Puppy Love

 

home / season five / episode thirteen / act II

   

Mario's Pizza Parlor
Portland Main Street, Oregon

Jarod put the last slice of pizza in his mouth and smiled while he chewed and swallowed it.

“You see, I told you it was good.”

”You’re right. It’s very good.”

Nia put her empty glass back on the table in front of her. “So what brings you back here?”

”To Oregon? I’ve been back a few times since.”

”And you didn’t come visit me?”

“Nia, I didn’t want to put you in any danger.”

“Jarod, I was joking.”

“Oh.”

Avoiding the awkward situation, Nia turned around and immediately Mario appeared beside her. “You two want dessert?”

“Do I ever come here without having one of your famous banana splits?”

He ruffled the hair on the top of her head. “Only because I won’t let you.”

“And I wouldn’t want in any other way.”

“So what are you doing in Portland? I mean, there are plenty of vets in Oregon that are closer to Toluca Lake.”

“But not all of them are as skilled as Dr. Ronaldson. And now she has a very skilled assistant, who also happens to be very good looking, and…”

“Nia!” Jarod smiled. “I didn’t ask for compliments.”

”But you’re getting them anyway.”

The conversation ceased as Mario appeared with the desserts and, after he left, the conversation changed slightly.

“You didn’t fully answer my question.”

“Soon after you left, Victor came and gave me a puppy, as a thank-you gift for finding him. You remember Victor Simpkins, of course.”

”Of course.”

”Well, I spent three days finding a name for him but the only name I could think of was yours, so I named him after you.”

”I’m flattered.”

“You should be. Anyway, every so often I find animals in the forest and every couple of weeks, I bring them down here. It’s actually the closest ASPCA center to where I live, driving. Two months ago, my dog started getting sick. He has cancer.”

Jarod reached across and touched her face with the tips of his fingers. “I’m sorry.” His voice was a faint whisper.

“I’m still hoping that maybe he’ll be okay - but not even Dr Ronaldson seems sure. So that I could have a reason to stay, I volunteered to stay at the Animal Rescue shelter.”

She allowed his fingers to brush her lips. “And if I hadn’t stayed, I wouldn’t have seen you again.”

Nia looked at him over the rim of her coffee mug. “I can’t believe you’ve never had a banana split before.”

Jarod enthusiastically licked his spoon. “I’ll definitely be having more.”

“I hope so. Mario will be very offended if we don’t eat here every night that we’re in Portland.”

“I won’t object.”

“I’ll bet.” Nia swirled the last of her coffee before swallowing it. “So, do you have a place to stay this time?”

Jarod grinned and nodded. “I get to return the favor. I have a spare room. Grab your stuff.”

Nia laughed. “You’re inviting me to slumber party?”

”Something like that.”

“That sounds great.”

Jarod’s face lit up in a smile. “I’m glad.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“Miss Parker?”

Looking up, she saw the two figures in the doorway, with Broots cowering away from Mr Cox.

“What do you want?”

“Y…you go first.”

“My pleasure.”

Cox stalked into the room and placed an envelope on Miss Parker's desk.

“It seems you have a parking ticket.”

“You opened my mail.”

”In my job, it’s always helpful to pay attention to the people you’re working with, especially in a place like this. Take Mr Broots, here. When he wouldn’t give me the information I needed right away, I used a little persuasion. It always works in the end.”

“Cox, you might be working with my father now, but…”

“I know, I know. Your stepmother told me. No-one terrorizes your little people but you.“

“Correct.” She tore open the envelope and yanked out the little sheet of paper, staring at the signature on the bottom. “Great, so mattress-brain-boy has decided to give me hell, financially as well as emotionally.” She held out the paper to him, barely allowing him to take it before she withdrew her hand. “I tell you what. You read it first. You get the joyful task of organizing the team of sweepers to go and find out what it’s all about. I’m sure Centre funds will be willing to foot the bill.”

“You don’t wish to accompany us?”

Miss Parker looked up at him. “You can take my twin brother. He might be willing to traipse all over the United States but right now,” standing up, Miss Parker stepped around her desk and walked over to where Broots was standing, reaching out for the folder that the technician was holding tightly against his chest. “I have other things to attend to.”

Mr Cox smirked and walked towards the door of her office, opening it to reveal Lyle standing there, an envelope in his hand that he held out to Miss Parker. She groaned and rolled her eyes, taking the envelope from Mr Cox and handing it to her brother.

”You two seem so interested, you follow it up.” Miss Parker nodded, ushered Mr Cox out of her office and closed the door in their faces. Stepping back, she rolled her eyes again and leaned against her desk, looking over at the technician. “Was there something you wanted?”

Broots stuttered and held out the folder. “I…I found this when I was cleaning my office. It’s a file that Raines was hiding in his filing cabinet. I’d…forgotten about it when…”

“All right, Broots. Why are you dragging it into my attention?”

“Well, it’s just,” Broots walked over to the doorway and picked up the DSA player that he had put down when he first entered the room. “I thought you ought to see this.”

Broots opened the DSA player on her desk and slipped the disk from his pocket into it. Before he could start up the machine, however, a banging from the wall distracted both Broots and Miss Parker and then looked over to see the air vent cover buckling and flying off the wall into the room, followed by Angelo. The empath leapt towards the desk and hurled the player onto the floor, smashing the screen into a dozen shards of glass that scattered onto the floor before disappearing back into the darkness of the vent, leaving Miss Parker and Broots momentarily speechless.

“What caused him to do that?”

“I don’t know.” Broots stared at the ruined machine.

“What did you see on that screen?”

“Well, I was thinking after I started up the machine and I didn’t really get a good look at the screen before I hit the stop button but…” Frustrated, Miss Parker grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her.

“What. Did. You. See. Broots.”

”Damon.”

* * * * * * * * *

ASPCA offices
Portland, Oregon

“Jarod, I need a favor.”

Looking up from the forms he was filling out about his most recent surgery, Jarod smiled at Dr Lasky. “I’ll do what I can.”

”I guess you heard that two of those puppies died last night.”

“Yeah.” Jarod looked sad for a moment. “Julie informed me when I arrived.”

“Late.” Graham leaned against the wall. “Julie informed me when I arrived - on time.”

“I was - busy. I slept in.”

“And I noticed that our assistant Nia also slept in. Funny thing, coincidence.”

Graham turned and was about to leave when Jarod stopped him.

“Didn’t you want something, Graham?”

“Oh, right. See what happens when you get distracted?” Graham stepped back into the room. “I want you to find the owners of those puppies. We can’t press charges if we don’t know who did the neglecting.”

Jarod spread out his hands helplessly. “Where should I start?”

“The place where you found them. They might know something. Most people who dump animals are too lazy to take them far to do it.”

“I’ll get right on it.”

The vet walked through the doorway but stuck his head back in. “Oh, and take Nia with you. With any luck, the forces you two have together might get us some results.”

Jarod tucked the camera into his pocket and checked to ensure that his gun was in his holster.

“You’re taking a weapon?” Nia’s mouth fell open in surprised and her eyes were wise as she looked up at him from her chair.

“Just in case. I suggested it to Jarod.” Nia turned around to see Julie standing behind them. “These people can get nasty.”

“And the camera is for evidence,” Jarod commented.

“The Force is still with you, I see.”

Nia laughed and the two headed out into the cold winter chill. Jarod got behind the wheel of his car and Nia slipped into the seat beside him, placing the box of medical equipment onto the seat behind her.

“You’re taking precautions.”

”Just in case.”

“But how will you get the animals?”

”You forget.” Jarod grinned at her. “I work for the ASPCA. I have the right to seize neglected animals.” He flashed open his coat and showed her. “You see, a shiny gold badge that will give us all the power we need.”

The car pulled out of the working lot and within a few minutes stopped in front of the rusting gate.

“Are you ready for this?”

“This is an adventure, right?”

Jarod glanced over at her. “A smelly, disease-ridden and dangerous one, if you want to look at it like that, I guess.” Opening the car door, Jarod soberly exited the vehicle and pulled the gun out of his holster.

“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”

“You betcha.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Miss Parker watched as the figures moved across the screen - Raines walking over to Damon and giving him the same sort of encouraging pat on the back that earlier DSAs had also shown Raines doing to Kyle. In fact, Miss Parker couldn’t help contrasting the similarities between Damon and Jarod's brother.

“Miss Parker, is Damon doing what I think he’s doing?”

She looked sharply back at the screen and watched silently as Damon looked over a table containing a row of guns. Finally he selected one and walked over to the bed in the room that Raines had set up for him. Standing at the head of the bed, Damon fired four shots into the body, starting at the feet and ending at the head. At each crack, Miss Parker felt Broots jump and she had a hard time stopping herself from doing the same thing. The figure on the bed lurched at the same time and the final shot sent the sheet drifting onto the floor. She swallowed the scream that rose in her throat as she saw that the figure was a stuffed dummy and not a real person.

“Miss Parker, what is this?”

She turned in her chair and faced him. “I don’t know. Whatever it is, though, it’s causing Angelo a lot of pain.”

“Sydney?”

Miss Parker pushed her chair back from the desk in front of her and stood up.

“We won’t know until we ask.”

The shadow in the doorway blended into the rest of the shadows as the door opened and the two occupants of the office walked out. To the unseen watcher’s chagrin, he saw that Broots was lugging the DSA player along with him, and that Miss Parker had the folder tucked under her arm.

“Too damn organized for her own good.”

The shadow edged around the closed door and into the deserted office. He looked around for a few minutes and flicked through a few pages before dropping them back on the desk and leaving the room.

* * * * * * * * *

Somewhere in Portland, Oregon

Jarod dropped back down onto the pavement and stared at Nia. “You remember how I mentioned smell and disease?”

”Yeah.”

“Well, I think we found it.”

“Show me.” Jarod linked his hands and hoisted Nia up until she could see over the gate. When she had her feet back on the ground, she stared at him. “How many animals did you see in that yard?”

”Thirteen dogs, eight cats, four ducks and nine fighting cocks.”

“In a space that has a grand total of about eight foot by eight.” Jarod picked up his mobile phone and dialed, speaking sharply. “I need back-up here. As many people as possible. We have thirty-four pets here that need urgent attention.”

“Thirty-four?” The operator at the ASPCA sounded incredulous.

“Yes.” Jarod nodded to emphasize his point, forgetting that the person on the other end couldn’t see him.

“On the way.”

Hanging up the phone, Jarod glanced back through a space in the gate. “I can’t believe that anyone could do that to even one animal, let alone thirty-four.”

“Jarod, how do you know they’re fighting cocks?”

He put his arm on her shoulder and she put her eye to the crack. “See the cock with its back to us? The feathers on its underside have been burned off. It supposedly makes them more agile and better fighters.”

“Burned?”

“Acid, usually.”

“That’s beyond belief.”

”I know.” Jarod shook his head in disbelief. “It’s one of the most heartless things I’ve ever heard of.”

“That’s the address of the property.” Jarod handed over the slip to the police officer that was questioning him. On the table between them sat an assortment of animals from the property. Each vet had to deal with a large number of creatures at once and the surgery was stretched to the limit.

“Thanks, Doc. Can we call on you for evidence?”

“Sure thing. Oh, and you might want this, too.” Jarod pulled the camera film out of his pocket and tossed it across to the detective. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

“Oh, right. Sorry.” The officer slipped the notepad into his pocket and dropped the film into an evidence bag. “Thank you for your help.”

He nodded at Jarod and left the room, calling for one of the policemen who were mingling around the building to get the film processed. Jarod smiled understandingly after him and then turned back to the task of trying to ease the suffering of the animals in front of him.

On to Act III

 
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