A dog yapped in the distance. Molly? Is that you?
"Yow! Sam? What the heck are you doing, boy? Get off my chest!" I awoke to find my corgi-beagle-whatever dog sitting on my chest, and trust me, he was a load. "I can't breathe, Sammy. Move. A gentle shove coaxed him to the other side of the bed where he wagged furiously, panting for attention.
"Go get Mom. She'll let you out." Surely someone was up and moving around. I shaded my eyes from the sun shining full-fledged through the venetian blinds. It must be at least 9 AM. "Mom?" I yelled, "Will you let Sam out?"
No answer. Oh, yeah. She's working today. I sighed, but could never be mad at my short-legged, floppy-eared buddy waiting impatiently for me to get out of bed. I knew from experience that one slight twitch and I'd be toast. He would fly over my head, off the bed and down the stairs, expecting me to be right behind him. Oh, yeah. I knew the drill.
I shut my eyes in a vain attempt to go back to sleep when the pitiful whining began and I admitted defeat. "Okay, you miserable mongrel." I gave the top of his head a pat and hit the floor, running, but he easily beat me down the steps. I'd barely cracked open the door when he sprinted into the fenced back yard; a fence my dad was forced to build because of Sam's escapades around town. Wish I had a doughnut for all the phone calls we'd gotten from business owners.
"This is Drummad's Auto Parts. Your dog is guarding our front entrance and we haven't had a customer in more than an hour. Come over and get him or I'm calling the pound!"
Or, Flora’s Bakery. "Sam's at the back door begging for cookies. We've already given him three, but he won't leave."
The entire family's nerves frayed having to chase after him, day and night, especially with the added worry that one day, he wouldn’t be so lucky crossing a street during jaunts through town. I'm convinced that’s one event we’d never live through.
Preoccupied with every ant that moved, Sam wasn’t in one of his “running off moods, so I retreated to the kitchen pantry to dig for the other half of the blueberry muffin I'd stashed from yesterday's breakfast. During the winter, my mom refused to let me leave for school without a "good, healthy breakfast." Usually oatmeal, wheat toast or Cheerios and bananas. "How about some eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and peach preserves for a change?" I'd complain.
"Chef's day off," she'd answer.
Sarcasm? Where do you think I get it? Back to breakfast. During the summer, it is every man for himself.
I stuffed the muffin in my mouth, and then moved outside to the back steps to watch Sam sniff every single blade of grass as if new and magical scents had drifted in from the night before. Heaven help a rogue squirrel or chipmunk who dared invade our yard!
Doggy duties finally occupied Sam while visions of the last few weeks occupied my brain. How many journeys through the trunk had Cynthia and I taken? Several into the past, and one interesting trip into the future. Processing discoveries from our last trip—not to mention meeting characters like Elly Elloway or our canine detective, Molly—would take a long time.
Bang, bang, bang. "Gus? Are you awake? Come here, quick!"
I left Sam to his duties, flung open the back screen door and ran to the front of the house toward the persistent yells. "I'm coming. I'm coming!"
All thoughts of chewing out my best friend for screaming loud enough to wake the dead stopped cold the moment I opened the door.
"We have visitors." Cynthia leaned against the front porch railing flanked by two girls our age. "They surprised me with an early morning visit.
Before I could open my mouth, scream or pass out, she shoved me inside. "They know everything."
What color do you suggest for Book # 5?