Adrenaline coursed through Alejandro’s little veins as he scurried across Town Hall Square and down Applewood Drive. His human had declined to attend the meeting, but Alejandro slipped in (and out) through the window like a furry spy, discreetly recording the meeting with the iPhone his human taught him to use. And that’s what he was doing, until the yelling and screaming and barking started.
Alejandro despised loud noises.
With the iPhone stowed in his vest pocket, he scampered purposefully down the sidewalk, sometimes pausing to leap over a fire hydrant or shimmy up a tree. Then he smelled something that caused his tummy to rumble and he was suddenly hungry,
The little simian followed the scent until he came to the stucco house with the brushes of brown paint. Lured by the enticing aroma of sourdough bread, he disappeared through the pet door and entered a tidy mudroom. Following his nose, he soon entered the kitchen where, wrapped in brown paper grocery bags sealed with masking, tape, were four loaves of sourdough bread cooling on the top shelf of a wrought iron baking rack. A bag of dry cat food slouched on the shelf just below the tantalizing loaves.
Alejandro was about to launch himself onto the baker’s rack and help himself to some warm bread when he heard a low growl behind him followed by a shrill voice.
Alejandro had not noticed the tabby slumbering in a sun patch on the kitchen floor. The feline rose stiffly, eyes narrowed and ears flattened. Alejandro was even more startled when a grey parrot flew into the kitchen and perched on the counter just two feet from him. The bird eyed him quizzically.
What’s going on? What’s going on? Whrrt Whrrrrt!
Alejandro shrieked and leaped onto the baker’s rack, upsetting both the bag of cat food and the bag of bird seed. They toppled, sending a cascade of kibble and grains onto the scrubbed linoleum beneath. The diminutive primate glanced quickly from cat to bird to bread loaves. His tummy rumbled again, and he hesitated for a brief second before snatching the nearest loaf. His sudden movement sent the bird squawking and the snarling cat launching to pounce. Clutching his prize, Alejandro bared his teeth, screaming shrilly until the cat ran out of the kitchen and the bird fluttered after it, shrieking Whrrt Whrrrrt!
Relieved, Alejandro jumped down from the counter and fled out the pet door.
Annie followed Agnes and Lieutenant Vickers, creeping stealthily down the Town Hall steps. She wanted to retrieve her waiting cart and head to City Park. Sometimes she sat in the hollow of Dunn’s Cottonwood, her cart positioned to block the view of passersby. Inhaling the grounding, woodsy scent, Annie could close her eyes and recall happier times, before her life took a disastrous spiral downward and she lost everything.
It was at the base of Dunn’s Cottonwood that she met her true love forty years earlier.
Drawing closer to where Agnes and Vickers stood, Annie held back, peering behind a pair of lilac bushes. Kaiser lay in the shade, panting. He cocked his ears and turned questioningly in her direction for a moment before turning his gaze back to the young policeman.
Annie felt a sad ache of empathy for Agnes Harper. As eccentric as the strange-looking house in which she dwelled, Agnes was one of the few people Annie didn’t despise on sight. From Annie’s keen observations, it seemed Agnes was still grieving her late husband and achingly lonely. It was also apparent to Annie that Agnes was sadly misunderstood.
After Agnes straddled her mount and pedaled away on the creaking trike, Annie sniggered in amusement as Lieutenant Vickers turned to Kaiser, who was dragging his rump on the brown grass.
“What the hell, Kaiser?” Vickers admonished.
The German shepherd rose up from his haunches and whined his apology.
“Well, you’re going to have to wait until after lunch. We have to go back inside now,” Vickers said, scowling in apparent disgust. “Come, Kaiser.”
Annie waited until the pair ascended the Town Hall steps and disappeared behind the heavy oak doors before she retrieved her waiting cart.
She heaved her burden down Applewood Drive, the old cart protesting rhythmically. She was just approaching 703 when the little monkey from the meeting burst through the pet door, a parcel wrapped in a brown paper sack gripped in its long arms. It scampered down the sidewalk until it came within ten feet of Annie and her cart. It gazed questioningly up at her, making inquisitive little sounds. The aroma of sourdough bread mixed with the monkey’s odor pervaded her nostrils simultaneously.
“Where do you think you’re going with that?” Annie demanded sharply. “That doesn’t belong to you.”
The capuchin cocked his head nervously, chattering softly.
Annie looked from the little thief to the house two doors down and an idea came to her.
“I’ll tell you what you’re going to do with that loaf of bread,” Annie said decidedly. She pointed toward the Craftsman bungalow with the American flag dangling from its sconce. “Leave it on that porch across the street.”
The monkey hesitated, looking from Annie to where she pointed, then at the loaf of bread in his arms.
“Go on,” Annie encouraged, shaking her pointing finger for emphasis.
Annie watched as, with a look of sad defeat, the monkey obeyed her command, looking both ways before he crossed Applewood Drive. He clambered up the porch steps, giving Annie one last look before depositing the bread right outside Harvey Dilwood’s front door. Annie smiled as the pouting monkey clambered down the porch steps and stopped at the sidewalk as if awaiting further instruction.
“Good monkey,” Annie praised him from across the street. “Go home now. You stink to high heaven.”
The capuchin scampered down the sidewalk, looking back at Annie as if hoping she would change her mind and command him to retrieve the bread. When she only scowled at him, he scurried away in defeat.