Doggoned Bones excerpt

Chapter 1

  

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”  ~George Bernard Shaw~ 

  

            When I drove past the old Miller place, I was surprised to see a red sold indicator on the ‘For Sale’ sign.  The ancient Victorian home had been on the market for so long I couldn’t remember a time that it didn’t have a for sale sign on the overgrown front lawn.  No one wanted the house with the tales and suspicions of what had happened to Janine Miller. 

            All I knew was that she’d disappeared some time back in the 1960’s along with her dog but that wasn’t what caught my flight of imagination.  It was the dog, who, like my dogs, was a Bull Terrier.  Not just any Bull Terrier, her dog was a Reward of Merit Champion, International Champion, stud dog of the year for four years straight, and Gambler’s great, great, grandfather. 

            By the time I arrived home, I was bursting with the news that the house had finally sold and with curiosity as to who had bought it.  I parked my van in my driveway beside a dinged and rusty green Dodge pick-up I didn’t recognize.  I figured it was probably one of Russ’s cop friends visiting him.  They often drop in since my cousin moved in with me.

            “Russ, the Miller house is sold.”  I called out to my cousin when I entered the front door.  Hearing no answer, I called again, “Russ, did you hear me?”

            “I’m in the kitchen.”

            “Someone bought the old Miller house.  Can you imagine?  I wonder what sort of idiot would buy that run down old house,” I said as I walked into the kitchen to find my cousin Russ sitting at the table with my best friend Perry.

            Russ was dressed in ratty old jeans and a dirty T-shirt.  Most people who know him as a cop don’t recognize him when he’s not in uniform.  He grinned at me and said, “I guess I’m the sort of idiot.”

            “You bought the house?”

            “Yes, I did.”

            “Why in the world would you?”  I flopped into the chair opposite him.

            Russ picked up his cup of coffee and bobbed his head towards Perry.  “I think I can fix up the Miller place enough to sell it for a profit, or possibly turn it into a bed and breakfast.”

            “When will you find the time?”

            “That’s why I asked Perry to stop by to talk.”

            “You told Perry you bought the house before you did me?”  Perry had the good grace to look at the ceiling.  

            “Chill, cuz.”

            “Talk to Perry about what, Russ?”

            “I wanted to know if he would supervise the work so’s I’d have someone I trust keeping an eye on it when I’m at work.”

            “Exactly how is he supposed to do that?  He has a job.”

            “Actually, no I don’t at the moment,” Perry said.

            “What happened?”

            “The bar closed.”

            “I’m sorry.”

            “I’m not.  It’s about time I did something better with my skills.”

            “Russ, you can’t take advantage of Perry and have him do all the work.”

            “Well, I do have Martin, Sus, and Jean coming down this weekend.”

            Oh, wonderful.  My baby brother, his wife, and my older sister the booze hound knew before I did.  I’ll never hear the end of this one.  “You mean you also told them before you told me?  And you invited Jean to my house?  For heaven sakes Russ, she’s a damned drunk.  When Sam died, she came to the hospital blottoed and embarrassed all of the cops that were there for him and me.  Then at the funeral, she threw up on the chief of detectives’ shoes.  I haven’t talked to her since and I didn’t want to start now.”  Note to self: Don’t forget to lock up the booze.

            “You forget, Sus is a realtor—the realtor who is selling the place this time.  She told Martin.  Unfortunately, Jean was there at the time.  Then Jean called me and asked if she could come.”

            “You could’ve talked to me first.  You could’ve said no.”

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