Puppy Love

 

home / season five / episode thirteen / act I

   

Jarod's lair
Portland, Oregon

Jarod tipped back the head of the PEZ dispenser and took one of the candies out with his teeth, happily crunching the strawberry flavored candy with a grin. As the head flipped back to its original position, he grinned and nodded at it in a comradely fashion, making sure that the next candy poked out slightly between the teeth. He slipped the dispenser into the model car and made sure that he had one of his own in his pocket. Rocking back on his heels, Jarod flicked through the red notebook and made a satisfied noise as he looked at the final article. 'Parking Officer Arrested For Fraudulent Tickets'.

Jarod nodded in satisfaction and smiled before slapping the book shut and propping it up against the newest model he was leaving for Miss Parker to find. His grin widened considerably as he took in the scale model scene in front of him. The model silver Porsche Boxster sat on the road made of black licorice with the white strip of icing he had so painstakingly piped onto it and the road leading from a sheet of blue cellophane to a building that was a finely detailed model of the Centre. Complete, he thought to himself, with sub-levels, consisting of a box stretching below the table on which the model rested. And, all along the road, Jarod had stuck state flags on toothpicks, one for each of the forty-eight states that she would have had to visit to find him, each providing the location of the next illegally parked silver Porsche Boxster. The fact that the second last one was in Delaware, and only five miles from the Centre, would certainly be fuel to the fire and Jarod fingered the envelope in his pocket that would tell her of the first clue. Of course, the total of the parking fines that he was sending was enough to make her unhappy anyway. Jarod picked up his bags, opened the door, and left the small hotel room.

As he walked down the street toward his car, Jarod reflected that it would take her nearly a week to go around to all 48 states and manage to have the fines processed. It was an entertaining little game, he thought with a grin as he pushed the letter into the box, and one that he would have enjoyed watching her play. Jarod put his cases into the trunk of the car he had rented and was about to get into the driver's seat when a noise made him stop and turn to stare at the gate on the other side of the road. The area looked very ordinary. The high metal gate was rusting slightly but that was not abnormal. Nor was the pile of cartons packed up against the gate but, as Jarod walked towards them, the pile began to sway slightly and eventually collapsed on the ground at his feet. The Pretender looked around hurriedly and slightly guiltily, worried that someone might think he had knocked over the boxes but a sound, like the first, made Jarod turn back to the one box still sitting on the ground in front of him. Bending down, Jarod gently and cautiously turned back the flap of the box and, his mouth hanging open, proceeded to pick up the entire contents in his hands and cuddle it close to his chest.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.”

"G...Good morning, Miss Parker." Broots turned quickly, stammering out the phrase and then choking on the meatball sub sandwich. He looked up at Miss Parker through the tears that filled his eyes and hurriedly swallowed the rest of the bite he had taken, ignoring the tomato sauce that had dribbled onto his shirt. "C...Can I help you with something?"

Miss Parker edged her way into the room and looked around disdainfully while Broots tried to surreptitiously swallow the last of his sub sandwich.

"When I gave you this office, so that you had somewhere to park all of your junk, I did expect to be able to enter it if I wanted to talk to you about something." She turned to face him. "Clean it up." She looked him up and down for a few seconds. "And, while you're at it. Change your shirt. In fact," she pulled a hundred-dollar bill out of her pocket and threw it on the desk as she passed. "Buy yourself a whole new wardrobe. But ask Debbie's opinion before you make a single purchase."

A small sheet of paper that she stepped on and which sent her sliding into the door marred Miss Parker’s dignified exit. Casting a baleful look at the technician, she opened the door, glared at the marks that her shoe had made on the paintwork, and limped out of the room.

Broots looked after her and then down to where the remaining few inches of his sandwich sat in the square he had cleared between his two computers and the pages he had been using to take notes. Admittedly, he thought as he looked around the office, it could be a little tidier but it wasn't that bad. As he stood up, he looked into the full-length mirror he had brought in so that he could check he looked all right before going to report to people like Miss Parker, Mr Lyle or, in a worst case scenario, the Triumvirate. His eyes traveled over to the scratches on the door and he hoped they were too low down for anyone to notice. With a deep sigh, he turned and looked and the piles of paper that were stacked up around the room. He never meant to leave them lying around. It was just that they so often gave him a clue for something else and, as she always gave him the feeling that she wanted things done yesterday, he tried to please. But it did mean that things were usually left where he dropped them. Broots gave a deep sigh, sitting back in the chair behind the desk, and tried to decide where to start.

* * * * * * * * *

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Portland, Oregon

Jarod pushed open the door with his foot and staggered into the office under the weight of the large carton, which he carefully set down on the table near the reception desk.

"Can I help you, sir?"

Jarod looked up with a smile at the young woman whose 'greens' and nametag identify her as a member of staff.

“Yes, Dr…Ronaldson. My name is Jarod. Jarod Bergh. I found this in the street and thought that this would be the place to bring it.”

“Will you come this way?”

The doctor, with a smiling nod at the receptionist who was looking concerned at this departure from procedure, led the way down a corridor and into a treatment room.

“Jarod, if you’ll put them on the table, here.” Jarod slid the carton onto the gleaming tabletop and opened the flap, picking up the first of the six small, furry, canine occupants. He grinned as the puppy’s four legs flailed in all different directions and slipped and slid over the shiny, silver surface.

Dr Julie Ronaldson picked up the warm bundle and looked into its mouth. “I’d estimate…”

“That they’re about six weeks old.”

The doctor nodded absently, too intent on her work to have noticed the interruption. Jarod waited a few moments and then spoke again.

“They all seem also to have slight ataxia and at least two have quite severe cases of alopecia. While I couldn’t test for it, I’d also estimate that they are crawling with dermatophyte as well.”

Finally Dr Ronaldson looked up. “So you know something about veterinary medicine? Most people would have said that they have a slight lack of muscle co-ordination and that several have severe hair loss. And how on earth can you tell just by looking that they may have a fungus with the potential to cause ringworm?”

“I did a little investigation into animal health a few years ago.”

“So what would you advise for treatment?”

“At this stage - a good meal and a nice long drink. Oh, and an anthelmintic to get rid of any possible worms. Beyond that, nothing until you make a complete diagnosis.”

The doctor nodded and smiled. “Want to do the tests yourself?”

Jarod grinned back at her. “Oh, you do them. I’ll just watch and learn from the expert.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Broots stood up and pressed the two hands to the middle of his back and stretched. An unwary knock with his foot had scattered a pile of paper over the entire floor and more than twenty minutes had been needed to retrieve every sheet. He groaned slightly as he bent over to pick up the last folder and dropped it onto the now cleared surface of the desk. A new desk, originally intended for Mr Cox’s new office, now stood in the corner of Broots’ room, courtesy of Pete in Deliveries. It groaned under the weight of the computer and the numerous books that Broots had placed on it. Broots couldn’t help hoping devoutly that Pete was as deaf as he had seemed to be and wouldn’t tell Mr Cox where it was.

Broots sat down on the chair behind the desk with a deep sigh and looked around him with a sigh of satisfaction. He was certain that even Miss Parker could find nothing to complain about now and at least the woman who cleaned that floor of the Centre could stop asking nastily when she would be able to get in and do her job. He glanced down at the last folder that was lying on the smooth surface in front of him and gave it a second, and closer, look. The codes, written on the top, right hand corner of the folder told him that it was a folder containing top-level information and Broots looked around the office fearfully as though somebody could see him through the closed door.

“Mr Raines,” he breathed as he opened the folder and began to scan the information it contained. The pages were filled with words, all of which were gibberish to him, and he turned to the computer and tried to find some sort of code breaker before he took it to Miss Parker.

Finally he picked up the last sheet in the folder and his eyes popped. In the back of the folder, held in by a sheet of clear plastic, sat a DSA. With almost reverent hands, he pulled the disc out and slipped it into the machine that sat beside his computer. As the screen came to life, Broots recalled the last time that he had snuck into Raines’ office at Miss Parker's request.

Broots wished his hands would stop trembling as he quickly looked to the left and right and then pushed open the door to Raines’ office, leaving the sweat from his palm on the door handle. The office was not dark, as he had been hoping, but brilliantly lit. However it was as immaculately neat as ever and, as Broots headed towards the filing cabinet, he wondered if the office that Miss Parker had been promising him for so long would be as neat.

He reached out a hand and wiped his forehead to stop the beads of sweat from rolling down into his eyes and temporarily blinding him. His hands were shaking as he reached out to the cabinet and pulled out the drawer. Running his eyes over the small tabs, he found the codename for which he was searching and pulled out the file. Turning, he dropped it on the desk behind him and attempted to push the drawer shut. He gasped with dismay as it caught on something and refused to budge.

Pulling it out further to give himself greater leverage, Broots gasped again when a folder fell out from under the drawer and onto his foot. He was about to look through it when a voice from outside the door caught his attention. Broots rammed the drawer home and scooped up the two files before looking frantically around him. The opening of the air vent beside the filing cabinet caught his eye and, without thinking, Broots ran toward it and pulled himself up into the dark interior. As the cover swung back into place, the door to the office opened and Raines walked in. Broots gave a deep but silent sigh and leaned against the wall of the vent, trembling slightly. When he looked around for the person, presumably Angelo, who had helped him, he found himself alone in the vent.

Broots looked down at the disk that now lay on the desk in front of him. It had taken him more than four hours to find his way through the maze of air vents and back to his office. Miss Parker had been furious and he had decided not to mention the other folder he had found but instead to leave it on his desk as a reminder to look at it later. And there it had remained until he had scooped it up with a range of other folders and put it into the new office Miss Parker had presented him with after Christmas, stating that Jarod shouldn’t be the only one to give presents at that time of year. And now that disc had resurfaced and, as Broots turned back to the DSA player, he wondered at the importance of something that Raines felt he had to hide so well.

Broots turned his eyes back to the screen and finally managed to focus on the picture that was moving on it. He gasped as the figure on screen slammed forcibly into his memory and with one hand, Broots reached out and froze the image on the screen. With a backward motion, he propelled his chair out from behind the desk and slammed the lid on the machine before tucking it under his arm and, grabbing the file from his desk, running down the hall towards Miss Parker's office.

* * * * * * * * *

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Portland, Oregon

Jarod looked down at the lips of the wound that he had just sewn together with a satisfied smile and then glanced across at Dr Ronaldson.

“And that’s the way I close.”

She looked carefully at the row of tiny sutures. “I haven’t seen anything that fine in I don’t know how long. Where did you train?”

Jarod grinned. “I did a little training in Beverly Hills - the best plastic surgeons in the world. You won’t even see the scar.”

She looked down at the sedated dog. “I can believe that. His mistress will be pleased. She was devastated that she would have to stop showing Poogle now that he’d been operated on.”

Jarod looked up from the last few stitches. “Hey, I aim to please.”

Dr Ronaldson smiled. “When you’re done here, we need some more sutures and another pile of gauze. I know there’s some in the storeroom. Could you leave that and get them for me? I have another patient that I have to scrub for.”

Jarod stepped back and peeled off his gloves and mask, dropping them in the basket beside the door. “Sure thing. Just give me a few minutes.”

The door swung open and Jarod stepped into the room, surprised by its size but unable to look around for a few moments as a large dog that had been lying on a rug in the corner stood up and began to walk toward him. Jarod, noticing the hackles raised on its neck and the teeth bared, lowered his eyes until he was looking at the floor and began to back away slowly.

“Sit!”

The voice from behind him made Jarod jump but he kept his eyes on the floor while a figure stepped past him and patted the dog’s head.

“Sorry to do that to you. My name is Graham Lasky. I’m Julie’s partner.”

Raising his eyes, Jarod looked at the guy who was standing in front of him and grinned, shaking the man’s hand.

“My name’s Jarod Bergh.”

“A close relation of our great founder?”

“Not too close.” Jarod grinned. “My sister married his great grandson.”

Graham laughed. “That almost makes you my boss. I guess that sort of thing runs in the family.”

“Does a love of animals have to be inherited?”

Graham laughed. “No. I guess it doesn’t.” He waved towards the dog that was still standing beside him. “Oh, this is Jarod too. His owner brought him in a few days ago and she’s hanging around to help until he’s well again.”

“Jarod?”

”Yeah. The owner said she called him after a good friend of hers. One she hadn’t seen for a few years.” He laughed. “Maybe she was talking about you.”

“Where’s she from?”

“Toluca Lake National Park,” the voice interrupted the conversation. “I heard my dog making a racket and came to see what was wrong.”

Graham stepped forward. “Jarod Bergh, I’d like you to meet Nia…”

“Jarod?!” Nia’s exclamation of surprise drowned out the rest of Graham’s sentence and, as Jarod looked up, still recovering from the shock of knowing that she was there, she took a slight step back.

“You two know each other?”

“We’ve…met.”

“Well, I have things to do,” Graham backed away and headed for the door. “I’ll leave you two to get reacquainted.”

Jarod nodded in the departing vet’s direction, still watching Nia. When the door closed, the two remaining in the room turned away briefly. Jarod went over to a table and began to pick up the things that Dr Ronaldson had asked for.

“I never thought I’d see you again.”

“Neither did I.”

He looked back at her and was surprised to see that her eyes glistened with tears. He took a step towards her and she held out her hand, drawing him close to her for a few seconds before pushing him gently away.

“We can’t - not here.”

”I missed you.”

”Me too, so much.”

Jarod stepped back. “Did you have any trouble?”

“After you left? Not really. Like I told you, I know how to take care of myself.”

Jarod smiled. “I know. But you weren’t followed, questioned, nothing?”

“Not really. A few people came by just after you left…”

”I know.”

“You do?” Nia looked over at him sharply.

“Uh, yeah.” Jarod looked back at the items he held in his hand. “Just don’t ask, okay?”

“Another one of those, huh?”

Jarod walked over and put his hand on hers. “Hey, I answered most of those, remember?”

She smiled. “Yeah, I guess you did.”

“Jarod, have you got those things for me yet?”

The voice from the doorway broke through the stilted silence and Jarod turned back to see Julie Ronaldson glancing down at her watch. He looked down at his hands and laughed shamefacedly before handing them to her.

“Sorry. I was busy - talking.”

”Jarod, when I’m waiting to do surgery, I don’t care if you find a long lost love. If I want something, I want it yesterday, understand?”

Jarod saluted her in true military style. “Yes ma’am. Sorry.”

“You want to assist with this one?”

”Sure.” Jarod glanced over at Nia, who smiled. “I’ll see you later.”

“Looking forward to it.”

Jarod peeled off his first glove and sat limply on the stool behind him, sighing. He looked through the door to where the injured cat lay, breathing deeply after the operation that had saved its life.

“Long day?”

Looking up, Jarod saw Nia leaning against the doorway, her arms folded.

“You could say that.”

”We could do dinner…”

Jarod stood up and peeled off his second glove, throwing them both in the bin behind him and pulling off his mask.

“That’s the best offer I’ve had in weeks. Give me ten minutes to get changed and I’ll meet you out front.”

Nia smiled and left the room, looking back in briefly. “If you don’t come quickly, I’ll come find you.”

Jarod tried to look scared. “I’ll do my best.”

* * * * * * * * *

Mario's Pizza Parlor
Portland Main Street, Oregon

“You might have had pizza before, Jarod, but you’ve never had pizza like Mario’s.”

Jarod laughed at the look on Nia’s face. “I’ll take your word for it.”

Nia led him to a corner of the cozy restaurant and, as Jarod sat opposite her, he was amused to see the round, dark patron hurrying towards them, his face one wide smile. “Ah, Bambina, I thought you had forgotten about your old friend Mario.”

“Ah Mario, I could never forget you. I just haven’t been in town for a while, no pets that needed the expert care of Dr Ronaldson.” She waved her hand in Jarod's general direction. “This is friend of mine, Jarod For-.”

“Bergh. Jarod Bergh.”

“Hey, any friend of Nia is a friend of Mario Romei. Anything you want, you tell Mario. Mario will get it for you.”

Jarod shook his hand. “I will do that, Mario. Thank you.”

“Cara mia, you want my special pizza?”

“Yes, Mario.” Nia nodded. “Two please.”

“Coming right up.”

Nia leant across the table and placed her hands on Jarod's. “I really missed you.”

“You have no idea how much I missed you.”

Jarod picked up the glass that Mario had placed in front of him and smiled at her before speaking. “I’d like to propose a toast. To a renewed friendship.”

“To a stronger and better friendship.”

They clinked glasses and Nia glanced up at him. “You’ve changed your name.”

“Yet again.” Jarod sighed. “It’s all part of the things I told you last time.”

“No-one’s ever caught you out?”

”Once or twice.” Jarod smiled. “But I can usually talk them around.”

”I bet.”

On to Act II

 
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