Simpatico. Bonét could give or take cats although he found Elizabeth’s cat Shelly to be a bit precocious. Shelly liked to play petty little games of Who’s Sharp Now – based, Bonét swore, on a NPR news game – but Shelly ruined it all by insisting on winning every game. During Bonét’s dreams he’d always treed the obnoxious cat. Liz thought that Shelly and Bonét looked cute together, especially when they were napping. Simpatico. Boy, did she get that wrong.
“I think that we’re simpatico like Bonét is with Shelly,” Liz said one day, out-of-the-blue, as she and Froggy were preparing their parachuting gear for the morning jump. Froggy didn’t really need the first or emergency ‘chute but happily went along with the exercise to support Lizzie’s experiments. He was an expert folder and kept all the cords free of tangles – Lizzie couldn’t be in safer hands.
“Ummm, I don’t think that Shelly is truly simpatico with anyone. I think he hates me and puts up with Bonét because he knows that he’d lose that battle.” Froggy didn’t not like Shelly, jealousy and spite could make anyone hard to be around. “Maybe we could get Shelly on My Cat From Hell! He’d be a worthy challenge and you could always use more cat furniture …” Lizzie’s stare stopped him short. “I was kidding, babe. Shelly is definitely NOT a demon cat – and I would know.”
Bonét was off detecting with Fitzy in North Carolina, near Chapel Hill. The case was gruesome and it had been cold for some seven years and was only brought out of mothballs because a witness in New York City coughed up a juicy tip that couldn’t be ignored. ‘Child kidnapping was nasty business’, as Fitzy said again over his cellphone when he checked in, but when a family with three young children was kidnapped, well, it was a super-downer. Morale was low, and even though the latest evidence opened up new leads in the case – it was still slow going. Bonét took it especially hard, being treated cruelly and abandoned as a pup. Fitzy’s abilities weren’t really useful what with seven years of trailings to unravel. Nothing stood out-of-the-ordinary; no trail was brighter or more distinct than another.
Then, during one of their sector-sweeps something, or more precisely, a glimmer of someone, caught Fitzy’s eye.
“Hey, Bonét, come here and sniff this ol’ rag I found. I think it could be something – see what you can find!”
As Fitzy released Bonét’s collar, Bonét took off like a greyhound with a bloodhound’s nose. This spooked the other hounds and K-9, and they all joined the chase.
“Who the HELL let his dog go,” barked out the Lead Sergeant. He glared at several men and finally focused on Fitzy. “Was it you, you damn Yankee, who let his mutt louse everything up? Call your dogs back, NOW!” the order was spat out with the force of spent chewing tobacco.
Unlucky 13. Not one dog returned to his master when called, or whistled back, and this gave the sergeant a purple conniption: he tore up his map, kicked over several grid markers and stomped off to his SUV. The dogs could be heard barking about two football fields away so the search party moved off hopelessly toward the baying and sharp yelps. Because everyone stayed a safe distance from Fitzy, no one saw what he was following.
Fitzy’s cellphone crackled on – he could just make out DeMarco’s hoarse voice through the static – “in for it now, chief says to grab … g and come bac … base.”
“I’m on to something, DeMarco. I sent Bonét off on a chase so that the field would be more open, less congested with overzealous nincompoops. I’ll let you know when I see something.”
Fitzy clicked off his cell right in the middle of DeMarco’s staccato reply.
He was picking up bright trailings, blindfolded figures grasping hands, being herded into tall, impossible to pass through brush. Fitz could not make out any children until little fingers loosened their grasp and as if pointing at him, showed him the way to a river bank (long dried up and turned into a rutted trail). The barking died away. Fitzy got a sinking feeling that things hadn’t turned out well when an object in the dirt caught his attention. This was when Bonét appeared, which was good timing, because his nose was needed at that very moment. Uncanny, thought Fitzy. Fitz dug out the once silver-plated teething ring, tied with a faded, tattered piece of ribbon.
“Now sniff this, Bonét. This is important, find the baby that dropped his rattle,” ordered Fitzy.
Bonét’s olfactory nerves snuffled over the bit of cloth, transmitting the weathered, almost lost baby-smell to the dog’s brain – and he was off like a dog with a purpose, this time on a true lead with Fitzy close behind. The ghostly outlines of the kidnappers pushing the family down the rocky bank of the fast-moving river was easier to follow because Fitz had a sure bead on the family. Bonét was running amongst the family now static-snaps glowed whenever the dog crossed with the ethereal figures seven years cold.
Brrrrrrrrrriiinng! Fitzy’s cell lit up like a laser. DeMarco’s tired voice ordered him back to the police barracks. He was yelling something about a storm and closing down the search. “Bonét is on the scent of one of the children,” explained Fitzy. “We can’t stop now or we will lose the trail … we are following an old riverbed, south, southeast. Use my cell as a GPS marker.”
Bonét stopped running and started digging, instead of finding plastic boxes full of money he found cloth-wrapped bones in a crude grave. Whining, the dog brought up a skull and two forearms but nothing small, nothing that looked like a child’s beckoning finger bone.
“We found the parents, over-and-out,” Fitz said into his cell as he knelt for a benediction.
narthax – entrance of Roman Catholic church