The Mountain Gazette would later report that nearly the entire population of Red Duck, Idaho had gathered in the Mule Shoe Bar to witness history in the making.
With heightened anticipation, gazes fastened on the big screen television during the world news broadcast. The aroma of coffee mingled with remnant tobacco smoke from the night before. Steady conversation filled the barroom as the sun began to rise.
A handful of those in attendance had barely let their barstools cool down for four hours before returning at this early hour to support something really big.
There hadn't been this much excitement in town since Bruce Willis premiered his latest movie at the Mint Theater in Hailey. Second to that was when John Kerry ran for president and the majority of Democrats in Red Duck had to go over to the dark side and turn Republican. But that was a heated story, one that was rehashed over shots of Jack Daniels.
"It's coming on in a just a few minutes!" P.J. Guffy said, aiming the clicker at the television to turn up the sound. "Quiet everyone!"
The noise in the crowded room hushed to a soft murmur as the morning broadcast changed gears and moved onto the weather.
Red Duck had its own radio station and a newspaper that only came out once a week. To tide everyone over until each Wednesday when the Gazette was published, gossip was exchanged at the High Country motel's lounge. The closest to local news in between was the TV stations airing from Boise.
The toupee-wearing weather anchor in a double-breasted suit who was on in the morning filled the screen, animated hand-signs showing it was going to be another record-breaking day in the area.
But nobody in Red Duck cared about the barometer.
Sitting dead-center in room for the best view of the television was the soon-to-be local celebrity-and she knew it.
Fern "Spin" Goodey-Leonard had both hearing aids ramped up to full power so she wouldn't miss a thing.
One of her liver-spotted hands clamped down on the chair's wooden arm while the other hand held onto a coffee sweetened with brandy. She smiled broadly, but at no one in particular-just a double check to make sure her dentures were still firmly in place. She inhaled, sucked in her gut, the latex of her girdle constricting her effort. When she'd been a spry young woman, and tall as a barn post, she'd been nicknamed "Spin"-short for "Spindly" because she'd always been so thin. Now she relied on Playtex to keep everything in place. It was amazing how one could pour ones skin and flab into a girdle and in a matter of seconds, elastic smoothed out all the wrinkles.
She'd been the seventh woman admitted to the Boise Bar in 1924, quite a feat back then. Judges had been discriminatory in the courtroom, her cases having been especially trying when defending other women. It was amazing she lasted in a male-orientated career that spanned three decades. She gave up her practice in 1953 and moved to Red Duck with her husband, Wally. God bless him, Wally had died in 1956 in a bear-hunting accident. Having lived with the love of her life for the better part of thirty-two years, Spin had never remarried.
P.J. Guffy flapped his arms, cranking the volume higher.
A stillness fell over the room as Willard Scott's face filled the screen.
Applause rose and Spin wasn't even on yet. Willard was one of Spin's favorites. She'd tried for a few years to get recognition and this was her year. She was glad she'd held on this long because she didn't think she'd be around for next year's birthday. Her bladder was failing and her kidneys gave her trouble. Cataracts had messed with her vision and her oil painting had suffered in recent years. But her mind was still relatively sound, so thank God for that.
Old faces flashed on the screen, the Smuckers jelly checkers a picture framed border to each centenarian.
"And from Red Duck, Idaho, Fern Goodey-Leonard who turns one hundred and three this week."
Cheers rose in the barroom as soon as Spin's name was called and gooseflesh prickled her loose skin. She hoped her red lipstick was still on straight. Seeing her picture on the television made her so happy. She had lived a long time for this.
Holiday poppers exploded with tails of streamers falling over her shoulders, and catching on her rhinestone-rimmed eyeglasses.
And it wasn't even over yet.
The screen went from Willard Scott to blackness as Guffy turned off the set and all of a sudden the bar was filled with big lights from the local news media. Channel 7 had been sent to Red Duck to do a follow up on Spin's birthday bash.
The news anchor, perhaps twenty-two if she were a day older, shoved a microphone in her face.
"So, Ms. Goodey-Leonard," she addressed, "how does it feel to see yourself on national television?"
Spin spoke loudly. "Good."
"You're almost an icon in Idaho. The seventh woman to be admitted into the Boise Bar. How have things changed since you practiced law in the early years? There used to be some dissension between you and a Judge-" The anchor referred to her notes. "-Judge Harrison."
Spin went into a bit of a history of the Boise judicial system, careful not to call Harrison an asshole, but she thought it just the same.
Big ass-asshole, male-chauvinist pig . . . asshole.
That last asshole thought made her brows pucker. She should have stopped while she was ahead.
The news anchor commented, "Are you in good health?"
"As good as I can be for one hundred and three."
"You look wonderful."
"I feel so-so," she quipped. "But I can die fulfilled now that Mr. Scott has recognized me on his weather segment."
"The whole of Boise would like to recognize you, Ms. Goodey-Leonard."
"I'm glad to hear that because I'm having my ashes returned to Boise when I'm gone."
This piece of bold news somewhat faltered the anchorwoman. She probably hadn't had dealt with death very much at her young age. "Oh, I'm sure that will be nice for you," she managed.
"It'll be more than nice. It's my way of saying a final good-bye to Judge Harrison for all those years in the courtroom when he looked at me like a tomato rather than a lawyer." Before the anchor could cut her short, Spin grabbed hold of the microphone as she continued, "I'm having my ashes baked into bread, then fed to the courthouse pigeons."
The anchor attempted to pull away the microphone, but Spin held fast, her red lipstick grazing the boom as she spoke directly into mic. "Then when the pigeons shit on Harrison's statue in the court gardens, it'll be my way of saying good-bye to the asshole."
Stunned, but good-natured laughter erupted in the Mule Shoe as the camera crews cut the film.
Spin didn't care if her segment aired or not.
She was one hundred and three tomorrow and she didn't give a good damn what anyone thought. She'd been on NBC. Coast-to-coast. And with the checkered-Smucker border setting off the lace collar of her blouse. She'd looked peachy on TV.
She hoped her great nephew, Morris Leonard, wouldn't give her too much crap about the interview. He was a prominent Boise attorney and fine catch for the right woman.
By lunch-time, life in Red Duck settled back to normal. The sheriff cited two speeders, Jacquie Santini from Realty Professionals sold a 4.6 million dollar home to an "unnamed" movie actor from Holly-weird, Sutter's gourmet grocery put buffalo meat on sale, and a benefit to improve the Little League field was announced.
That night, Spin's interview was edited and cut to suit prime-time televison. No surprise there. But the residents didn't seem to mind.
There was other news already brewing in Red Duck.
* * * * *
"That stretch of Timberline Highway by the golf course looks like a slaughterhouse floor." The blue Idaho sky with its popcorn-shaped clouds reflected in the sheriff's sunglasses. "I don't recall such a massacre so close to town before."
Lucy Carpenter grabbed her two sons by their shoulders and drew them in close. Her lanky-sixteen-year-old, Jason, shrugged out of Mom's protective embrace, while her twelve-year-old, Matt, stuck next to her as his mouth dropped open.
The deputy, a whipcord thin man wearing a cowboy hat and sporting a red fu manchu mustache, remarked, "It'll be one hell of big job scrapping off the pavement."
The lump forming in Lucy's throat ached, making it more difficult to swallow. Her skin grew clammy. The band of her bra seemed to constrict and cause a thin line of perspiration to roll between her breasts. With one hand, she flipped open the top two buttons on her wool jacket, welcoming the chilled air through her knit shirt.
Suddenly, moving to Red Duck seemed like a horribly ill-conceived idea. How could these two men talk so casually about a dead body on the road?
Jason's voice regressed to a pre-puberty squeak. "Mom, I told you Boise wasn't that bad!"
"I never said it was a crime capital." Lucy's response was a little too abrupt, and perhaps on the defensive-side when she didn't intend for it to be. "I simply said the city was a bad influence on you."
"I only smoked some pot. They kill people up here!"
That last part, or rather that first part, had both law officials looking at her son as if he were a notorious drug dealer.
"We don't tolerate any mary-wanna-go-to-jail in this town," Sheriff Roger Lewis cautioned, his small eyes narrowing to slits. He had a dark-tropical-tan that George Hamilton would envy. Silver hair framed his long face, his teeth a blinding white. He sported a felt-brimmed cowboy hat in the same silver color that accessorized both law enforcement uniforms. And they each had very large revolvers in holsters.
Lucy's eyes felt dry. She blinked and tried to focus.
The deputy ran his forefinger under his nose, itched it, then shifted his weight to an exaggerated stance. "Back in the late nineties, a few bad apples from Boise brought some cocaine with them and several fledgling businesses went up some noses." He traded glances with the sheriff, the pair obviously recollecting the damage. "The Iron Mountain para-gliding school was one of them."
"What Deputy Cooper's saying"-the sheriff hitched his pants to high-water level while looking directly at her son-"is we won't tolerate any big city trouble."
The crispness in the late May day seemed to evaporate, Lucy's cheeks growing warm. Indignance threaded through her pulse. She laid a hand on Jason's shoulder, brought him in close. This time he didn't resist her effort. "We don't smoke marijuana and I wouldn't dream of bringing any drugs into town."
But as she spoke, she recalled her firsthand account with drugs and her son.
Jason had been caught with a marijuana cigarette in his hall locker. He'd been put on suspension, but it wasn't his first violation at high school in the nearly two years since her divorce. There had been the day he'd cut class to go fishing with his buddies and received his second speeding ticket on the way home. He had his driver's license taken away for thirty days. His rebellious behavior after her ex-husband left them was why she'd made the decision to move her two boys to the small town atmosphere of Red Duck, Idaho.
The glossy travel brochures had touted that tourists might flock to Timberline, but they played in Red Duck. Golf, biking, skiing. Red Duck had a year-round population of 3,000 that swelled to 6,000 depending on the season.
Settled in a flat valley at the base of the Wood Ridge Mountains, Red Duck only had two signals on Main Street. All the buildings had the same false-fronted design-from the old Mule Shoe Bar to the new Blockbuster on Honeysuckle Road.
"Mom, can we go now?" Matt asked, the freckles on his face prominent from being in the high altitude sun.
They'd arrived in town a good hour ago, and for the life of her, she hadn't been able to find their rental. She'd gone several miles beyond Main Street, even into the Timberline resort, and the road she was supposed to turn on seemed to have vanished.
She drove the do-it-yourself-moving truck with all their possessions packed inside, navigating the best she could, with her sixteen year old at the helm of her beloved car following behind. Each time she stopped to turn around, Jason raised his hands in exasperation as if to say, "Where are you going?" Then he clamped hard on the steering wheel and accelerated far too fast for her comfort.
Against her better judgment, and also for the lack of an alternative driver, she'd let her son make the two hundred mile trip from Boise to Red Duck in the Passat. She'd insisted Matt ride with her so he couldn't distract Jason-who'd totaled his small pick-up almost two months ago and was without a car.
In defeat and puzzlement, Lucy had brought the boys to the sheriff's department hoping the law officials would know how to direct her. Now she regretted the decision. Being put under a microscope before she'd even unpacked a single dish wasn't how she envisioned their arrival.
Lucy squared her shoulders. "I'm renting a house on Lost River Road and I can't seem to find the turn off. I've been up before. I thought I knew how to get there, but for some reason, the street's missing."
Matter-of-factly, Sheriff Lewis said, "It happens in the spring. Snow melt. You get some flash floods out that way from the Lost River."
The deputy added his two cents. "It's a river that comes and goes depending on the rainy season."
"The street was washed out last week. Nobody's gotten around to putting up a new sign yet."
"Aw jeez," Jason whined. "We live on a street that disappears and they've got dead bodies here, too."
"Dead bodies?" Sheriff Lewis responded, hand falling too close to his holster. "Where's a dead body?"
Matt's voice came out in a quiver. "Timberline Highway. The big massacre."
The sheriff had the nerve to laugh. Lucy was about to tell him that it wasn't funny in the slightest.
"That's no dead body. It's a road-kill elk," Deputy Cooper supplied, his facial expression trying to remain neutral, but a grin cut across his mouth. "And a damn big 'un. What's left of the carcass and guts is spread out on both lanes, blood splatter from here to kingdom come. My guess it was a three-quarter ton diesel that got it."
The sheriff cocked his hat brim. "I'm thinking a Hummer."
"Drew Tolman drives a Hummer," the deputy mused. "I haven't see it in town today."
"Too early." Sheriff Lewis gazed at the sun. "Tolman doesn't roll into Opal's for breakfast until noon."
"Unless it's Little League season. Then he gets there about nine. Orders the same thing everyday. Steak and eggs."
"Sometimes he swaps out the steak for six sausage links. I saw him do that a few times."
At that, Matt said, "Mom, I'm hungry."
They'd been snacking on crackers and fruit in the car, and now that food had been mentioned, Lucy's stomach growled. She could all-but taste her special roasted pepper omelet with seasoned potatoes.
"We'll get something as soon as we find the house." To the sheriff she queried, "If the road is washed out, how am I supposed to get there?"
"Cooper'll draw you a map on how get in the back way. What's the address?"
"346 Lost River Road."
Sheriff Lewis gave them each another long, skeptical glance. "That's Bud Tremore's tear-down."
Lucy cringed, not wanting to have to explain that to the boys in mixed company.
"What's a tear-down?" Jason asked, slipping away from her once more. While it was a physical distance, she'd been feeling the emotional distance as well. He wasn't her baby anymore, and she hoped this move would help their relationship retain some of the closeness they'd once had. Relocating would allow him to make new friends, boys who were boys and not young men who thought they were tough and knew everything.
The sheriff didn't give her the opportunity to elaborate. "A tear-down is just what you think it is. A building that's going to be torn down. Real estate in Red Duck is so pricey, you just can't buy good land anymore. You take what's a pile a junk, demo it and build new." To Lucy, he arched his brows. "I didn't think Bud was renting out that place anymore."
He wasn't. Or wasn't going to until she convinced him otherwise.
In her scouting trip, she'd been quickly disillusioned. She learned through a realtor that the people who worked here most likely didn't live here. They lived in Twin Falls or Shoshone and rode a bus to and from town.
Bud Tremore owned the Salmon Creek RV park, and when she'd been at her rope's end on finding a place to live, she'd stopped in to use the restroom and put a dollar in the vending machine for a bottle of Coke. She got to talking to Bud, ended up telling him her hard luck story-something unlike her, but it had been a long day of disappointment, and he mentioned having a vacant house he used to rent out before the foundation resettled and knocked the right side of the porch off.
She'd begged him to show it to her and she'd made a deal on the spot for $1,500 a month. Dirt cheap. Rent in Red Duck was obscene. She couldn't even think about buying, not even with the proceeds from the sale of her Boise house. And Timberline. You couldn't touch a home for less than two million.
"We have to live in a piece of junk?" Jason's question broke through Lucy's thoughts.
"No. It's not bad at all. I really liked it and there's a view of the ski mountain."
Well, sort of. The trees cut it off. But they could fix up the house and make it a home. It was the best she could do and still live in Red Duck.
"I never wanted to move here," Jason grumbled, flipping the key of her Passat open and closed like a switchblade. "Why can't we go back to Boise? All my friends are there."
She kept an assurance in her voice she hoped would convince him. "You'll make friends here."
Matt rubbed his belly. "I'm hungry."
"We'll get something to eat soon."
The deputy returned with a map. She followed his finger as he traced a road, showed her how to get to the house.
"Just what is your business in town?" the sheriff asked, puffing out his chest as if he were a rooster.
Lucy stared at him a long moment. "My business." Then she thanked the two for their time, put the boys back in their respective vehicles and began traveling on Honeysuckle Road.
Her hands gripped the wheel of the moving van, her stomach pitching. Not from hunger this time. Trepidation worked through her pulse. She hoped she wasn't making a mistake.
She'd spent hours, days . . . a full several weeks planning for this move and contemplating every angle of what could or would go wrong. The positives outweighed the negatives. She could work up here, make a nice living as a personal chef. She'd gotten that part covered, knew that business could be stable. But a piece of her was riddled with guilt. She'd taken the boys away from the only home they'd ever known. She sold the house she'd won in the divorce. A modest four-bedroom with a big yard, basketball hoop, skateboard ramp for the front where all the neighborhood boys congregated.
Things would be different for them up here. But it would be a good different. She had to remind herself this was for the best.
But as the house came into view with its grey-weathered-sides, a magpie squawking on the roof, the porch slopping and in need of repair, and a discarded truck tailgate in the front yard area, she bit the inside of her lip.
Matt rolled down the window, and stuck his head out as she let the truck engine idle. "Cool! This place looks like a junky fort."
Jason had gotten out of the Passat, stood next to his brother at the open window. He gave Lucy a pathetic glare, then muttered, "I wish you and Dad never got a divorce."
Neither had Lucy, but her marriage bed could only sleep two people comfortably and Gary had decided he liked his office secretary taking dictation in between the sheets. Her ex suffered from classic male menopause and had bailed to Mexico on an extended holiday.
"Well, we did get a divorce," Lucy all-but snapped. "So now it's the three of us and we're going to make the best of it."
She spoke more to reassure herself than the two boys whose gazes had slid back to the house just as the magpie dropped a present on the front steps before flying away.
* * * * *
Before the day was over, Jason knew he could find someone in Red Duck to hit him up with a bag of pot. His mom was dumb to think that this Potatoland town didn't have drugs for sale. If a dude had some money, anything was for sale.
Buying weed and keeping a joint in his hall locker had been effing gay. The S.R.O. at his old high school was like a canine. He had a nose that could sniff out a stale P & J sandwich locked tight in a binder. Getting busted had reeked. Jason really screwed up. That had been the first time he'd smoked weed and he paid a penalty for it, but he'd done alcohol and never got caught.
When Gary left them, Jason got drunk on purpose to make the hurt go away-a pain he didn't talk about, not even with Matt. His mom never found out about the drinking. He told her he was going to the skateboard park with his friends, but they ended up at Brian's house instead. Brian's parents had a wet bar stocked with any liquor you could think of. Brian filled water in the vodka bottle to make up for what they drank. They took some Smirnoff Ice, too, since there were a couple cases of it in the garage refrigerator. Five or six missing bottles-it was nothing noticeable.
Thinking back, Jason remembered how he'd puked his guts up and had a headache all the next day. He lied, told his mom he had the flu. After that, he swore, no more alcohol. Just grass. But not regularly. Only when he needed to forget his troubles.
He didn't hate his mom. She was trying. And he knew that he was a shit to her sometimes. But he couldn't help himself. He had a lot of anger in him. Sometimes he just wanted to hit something. Like maybe Gary for running off to Mexico.
Gary was an effing bastard.
He only called on Sunday nights and stayed on the phone for ten minutes before he said he had to go. And he always called at exactly 8:00pm because that's when the rates went down to call from Meh-he-co.
Jason didn't know his dad anymore. Now he only thought of him as Gary. He couldn't call him Dad because a dad was someone who didn't walk out on his kids.
"Can we go inside, Mom?" Matt asked.
"Sure. I've got the key."
Jason held back, not eager to go in. He was thinking about not having a cellphone to call Brian and his buddies. This really stunk. If they'd stayed in Boise, his mom planned on getting him a phone since he was driving. Well, before he totaled his truck. Eventually he would have gotten a flip-phone. Now he had nothing.
"Jason, aren't you coming in?" his mom asked.
She stood on that piecer of a porch, sunlight shining off her brown hair with red shades that were natural. She had full lips and brown eyes. The boys at school called her a MILF and it pissed him off 'cause she was his mom. Awkward hearing a couple of the football players say his mom was someone they'd like to make out with. He was glad he didn't have an ugly mom. But still. He once hit a kid for saying something about her at an assembly.
His mom was forty-five. He always thought she was beautiful, even when he was a little kid. The other kids always commented he had one of the prettiest moms.
Now she looked sad a lot.
Sun played across her face and she looked tired. He knew Gary caused a lot of the tired-stuff. But so did he. Jason took blame for being a screw up for a son. He felt bad.
"Yeah, Mom. Sure."
He didn't want to give her a ration of crap anymore. He was going to try and be nicer to his mom. But looking at this place where they had to live, he thought about firing up a joint and forgetting where he was at.
* * * * *
Drew Tolman could drive left-handed even though he batted right-handed. It was one of those skills he perfected when he'd first gotten his driver's license. Keeping a right arm free, he'd always had a soft shoulder or breast to lay his palm on.
Bad Company's signature song blared from the Hummer's CD deck as Drew headed toward Opal's for breakfast. Hot air pumped through the space-age looking heating and air vents, yet he kept the driver's window rolled down. He hated to be closed in.
He drank coffee from an insulated cup, tapped his fingers to the music on the leather steering wheel.
An L.A. Dodgers ball cap rode backwards on his head, his jaw unshaven for the past forty-eight. He'd ran his razor up his neck though. Neck stubble was an annoyance and he kept it smooth. He felt comfortable in a pair of athletic sweats and a thick pullover shirt that had holes in the hem. It was his Sunday look even though today was Tuesday.
The default ring on his cell chimed and he snagged it, and just like he did each time, he made a mental note to change that stupid ringer.
"Are you at Opal's?"
"Heading there now."
"I'm in between clients. I'll meet you."
The line disconnected. Drew tossed the cell onto the black leather seat, the charger still plugged into it.
When Jacquie said she'd do something, she acted and it was a done deal. She was one of Red Duck's top producing real estate agents and had been his on again/off again girlfriend for three years.
Right now, they were on again.
Jacquie Santini was an ethnic mix of Native American Indian and Italian. Thin enough to fit sideways in a gym locker, she was 5'10" with a thick mane of black hair that fell down her back and brushed the swell of her butt. What had gotten his attention when he first met her was her brown-black eyes and the dark brows above. They had this definitive arch to them that was almost like she was always raising them in a no-bullshit expression.
Appearance-wise, she was more plastic than a VISA card, but she refused to have her boobs done since her nipples were her most sensitive body part and she didn't want to risk losing sensation for a pair of DD silicons. Her breasts weren't all that big, but he was okay with that. She loved sex, loved having sex with him. That worked.
When they broke up for short spans of time, it was because he usually did something to make her mad. Which he was known to do, and hell, it didn't take much. All he had to do was say something that set her off, and she was done. Yet somehow when they got around to talking it through, the talking part was mostly a facade and it was all about making up in bed.
He'd questioned himself why he'd kept her around for so long. He wasn't in love with her anymore. He had been at one time. He loved her now, but he wasn't in love with her. She was comfortable and they had good times. Both were from larger cities on the west coast, he from L.A. and she from the Bay area.
Lately she was pushing to move in together. He'd been putting her off, changing the subject, but Jacquie could only be held off for so long before she knocked the hell out of his bachelorhood with an emotional curve ball. She'd start balling.
Jacquie didn't cry very much, but when she did, she might as well take a hunting knife to him. God, he hated when she cried. But it wasn't enough to make him change his mind and let her move in, and hell, worse yet, get married.
Not now, not with Mackenzie being without her mother.
His seventeen year old daughter hated his guts, and he didn't blame her. Up until six months ago at her mother's funeral, he'd only seen Mackenzie several times in her life.
He'd been back to Florida this past February for the Dodgers spring training camp-a combination business and personal trip, one he'd hoped would begin to change Mackenzie's mind about him. She'd let him take her to the ballpark, but Mackenzie had wanted nothing to do with him outside of nine innings worth of his company.
Cleaning up his forty-six year old past, with one major screw up, was complicated.
Over the years, he had always kept Caroline's phone call and the possibility of having a daughter in the back of his mind. He hadn't actually believed he was the father of her child, and he hadn't wanted to be trapped into something like that when his baseball career had just started to go places. He'd had phone calls like Caroline's before, so hers had been no different.
But Caroline Taylor had been different . . .
Not that he'd thought about what she'd told him often, but some nights, when he'd been on the road with the team and lying in a hotel room, the possibility of him being a father had crossed his mind. Sometimes he'd pick up the phone to call Caroline, but he cradled the receiver without ever dialing. He guessed he'd been afraid that it could be true. And if it had been, what was he supposed to do about it?
Caroline and her family lived in Kissimmee, Florida and he'd lived in Los Angeles during the off-season. How could he be a long-distance Dad?
And then there were the years when his judgement had been clouded and he could barely take care of himself, much less a kid. In a selfish way, it had been easier to deny parentage rather than confront possible truths.
But today he was able to look at that rationale with sober clarity. Disgust filled his chest. What an ass he'd been.
Caroline had sent him pictures throughout the years, but Drew didn't see any resemblance. Yet he never threw the photos away. He kept them all. In fact, several in his locker when he'd been with the Dodgers.
Memories surfaced and the coffee cup in Drew's hand felt cold. He didn't want to think about the call he got from Caroline when she told him Mackenzie saw his name on her birth certificate.
Pulling into the parking lot of Opal's diner, Drew looked for an available spot, didn't see one, so he cut a sharp turn and did what he usually did. He drove the Hummer up and over the curb, 4-wheeled through the field and parked out back of Claws and Paws grooming.
Ada, the plump owner, walked a Terrier who did its business on a fireweed bush.
Puckering her lips, she frowned. "Andrew Tolman, I told you I was going to call Sheriff Lewis the next time you illegally parked on my property."
"Only be a few minutes, Ada," he said, aiming the touch pad at the Hummer and locking it with a chirp. "When I'm done, I'll bring you over some of Opal's hot biscuits."
"I don't want any hot biscuits. I'm doing the South Beach diet and those carbs kill me."
"Sugar, you do not look like you need to lose a single pound."
Ada blushed, smiled shyly, then wrinkled her nose. "No, I'm not going to let you talk me out of it, Andrew. I'm calling the sheriff to have you towed as soon as Buster's done with his potty."
Buster had been leaving a little potty all along the back brush. The terrier was going to be a while.
Winking, Drew added, "I'll get you some of her clover honey to go with."
"Now, Andrew. I mean it."
"Won't be but a minute, Ada."
He headed for Opal's, knowing pretty damn sure his Hummer would be there when he returned.