Re: Zephyr


Herr D

[continuation of Chapter 7]

Jennifer caned up to the mailboxes and unlocked her box. Junk mail and cable bill. She pocketed the bill, tore the rest in half and stuffed it in the slot marked ‘paper only.’ She turned to see Shelley pointing to the wall above the boxes. She looked up.
Already on the wall were the spray-painted words ‘3 Dr. Li’s! No relation, I bet!’ in uneven black. Please–not even funny.
“Uh huh.” She glanced down. The boxes DID all have the label ‘Dr. Li.’ She shrugged. “So, do you want to come back?”
They startled her by doubling up. Shelley carried everything but the hidden camera box, Jennifer carried the box, and Young Mike carried her. I could get used to THIS, Tarzan. They put everything but the dog pillows and the hidden camera box into Jennifer’s place and, hearing a television on in Brandon’s room, knocked. Brandon opened up, looking surprised.
“Hello? Jennifer, right?” He glanced at Shelley, wary.
“Yes. My friend here wanted to ask you–“
“If you’d like a dog pillow or two. I don’t need them anymore,” Shelley turned her head slightly more away from the camera, as if trying not to tear up. “Jennifer says you have a dog.”
Brandon looked downcast. He opened the door wider, letting them see a full-size dog bed next to the television. “I can’t get Rocky to use what he has. Thanks, but no thanks.”
“Sir? Is that a map from Vietnam?” said Young Mike, nodding at the wall above the t.v. set.
Brandon nodded. “Man in a market there sold them. There were times it was better information than we had.” It was missing pieces near each corner and along two creases where it had been folded.
Shelley looked around, as if confused. “Well, sorry to bother you; I’ll just donate them, I guess.”
Jennifer leaned in further, “Brandon? Where IS Rocky?” He’s not going to get the hint, Shelley.
“He’s at the vet.”
“Oh, he’s not sick, is he?”
Brandon frowned. “Funny thing. He’s acting healthier. Sometimes that means a dog is dying, so I’m having his pleurisy checked out.”
Shelley blinked. “Pleurisy? I don’t know that one.”
Brandon made a small smile. “I don’t know what they call it now. Rocky is an old dog. He gets fluid in his lungs. He likes putting his chest on the cold floor for a spell and then coughing it up. It’s probably bad for him, but it’s apparently easier to cough up that way. I guess it works pretty damn well. The vet said he was as well off as if he’d been on oxygen, but he needs to stay in for tests.”
That was COUGHING? No wonder. I thought he just had a wimpy bark. “Well, do you know anyone around who needs them?”
–Quick follow-up on inquiries was enough to tell them that no one knew of a pet that had died in either building. The only odd thing was a set of missing wind chimes being attributed to pranksters.
They’d been back less than ten minutes when David came storming up to Jennifer. “Where were you!”
Shelley looked up from her console and began walking toward them. You’re helping? “I helped Shelley with a lead.”
“She did.” Shelley was only just close enough not to shout. Nate got up to go for coffee. Awh, my hero.
“What?!” David was red-faced, shaking a piece of paper. “Tia needs this edited and put in the ‘prompter for the filming at two, and you weren’t where we could find you.” He tossed the page down onto her desk. One page? What, ten more minutes?
“That shouldn’t be a problem.” Jennifer picked it up. Fluff piece for a fluff-brain. No problem at all.
“What do you mean, you helped with a lead?! You’re not a reporter.” Neither are YOU, Davy-boy.
“I helped introduce her to some informants.”
“Excuse me?” No excuse FOR you, Davy-boy.
“Excuse ME,” said Shelley, “I needed her. We got partial information on a mysterious accident, two petty thefts, one possible human-interest story–though that one’s doubtful, and a local pervert.” Did you record Mrs. Smith and I talking about my underwear?
David reddened even more. “She was supposed to be editing.”
“She was typing in the van,” Young Mike said. Where did you come from?! “That’s why we took her laptop.”
David was obviously startled to see Young Mike too. “Wh–that laptop can’t hold a charge.” You didn’t notice it was GONE, did you? HAH!
“You know Po rigged up a charge adaptor for the van,” said Shelley. David reddened even more.
“But your ploy worked. You should be happy.” Young Mike nodded brightly. What are you doing?
“Ploy?” David was reddening even more.
“Yeah. That contest you inspired. You got a newsworthy name. Mr. Crowe picked his favorite already. Wasn’t much of a contest. Now every news service is gonna want our footage. All it cost you were a bunch of desserts and the company gets guaranteed success on follow-up reporting.” Wow. That was actually smooth. He’s slow enough to go for that if I keep quiet.
David opened his mouth. He closed his mouth. He opened his mouth again. He closed his mouth again. He blinked twice. “I think we said appetizers or desserts.” He walked away, blinking. YESSSS! He might even forget to be mad that the winning entry is credited to me.