Hamlet jumped ahead as Casper Turlock opened his front door to step out into the brisk fall morning. The smallish dog tugged on his leash with an eagerness that reminded him of a kid who had too much sugar churning through him.
It was early, still dark. Casper judged the temperature and decided to tug up the zipper on his jacket just a bit.
Hamlet continued to tug until they got going and found their pace. The morning walk was a refreshing time for both of them. Casper had no idea what was going through Hamlet’s head. He was really Cheryll’s dog and while the relationship between man and beast started off a bit rocky, the two had come to establish a steady détente through the comfort of routine.
For Casper the mornings were a time of solitude, reflection and relief that he didn’t have to encounter many people. Aside from the occasional car engine, the only sounds he heard, especially on a morning like this, were the light winds brushing past his hear, a rare morning bird and the constant jangle of Hamlet’s tags.
He walked his pace and thought his thoughts while Hamlet nosed his way around the sidewalk and any nearby shrub he happened to encounter, occasionally snarfing, or sneezing, or whatever it is that dog’s do when they get a snout full of something.
The morning walk came with the promise of a carefree nothingness, a time to forget the woes of the moment and a reprieve from the possible woes of the day ahead. A majority of the time, the walk was uneventful. The only time the walk had the potential to go sour was when Hamlet sniffed out a skunk who graciously spared them from an unpleasant spraying, mostly due to Casper’s still quick reflexes. Well, still quick enough to yank a smallish dog back on a leash. Danger averted.
As they turned down Bobolink, Hamlet pulled to the length of his leash to get to a clump of brush and stopped to stick his nose deep inside.
“Come on Hamlet. One more mile to go.”
Casper walked on, but the dog, who would normally follow stood his ground and even fought a bit to stand his ground when Casper gave the leash a gentle tug.
“Come on boy.”
Casper stopped and rolled his eyes a bit as if he was asked to do something he really didn’t want to do.
“All right,” Casper said, making a mental note that the dog may be stressing the terms of their alliance. “What have you got?”
He took a few steps back to the dog and pushed him back. The dog stepped back, but that surged forward as Casper reached between the branches.
Casper pulled out a paper bag rolled down from the top, the kind you only see under the counters of grocery store check out lines any more.
He crouched down to get closer to the dog’s level. “If this is a bag full of bloody clothes or a head or something, it’s the pound for you big man.”
Casper rolled up the top of the bag and peered inside. Even in the dim pre-dawn light and the weak glow of a nearby street lamp, Casper could see that the bag was filled with loose, yet densely-packed one hundred dollar bills.