Awaiting his arrival at the front door was Bailey, his tail thumping against the front rug as his tongue lolled from his mouth. “Hey, boy. You miss me?” Alex asked as he crouched to rub his dog's ears, receiving a slight groan in response.
“So, how was your first day?” his father asked upon seeing him.
“Amusing.” Alex replied. “Trevor's a fun boss to work with, but it's really busy in that place.”
“Did you do any training?”
“Not much really. Someone else was running the register all day.”
This time, his mother spoke first. “So, what did you do?”
“Mostly inventory and organizing. Nothing special. We are allowed to read on the clock as long as we watch for customers, so that's a plus.”
“Well, at least you're enjoying your job.”
“Yeah. The employees are a fun bunch.”
As the night continued to wind down, Alex fixed some dinner before deciding to check on the texts he had received. One was an advertisement for a product he didn't care for, but the other two were part of a split text from Catherine. “Nathan just told me what happened. Are you OK?”...“If you want to talk, I'll listen. You have my number.”
Smiling at the tone of the message, he knew Catherine was sincere about the request. Even so, continuing to risk getting emotional talking about the event to anyone who would listen wasn't how he wanted to handle things. Despite the terrible news from before, he felt like he had gotten it out his system for the time being. Maybe achieved a bit of closure.
“I appreciate it, Catherine. Thanks.” Alex texted back before pocketing his phone again. He had a feeling he would end up talking about the event again soon, but for now, it didn't matter.
The following morning, Alex awoke to find his folks already eating breakfast. Bailey was laying down nearby watching for any fallen scraps, and his dad was in his police uniform again. With a feeling that his father knew about the theft of the body, he stayed prepared to be asked aside and told more as he ate.
The subject never arose, and the morning discussions ended as soon as his folks left.
A while later while playing fetch with Bailey in the front yard, Alex began to wonder about the string of odd stuff that had been going on. First, the dead calf which the police believed was wolves, then Angela who looked like she had been mauled. All within the span of ten days. A fact that sent a chill up Alex's spine.
An animal that vicious in his hometown?
“Wait. She said, 'Not with him around'.” Alex clenched his fist as he thought about her wording of that phrase. Not with 'him' around. Why had she used that word instead of something that was more in line with describing a canine? Was she hinting at someone using them as attack animals? Shivering again at what that could possibly mean, he took the tennis ball from Bailey, taking a minute to do some training upkeep.
“OK, boy. Sit.” Alex pointed at the ground and Bailey was quickly in his sitting stance. Withholding praise for a second, he crouched down and added the Shake command, getting his pet’s massive paw in his hand. “Good boy. Want to chase the ball some more?” Alex asked, holding the ball up. Bailey didn't bark in response, which was his usual way of saying Yes. “Alright. C'mon, let's go back inside.”