By the time that Detective Dylan Greene had reached
the outskirts of Tupelo,
he knew that there would be no turning back until Sunday. Onhis way through Mississippi, his cell phone had broken, and
his car had run out of gas. The closest
house seemed uninviting and the incessant rain rendered it impossible to see
even a foot in front of him. Suspecting
that he would not need his cowboy hat, Dylan put it down next to him in his pickup
truck. Before the start of the storm, he
had seen the worn-down house. His most
recent thought before the breakdown had been, “I wonder who could live
there.” His heart now raced as he
departed his car and braced himself to find out.
As Dylan stepped up the rugged wooden stairs leading to the eroding
porch, they creaked loudly. He had
second thoughts about asking for a place to stay. Dogs barked nearby, and their low-pitched
growls seemed to come from behind the house.
He heard a metal chain that, if broken, might unleash flesh-hungry dogs
that had not eaten for days. As he
stepped onto the porch, he thought to himself, “I’m better off in my car for
tonight than in this forsaken house.” As
Dylan reached the doorbell, he rang it, and, not hearing it, he rang
again. Realizing that the doorbell must
be broken, he opened the screen door. As
he knocked on the door, he stepped back so that he would not intimidate the
occupant. A few seconds later, a voice,
barely audible to hear, muttered, “Hold on.”
He thought he heard something dragging on the floor in the
background. He patiently waited on the
porch, and, after what felt like forever, a gray-haired woman, who seemed to be
at least in her seventies, appeared in the doorway.
“What do you want? ‘Cause whatever
you’re selling, I’m not buying,” stated the woman gruffly. She was warmly dressed, compared to Dylan’s
thin T-shirt and worn-out blue jeans.
The storm had come unexpectedly, so he was not dressed for the unusually
cold weather that came with the storm.
Dylan shivered as he peered in and saw a gun on a shelf within the aged
lady’s reach. He knew that if she knew
how to work it, and, if she had the heart to, she could kill him before he
could explain what he was doing there.
So, in order to ease his mind, he quickly said, “My car is out of
gas. I just need a place to stay for
tonight. I was just wondering—”
The old woman cut him off. “You’re
wanting to know if you can stay here?”
“If you happened to know anyone who would let me stay for one night, that
would be appreciated as well. You know,
like maybe there is a hotel nearby.”
“Well, there aren’t any hotels here, and I sure hope there won’t be,
either. The thing I hate most is a
tourist.” Dylan looked at her as if she
had just insulted him.
“I’m going through here on business,” he said. She looked at him sternly. “You know, business…like a business
trip.” Dylan was on his way back from an
investigation, although he did not want to tell her that. He was headed to another case closer to his
hometown, yet it appeared that he wouldn’t get there on time. “Could I stay here for the night? I just ate, so all you would have to provide
me with is a bed. When I get gas in the
car tomorrow, I could get breakfast on my trip back.”
She looked at him, and said, “Are you kidding? The gas station’s closed tomorrow, since it’s
Sunday. You won’t be out of here before
“What do you do if you run out of gas on a Sunday?”
“We always fill up our cars with gas on Saturday night. Didn’t you pass by the gas station on your
way over here and see the traffic at the gas station?” she asked.
He thinks, but does not reply.
“Anyway, the station closes at six every Saturday.”
“Well, may I stay here until Monday?”
“Yeah. I have a bed in the spare
bedroom that you can use until then. It
was used by my late husband, Horace, until he passed on a few months ago.”
She seemed mysterious,
and, if he didn’t know better, he would have suspected that he had just walked
in on his next case. Yet, in spite of
her deceitful appearance, she seemed helpless, like a frail dog that needed
someone to watch over her daily.
“Come on in,” she stated,
friendlier now that she was more accustomed to this stranger. “Excuse my
exhaustion. I just woke up and couldn’t
come right to the door because I had to change from my pajamas.”
As Dylan stepped in her
carpeted house, he noticed that the inside was more welcoming than the
outside. Seeing the deer heads that
lined the upper portion of her walls, he asked, “So, do you hunt?”
“No, but Horace went
hunting all around the country. Each
deer head represents a hunting trip he made in each state, and, as you can
tell, he went quite often.”
Dylan set his eyes on a
plaque noting the number of hunting trips Horace had been on and silently
counted the deer heads. “Why does the
plaque over there show fifty-two hunting trips, and there are only fifty-one
The woman perceived his
keen eye, and she theorized, “You must be a detective.” There was a pause, and she appeared to create
her story as she went. There was
distrust, on Dylan’s part, as to the verity of her story. As quickly as she could, she said, “Horace
died during his hunting trip. The
taxidermist is expected to send the stuffed deer’s head any day now, but, until
then, there will only be fifty-one.” She
paused again. “I’m sorry, but I never
caught your name.”
“My name’s Dylan. Dylan Greene.
I live near Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. I didn’t catch yours either.”
“Nice to meet you.” They shook hands and stepped back. Thunder rumbled in the near distance, and
Dylan jumped back even further. He had
forgotten about the storm since his entrance in her house, even though he was
still drenched from the rain. Dylan
started shivering, and, noticing his reaction to the rain, Eileen excused
herself to get him a towel to dry him off.
Eileen’s cat sulked into the room.
Dylan saw that the cat was soaked, and the cat had just entered the room
from outside through the kitty-door.
Taken aback by the cat’s stride, Dylan moved towards it. He was about to pet it when suddenly, as
quickly as the lightning was striking, the cat swiftly hobbled over to the windowsill,
which was situated under the deer that was shot during Horace’s first hunting
trip. Eileen walked in, unnoticed by
Dylan. She stood there, watching Dylan,
appearing to spy on him. The cat’s
sudden movement appeared to instigate the barking of dogs in the distance. Eileen spoke at this moment, bringing him two
towels. “One is for you right now, and
one is for if you need it later on tonight.”
She also had a washcloth in her hand.
“If you need to take a shower, you can use that extra towel to dry off,
and here is a washcloth.” She handed
Dylan the two towels and the washcloth.
Then, after noticing her cat, she said, “I see you’ve already met
“My cat. He thinks he’s a human, so we named him Roger. Don’t mind him, though,” Eileen said.
Dylan sat down on the
sofa next to the doorway that Eileen had just come from. The dogs continued barking. “The dogs barking: Are they yours?”
“Yes. My late husband and I got them.”
“They were barking when I
“Yes, but not because you
were here. Whenever they see Roger, they
“How did you know that
the cat had just gotten onto the windowsill when I came up on the porch?”
“In my room,” Eileen
nervously began, “there is another windowsill that Roger likes to climb
on. I woke up when the dogs barked, and
I saw her right behind my bedpost.”
Dylan could tell that she wasn’t telling the truth, but he decided not
to say anything. Instead, he only kept a
mental note. “And, besides, the dogs are
deaf,” Eileen added, hopeful to add logic to her story.
“All of them?”
“Yep. We found that out after we had rescued them
from the pound.”
“From the pound, you
Roger leapt off the
windowsill and headed towards Dylan. At
this, the dogs stopped barking, but they started whimpering. Roger jumped into Dylan’s lap, and Dylan
started petting him.
“Yes. We wanted dogs to protect us, so we decided
to take a trip to the pound,” replied Eileen.
“Those dogs sounded like
they were about to get loose. You might
want to go outside and ensure their security.”
“I’ll do that
tomorrow. A few years ago, Horace and I
were robbed, and those dogs couldn’t even get loose to attack the
intruders. I’m confident that they won’t
get loose between now and tomorrow.”
Dylan said, “They might
be hungry. They sure sound it.” Suspicious of negligence on her part, he
added, “The Animal Control might come over and take them away from you if they
suspect that you have neglected to feed your dogs.”
Guiltily trying to change
the subject, she replied, “You look tired.
You might want to go ahead and hit the shower and hit the sack.” Roger jumped off Dylan’s lap as he got up
from his chair.
advice, Dylan took a shower and got ready for bed. He began to suspect that he was on the trail
of another detective case, although he knew that he would have to collect more
evidence before he reported her to the authorities. He went to bed, fearing any move that Eileen
might make. He knew that if he had shown
that he mistrusted her, she might grab her gun off the shelf next to the door,
and she would get away with her crimes.
In order to ensure his and others’ safety, he decided it would be to his
benefit to keep an eye on the doorway during the night. “I can always catch up on sleep at home,” he
END OF CHAPTER 1
END OF PREVIEW
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