it wasn’t on the list at all. “Drop it, Caph.”
Of course she ignored me, her steps becoming bouncier and more excited the closer she came. Clearly she wanted to share her treasure with me. I didn’t know how to impress upon her that having a mangled, half dried corpse of a bunny or squirrel dropped on my shoes didn’t take me to my happy place.
My usual response of shrieking and running screaming away from her treasure just didn’t seem to make an impression.
She was a very bull-headed pitty. I grinned at my pun.
Caph ran up and dropped to her haunches a few feet away. She kept hold of the object, which I was trying hard not to look at, as if she was afraid I was going to take the treasure away from her. She would be right about that. But it wasn’t going to happen until I had a bag or something to use so I didn’t have to touch it. I tried one more time to get her to let loose of whatever she was clutching between her jaws. If I was really lucky I could convince her to drop it and would be able to drag her home.
To my shock she lowered her head and dropped the contents of her mouth.
I glanced down. My stomach did a painful little dance and I think I might have yelped. Caph was watching me very carefully, letting the object lie there as if checking to see how I would react. I was glad it was out of her mouth.
In fact, I would have been elated about it.
But I was too busy shrieking and running away.