Evening had set in, but there were no moon or stars on this night, for their sparkling serenity had been blocked out by dark overcast clouds.
I couldn’t help but watch Rapi from my comfortable spot on the sofa. The big orange cat looked almost comical the way his head bobbed back and forth between Mommy and Aunt Mary.
Apparently, there was some sort of big to do happening at our place tonight, which drew Aunt Mary and Robin over to our home. I know this because I heard Mommy and Daddy talking about it over breakfast.
I know, I know. I am not supposed to be eavesdropping, but sometimes interesting conversations happen right in front of your nose, when that happens, well, what’s a dog to do? I mean, it would be rude to turn your back and not listen right?
Anyway, Robin is coming over with my best dogfriend Daisy, because Robin and Aunt Mary want to talk with some woman named Madam Welch. Daddy called her a medium, and Mommy was okay with that. I guess that means that she doesn’t overeat or something like that. I just know that Robin and Aunt Mary are paying this medium to come over to our house and that Mommy and Daddy are not that impressed.
“Ding dong,” the doorbell called out interrupting my thoughts.
The room went silent, and everyone’s attention was focused on the door. Perfect timing if you ask me, because I was starting to get dizzy watching Rapi’s head bounce back and forth.
The oddest thing happened. Nobody moved or said anything.
“Was I the only one to hear that,” I thought silently to myself. Not waiting another moment to find out, I leapt to my feet.
“Doorbell! Somebody is at the door,” I barked out in excitement.
That seemed to do the trick, because Mommy rose to her feet and headed towards the front foyer, but before she could get there, the knob rattled a little, then the door creaked open. Robin’s head popped in through the small opening, but only for a second.
The door flew open, and a rather large black and tan dog bounded through the opening.
“Daisy,” both Rapi and I shouted. The big dog’s ears perked up and her tail began to wag enthusiastically. The three of us began to hop up and down in an intricate dance of happiness, greeting one another with joy.
“Robin,” Mommy and Daddy shouted, almost as excitedly as we had, but instead of wagging tails and dancing, they just hugged. Poor tailless humans.
No sooner had Robin closed the door behind her, then it rang once again. I inhaled deeply, preparing to update everyone that we had another visitor, but decided to blow it out when Mommy glared at me.
“I got the door Cindee, why don’t you guys go play!”
She said it with a pleasant smile, yet me being me, I was too curious to run and play when there was a mystery to be solved, so I plopped down on my butt and smiled back at Mommy.
“Fine,” she said, grinning back at me.
A loud rumble of thunder crashed the instant Mommy opened the door. The house shook and lightning crackled across the sky, silhouetting the dark figure standing in the doorway.
Another flash of lightning illuminated the figure of a woman, wrapped in a cloak with the hood pulled up.
One more burst of light spidered its way across the leaden sky, followed seconds later by a deafening boom. The lights flickered for a moment, then died.
Behind me came a howl of despair, and I yelped in fear.
With the electricity still not working, Mommy had gathered up a dozen or so candles, which once set ablaze provided us light for the evening.
On a normal occasion, the way the flames flicker and dance on the top of the tall wax sticks would put a spell on me. Tonight, however, something, or perhaps I should say someone, had enchanted me instead.
Daisy, Rapi and I had settled in on the floor by Daddy’s feet. The spot had been chosen strategically, primarily because of the safety provided by the proximity of Daddy, but it wasn’t just that. No, it also afforded us an unobstructed view of Lillian Welch, the exotic stranger who had entered our home.
I say exotic, not solely because of her strange ability to carry on conversations with the dead, but also because of her unnerving looks.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her raven-colored hair flowed over her shoulders and halfway down her back, which on the surface was normal enough, what was strange though, was the way it contrasted with the smooth porcelain like complexion of her skin. Had it not been for the pop of ruby red lipstick, she would have been a study in black and white.
A hush fell over the room as Lillian Welch began to speak.
“I have an older soul trying to come through,” her voice feminine soft, the words even and precise.
“Masculine,” she added.
“I wonder if it’s dad,” Aunt Mary could be heard mumbling to Daddy.
“I am getting the name, Lester or Nester, or something like that,” the dark-haired woman said, pressing forward.
Everyone was doing the same thing that I was … staring around the room, looking at each other with a puzzled expression on their faces.
“He is saying that he left something important behind. He buried it under a rose bush at the park park.”
“Park park,” Robin said, repeating the mediums words aloud.
“Not park park, but bark bark, he is upset and barking at me like a dog!”
Aunt Mary’s face change to one of bewilderment.
“He wants me to put some cinnamon on his daisies. He keeps repeating, it’s me fester! He is very flustered and telling me to let Fia know to look under the roses.”
A lightbulb went off inside my head. I quickly scanned the room. Aunt Mary and Robin were staring at the young woman, totally clueless about what was transpiring. I on the other hand had more than a clue. One glance at Daisy and I knew that she understood as well.
“Follow me Daisy,” I whispered, before slinking off to the stairs.
“Right behind you Cinna-fia,” she said unable to contain a growing giggle.
The older dog had tip toed behind me until we were safely in the bedroom, leaving all the drama of Madam Welch and her dearly departed friends behind.
Mommy and I turned the corner and started down Elm Street. Already we could see the park on the left-hand side. True to form, Daisy had done her job and talked Robin into taking her to the fenced in lot to play, the two of them standing in front of the gate waiting for us.
We picked up the pace the moment I laid eyes on Daisy, and in just one minute, possibly two, we were standing in front of the gate with them.
“You made it,” Daisy barked.
“Of course, Mommy is like putty in my paws,” I responded with a giggle.
We were about to pass through the gate when I came to a full stop and glanced up.
“Look at that Daisy,” I said nodding to the sign attached to the wrought iron archway hanging above the gate.
“Bark Park,” Daisy read the words aloud.
“That medium didn’t understand dog-talk very well at all did she,” I asked my older friend.
“Definitely not. Park Park,” Daisy said, mocking the young spiritualist.
We both giggled girlishly, then entered the park. The moment our Mommy’s removed our leashes we were off, sprinting across the field to the back corner of the grassy lot.
“Ahh, there it is, right were Chester said it would be,” I indicated with a tilt of my head.
“Don’t you mean, Lester, Nester of possibly Fester,” Daisy chided.
“You know I never would have known if she hadn’t said Fia,” I answered with a smile.
“Well, at least she got Chester’s nickname for you right,” Daisy said, howling with laughter.
“Well, this is it, what do you think the treasure is,” I asked, before leaning forward to inhale deeply, and enjoying the sensation caused by the aroma of roses filling my nostrils.
“I have no idea,” the older dog said, taking a whiff of the pink flowers, then sneezing.
I was kind of surprised that Daisy didn’t at least have a wild guess.
“Okay Cindee, enough with the questions, let’s get to work, the anticipation is killing me,” she grumbled.
“Me too,” I snorted, leading to the both of us falling into a fit or laughter.
“I will dig here, you dig on the other side, okay Cindee?”
“Okay,” I agreed.
Daisy didn’t waste any time and was already six inches deep before I had even begun to work on my side. Dirt and grass flew everywhere, as we fiendishly tore into the earth.
Five minutes later, Daisy had stopped digging and looked up at me.
“What,” I asked, eager to know why she wasn’t dredging up any more soil.
“I got nothing,” she grumbled.
“Me either,” I said, staring down at the two-foot-deep pit in front of me.
There was a deep sense of frustration in her query.
“Um, we try the other two sides?”
Really, it was the only thing I could think to say. At this point doubt had more than crept in, it had made a home for itself in my mind.
“You don’t think that woman was messing with us, do you?”
Daisy had finally voiced the concern that had been rattling around inside my head.
“She wouldn’t! Would she?”
My eyes grew big just thinking about the potential betrayal.
“Well, let’s try these other two sides,” Daisy said, her tongue still hanging out from all the effort that went into excavating the first hole.
Without procrastinating for another minute, we set about our chore. Once again, soil was flung between our legs and into the air. I had just settled into a good steady rhythm when things began to fall apart.
The sound was unmistakable. It was Mommy’s voice, and by the sound of the echo, I would guess she was still on the other side of the park.
“We are in trouble,” Daisy said, glancing up at me, worry on her worn face.
I did what any self-respecting dog would do. I ignored Mommy and kept on digging.
“Cindee, you better stop!”
Daisy’s voice had taken on a sudden strain.
“They are on their way over here, and your Mommy looks angry!”
“I can’t stop! I need to find out what Chester left for us,” I answered between labored breaths.
“Cinnamon, you are in so much trouble!”
The voice came from directly above me, and I could clearly hear the anger in it now. I was ready to admit defeat and give up when my paw caught on something solid.
“Daisy,” I whispered hoarsely.
She tilted her head to left and met my eyes with hers.
“I found it!”
She trotted over until she stood next to me, then looked down into the pit.
What a crazy day it had been. Believe it or not, I was thankful to see our house at the end of the block and was even more thankful to be on the other side of the door and relaxing on the sofa.
Rapi, came trotting over at the sound of the door closing behind us and climbed up on the sofa next to me.
“Well, did you and Daisy find anything?” the big orange cat asked, his face unable to obscure the curiosity that filled every fiber of his being.
“You wouldn’t believe it,” I answered.
“I would. Especially, if you would hurry up and tell me,” the cat purred, about to burst from anticipation.
“Daisy and I dug a hole under the rosebush and found at least a hundred cookies!”
“Ai carumba,” Rapi’s eyes grew wide at the thought of a hundred cookies. It was so enticing that he couldn’t help but drool a little.
“Ai carumba is right,” I agreed.
“What a treasure,” the cat purred.
“Oh no, that wasn’t the treasure Rapi,” I began to correct the cat.
“There was more?”
His expression was one of puzzlement, unable to even conceive of something more than a hundred cookies.
“There was. It was the greatest treasure of all!”
“What was it,” the orange cat had risen to his feet and begun to lick his lips.
“It was having one last adventure with my friend Chester,” I said, smiling nostalgically while thoughts of all the adventures we had together ran through my memories.
Rapi’s excitement transformed into confusion in a heartbeat.
“But … Chester is at the Rainbow Bridge,” the cat clarified.
“That’s true, but his memories and love are always with us, and today, you could just feel him there laughing with us as we dug up those cookies.”
The cat thought about that for a moment, then smiled.
“I get it, Cindee.”
The room fell silent, and together, Rapi and I ruminated on good times with good old Chester.