The collective Evelyn David had great fun writing Riley Come Home, a new Sullivan Investigations short story. It will appear in Missing, a new anthology, set to debut in October. The collection will benefit the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Creating a believable mystery fraught with red herrings and clever twists, with characters that have depth and substance, all under 5,000 words, was the toughest writing assignment we’ve had since we started collaborating five years ago.
Riley Come Home plunges Mac, Rachel, and Whiskey into the high-stakes dog show circuit, searching for a missing Irish wolfhound whose pedigree is longer than Crystal Gayle’s hair. I wish I’d had this sleuthing trio when Snickers, our first dog, went missing.
It began on a rainy Saturday afternoon. My husband was not only out of town on business, but out of the country, so the Sherlock Holmes/Miss Marple role would have to be played by moi. I’d promised the kids that we could make chocolate chip cookies and had left a bag of the chocolate morsels on the counter (Mistake #1). I left the kitchen for what I swear was a total of two minutes, and returned to find the bag on the floor half empty and Snickers with a chocolate mustache.
I know that chocolate can be lethal to dogs, so I put in an emergency call to the vet who informed me that I had to make Snickers vomit in order to get the chocolate out of her system. Oy! Cursing under my breath – as well as loud enough for my husband to hear me five thousand miles away – I gave her an emetic and proceeded to spend the next hour cleaning up after the little darling.
The vet also told me that I should then give her rice and boiled chicken for the next few days. Oh goody. Another palate to placate since the only meal the four kids could agree on was a strawberry fruit roll-up.
So I prepared the delicacy for Snickers, then put her outside in the fenced backyard so she could do her “business.” Mistake #2.
It’s easy to get distracted in a house full of kids, so I confess it was probably a half hour or more (okay, more, she wasn’t exactly on my hit parade list that afternoon) before I went to let the dog back in the house and discovered…yes Mistake #3, the gate to the backyard was open and Snickers was nowhere to be found
Hysteria descended en masse as the children wailed about their missing dog, although were generally useless in actually searching for the hound.
The phone rang. It was the cops. Yes, they had found Snickers. Yes, they knew exactly where she was…the dog pound. And did I know that her license had expired, that there was a fine for letting a dog run around off the leash, not to mention a fine for the expired license?
I could find Snickers at the local pound…but couldn’t bail her out until the next day because the village office was closed so I couldn’t pay the fine and get the license renewed until then.
I took the boiled chicken and rice to the “inmate” since I certainly didn’t want her to have to deal with institutional food. Just to add insult to injury, I lost one of my favorite Tupperware bowls at the dog pound.
I wish I could say that Snickers learned her lesson(s) and that she returned a chastened dog who never again ate food off the counter or dashed out the door to freedom. I could write that because I’m a fiction writer…but as a woman of truth, the only one who learned a lesson that weekend was my husband….business travel can indeed be rewarding.