Welcome to PART ONE of a 3-part homage to Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Suspense
Jemma and All Hallows Eve
This heart-warming story for cold nights revolves around an English Bulldog and a murderess. It is being showcased on three consecutive days, October 19, 20, and 21.
Happy Halloween from me to you!!
The clock chimed midnight on October 30th. Mrs. Rappaport sat with the German pistol in her lap, loaded and ready to go. This was the night she was going to do it and with her father’s fine example of World War II weaponry.
It had nothing to do with her husband being with one of his many women or the gambling debts he was increasingly incurring, although these did not make her happy. It was that she’d discovered he’d looted her antique store, her main reason for living. He’d substituted a bad reproduction for the rare and valuable Early American “Eye of the Boar” roadhouse sign, circa 1793, and carted off the original, no doubt for private sale.
Mrs. Rappaport would take no more. Meticulous plans for her husband’s demise and disposal in the adjacent park had been made; foolproof plans she’d gone over again and again, luxuriating in their very essence.
However, it’s the small things that tend to trip us up. The small thing about to trip up Mrs. Rappaport was a forty-five pound, brown and white English bulldog named Jemma Marie Zenbull of Belgium. Seven-year old Jemma, heralded for her good nature, even in a breed known for their innate sweetness, had so far only experienced kindness and love. Jemma would soon run afoul of a murderess and all of that would change.
But for now, Mrs. Rappaport sat rigid and alert, though she had not slept for nearly twenty-four hours, going over her plan. If he followed his normal schedule, her husband would stagger home drunk and disheveled, at around the time the two a.m. train ran by the front of their house. This blessed train brought with it engine clatter, whistles and noises that would mask all sorts of misdeeds for a full five minutes.
The park with the small, steep hill so important to her plan would be deserted until early morning. The inaccessible tree-covered plateau on top of that hill butted up against their backyard. The only way on or off that plateau was through the gate in their chain link fence. The plateau would be a perfect place to get rid of the body, because that was the rub, she thought shrewdly, how to get rid of the body.
At one fifty-nine a.m. the front door opened. At two a.m. the train roared by. A well-aimed shot was fired. Goodbye Mr. Rappaport.
Six-thirty the same morning, as was her custom, Jemma Marie Zenbull of Belgium trotted through the neighborhood on powerful, short legs. Jemma loved the park, especially in the fall. It was her favorite part of the twice daily walk. The morning air was cool and crisp and the day promised much. In the evening the park smelled of the sun and all the visitors it had seen during the day.
Ever since her owners noticed that a certain hill inside the park was fenced on the far side and no harm could come to their beloved pet, they had released her leash from her collar and let her run up to its plateau. This was her ten or fifteen-minutes of total freedom, a chance to just be herself. She could stop where she wanted, stay as long as she liked, say hello to the flowers, insects, squirrels, and roll around on some lovely, questionable mound or other.
At the base of this hill, her female owner unhooked the leash and said the words, “All right, Jemma. You can go now.”
Jemma scrambled around to the side and up the narrow path she had traversed many times, a path that was unknown to anyone, save Jemma and her owners. This unseen path had sturdy roots, small ridges and deep rock formations that was used for the secure placement of thick paws, as she placed them now, scampering up the almost forty-five degree incline.
Once at the top, Jemma would have a brief rest. It was tradition. Then she would sniff around the bushes, grass and trees, not to mention the clearing with stumps of trees long gone, cut down by the park rangers five years previously to prevent fires. Snorting loudly and trying to catch her breath, she padded to the center of the small plateau, splayed herself down on the cool grass and sniffed the air appreciatively.
As she did, some surprising new scents greeted her. First, there was the scent of a human nearby, puzzling to Jemma, as it did not quite smell the way she was used to humans smelling. Second, was the perfume of fine leather, a fragrance near and dear to Jemma’s heart.
Jemma, as previously stated, was a wondrous, beauteous bulldog, and her virtues had been sung far and wide, but she had one tiny, little flaw. When her owners discovered that she wasn’t going to outgrow this tiny flaw, they began putting shoes out of her reach. This was particularly done after she ate the three-hundred dollar Feragamo heels given by the male owner to the female for their anniversary. Consequently, Jemma had not had the taste of good leather for quite some time.
Jemma got up and walked over to where the two smells converged and saw that they were attached to one another. She grunted for a moment, accessing the situation. Jemma had found a gopher like this once and knew instinctively the gopher would not be getting up and going about his business anytime soon or, actually, ever.
So she shrugged, as only a really intelligent animal does at such a time, and moved down the human’s body to the second and more interesting scent. There, on each foot and giving off a delectable aroma, were exceptionally fine Italian loafers complete with fringed tassels. Jemma knew from experience that tassels were the tastiest part of a shoe. She grabbed at the closest one about to give a tug.
TO BE CONTINUED
BY HEATHER HAVEN