Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 24

Updated on February 23, 2018
PegCole17 profile image

Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

After the Storm

Willard's Exxon after the tornado 12-26-2015
Willard's Exxon after the tornado 12-26-2015 | Source

Eleanor was pleased that the drive from her house to the police station was relatively clear after the brutal storm. She’d passed the trailer park where the tornado had ripped mobile homes off their blocks even sending one across the field with its residents inside. It always amazed her how random the damage was after a bad storm. She’d seen her share of them in the forty-plus years she’d lived in Colleyville.

None of the stores she passed were open, although she could see yellow caution tape wrapped around places with broken windows and storm damage. It was still early and cleanup efforts hadn’t begun yet. She parked her car in an open spot near the precinct door and turned off the engine just as a uniformed officer was heading out.

“Young man,” she said, rolling down her window. “Would you kindly help me with this basket?”

“More than happy to, Ma’am,” he replied. He lifted the basket out of the back seat as if it weighed nothing. “Something in there smells mighty good,” he said catching a whiff of the fragrant biscuits. Eleanor crawled out of the driver’s seat clutching the thermos of coffee.

“There’s plenty of food if your Captain will let you join us,” she said as he held the door open for her. She ducked inside under his arm. Although the power was off, emergency lighting was on in the lobby powered by the gas generator outside. Eleanor headed towards the Sheriff’s office after instructing the uniformed patrolman to set the basket on a table within his view of the reception area. Sheriff Mullins pushed himself off the battered leather chair and with one hand tucked his shirt back into his wrinkled pants. He stood at his office door looking like he’d slept in his clothes.

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons | Source

“Morning, Ellie,” he said in a gravelly voice thick with sleep. “You’re here early.”

“I’ve brought breakfast,” she announced. “That young woman you’re holding needs nourishment and I imagine you do, too.” She cast a furtive glance at his distended paunch which he instinctively sucked in as he squared his shoulders.

Eleanor tottered over to the coffee stand where she filled three empty cups with the aromatic brew from her thermos. She handed a cup to the Sheriff who nodded his appreciation and one to the officer that had helped her. She watched his eyes travel hungrily over the imagined contents of the picnic basket.

“Can we talk over breakfast?” she asked the sheriff who led the way to the employee lounge, a square, windowless room with a second-hand dining room table. The officer on duty placed the basket on the table where Eleanor began unpacking its contents.

“Will you let your prisoner join us?” she asked.

“Miss Connie is no longer under suspicion,” Sheriff Mullins quickly assured her. “We cleared her of any involvement last night with video footage from neighboring sources.” He motioned to the other officer to fetch their overnight guest who’d spent the night in a holding cell.

Thermos with extra cups
Thermos with extra cups | Source

Introductions were made as Eleanor laid out the tablecloth and place settings for Connie, the sheriff and herself before portioning out eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits. She pulled out a stack of paper plates and set them next to the containers of food. The aroma of home cooked food drifted along the corridors of the precinct enticing others to drop in to greet their morning guest.

An atmosphere of lightheartedness prevailed as they dished up eggs and shared stories of last night’s devastating storm. Dark humor was their way of dealing with stress as they joked about the difficult situations they'd found. When the staff began to drift out to their offices and awaiting duties Eleanor turned to Connie.

“I just want you to know your dogs are safe and sound at my daughter’s house where I live now. She travels most of the time on business so I look after things for her. We’ll be going there after we finish breakfast, if you’d like.



The Henderson County Chief of Police stared at the fax that arrived last night after he left the office. Sheriff Mullins in Colleyville managed to fax it over before his station lost power. Scribbled in nearly unreadable text, he’d asked for a welfare check on the residence of Jeb Olstead of Luther Lane.

The Chief frowned when he read the name. He was familiar with Jeb, proper name Jacob, from the rumors that circulated after Jeb’s parents left town unexpectedly. Everyone suspected their son had something to do with their strange disappearance. Henderson County Police had been called out a number of times to the Hootin’ Holler Lounge where brawls were a regular occurrence. Confrontations usually ended up with Jeb spending the night in the county lockup for drunk and disorderly conduct. The Chief dialed the phone number on the fax from Sheriff Mullins.

When the call came in, the food had for the most part disappeared. The Sheriff eyed one lone biscuit when the dispatcher appeared at the door to the breakroom.

“Sheriff, I think you’ll want to take this call.” She whispered something in his ear and he rose and excused himself leaving Eleanor and Connie at the table.

Taking the call in his office, he punched the button on the line that was blinking. “Mullins,” he said. The sheriff listened for a minute while Henderson’s Police Chief shared some of his departments run-ins with Jeb in the past.

“What’s this about you wanting a welfare check?” the chief asked.

“That was all we could come up with until the Judge issues a search warrant for the house, hopefully today,” Mullins said. He spent the next few minutes explaining the events surrounding Connie’s arrest and the results of the video footage. “We were hoping he might be around to answer some questions.”

“Not from what I’ve heard. He went missing a few days ago according to the neighbors. We had reason to locate him, too. Our deputy found the house abandoned, newspapers piled up, mailbox overflowing,” the Chief explained. “Seems like his wife is looking for him, too.”


“Nah, I’ve got her right here at my station.

“Not that wife,” the chief said. “I mean Jeb's first wife, the legal one.” He let that sink in for a moment. “It looks like she found a new beau. She wants to get married so she’s trying to divorce Jeb. We only found out he’d skipped when we went to serve him with papers.”

Sheriff Mullins glanced down the hall toward the break room where Eleanor and Connie were still talking. He ran his palm up his forehead in a familiar gesture he used when things got confusing.

“Well, I guess that’s good and bad news,” he told his counterpart in Henderson County. “I’ll let you know when the warrant comes through. In the meantime, I’m sending an officer in your direction. I’ll call you when we get the go ahead on the search warrant.”

“We’ll be ready,” the Chief said. “I’ve wanted a good reason to go through that house for a long time. His parents were good people. I never believed that they would take up overnight and leave town like Jeb said.”

The Silver Tongued Devil


Rusty found paper and a pencil and started a list of things needing repair at the farmstead. First on the list was chopping up the tree protruding into the front room, then, replacing the broken windows. He’d had a good look at the roof and it could use some work replacing shingles and repairing the soft areas where the plywood sagged with age. By the time he finished, the page was filled with neatly itemized tasks.

Rover, Buddy, Cookie and Nicole, were settled comfortably close to his feet where he sat at the head of the huge dining room table. They’d enjoyed a hearty breakfast of kibble from Rusty’s backpack and scraps of fried Spam cooked in an old iron skillet on the wood burning stove. Buddy looked like a brand new dog, his smooth and silky coat gleaming, free of the burrs and brambles he’d collected in his journeys. Rover’s rib cage didn’t protrude as much after only a couple of regular meals. Cookie and Nicole seemed at ease in his company as were the boys.

“We’ll need to pick up a big bag of food for you guys,” he told them. He started on a second list of groceries he planned to purchase. He wanted to replace the canned goods they’d eaten last night and this morning from the shelter’s supply cabinets.

He’d pumped water into a bucket at the outside well and heated a large kettle on the stove. After cleaning up the dishes, he heated another kettle of water for a sponge bath. Pulling out a fresh shirt from his belongings, he buttoned it up and grabbed the set of keys to Connie’s car. The dogs watched from the porch as he backed the car up, turned around and drove out the long winding driveway toward town.

Loving Her was Easier

© 2018 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mike, You're always welcome no matter when you arrive. As you can see, there are more loose ends than I originally thought and I am still wrapping the frayed ends together. Jim says I told him the story was nearly over many chapters ago. I clearly miscalculated. Having some difficulty wrapping it up but it won't be long now. Thanks, as usual, for your kind remarks and visit.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - I see the loose ends are coming together. I see in the comments that the story draws to a close. As usual I am late to arrive. The story has been a winding road. I happened to see your profile and the number of your followers. That certainly tells the story of your writing ability.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Maria, So nice to have you drop in for coffee and a quick Cookie update. I'm glad you liked the Kris Kristofferson added touch of music. He is quite the storyteller in his own right. Jeb seems to have a sordid past and it didn't get any better as he aged. Connie's due for some fun.

      We're (finally) drawing close to the conclusion of the story. I appreciate you sticking with it all this time.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 2 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Peg,

      Kris Kristofferson is the perfect musical story teller to accompany my reading this morning.

      As usual, your writing does not disappoint. It's heartwarming to see Connie's life coming back together as Jeb's gets more uncertain, and even murkier that I thought possible.

      After the storm - biscuits, kibble and answers on the way ... :)

      I plan to take my coffee on to Chapter 25! Love ya, Maria

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Martie, I'm so glad you like Eleanor. I've saved you a couple of biscuits and homemade jam. Hope you enjoy.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks, Dora. I remember how close the hurricane came to your neck of the woods. Never a good thing when they're headed towards you. I saw my share of them when I lived in Florida and the Keys.

      It was good to have the dogs in out of the bad weather, fed and cozy.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Frank, I laughed at your comment. Yes, that image is rather striking and we see so much of that when tornadoes hit out here. They seem to be magnetized to mobile homes.

      I'll never forget the time one hit when I was out of town. My Mom left a voice mail saying something like, "No matter what you hear on the news, we're still here." (Then, click - she hung up.) That was it. I had no idea how bad it had been until I saw our neighborhood on the news.

      Thanks for your ongoing encouragement and humor.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 weeks ago from South Africa

      Oh gosh, I could spell that breakfast!

      Eleanor is an amazing friend! I am so glad Connie is free again.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Tim, Cozy is a good word for the dogs and it is a relief that they are finally part of a family. Saved you a biscuit and some juice if you're hungry. Thanks for the visit.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hey William, Yep, Jeb is a true cliff hanger. (groan) Someone had to say it. Thanks again for coming by.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Flourish, The dogs seem to be in good hands with Rusty. He loves their company and is good to them. And Jeb is in for a few surprises if he ever gets out of there.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Shyron, Your recap is right on with the current events. I'm glad that you caught that about Connie's marriage to Jeb. That is an important development for her future.

      BTW, Dunking is a family tradition with biscuits, toast, donuts and any sort of cake that will stand up to it, usually pound cake from Aunt Jessie's recipe. I've cut you a healthy slice and am pouring you a large mug of coffee. Hope you like it strong.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Glad that Connie is free and the dogs are comfortable. Your storm brought back memories of our hurricanes last summer. These real life events add authenticity to your story.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 weeks ago from Shelton

      I'm sorry, but I really laughed out loud when you said that the tornado blew a house off the footings with the residents still inside... that image alone stayed on my mind as I continued reading.. Peg Cole I still love the way you formulate the story and then reformulate... it's so amazing

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Linda, Thankfully, the authorities are zooming in on Jeb and with the search warrant will hopefully find more evidence of his crimes. Thanks for coming to breakfast with the gang.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi there Peggy, Thanks for the visit and uplifting comments. It's almost like sharing breakfast here with friends and guests. Can I pour you another cup of coffee?

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Nell, It's always an honor to have you visit my stories. Glad you could come by and check out this chapter. Sweet.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good morning, Mary. So good to see you here today. Thanks for dropping by and for the great comment.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 3 weeks ago from Escondido, CA

      M'm . . . M'm that breakfast sounds tasty! Things are looking up for Connie. Nice! I am happy the pups are all together and cozy.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      So maybe Jeb is about to fall - or maybe not. I guess we'll see. At least I hope. Another great chapter, Peg!

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 3 weeks ago from London

      I would love to Peg,,thanks for the invitation dear :)

      It’s always a pleasure to see you.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Nikki, There are plenty of biscuits. Please have one or two with some homemade jam and coffee. Nice to see you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      I’m so glad the dogs are safe and it looks like Jeb will get his due.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago from Texas

      Wow! Forget the eggs, but biscuits I will have a couple with coffee from the thermos, try dunking the biscuit in the coffee, yum! glad the dogs and Rusty had a safe place to sleep and ride out the storm; glad Connie was cleared and that her marriage to Jeb is not legal; glad Eleanor found great friends.

      Fantastic, can't wait for the next chapter.

      Blessings my dear friend

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The meal sounded so good that I wanted some, too! I like the fact that the investigation is zeroing in on Jeb. Once again, I'm looking forward to the next installment of the story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Jackie, please pull up a chair and join us. There's plenty of food. So glad you came to visit.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Your storytelling is so good Peg. I now look forward to every chapter after catching up from all of the earlier ones. The twists and turns in the story are intriguing. I could almost smell that homemade breakfast that the Sheriff's crew got to enjoy from your description.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 weeks ago from England

      I should have started at the beginning of your book here, but just reading your chapter shows what I have been missing, you tell a great story Peg!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Kari, Thanks for the interest in Jeb's house. I think they will find a lot of interesting stuff in there. As always, I appreciate your visit and kind remarks along with your enthusiasm.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is looking good, even better, than what I anticipated. Looking forward to the next.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 4 weeks ago from London

      Another amazing chapter,,really happy that dogs are safe now.Loved the breakfast,, biscuits are my fav :)

      Looking forward to next chapter Peg dear.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      Yum, sure making me want some lunch. Eggs and biscuits would be fine!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 4 weeks ago from Ohio

      I can't wait to see what they find in Jeb's house. I'm also looking forward to a reunion of Connie and Rusty. I'll be on the watch for the next chapter!