In this excerpt from my paranormal suspense novel set in 1968, A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, the narrative character, Mitch, takes his employer’s Pekingese dogs for a walk.
Since he’s just learning his way around the house, he takes them by the closest route he knows: through the kitchen. The cook objects.
How to Keep Dogs From Shedding
excerpt from A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE
by Marian Allen
“Go on through this time, but don’t let them shed on nothing.”
What am I supposed to do, shellac them? “I won’t,” I said, scooting across to the kitchen door as quickly as I could. Chan and Wong loved the speed. They didn’t want to stop running when we got outside, but I had to bring them up short. I had to stop and stare.
A flagstone path led from the kitchen door to a terrace. Plants grew on either side of the path and all along the house. I didn’t know the names but they smelled like food, so I figured they must be herbs. On the terrace, three round metal tables with green umbrellas shading them waited for company. Beyond, a flower garden spread back to the woods.
I’ve been razzed about it all my life, but I love flowers. In the last school yearbook, I was voted Most Likely to Marry a Girl Named Daisy. Now I drank in the colors and shades, the shapes of the flowers and of the plantings, the curves of the pebbled paths and the slanting afternoon sunlight on it all.
The dogs, in what must have been a rehearsed move, jerked their leashes out of my hand and took off like fuzzy bullets.
I took off after them, praying they’d keep to the paths: I might just have to kill them, if they tore through a flower bed. One leash or another snapped off a bloom here and there, but the destruction was minimal; the dogs themselves stayed on the pebbles until they reached the end of the garden.
They dove into the woods. I dove after them. The undergrowth had been cleared in an eight-foot swathe, making a sort of informal path. I followed it and the runaways into a clearing.
In the center of the open ground, a small, once-white building threw its shade across a bed of primroses. Perfect. That was all this place needed, was a summerhouse or a gazebo or whatever you call these things. But why was it all run-down, with yellowed paint peeling off its sides, shingles missing, lattices cracking from the weather? Behind it, a small stream gurgled past. I circled the summerhouse to get a better look at the water.
And saw the grave. The headstone read: ALBERT ALAISTER. 1916-1963. HE IS NOT DEAD, BUT SLEEPETH.
Gee, I missed the orphanage.
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A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about someone trying to negotiate a new space.