What a Race! And a Story: 'The Lead'.
It's a Fluke won his race on August 6 while we were on vacation. Fortunately, we had internet access and our family was able to watch it.
It was a wonderful race! Very exciting!
You'll find the link below this story.
This is the most recent piece I've written. I wrote it for the August Uxbridge Writers' Circle meeting. The words I had to use are in italics.
I hope you enjoy reading it.
Trenton walked away from the imposing police services building. His feet dragged and his mouth was sandy dry. He couldn’t believe what the detective had told him. There was no way anyone could want to murder Shane. The police had it wrong. He could accept a heart attack or a stroke because Shane was known to gourmandize. He was a connoisseur of the best vintage wines from Europe and a restaurant critic whose opinions and insights were sought after by diners and by several prestigious publications.
Shane had a podcast with a dedicated following. It was highly rated, unlike some of the restaurants he reviewed despite their claims of grandeur.
Trenton stopped. Perhaps Shane had offended a high-end restaurant or chef, or both, and their clientele had dwindled. Maybe the cop was right.
He was due to go on vacation the next day, but it had suddenly become unappealing. He wasn’t keen on going anyway. His friends had coaxed him into tagging along. They were hockey fanatics and were going to catch a couple of the Maple Leafs’ away games. The sudden and unexpected death of Shane made it impossible for him to look forward to the long drive, rowdy crowd, and inevitable heavy drinking to follow—whatever the results of the game.
He texted one of his mates and told him he couldn’t leave. Before he reached his condo, Jack called.
“What do you mean you’re not coming?”
“Shane’s dead. The cops think he was murdered.”
“I’m sorry, mate.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but, honestly, he probably had a heart attack.”
“They don’t think so. They have experts.”
“Come on, man, we want you to come.”
“Have a great time. See ya.” Trenton ended the call. Chatting with Jack had helped to galvanize his desire to find out what really happened. The police were stretched thin because of cutbacks. He didn’t want Shane’s death to be a victim of insufficient police resources.
He poured himself a whisky and lay on the sofa as he held the crystal glass above his chest. Rays of sunlight shone through huge windows that overlooked Lake Ontario and danced in the glass.
He put his drink down, sat up, and opened the laptop that lived on his coffee table. As he was about to start the research, his mobile rang again. He didn’t recognize the number, so he sent it through a screening app.
Trenton discovered what he thought must be the latest articles and columns Shane had written. He read each one carefully. He was on his second whisky, but the alcohol wasn’t slowing him down. His mouth wasn’t dry anymore and his hands were almost steady. But he needed to go to the washroom. He picked up his mobile. The mystery caller had left a message.
“Good to screen calls, but I hope you get this. I’m Shane’s neighbour. Shane gave me your contact info in case of emergency. He said you work from home. You’ve inherited the dog. When the police found out I puppysit for Shane, they gave me the dog. But I can’t look after it in my home. The wife’s allergic. I’ll bring the puppy around at about six with all its stuff. See you then.”
Trenton tossed his mobile onto the coffee table. It made the crystal glass sing when it hit. He flopped back on the sofa, rubbed his hands through his hair, and blew out a large puff. He had no idea Shane had a puppy. How would he get any work done with a demanding, whiny, smelly, hairy, animal pestering him?
It was 5.30 pm. After a visit to the washroom, he wanted to pour another whisky, but he needed to be stone-cold sober to cope with this thing. He put the bottle away, washed the glass, and scanned the condo searching for a suitable place for a crate and dog bowls. The blue and white Persian rug set in the middle of the large sitting area was pristine. The polished natural wooden floor didn’t have a scratch.
And he would have to get up twice in the night to take him down to the lawn behind the condo building. That realization turned Trenton’s stomach into a trembling mush. He wouldn’t be able to do this. He’d have to surrender the puppy to the pound.
Having decided this would be his course of action, he lay back down on the sofa, wiped the sweat off his upper lip with his linen handkerchief, and waited.
The buzzer buzzed and Shane’s neighbour was soon in the condo. He had a crate in one hand and a hold-all in the other. The puppy was small and fluffy, and cowered in a corner of the wire crate. An old towel served as a blanket, but it was in a heap in the middle of the crate. The little animal was sitting on the metal tray and quivering.
“Got to go. You’ll find leashes, toys, food, bowls, and other stuff in here. This is an old bag. You can keep it. Cheers.” And he had gone.
Trenton looked at the puppy. The puppy looked at him out of the corner of his eyes. Trenton had never seen such terror. Shane must have rescued him from some hellhole. That was the moment when Trenton knew he couldn’t turn his back on the little guy.
He’d not asked the neighbour what his name was, so he called him Shane Junior.
He opened the crate, picked up the furry bundle that shook in his arms, grabbed a leash attached to a harness, and took him down in the elevator. This was the first of many trips over the next few weeks as Junior became less terrified, other condo owners got to know him, and Trenton got to know some of his neighbours.
Meanwhile, he did some digging into the circumstances surrounding Shane’s death. It was tedious work—following up leads that hit brick walls and getting lost in labyrinths. He circled back to the beginning and rethought his assumptions. Junior jumped up onto the sofa next to him, carrying his favourite rubber bone and shedding hairs onto Trenton’s jeans. Trenton gave Junior a pat.
“I bet you know something.”
Junior wagged his stumpy tail. And Trenton got thinking.
He called Shane’s neighbour. After a quick update on Junior, he asked if he knew where Shane got the puppy.
“I’m surprised Shane didn’t tell you. Shane told me he’d found out about some god-awful puppy mill. A chef told him he’d bought a puppy full of fleas, parasites, and with eye problems. They’d cleaned him up, but he was a sick little pooch. Shane said he’d look into it with the help of the chef. He ended up buying a puppy and reported the whole story to the humane society and the police, who investigated. The owners are real nasty people. Anyway, they blamed Shane for their business being shut down. And there were animal cruelty charges in the works. But the latest I read, they’ve vanished, and the police can’t find them.”
“I think you’ve just told me who the most likely suspects are in Shane’s murder.”
“Wow. Didn’t think of that. But murder? Over puppies?”
“There’s a lot of money in that business. Think about it. I bet they had about a hundred breeding bitches.”
“Don’t give anyone my name. I don’t want messed up in this.”
Trenton was a professional hacker who worked for the Government of Canada and, in his spare time he intercepted online scams and alerted victims who were about to hand over thousands of dollars to people they’d never met. So, he was equipped to delve into the depths of Shane’s dealings with the puppy mill owners and into the owners’ online accounts. In addition to gathering evidence, he discovered that they’d re-established their puppy mill in Quebec.
With a sense of triumph, he took Junior in his carrying case to the police services building. The detective was grateful to receive the file Trenton had assembled, complete with statements from purchasers including photos and vet bills, and much more. But best of all were the threatening encrypted emails sent to Shane in a period of three days before his death. The puppy mill owners demanded he retract his statements, admit he’d lied, and apologize publicly, or else. The ‘or else’ proved fatal for Shane.
The detective said he was now permitted to inform Trenton how Shane was murdered since it had been proven to be the cause of death.
He’d been strangled with a rough nylon dog leash.
Vicky Earle Copyright 2023
It's a Fluke's Big Win!
We thank Foxcroft Racing for offering us a share in It's a Fluke, and Darwin Barnach (trainer) and his team including Fluke's excellent groom and exercise rider, and Rafael Hernandez for a great ride!
We visited Fluke on the Sunday morning after we returned from vacation, and he was obviously very pleased with himself and enjoyed his carrots and the attention!