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Leader of the Herd and Misplaced Loyalty

This is our 'herd'. We have two retired racehorses/broodmares who live together in the large field at the back of our property. Lions Raw is the mare on the right in the picture (taken when there was pasture for them to eat! We currently have very cold temperatures and snow). Lions Raw is 26 years old and the dam (mother) of the horse on the left, I'm a Cheetah who's 20.

When I bring them into the barn for the night, I'm a Cheetah hangs back. Lions Raw is the leader and must be brought in first.

In the morning, when I lead them out, I take I'm a Cheetah first because she won't attempt to pass Lions Raw if she happens to hang around the exit from the barn 'porch'.

We do our best to respect the hierarchy the horses have established. For example, we had an older gelding here last winter, but he was not the boss. Our younger gelding, I'm Dashing, was.

Here is another story I wrote for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle word challenge.

The words I had to use in the piece are in italics.

(By the way, I've written 16 pages of the first draft of the 5th book in the mystery series, Meg Sheppard Mystery Series!).

Misplaced Loyalty

His silhouette was distinctive even through the frosted glass. His large beaked nose poked determinedly out from his face, as if to escape from his underdeveloped chin and receding forehead.

Since his sharp knocks on the door hadn’t been answered, he rattled the doorknob. The bright corridor lights behind him obscured his peculiar features as he faced the door.

I tried to be philosophical about the situation in an attempt to stop my body from trembling. But, hidden under the seldom used receptionist’s desk, I felt vulnerable. Haphazard thoughts busied my mind and I couldn’t focus. Last week I wouldn’t have given a second thought to opening the door and letting the man in. But this week I was no longer ignorant of what my brother had been up to.

My brother, Mick, was in trouble. I knew it as soon as I’d opened the door to my old farmhouse and let him in. I’d just adopted a young Labrador retriever from a rescue group and invited Mick over. He loved dogs and always wanted one of his own, but his jet-set lifestyle didn’t permit it. But he ignored my beautiful dog, threw his jacket at the coat stand and missed, and flopped down onto the tired sofa.

The dog wagged her strong, furry tail, but sensed something was wrong and hung back.

My stomach had a knot in it. It had to be something serious. Mick was a high-flyer, a big wheel, a whatever you can think of to describe the sort of person who knows all the right people, drives expensive cars, goes to exotic places and so on. Whereas I live on a humble horse farm.

Mick’s grey face turned to look at my pale one, and the dog lay down, probably trying to figure out why there was so much tension in the air. That’s when Mick told me.

He’d been greedy. Not satisfied with the money he was making, he wanted more. I let him talk. I didn’t disagree or comment or even nod. I sat on the floor with the dogs’ head on my crossed legs and listened, doing my best not to reveal any feelings, and especially not to show judgement.

He’d got involved in laundering dirty money. But, he added, that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was he believed he could get away with siphoning off a little extra for himself. As time went by, he became emboldened and took more. He bought a condominium in New York and one in London and enjoyed plays, operas, musicals and much more. Then he bought one in Las Vegas and got hooked on gambling, although he was smart enough to limit his losses.

The terrible thing was, he explained, that they found out that he was skimming money off the top. It wasn’t so much the money, they explained, it was that he had been disloyal. He couldn’t be trusted. He was a bad apple, and he knew what that meant.

But he told me he had some insurance.

He had taped conversations, copies of emails, documents, bank statements, but they were in the safe in his office and he couldn’t go. They would soon arrive there to get rid of anything incriminating. They had already trashed his condo in Toronto. Please, would I go to his office and retrieve everything in the safe?

I said I wouldn’t do it, even though we both knew I would.

The silhouette smashed the glass in the door and a black gloved hand reached in to open it. It wouldn’t budge so he and his buddy, who I hadn’t noticed until then, both threw their bodies at it and it shattered enough for them to get in. They turned on the lights, but mine went out.

I suppose the silhouette hit me on the head. I have no recollection of being pulled out from my poor hiding place. I lay on the scratchy carpet with my hands outstretched, as if I’d tried to protect myself as I fell.

Sirens announced approaching emergency vehicles.

I didn’t want to let my brother down. I got up on my hands and knees and crawled over to the safe. Despite my rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and sore fingers, I opened the safe and took the neatly tied bundle out. It’s only then that a spark ignited in my brain. Too late.

I don’t know where my brother is, but I suspect he’s living on some exotic island.

I’m still in prison. I was his fall guy. I guess the silhouette and his buddy were his heavies, ensuring I’d be caught with the bundle of incriminating evidence that falsely implicated me in the money laundering shenanigans. Like my brother, I’m also an accountant by profession, and this gave him the opportunity to put me in the frame, to save his own skin.

The police were on the trail.

Still, it’s incredible to me that the authorities fell for the ruse. But I continue to fight. I have faith in the justice system in Canada, and I will regain my rightful freedom soon.

If that means Mick has to face the music, so be it. He probably realizes that he can no longer count on his brother’s loyalty.

And, in case you’re wondering, my lovely Labrador retriever went missing on that day, too. I just hope she’s enjoying a run along the beach on that exotic island.

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1 Comment

Jan 12, 2022

I did enjoy this. Your heroine is much more loyal than I would have been!!! What an unexpected twist!

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