Tuesday Teaser: Guest Post ‘As the Crow Flies’ by Maris Soule
Smoke, burned pasta, and blackened cheese greeted me when I lowered the oven door. I opened a window and grabbed a dish towel. Waving the cloth back and forth under the smoke alarm, I finally moved enough fresh air by its sensor to silence the irritating sound. The lasagna, however, was beyond saving.
I settled for a peanut butter sandwich and filled Baraka’s dish with his usual quantity of kibble. Our dinners eaten, I began to clean the kitchen. Baraka watched me scrape the ruined lasagna into the garbage, his eyes following every clump of charcoaled pasta, cheese, and meat sauce that disappeared into my wastebasket. That’s the beauty of a dog. Even when I burned dinner, he was willing to give it a try. I did find a small amount of meat in the center that looked edible. He thought it tasted great.
I stuck a Jackson Browne CD in my player, cranked up the volume, and sang along as I scrubbed the lasagna pan. That’s another nice thing about dogs. They don’t criticize an off-note, and couldn’t care less if the words don’t exactly match the music. Baraka simply stretched out on the kitchen floor and gave a deep sigh.
I thought I might be wrong about Baraka’s critical ear when I hit a wrong note, and he barked and jumped to his feet, the hair on the nape of his neck bristling. Then I heard the knock at my back door.
Heart pounding, I turned away from the sink. It was past nine o’clock, and even though the sun hadn’t set, none of my neighbors would simply drop by at this late hour. Not for a casual visit.
When I moved into my grandparents’ old farmhouse, I thought living in the country would be safer than living in the city. I quickly learned that wasn’t true. If anything, the isolation made me more vulnerable.
My first thought was Nora. She’d ignored the judge’s restraining order once. No reason she wouldn’t do it again. Get rid of me, and there’d be no one to protest her claim on those woods.
I grabbed the cast iron fry pan from the stove. It wouldn’t provide a lot of protection, but it was better than a wet dishrag. And then I glanced out the window. Instead of a green Chevy, I saw the front of a tan Jeep, and my fear turned to anger.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I demanded, jerking open the door. “You just scared the living daylights out of me.”
Wade Kingsley looked at me through the screen door, then at the frying pan I held. “I thought I was coming to see you?”