Adventures of Cookie the Stray, Chapter 25

Updated on March 4, 2018
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Peg Cole is a self-published author who writes true and fiction stories and book reviews, along with nostalgia and how-to articles.

Rainbow After the Storm


“I’ll be right back,” Rusty called out to the dogs pouting on the front porch. He swerved to avoid the puddles of standing water and drove around the broken tree limbs on the driveway.

He’d found an old pick-up truck under some dusty quilts in the corner of the barn during his inspection. If he could get it running again, it would be ideal for carrying plywood, roofing shingles, and other material needed to repair the house. He made his first stop at the auto parts place on the main road. After pulling Connie’s car into a parking spot, he watched the owner unlock the door and turn the sign to OPEN.

“You’re up early,” the shopkeeper called out. “Get any damage from that bad storm last night?” He held the door open for his first customer of the day.

“A little bit, but it could’ve been worse.” Rusty answered. He told the guy about the tree that crashed through the front room window. “How about your place?” he asked.

“Just a few shingles missing off the roof,” he said, “nothing too bad. Did you see that trailer park on your way in?”

“Yeah,” he said pulling the list out of his pocket. “Hope those folks are alright.”

While inspecting the barn Rusty discovers an old truck under some dusty quilts.
While inspecting the barn Rusty discovers an old truck under some dusty quilts. | Source

“The man got a broken leg, but the kids are okay, just banged up and scared.” The shop owner flipped through a large catalog on the counter and wrote down some part numbers on a yellow legal pad. “You staying out at Eleanor and William’s place?” he asked, his finger holding his place in the book. Rusty wasn’t surprised at how fast news traveled in the small community. He nodded. The guy disappeared into a maze of racks behind the counter. When he returned, he piled a collection of various sized boxes in front of Rusty: a distributor cap, a set of spark plugs, and a gas filter.

“Yeah, I’ve been telling William that old Chevy needs to get back on the road. I’ve known him since that truck was brand new. And that’s a long time,” He smiled and stared at Rusty for a full beat. “It’s good he has someone helping him to get it running again with his bad health and all. You tell him Andy says hello, okay?”

Rusty paid in cash and headed for the exit when the man called out to him.

“Ask for Bobby Lee at the lumber yard and tell him you’re fixing up the old Groves’ place. Mention my name,” he said. “He might give you a discount. Or he might charge you more.” He roared a deep sounding laugh that shook his belly.

With that errand done, Rusty was on his way with a place to get lumber and a new friend in town.

After the storm, debris lay strewn about in the soggy yards.
After the storm, debris lay strewn about in the soggy yards. | Source


For the first time in two months William woke up hungry. He fished around on the pillow until he found the nurse call button and pushed it. For a man of his years, he considered himself in pretty good shape. That was, until the day crippling pain shot down his arms and between his shoulder blades and he collapsed. The last few weeks were still a blur after suffering a massive heart attack.

He smiled at the thought of seeing Eleanor, his sweet Ellie, who’d be coming today. She’d be pleased at his progress. The nurse that answered his call was surprised to hear from her patient who remained silent most of the time.

“Good morning, Mr. Groves, how can I help you?”

“I’d like some help getting a shower before breakfast, please.”

“I’ll send someone in right away to help you,” she responded. Paul, standing at the nurse’s station had overheard the request. He was about to go off duty but volunteered to take on the task.

“I’m sure Mr. Groves wants a man to help him,” he told the nurse. “We’ll get this wrapped up before I leave.” He headed down the hallway toward William’s room and a short time later, William was up, dressed and sitting in his wheelchair at a table with some of the long term residents, a group of like aged men who routinely sat together. The three welcomed him, surprised by his unusual presence outside of his room.

“These biscuits have nothing on my Ellie’s,” William told them through a mouthful of food. “She could make millions off her recipe if she ever shared it.” They continued on that vain, each sharing the virtues of their long beloved spouses.

The blocks in the background used to hold a mobile home.
The blocks in the background used to hold a mobile home. | Source

Eleanor and Connie finished clearing the table at the police station, packing the empty containers, cups and dishes back into the picnic basket. “That basket’s a lot lighter going out than it was coming in,” Eleanor said with a laugh. She handed Connie her car keys as they loaded it into the backseat of Eleanor’s car.

“Would you mind driving, dear? I’m not as confident a driver as I once was.” Connie took the keys and slid behind the wheel after helping the older woman settle into the passenger seat. Eleanor gave directions to the main road.

“It seems like I’ve known you forever,” Connie told the older woman as they pulled out of the station parking lot. In their short time together they’d shared stories about William and Jeb. Eleanor’s sympathies for Connie’s situation set her mind in motion with possibilities.

“Would you mind if we made a short detour before we go to the house? It’s right on the way and it won’t take long.”

“Of course,” she said. “I’m sure the dogs won’t mind. They’re probably busy taking a nap.” The two women laughed as they traveled down the main road. When they reached the mobile home park, their laughter stopped abruptly. A huge tree limb lay across one lane of the street causing traffic to veer around it single file. Remains of what had once been couches, walls and insulation lay strewn around in the soggy yards. Eleanor cast a sobering glance at the upturned mobile home, its contents now a pile of debris.

“I hope those people that were in the trailer are okay.” They drove on in silence.

Willard's Feed after the tornado of 2015 the day after Christmas
Willard's Feed after the tornado of 2015 the day after Christmas | Source


Detective Brannigan got an early start on US 175, his route through Colleyville had taken him around the main areas damaged by the storm. At that time of the morning there was little traffic, most of it heading north. He hoped to make it to Henderson County right when they opened the doors. He and the Chief would search the house where Jeb’s parents had lived most of their life.

An hour, thirty-five minutes later and eighty-five miles to the southeast, he spotted a welcoming billboard for Gun Barrel City. At the small parking lot of the city’s police department he found an empty spot and pulled in, glad to be off the road. The large breakfast, more than his usual cup of coffee, made him drowsy on the drive. He stretched and went inside where he found the Chief sitting in his cramped and cluttered office sipping coffee.

“Come on in,” the Chief said. “Want coffee?” He’d watched the boxy, unmarked car pull up and park right in front of his street-facing window.

“No, thanks, I already had too much.” Brannigan put a piece of official looking paper on the Chief’s desk.


“Looks like Mullins has some pull with the judge to get paperwork through this quick,” the chief said reading over the search warrant. They spent several minutes sharing their collective histories of the cases surrounding their chief suspect, Jeb.

“The Olsteads were well liked in the community,” the Chief told Brannigan. “Late in life, they finally had a kid. Old man Olstead, Jacob Senior, must’ve been around fifty by then. When the kid was almost into his teens he already had a history of petty larceny and mischief.” The Chief frowned and continued. “Some of the neighbors reported pets missing among other things like spare tires and tools. The kid was nothing but trouble right from the start.” The chief handed Brannigan a stack of mail that the deputy had collected on his trip to the Olstead house. “We suspected he was somehow involved in his parents’ disappearance but we couldn’t prove it.”

Brannigan glanced through the stack of bills and advertising and found a letter addressed to Connie from the American Kennel Club. The flap on the envelope was already open so he reached in and pulled out the single typewritten page along with two blank forms.

The Chief of Police watched as the unmarked car pulled into a spot under his window.
The Chief of Police watched as the unmarked car pulled into a spot under his window. | Source

The letter read:

“We are in contact with the owner of Sir Samson, AKC Champion Chow Chow dog recently mated with your female, Queenie of the Middleton’s. Please be informed that all outstanding credential issues have been cleared in regard to the Championship paperwork. AKC registration of Sir Samson, the stud of the pairing with your female entitles his offspring to AKC registration. Kindly submit the enclosed forms on behalf of Queenie’s brood at your earliest convenience.”

It was signed by some official sounding name with a title of Registrar.

“Thought you might want to hand deliver this stuff to Jeb’s new, um, other wife. Some of it might be of interest to her,” Chief told the detective.

“Can I use your fax machine?” Brannigan asked. “This is news she’ll want to have right away.”

Chow Dog Agility


When they arrived at Luther Lane in Gun Barrel City, Detective Brannigan pushed open the front door with his gun drawn.

“Police,” he yelled, “If you’re in here make your presence known.” He yelled a second time as a uniformed officer followed him inside moving to the right as Brannigan went left. They made a complete circuit of the house before motioning for the Chief to follow them inside. Behind him a trail of others carrying evidence boxes, cameras and gloves entered the residence ready to comb through its contents.

Their first stroke of pay dirt was in the bedroom closet where a stack of empty velvet jewelry boxes were found buried under a pile of dirty clothes. On the shelf above, a blonde wig was recovered.

“That looks like the same style and color as the one on the woman in the video,” Brannigan said. “Bag it up,” he told the officer who marked the evidence bag with a felt pen noting the date, contents and location where it was found.

At the same moment one of the other officers yelled upstairs from the basement. “Chief, you’re going to want to see this for yourself,” he shouted.

Stormy Weather

© 2018 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 9 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Verlie, Well, it could be worse. You could be stuck in the upside down plane with Jeb. Oh, wait. That's already been done. LOL.

      It warms my heart that you are fond of the characters. Try not to worry about Mr. Groves. He's on the mend. And the dogs are about to get some new friends!

      About Luther Lane. . . I'm trying to decide just how much detail to give on the discovery.

      Always a pleasure to see you here. Thanks so much.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 9 days ago from Canada

      OK Peg, you've gone and done it again! Now we're stuck at Luther Lane for a whole week! Wondering, wondering, wondering. This is such a good story, some really lovable people to care about. Not to mention pouty dogs. Worried about Mr. Groves now...Photos are perfect, nice chapter. :) Musical interlude...

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 9 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Nikki, It's never too late for a drop by visit. I appreciate you so much. Thank you for the wonderful comment and continued interest.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 9 days ago from London

      Sorry for being late Peg, very engaging plot and story.Every episode is getting more interesting and appealing.

      I am hooked as well dear :)

      Waiting for next chapter.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 9 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Dear William, I saw your email and I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you. Perhaps I was editing the hub when you tried to leave a comment. Sorry you had trouble.

      Thanks again for your continued support and interest in the story. I always appreciate seeing you here.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 10 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi, Peg. I've been having trouble leaving comments on hubs lately. Hopefully, that's taken care of. I just stopped by to say I'm still hooked. Another great episode.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 10 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Frank, Thank you so much for your continued support and uplifting comments. You are cool.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 10 days ago from Shelton

      Peg I am hooked, every chapter so far is like a treasure trove... it's not electrifying.. but it feels that way.. Love the stray... Cookie

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 11 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Peggy, as always, your comments lift me up and make me want to write faster. I'm glad you liked the music video.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 12 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good morning Mar, I think you're right about Jeb's dilemma. He's likely to find worse things than being suspended upside down in a crash. But then, he might get his just deserts or desserts.

      I knew you would pick up on the kind worker at the rehabilitation center who looked after William. I saw quite a few instances of that over the past few years. Warms the heart when that happens.

      You are so sweet to take time on your weekend to read this and leave such a wonderful comment. Thank you, friend. Love.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 13 days ago from Houston, Texas

      The "Stormy Weather" video was perfect matching with the way this story is going. Hopefully everyone survived that horrific storm and I am looking forward to finding out what plays out next in this terrific story of yours.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 13 days ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Linda, We're getting there. It's taken longer than I expected with all the new developments but the end is near. Thank you for continuing to be interested and for your caring comments.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 13 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Beautiful rendition of Stormy Weather, dear Peg.

      I thinking that if Jeb is still alive, he may in fact wish he wasn't...?!

      I love Paul's kind heart in staying to help William get cleaned up.

      I'm also hoping those in the mobile home will be OK. Your writing pulls me right into the community, Sista.

      Until Friday, hmmmmm...?? Love, Maria

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 13 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What an exciting cliffhanger at the end of this chapter! I am very interested in seeing how everything comes together and discovering what happens to all the characters.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Tim, I think I saw that video, too. In June of 2012, here in Dallas we had a storm with hail the size of baseballs. It was deadly. Four hundred million dollars worth of damage. Another one in 2016 damaged 15,000 of the 18,000 homes in a town near me. It looked like blue tarp city that year. Still have the dents in the truck. Broke the windshield, too.

      Anyhow, glad you like Connie's new adventure and your suspicions about Jeb are probably right on. Thanks for coming by.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Mary, Glad this got you wondering. Soon it will be revealed! Thanks for your visit and great comment.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 2 weeks ago from Escondido, CA

      Glad Connie is on a new adventure. Got me wondering more about Jeb and suspicious too. What a storm it was. Reminds me of a video I saw today at FB. It was a hail storm the size of tennis balls. Looking forward to the next chapter.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Shyron, Your comments always are appreciated and they help me try to clarify parts of the story that may be confusing, like the "girlfriend." I've changed that part thanks to your insightful remarks. The chief now calls her "the um, other wife" since Jeb was already married when he met and married Connie. I think you're onto something with your questions and I truly appreciate your enthusiasm. I appreciate you so much, friend.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wonder what's in there. I don't even have a guess. Your plot is really going well and getting more exciting.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 weeks ago from Texas

      Peg, I am hanging in the edge of my seat, what could they possible have found at the home of Jeb's girlfriend. Oh let me guess, could it be the dog that was with the couple when they robbed the jewelry store? Or could it be the skeletons of Jeb's parents?

      I really like the way things are going with Connie, Eleanor, Rusty and William. I am so enjoying this story, you have no idea.

      Blessings my dear friend.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Flourish, Thank you for the visit today. We were very lucky that the two different storms only caused minimal damage to our property. Some of our neighbors weren't as lucky and suffered physical damage as well as damage to their houses. Thanks so much for asking and for your kind concern.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      This really leaves us hanging! I look forward to the next chapter. I like your use of personal photos for this. I hope the storm depicted in the photos left your family safe from harm.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Jackie, Wow, that was quick. Thanks for being the first to find this latest release. Glad you liked it and thanks for listening to "Stormy Weather." I love this version of it.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      Ah, another cliffhanger! Love it. Now I will go back and listen to Stormy Weather. My mom sang that so many years ago.