Murdo Girl…Part 3, We’re almost there

Jamie was outside with Arf and Annie when she saw two cars park alongside the curb across the street. Two men got out of the first car and walked across the street to Barbie’s house and rang the doorbell. When Brad answered the door, the one who appeared to be in charge showed him his badge and asked for Gloria Fitzpatrick.

Gloria was right behind Brad.”I’m Gloria Fitzpatrick. What can I do for you?”

“I’m Lieutenant Sam Crandall and this is my partner Joe Sims. We would like to ask you a few questions regarding a Mr. Hal Hanson. We found him walking along Highway 32. He said his car had been stolen and he believes you had something to do with it. The car parked in your driveway is registered to him. Can you tell us how you came to be in possession of Mr. Hanson’s car?”

“Wait, Gloria,” Brad said. “Lieutenant Crandall, since when do four plain clothes police officers in unmarked cars follow-up on car disappearances? May I see your badge again, please?”

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Brad contacted the local police department and verified the man was in fact an investigator. He was, however a Federal investigator. There was much more at the root of the questioning than Mr. Hanson’s car.

Arf and Annie must not have been upset because they distrusted the men. They probably thought their Jamie might be in trouble for making Mr. Hanson fall over a tree stump and then taking his car.

“Mr. Hanson advised us that it is your intent to leave the country with a Miss Barbie Humbolt… your destination being somewhere in Ireland. That ties in with a cold case investigation we have been working on.” Lieutenant Crandall paused to ascertain Gloria’s reaction to his question. Her expression had been cold and did not change.

“I’m Miss Humbolt’s brother,” Brad said. “Let’s cut to the chase. Gloria here told us tonight that our mother whom we thought died in a fire twenty years ago, is in fact alive and living in Ireland. Maybe you can tell us if that has anything to do with your cold case investigation.”

Brad asked the investigators to come in and they began to unfold a story that was not only unbelievable, but considering Gloria had watched over Barbie for the past twenty years, it was also frightening.

Before they began, Jamie, Arf and Annie came inside. Arf and Annie kept a close eye on Gloria until the two officers who were in the second car, came and took her away for formal questioning.

Much of what Gloria had told them was true. Brad and Barbie’s parents had indeed uncovered an extortion attempt. The thing that she didn’t tell them was that she was not only involved in the plan, she was involved in arranging the explosion that had killed Mr. Humbolt and critically injured Mrs. Humbolt and her daughter, Barbie.

Up until recently, none of this information had been acted upon because of an agreement between the two countries, however Gloria had recently fallen out of favor with the current government officials.

In Gloria’s mind, it had all ended up working out to her great satisfaction. She became the one in charge of both Barbie and her mother’s care. Gloria had been a lonely woman and now she had two people who were totally dependent on her. She thought of Barbie as her daughter and became very possessive of her life.

“We have never confirmed exactly where Mrs. Humbolt is and if she is in fact still alive. We’re hoping Miss Fitzpatrick will cooperate and give us that information.”

“Arf, where did you find the airline tickets? Do you remember? The envelopes you brought to Brad.”

At first Jamie’s question appeared to confuse him, but suddenly he and Annie trotted off to Gloria’s bedroom. Arf stretched as low to the floor as he could and reached under the bed. He pulled out a canvas bag and brought it to Jamie.

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“May I have that?” The investigator asked as he moved closer to Arf.

Arf dropped the bag long enough to growl at the officer and then he took the bag to Jamie. Annie was standing between Jamie and the Lieutenant.

Jamie looked at Brad who nodded his head. He wanted her to open the bag and reveal it’s contents.

Inside, there was a passport for Barbie, several thousand dollars in cash and a key.

The second officer who up until this point had not spoken, reached for the bag. Arf quickly grabbed it from Jamie and backed away.

“I must have that key. Your dog must give me the bag and the key.” The second officer spoke with a very distinctive Irish accent…

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Murdo Girl…Gloria.. part 2

Bonus chapter…read chapter 1 first.

“I know you’re all exhausted,” Gloria said. “I am too, but please bear with me.”

“In the course of their investigation into a contract dispute, your parents had uncovered a plan to extort a very large amount of money from the United States Government. They were in the process of writing a decision that included that information when your father got the disturbing phone call.

The caller told him he and his family were in danger and they would be receiving around the clock protection. He was to keep everyone at home until further notice.

Before your father had a chance to gather everyone up, there was an explosion and within a very short period of time, the authorities who, by the way, weren’t really the authorities, came and pronounced that your parents and you, Barbie, had died in the fire.

“How do you know all of this? Barbie asked. “I mean about the phone call and everything.”

“Your mother told me,” Gloria said.

Neither Brad nor Barbie could speak.

“Your father is the only one who was killed that day. Your mother called me and I made arrangements for her to be flown to Ireland. She was pretty badly burned and she thought that along with her husband, her daughter had not survived. She also knew she was in danger, but her son’s were safe. For the past twenty years, her identity has been protected.”

“And now?” Brad’s hand gripped his sister’s shoulder.

“She no longer needs protection and she’s in very poor health. She wants to see you, Barbie. She feels that you have suffered the most, although I feel I have cared for you and kept you safe for the entire twenty years.”

“Why Gloria? Why did you come all the way from Ireland to care for Barbie?” Brad was trying very hard to put the pieces together.

“Because I was the only one who would always be able to maintain contact with with your mother. It wasn’t my intention to stay for twenty years, but caring for your sister became my life.”

Jamie got up to check on Arf and Annie. Both were lying in front of the door in the kitchen that led to the backyard. Jamie, who had been growing closer to Brad recently, decided she needed a break from the intensity of the conversation and took the dogs outside for a while before feeding them. She was mulling over a couple of her own questions like, how did Gloria and Brad’s mom find out Barbie didn’t die?

While Jamie and the dogs were all playing in the side yard with Arf’s frisbee, Jamie noticed two cars pull up and park along the curb across the street. Two men got out of the first car. They walked across the street to Barbie’s house and rang the doorbell. It wasn’t long before she saw Brad open the door and the two men flash their badges.

“Is Gloria Fitzpatrick here?” One of them asked.

Arf’s ears perked up and Annie gave a low growl.

Murdo Girl…Gloria tells her story, Part 1

That day began like many other days, but ended filled with terror, pain and grief. An extremely close-knit family was torn apart. Each of three siblings had experienced the events of the day differently and the only people who could have answered their questions and explained why it had all taken place, had died in a fire. One that had burned their lovely suburban home to the ground.

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Gloria speaks…

It all happened twenty years ago almost to the day. You two had just turned sixteen and Tom was twelve. Your parents got the two of you a used Mustang convertible to share. You can imagine how that went over with you, Brad. You said Barbie could have it. You intended to get a job and buy a horse.

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I know you’re probably wanting to ask a million questions, but please wait until I’ve told you all that I know and then we’ll talk.

My part in all of this gets a little difficult to explain, but I will do my best.

I had worked with your parents for some eighteen years. We worked as contract arbitrators. Our job was to settle disputes among five countries who had trade agreements. There were five teams. Each team had one attorney from each of the five countries, and we all had our own law clerk.

I was on the team from Ireland. Your father was on the U.S. team and your mother was his law clerk. We spent a lot of time together over the years and became good friends. You didn’t know me, but I knew all about you.

Do to our personal knowledge of each country’s business dealings, our operation was covert for most of those years however, almost everything we were involved in back then is no longer relevant. It hasn’t been for several years now.

I’ll get back to the day it all happened.

Your dad had plans to go golfing that afternoon and your mother was going to take Barbie shopping.

“I was supposed to stay home and keep an eye on Tommy who was supposed to mow the lawn,” Brad added. “But instead I went fishing by myself. Why are we rehashing all of this? Don’t you know we have all relived that day hundreds of times?”

Gloria continued…Barbie was silent.

Were you aware that the reason your parents and Barbie stayed at home was because your father got a very disturbing phone call?

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“No. Tommy and I didn’t know they stayed home until we were told they had all died in the fire.”

“Do you know how the fire started?”

“Please, Gloria why must you put us through this?” Barbie asked. She was grateful that Tommy wasn’t there with them.

Brad began to speak again. Jamie could see how hard it was for him to go through all of the details of that day.

Tommy was out in the garage filling the lawnmower with gas. He somehow spilled most of a five gallon can of gasoline on the floor and tried to clean it up with a bunch of rags. Dad had set up an old electric heater that he used on cold days when he was doing his projects out there. Tommy cleaned up the gasoline the best he could and then took the lawnmower outside. Even though he was short on gas, he decided to mow what he could. Dad would go get some more when he got home from golfing.

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When I got home, the house was engulfed in flames and Tommy was standing there in the yard unable to move. He just stared at the house. He was obviously in shock.

Although Tommy described it as an explosion, the fire must have started in the garage and traveled quickly into the house. The authorities said our parents and Barbie were trying to find each other and all of them had been trapped in different parts of the house. Our parent’s charred bodies were found, but Barbie’s wasn’t. It was assumed she was burned to ashes.

Later, I discovered her in the potting shed. She was so badly burned, I couldn’t believe she was still alive.

Gloria interrupted…

Brad…I know you took the blame for starting the fire because you and Tommy both thought he was responsible. Then again, you just said you were supposed to be watching him. Anyway, the truth is, the rags didn’t catch on fire. There really was an explosion and it was intentional.

There is so much more to tell you two. It’s too bad Tommy isn’t here.

********************************* Annie and I knew something big was going on. It was kind of confusing because we thought no one but Barbie liked Gloria. Now they were listening to every word she said. I still don’t trust her and neither does Annie. We have keen senses and something tells us Brad, Jamie and especially Barbie should be very wary. Nope… She might be telling the truth now, but that’s one human that can’t be fully trusted.

&&& We’ll get to the bottom of it won’t we Arf? I’ll tell you a secret. I know where the good bones are. Do you want one?

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Murdo Girl…One step at a time

Gloria had waited years for this moment. She was about to give Barbie the shock of her life. In Gloria’s opinion, it would have been better if the disclosure didn’t have to involve Brad, but now that it did, she knew Tom should be there, too. More than anyone, Tom deserved to be told the truth, but there wasn’t time for that. She and Barbie had to be on that airplane to Ireland in three days.

Brad hated it when things got confusing. He was used to order in his life. He also hated that Gloria held all of the cards at the moment. She knew who took Jamie and Annie and the men she had hired were the only ones who knew where they were. She said the man couldn’t be reached until morning.

Gloria had excused herself and gone to her room. Brad and Barbie stayed in the kitchen near the phone.

“Do you have any idea, Barbie, why Gloria would want to take you to Ireland?”

“No, but did you hear her say that I knew someone who lived there? Who could that be?”

Brad didn’t respond. He got up from the table and walked over to a large window and looked out at the moonlit sky. It was getting close to midnight. How much longer would he have to wait before he saw Jamie again. He wondered if she was frightened. He had to smile at that thought. It took a lot to scare Jamie. Besides, she had Annie with her. Surely they would be okay until morning when he could talk to Gloria’s “kidnapper of dogs.” Apparently abducting Jamie was an accident.

“Go get some sleep,” he said to his sister. “It sounds like on top of everything else, we’re going to get an earful from Gloria tomorrow.”

Barbie got up from the table and used her cane to navigate her way to the bedroom. She’s as confused as I am, Brad thought.

Jamie and Barbie were the two people he cared most about in his life, and he felt he had let them both down. Two hours later, he was still staring out the window when he saw Annie coming up the driveway.

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************************************

When Jamie woke up and saw that Annie was missing, she first thought that someone must have been there to let her out, but then she saw the open window and knew Annie had jumped out and gone for help. What should she do? She was fully awake now, and waiting around inside the cabin didn’t seem to be an option. Jamie knew that Annie wouldn’t let her down, but it might take some time to get help and then figure out a way to get them to come here.

Jamie opened the door to go outside and the darkness she met convinced her that leaving the cabin before daylight was really not an option, either.

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It was finally starting to get light outside when she heard a car drive up. Thinking Annie had found help, she flung the door open and there stood the man Gloria had hired to take Annie. He appeared to be alone.

“Are you here to take me back?” she asked.

“I don’t think that would be a very smart thing for me to do.” Jamie saw him pull out a syringe like the one he had used to sedate Annie. He grabbed her by the arm, but before he could complete his task, a beautiful dog came roaring toward him and knocked the syringe out of his hand. Arf grabbed it and at the same time became his fiercest self. The wide-eyed man backed up and fell over a tree stump.

Jamie shot into action and jumped into the running car, whipped it around, and leaned over to open the passenger side while Arf jumped in. He still had the syringe between his teeth.

“Drop that thing, Arf,” Jamie said. “I don’t need another sleeping dog on my hands. Now how do we get out of here?

***I’m a therapy dog. I know how to show directions with my paw. This way, Jamie.

******************************

Brad was quick to get to the door and when he opened it, Annie came limping in.

“Annie! You made it back, but you’re hurt. What happened, girl and where is Jamie?”

Annie whined as she laid down on the floor and started licking her paws. Brad got a bowl of cool water and sat it down beside her.

“Annie, is Jamie okay? Is she still back at the cabin those men took you to?”

Annie raised her head and made kind if a low growl sound. Brad wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Annie laid her head back down and he took that as a sign that Jamie wasn’t in immediate danger.

After checking all of her poor paws as best he could, Brad determined Annie had run for miles to get there.

“You rest for a few minutes girl, and then I’ll put you in the truck and maybe we can figure out a way for you to help me find Jamie.”

Brad was coaxing Annie to wake up when Gloria walked into the kitchen. “I’ll try to call Hal,” she said before noticing Annie. “How did she get here?”

“She walked and from the looks of her paws, that cabin is several miles from here. Hurry and call your guy before we go to find Jamie.”

“There is no answer,” Gloria said after two tries. She was following Brad out to his truck when they saw a car flying around the corner.

“That’s Hal’s car!” She said.

“Yes, but it isn’t him driving. It’s Jamie and Arf is with her.” The car screeched to a stop right behind Brad’s truck and he ran to hug Jamie and knelt to ruffle Arf’s head, but he had spotted Annie and was headed her way.

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A little while later, after they had all caught up on what had happened, Brad walked over and stood behind Barbie. He put his hand on his sister’s shoulder as he faced Gloria.

“Start talking,” he demanded.

Murdo Girl…Yram snags an exclusive

It’s reunion time in Murdo. Well, not exactly. It’s not until July of 2021, but it’s never too soon to start making plans to attend. The All School Reunion never fails to be a really fun way to spend the weekend every five years. Just ask the person who has hit town a year early. (She has no life.)

Wo(man) on the street…

Call the sheriff. Yram Sicnarf is back in town. She’s the crack-up reporter from Gun Barrel City, TX where they shoot strait. She’s been here before… several times, but the stories that she has five restraining orders against her are blatantly false. She only has four and three have been dropped.

Today she has snagged an interview that is sure to be of interest to the Murdoites. Let’s see how it plays out.

Yram: Excuse me, Mam. Are you Eirelav Yekcel? If you aren’t, you’re a dead ringer for her. Except I think her crown is smaller. So are you or aren’t you?

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Lav: Everyone calls me Lav for short. You know I’m me, Yram. You’re my Cuz. We hang out together all the time.

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Yram: Okay, okay, Lav for short. I told the local editor I had snagged a story for tomorrow’s paper. You’re my story. I’m going to write about your fraudulence. This town is going to finally know the truth about you. Would you mind answering a few questions? You can lie if you want to. My mom always said if you’re going to tell a story, you might as well make it interesting.

Lav: We shall see what we shall see … Shoot straight.

Yram: Is it true that you graduated from a high school in 1967?

Lav: Zackly

Yram: What was your class motto?

Lav: Uh, wait. It’s right on the tip of my tongue.

Yram: Close enough. Next question…Who took you to the senior prom.

Lav: My parents

Yram: That makes me sad, Lav, but it will look good in print.

Yram: This is the final question. Are you ready?

Lav: Ready for what? Are you really going to out my fraudulence?

Yram: Not yet. I always keep an arrow in my quiver. Are you ready for a rhubarb milkshake at the drive- in?

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Lav: Do you have any money or friends with money?

Yram: We shall see what we shall see…Have you snagged a room yet?

Lav: None of the relatives will let us stay for free during the summer.

Yram: Rats! I’ve got to write up this exclusive and get it into the paper.

Lav: What are we going to do for a whole year, Yram? The reunion isn’t until July of 2021.

Yram: We’ll clean motel rooms. What else? I’ll interview people on the side and you can go around and let folks take their picture with you. After my interview hits the paper, you’ll be as famous as Uncle Jeff’s Jeep.

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Murdo Girl…Gloria’s story unfolds

“Why shouldn’t we call the police, Gloria? You have made plans to take my sister to Ireland in three days and she doesn’t know anything about it. In addition to that, I believe you had something to do with Jamie and Annie’s disappearance. It’s been over six hours and we haven’t heard a word from them.” Brad walked over to the phone. He would call the police himself. He knew what to tell them…Steve didn’t.

“Wait, Brad.” Barbie said. “I would like to hear what Gloria has to say before you make that call.”

“I want to know why on earth you think I would fly to Ireland with you? And why would you want to go there in the first place? But before you go into that, tell us what you know about Jamie and Annie? Do you know where they are?”

Gloria looked very smug, but then she usually did. She sat there and looked from one of them to the other. She wanted to maintain control of the events that were about to evolve.

“I was taking you to Ireland and since it was a surprise, I had to get rid of the dog without telling you. I assumed you wanted Annie back. I had a man who owes me some favors find Annie and pick her up. He sedated her, I believe, to get her into the car. Jamie saw them do it and managed to get in and hide on the floor of the back seat without the man and his driver seeing her.

“Are you serious?” Brad couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Where are they now, Gloria? Where did the men take them?”

“I don’t know,” Gloria lied. “I briefly talked to my contact on the phone a little while ago. He said they dropped them off at a cabin in the woods, but he didn’t say where. He said there was enough food and water in the cabin for a couple of days. I told him I would call him in the morning.”

“I’m not believing this,” Brad shook his head in amazement. “Come over here to the phone and call him right now, Gloria.”

“No,” she said. “He can’t be reached tonight. I will have to contact him in the morning, but only if I have your word that you won’t call the police.”

Brad started to argue, but Barbie spoke first. “Why were you taking me to Ireland, Gloria? I don’t know anyone in Ireland and I’m perfectly happy right here.”

Gloria walked over and sat in the chair next to the girl she had been through so much with. She loved Barbie and all would have gone as planned if Brad hadn’t suddenly become more involved.

“You’re wrong, Barbie, you do know someone there.” Gloria was struggling to find the right words. “I was going to do this tomorrow, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t do it now. It’s probably better that Brad is here. Tom should really be here, too.” Gloria’s eyes went to Steve.

“Steve is a very discrete man,” Brad offered. “Say what you need to say, Gloria.”

************************************

Jamie and Annie were comfortable in the cozy little cabin. They had each eaten a rather large bag of potato chips while sitting in front of the fire. Annie had gone to sleep, but Jamie sat there and listened to the wind blowing the trees outside. It was mesmerizing. She looked around and saw a window across from the fireplace. There were no window coverings so Jamie was able to see outside. Dusk turned to black sky. She had forgotten how dark it was in the forest at night.

They would need to get going early in the morning. Right after daybreak. She wanted to be long gone when the man and his driver returned. The men had said Jamie and Annie would be alright in the cabin for a couple of days, but if they had made contact with Gloria, those plans could have changed. Something the men said kept nagging at her. They said that Gloria was having trouble with Barbie and that they were going to move, soon.

In spite trying to sort things out in her mind, Jamie soon drifted off to sleep.

When she woke up Annie was gone.

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*********************************

Before Gloria had a chance to begin explaining the planned trip to Ireland, Steve spoke up.

“I really can’t stay,” he said. “I need to get back to the ranch. I have to take care of Dina’s car and there’s work tomorrow. You can fill me in on everything when you get back, Brad. I’ll get Arf and be on my way.”

In a few minutes, Steve came back into the kitchen. “I can’t find Arf,” he said.

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***I couldn’t go back to the ranch with Steve. Not with Annie and Jamie missing. I have a sense they’re not that far away. I’ve covered a lot of ground this past year. I’ll find that cabin in the woods.

&&& I knew it would be much faster for me to run back to Barbie’s house and get Steve and Brad. I wasn’t about to stick around and have those men make me go to sleep again. I also know that if they come back before we do, Jamie can handle them. I drug a big iron skillet over beside Jamie and jumped out an open window.

Murdo Girl…Barbie’s surprise

“Are you still in here, Brad? You haven’t said anything for a while.” Barbie knew Brad was frustrated because he couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation for Jamie’s and Annie’s disappearance. Gloria had accidentally, so she said, let Annie out the front door and when she tried to chase her down, Annie ran off and hadn’t come back. Jamie went looking for her and she hadn’t come back, either. That had been over four hours ago.

“I’m still here, Barbie. Where is Gloria? I need to talk to her.”

“While you were on the phone, she said she was going to run to the store and she would be back in half and hour. It’s only been about twenty minutes.”

Brad sat down at the table across from his sister. “Do you think Gloria has told us everything? If she is in any way involved in the disappearance of Jamie and Annie, she needs to talk and she needs to do it, now!”

“Whatever would make you think something like that of Gloria, Brad? She’s been a little paranoid I’ll admit, but what would she have to gain by harming Jamie and Annie?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a thought. She seems more possessive of you than usual these days. I think she’s fearful that you are about to change your life in a way that might not include her.”

“Well she’s right about that,” Barbie admitted. “But I haven’t told her most of what I’ve been thinking. Let’s not talk about that now. She should be back soon. Did you say Steve was on his way and he’s bringing Arf?”

“Yes…Dina and Katie were fine. Steve found them parked near the swimming area at the river. Dina couldn’t get her car started. She was waiting for Arf to come back with help.”

Meanwhile Gloria is at a payphone down the street…

“Come on Hal, answer the phone.” It rang once more before Hal finally picked up.

“Hal, this is Gloria. I have to be quick. You must tell me everything that happened today. Did you notice a young girl anywhere nearby when you picked up the dog?”

“If you call the backseat nearby, then yes. She jumped in when we weren’t looking. She hid until she heard us say we were going to do away with the mutt. Then she told us she wanted to go back to the blind lady’s house.”

“You obviously didn’t bring her back, so what did you do with her? Hurry Hal. You must speak quickly.”

“We took her and the mutt to an abandoned cabin a few miles out of town and dumped them. I didn’t know what else to do. They have enough food and water for a couple of days.”

“Hal…does she know I’m involved in the plan to remove the dog?”

“Yes, she overheard us talking about you not wanting that blind lady to have the dog. I also told Sam that you two were getting ready to move. She heard that, too. What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing…Leave them there for now. I’ll think of something. Call me in the morning, Hal. No, I’ll find a way to call you.”

When Gloria got back to the house, Steve and Arf were just pulling in.

Brad met them all at the door. “Hi Steve. Thanks for coming and bringing Arf with you. Gloria…Where are your packages? I’ll help you bring them in.”

“The store didn’t have what I was looking for,” Gloria answered.

*************************

“Well Annie, do you want potato chips and water for dinner or water and potato chips?” Jamie asked. “We’re staying here for the night. Even I’m smart enough to not venture out in the woods after dark.”

Jamie had started a fire in the fireplace only because it looked like it had been used recently and it was apparently safe. It wasn’t really that cold in the cabin, but she and Annie were able to see a little better. They also found a lantern on the fireplace mantle.

“Where should we sleep, Annie? I don’t see a bed anywhere, although I don’t know if I would sleep in it anyway. ”

Annie curled up on a rug in front of the fireplace and ate her chips.

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“Aren’t you the smart one?” Jamie chided. “Maybe I can find a blanket and curl up beside you.” No sooner said than done. There was an old chest of drawers in the back of the cabin and Jamie found two fluffy blankets folded neatly inside.

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“We’ll pack some chips and water and take off early in the morning. It’s pretty funny that those two yahoos didn’t blindfold me or anything while they drove us here. It’s about four miles do west to the main road. When we get back to town, we can find a phone and call Barbie’s house.

Brad became even more convinced that Gloria knew more than she claimed to. He and Steve went out to the backyard to discuss what they should do next.

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“Jamie wouldn’t just leave and Annie is smart enough to come back to this house even if Gloria did chase her away. Someone is holding them both somewhere and I think Gloria knows who and where.”

They were both on their way to confront Gloria when Arf came and sat in front of them. He was holding something in his mouth.

“What do you have there, boy?” Arf dropped two envelopes in front of Brad.

After looking at the contents, he took them and walked into the kitchen where Barbie and Gloria were.

“You two had better start packing. It looks like you’re flight to Ireland leaves in three days.”

“What are you talking about, Brad? We’re not going anywhere.” Barbie was clearly confused.

“Okay Gloria. You had better start talking. Where are Jamie and Annie? Steve…would you mind calling the police?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Gloria didn’t seem threatened at all.

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Murdo Girl…Gloria gets desperate

Brad was not only extremely worried, he was furious with Gloria and she knew it. Immediately upon learning that Gloria had let Annie go out the front door and then chased her, he left to go look for the poor dog, himself. Jamie was already out there looking for Annie.

First, Brad walked around the neighborhood, and then he took his truck and combed a wider area. He described Jamie and Annie to everyone he saw, but had no luck finding anyone who had seen them. Twice, he went back to Barbie’s house hoping one or both had come back.

“This just doesn’t make sense, Gloria.” Brad had just returned from his 2nd search. ” Annie is just not the type of dog who would run from someone like you. She’s not the type who would run from anyone, and I can’t imagine where Jamie would have gone. The police won’t look for them until they’ve been missing for at least 24 hours, but I think I’ll call them, anyway. If they see anything nefarious involving a young woman and or a dog, they might remember my call.”

Next, Brad called the ranch to let them know what was going on. He wanted to tell them he would call again when everyone was safe and sound and they were headed back to the ranch. Miss Bessie answered the phone.

“Oh, Brad, that is just the most awful thing. What if they wound up in a bad neighborhood or maybe someone kidnapped them. There are a million bad things that could happen to a poor innocent girl like Jamie and a sweet loving dog like Annie. Why I just heard on the news…”

“Miss Bessie,” Brad felt compelled to interrupt. “Is Steve there? I need him to check out a couple of things for me.”

“As a matter of fact, Dina took Katie and Arf to the river and when it started getting dark, he got concerned so he left to go find them. He hadn’t been gone five minutes when I heard Arf barking at the door. He looked all over for Steve, but like I said, he wasn’t here. I think Arf went to see if Mark is at the Bunkhouse. Land sake, there must be a full moon.”

“Mark isn’t there,” Brad said. “He went out of town to a quarter horse sale. Look, Miss Bessie, I need to get off the phone. Write down Barbie’s number and call us if you hear anything from anyone.”

*****************************

Jamie had gone several blocks when she saw a man dragging a limp Annie towards a car. She was horrified as the man lifted the poor dog onto the backseat. There was another man in the driver’s seat who kept telling the other man to hurry.

Jamie ran to the car and as the man who put Annie in the backseat got into the front with the driver, she jumped into the back with Annie and quickly fell to the floor of the car before anyone even noticed she was in there.

The first thing she did was to check and make sure Annie was alive. Thank God she was breathing peacefully. Jamie’s veterinarian training came into play and she determined Annie had been sedated and would probably be unconscious for another hour. The next thing she was forced to ask herself is why? Why would someone sedate Annie and put her in their car? Jamie decided she would try to go unnoticed for as long as she could. She had no idea what the men’s motives were. Where could they be going and what kind of danger would she be in when they found out she had come along for the ride?

Soon the men began to talk.

“That Gloria is a little on the strange side, but she has never stiffed me. She knows she can trust me, that’s why. ”

“Why does she want you to get rid of a dog?” The other man asked. “She seems like a nice dog to me?”

“As of yesterday, that wasn’t part of her plan. The dog had gone back to where she came from. I guess the brother brought her back again, today. Gloria called me a couple of hours ago and changed things up. She’s having some sort of trouble with that blind lady she takes care of. She’s taking her somewhere else to live and she doesn’t like the dog and the dog hates Gloria. As a matter of fact, Gloria thinks the dog is what do you call it…intuitive, and knows things Gloria doesn’t want her to know.”

“So what are we gonna do, boss? We’re not really going to get rid of the poor intuitive mutt are we?”

Jamie chose that time to pop up in the back seat. Annie was waking up and it was time these fools took them back to where they found them.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I need you to turn this taxi around and take us back to Gloria..I mean Barbie’s house. There are people there who will be worried sick about us and you don’t want to make Brad Humbolt angry.”

For a moment the two flunkies were too surprised to say anything. The “Boss” finally found his voice. “I’m afraid we can’t do that, whoever you are.”

“We’ll take them to that abandoned cabin and leave them until I can figure something out,” he instructed the driver. “It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days.”

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When they arrived at the very remote cabin, Jamie tried her best to convince the men not to leave Annie and her there, but they weren’t listening and Annie was still too sedated to do anything but sit there.

“You’ll find bottled water and some dried food in a box. There might even be some potato chips.” With that, the two men got back in the car and left. Jamie was stunned to say the least.

Murdo Girl…Mysterious happenings

“Brad? What are you doing here?” Gloria was too surprised to hide her displeasure at seeing Brad along with Jamie and that pesky dog, Annie.

“I came to see my sister, may we come in, Gloria?”

“I’m in the kitchen, Brad. Annie has already found me.”

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“Excuse us, Gloria,” Brad said as he and Jamie walked past her and into the kitchen. Gloria, however, was not far behind.

“I was about to suggest that Barbie lie down and rest. She has been overdoing it lately, with the trip to see you and all. It’s important for her to keep her strength up.” Gloria was in a state for sure.

“Gloria,” Barbie said. “That is absolute nonsense. I may not be able to see but I’m as healthy as a horse. Brad, Jamie… I just made a pot of coffee. Would you like some?”

Both Jamie and Brad declined. Both were wondering how they could accomplish what they came to do. They needed to make sure Gloria didn’t pose some sort of a threat to Barbie. Annie had gone to great lengths to convince them to go to Barbie, but at this point, they had no idea why. They only knew that Gloria was not a favorite of Annie’s.

Barbie suggested they all go sit on the flower covered patio in the back. For some reason, Gloria didn’t join them.

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“I can’t see them, but I can smell their fragrance and it brings back memories of Mom’s flowers. Do you remember her beautiful garden, Brad?”

They had a good time talking about old memories and Jamie was happy to learn more about Brad and what he was like growing up.

“Look at the time,” Brad finally said. “Jamie, we have a long drive home. We need to think about leaving. Where did Annie go? I haven’t seen her in a while.”

“I’ll go find her,” Jamie offered. “She probably found a place to curl up and take a nap.”

Jamie proceeded to look around the house and call for Annie. A couple of minutes later, the front door opened and Gloria walked in.

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“I accidentally let Annie out,” she said. “I went chasing after her, but she kept running from me. I’m afraid she has run away.” Gloria’s eyes were cold. Not at all like someone who was upset because a poor dog was missing.

“Go tell Brad what happened,” Jamie said. “I’m going to go look for her. Annie is a smart dog. I’m sure she will find her way back to us.”

over an hour later, neither Annie, nor Jamie had come back. Even Gloria was starting to worry. She had made arrangements for the dog to disappear, but not Jamie.

*********************************************

Katie and Dina were having a great time swimming in the river. Arf was busy chasing his frisbee. A group of boys who were fishing nearby, were taking turns throwing it to him. The day went by far too quickly and when the sun started to set, Dina rounded up her little crew and they all piled into the car.

A car that wouldn’t start.

“It isn’t that far, Mommy,” little Katie said. “I can walk. I’m only a little tired,”

“Oh honey, your’re very sweet but after a day like today, there is no way you could walk that distance and I can’t leave you here alone in the dark, while I go get someone to help us.”

Dina looked around to see if the boys who had been playing with Arf were still there, but it appeared the area was deserted.

While Dina was trying to come up with a plan to get help, Arf started barking and pawing at the door handle.

“He wants out,” Dina said. “I don’t know if I should keep him here to protect us, or let him go and find help.”

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In the end, she decided to let him go.

“You’re a very smart dog, Arf. I’m going to write a note and fold it around your collar. Go find us help. Please hurry.”

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Murdo Girl…I can hardly wait

They came uninvited. They’ve always been rude.

I had just been shopping and bought lots of food.

They asked me to make my very best dishes.

Without thinking, I fulfilled all of their wishes.

I was caught up in the moment. My guard was down.

I had been feeling low and a little run-down.

Maybe a distraction was just what I needed.

Caution thrown to the wind, left warnings unheeded.

It took some time before I could see

What they really wanted from me.

Was it a pound of flesh? That has to be painful.

As a matter of fact, it sounds quite disdainful.

I noticed one day there were now ten of them.

And they were causing all kinds of mayhem.

I took them with me everywhere.

I tried to drop them here and there.

I asked them to go, but they wouldn’t budge.

I finally gave up and made them some fudge.

This is one of those love/hate relationships.

(If I eat those words they’ll go straight to my hips.)

I knew I would do this before the reunion.

But I didn’t think it would happen this soonion.

I just heard the dates have been set.

Should I start my diet? Nah…not yet.

This poem is in jest. I’m sure you won’t care

If I’ve gained ten pounds and have really bad hair.

I’m going to the reunion and I can’t wait.

I hope to see you, so save the date!

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*Marilyn Strait is collecting address changes from those who graduated in the 1960’s.

cmstrait@goldenwest.net or phone 669-2808

*Wayne Esmay is collecting information from those who graduated in the 70’s. You can message him on Facebook

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Check out the MHS/JCHS Facebook page for more information.

Save the Date cards are being sent! If your address has changed in the last 5 years, please message them and include graduation year.

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