Welcome to PART THREE of a 3-part homage to Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Suspense
Jemma and All Hallows Eve
This is the conclusion to the heart-warming story for cold nights about an English Bulldog and a murderess. Please see October 19 for PART ONE and October 20 for PART TWO.
Happy Halloween from me to you!!
Jemma gave a heady flip to the shoe and it sailed through the air and landed almost twenty feet away. She was about to run after it when she heard her mistress’s voice, a voice that brought Jemma back to the here and now. Grunting, Jemma ran down the hill to listen to an alarmed owner question the condition of her once clean and well-groomed dog. Jemma spent the better part of the day at the groomers, where she acquired a pert orange and black bow in honor of Halloween.
Mrs. Rappaport had a new plan. She now knew the dog’s name. She now knew that the dog came to the plateau twice a day, mornings and evenings. She also suspected the ratty little beast would never go away, so she would make it go away.
She decided against using the pistol, as she had almost done in her panic the day before. That was too noisy and might attract the dog’s owners to climb up the hill before she had the time to return to her house. The shovel was too cumbersome and hard to maneuver; she’d learned that the hard way. She had been aiming for the dog’s head but missed the animal’s body completely. Her weapon of choice was a large, heavy, and deadly hammer. A hammer she had seen her recently deceased husband use once to knock down a wall between the bathroom and closet. Yes, Mrs. Rappaport thought, practice swinging it in the garage, this will do very nicely. One smack of this and the dog will be silent forever.
That evening Mrs. Rappaport could hear groups of people passing below on the pathway, dressed as goblins, vampires and pirates. A full moon and All Hallows Eve. How appropriate, she thought, looking over at the body of her husband. There was no need to rebury him yet; soon there would be another, smaller creature in the grave.
Jemma almost didn’t go to the park that night. She wasn’t sure what was happening but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Her owners were having a discussion about the condition she’d returned in that morning from the hill. Besides, the neighborhood children would be dropping by for candy. Why miss that?
Finally, Jemma saw the male kiss the female on the forehead and turn to her. Fifteen minutes later than usual, owner and dog were taking their customary evening walk. As the male tried to walk past the hill, Jemma uncharacteristically pulled the leash out of his hand and scurried up her well-worn path. Panting a little from the climb and unheeding her master’s calls, she stopped about ten feet away from the ever-ripening man and the woman who had come out of the shadows that morning.
“Come here, Jemma. There’s a good dog,” Mrs. Rappaport said, both hands behind her back.
Jemma cocked her head. The woman’s tone was cold and insincere, so Jemma stood her ground.
“What have I got, Jemma?” the woman crooned, bringing forth one hand and waving a tasseled loafer. “Come and get it, you mangy mutt.”
Fortunately, Jemma didn’t understand those words or she would have been highly insulted, never having had mange in her life. But she did notice the shoe in the woman’s hand and focused on it.
“Jemma!” called her master from down below.
The dog turned her head toward the sound of his voice and the woman put one foot on the end of the leash. Jemma looked back at her. She watched Mrs. Rappaport step closer and closer on the leash, dangling the shoe enticingly in front of her.
“Jemma, come on, baby. Come on down now.”
Jemma turned her head again to her master’s voice and the woman brought the other hand forward containing the lethal hammer. Her arm slowly went up over her head in preparation for the fatal strike.
Jemma looked back at Mrs. Rappaport and came to alert attention. Another game! We’re playing a game, Jemma thought. It’s Throw the Toy Time. Jemma played this game countless times with her owners and knew with her short, stubby legs, she should get a head start. So, as the woman’s arm continued back, Jemma turned her body to face the other way and made a lunge forward. At first she felt the weight of the woman standing on the leash but, ultimately, pulling one hundred and thirty pounds was a small handicap in the long, illustrious career of the English bulldog. They were built, not for speed, but for power. Jemma’s massive chest sucked in enough air to feed the mighty muscles in her upper torso and she leapt forward feeling the weight on the leash suddenly release.
Jemma ran for several feet then turned back to make sure she was heading in the right direction of the thrown toy. What she saw baffled her enough to make her not even hear her master’s pressing call again.
For there was the woman, lying on the ground, with her head resting on a tree stump. The dog’s eyes were drawn toward the movement directly over the woman’s head. Jemma saw the toy rotating, going up, up into the sky until it paused then began its revolving descent back down, where the heavy steel hit the woman in the dead center of her forehead. Jemma heard a slight crack and then silence, broken only by her master’s voice.
“Jemma Marie, don’t make me come up there after you!”
Now Jemma knew that when she was called Jemma Marie, she’d better hustle and hustle she did. She ran to where the woman dropped the loafer. Not bothering to look at the sightless eyes staring up at the darkened sky, Jemma snatched up the shoe and ran down the hill.
“Jemma, it’s about time. What have you got there, Girl? What is it? A Halloween treat? Give it to Daddy. There’s a good girl, give it to Daddy.”