"I'm not sure where to start. I had just come in from work,” Officer Angelo noted The Coffee Shop logo on her apron, though he had recognized Summer right away.
“The door was open and well, I thought maybe I had forgotten to lock it - which would be unusual, but anyway, I parked in front of the house like I usually do. The house was quiet. There was no sign of the dog, no barking. I put my keys and bag on the counter, like I usually do and walked into the living room - one of the shades in the living room was pulled down - I always put them both up first thing in the morning, even if it’s not light out yet. I remember doing it this morning. Anyway, I started to cross the room to raise it and that's when I saw Alfie in his crate. There was blood, and then I screamed and ran outside. That's when I called you.”
"Do you have any idea who would do something like this," the officer said taking notes in a little pad.
“No,” Summer replied.
"An angry ex-boyfiriend, girlfriend? Someone that would consider you an enemy? Someone who maybe wanted revenge?”Angelo had seen this before, though usually when someone wanted to kill a dog, they used poison. Generally it was because the dog wouldn’t stop barking at night or shitting in the neighbor’s yard.
“Not that I can think of, no,"
“What kind of dog, miss?”
“A Cockapoo.” The tears came hard now, welling up from deep inside. So hard that she couldn’t breath. She couldn’t go back in there. Alfie was her roommate, her best friend, the one who was always there for her. “How could somebody do this to that sweet sweet pup,” Summer said gulping air.
Angelo wanted to hug her, but knew it would be inappropriate. She seemed beyond consoling. “Is there anyone you want to call? Do you have family nearby or a friend who could come over?” Summer just kept crying in response. ”Look, you stay here. Try to calm down, Miss. I need to go inside.”
The small apartment, which was one half of a duplex, was bathed in late afternoon light. There was no sign of the neighbor, if there was one. They might have seen something, or at least heard the dog barking. There was also no sign of a forced entry. Angelo looked at the lock which would be easy enough to pick if you knew how. He crossed from the kitchen door into the living room. The room was a mishmash of furniture - a long green sofa along the front windows with a pillow and blankets. An old birch coffee table with books and magazines scattered across it. Angelo smelled the sweet tangy order of fresh marijuana, but there was no actual sign of pot. The dog’s crate was opposite the couch in the corner of the small room. There was blood in the crate, some of which had spread across the hardwood floor. Bending down, Angelo unlatched the crate to examine the dog more closely. The small dog’s tan fur was clotted with blood. It’s large round eyes open and lifeless. Whoever did this knew what they were doing. A single slash with a very sharp knife to an artery in the neck. Angelo thought that the animal probably hadn’t suffered much. He checked the small bathroom and single bedroom at the end of the hall. At first glance, the bedroom had the look of someone in a rush to get to work. The unmade bed was strewn with clothes - someone deciding what to wear - along with a pair of pale pink flannel pajamas that had what looked like little white martini glasses on them. All of the dresser drawers were open. Looking more closely, Angelo noticed that one of the drawers was nearly empty. The floor was covered with bras and underwear. Angelo thought again of Summer frantically dressing for work.
Outside Summer was trying to pull herself together. She had called Nathan who was on his way. He was the only one Summer could think of who wasn’t working. She kept going over in her mind who might have done this? Suddenly Summer remembered the incident at The Coffee Shop the other day. Dan Green was all kinds of things, but would he really kill her dog because she threw a drink in his face? He deserved it, and what’s more he knew it. At least that’s what Summer thought at the time. It’s one thing to flirt. Summer could handle that, at least to a point. But Dan’s new found obsession with 17 year old Zoe crossed a line that Summer couldn’t ignore. Looking up Summer saw Officer Angelo coming toward her.
“Summer, your last name is Fields?”
“Yes, I’m afraid my parents were sort of hippies.”
“Summer before you called me did you get a chance to look around your apartment?”
“No, like I said, once I saw Alfie,” She took a deep breath not wanting to cry again, “I ran out here and called you right away.”
“I need you to go inside for me and see if anything is missing.”
“Do you think this was a robbery? I don’t own anything particularly valuable.”
“Could be, although with the dog crated, it seems awfully extreme to kill him just to quiet him for the short time it would take to search the apartment. How well do you know your neighbors?”
“Only in passing really. It’s a single guy. He’s a carpenter - Terry Dugan. He tends to leave early in the morning and come home very late. We see each other long enough to say hello, that’s about it.”
“Was someone else here last night, someone sleeping on the couch perhaps?”
“No,” Summer replied hesitantly.
“Look, I need to check in with the station. Did you think of someone to call?”
“Yes, a friend of mine from work. He’s on his way now.”
“Good, I want you to go in and check your bedroom to see if anything is missing. It’s pretty messy. I assume you were in a rush to get to work this morning?”
“Yes, you’re always in a rush when you have to be at work at 4:30 in the morning.”
“I suppose so. Well, like I said, you go on in and I’ll be right behind you,” Angelo said heading toward the squad car. He wanted to give her a few minutes to look around.
He was right, Summer thought as she entered the small cluttered bedroom. She thought back to this morning. The alarm on her phone waking her in the predawn from a dream of work. She shed her PJ’s and headed straight for the shower. She had rifled through her drawers grabbing socks and underwear leaving the rest on the floor. She checked her jewelry box. Not that there was anything valuable in it really. There was the ring her dad gave her when she turned thirteen that was her birthstone - a small ruby. Summer wasn’t even sure if it was real, but she was relieved to see it was still there. She closed the jewelry box and took a last look around. It looked like nothing had been taken. As Summer was heading back out it occurred to her that she had been wearing a white pair of lace panties under her PJ’s. She went back grabbing the pajama bottoms from the bed - no panties. Maybe she had dropped them in the dirty laundry? Summer checked the hamper, but they weren’t there. She checked the pile of clean underwear on the floor, not there either. Summer’s heart was beating hard as Officer Angelo entered the room,
“Well, anything missing?”
“Yes,” Summer said feeling the blood rushing to her face. Angelo knew what she was going to say, before she said it.
“Miss Fields, Summer, I’ll ask you again? Who do you know that might have done this? Someone who comes into The Coffee Shop, someone you met out at a bar, maybe?”
Summer hesitated. She was afraid. “There was an incident the other day at work,” she said haltingly. “This guy, his name is Dan, Dan Green. He comes in frequently and he’s pretty obnoxious. He’s had his eye on this new girl and he made a remark to me about her that was pretty rude. Anyway, I threw a drink in his face.”
“Have you ever had this Dan Green to your apartment?”
“No, absolutely not.”
“Okay. I trust you can give me a description?”
“Yes, I can.”
“Did anyone, besides yourself hear what he said to you before you threw the coffee at him?
“There were lots people in the shop at the time, it was pretty loud. I’m not sure. Why?”
“I just want to corroborate your story.”
“This freak killed my dog, took a pair of used panties and you want to check my story?”
“It’s just procedure Summer,” Angelo, spoke quietly now. “Miss Fields, I’m sorry, I understand you’re upset. He should be easy enough to locate. And, if he’s as obnoxious as you say, I would expect this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this.”
Summer was relieved to see Nathan pull in, parking his old mustard yellow Hyundai behind the police car. He’d barely turned off the ignition when he was already out of the car and running to her side. “What the hell happened?”
After Officer Angelo left, Nathan removed the crate and dog from the living room and mopped up the dried blood. He had to mop it several times with fresh water as the red swirls on the hardwood floor seemed to spread. Summer sat out on the back steps drinking, alternating between tears and rage. How could someone do this to her sweet little Alfie? Nathan agreed to stay on the couch overnight so Summer wouldn’t have to be alone.
If you missed the previous installment of Success Through Failure click here: