Chapter 19

   At the time Monk Kennedy thought it was a good idea. He didn’t think he would burn through what he had stuffed into his pockets last fall, but he did and now he needed more. That meant going back to North Rustico and the barn beside the green house on the ocean and digging up his stash.

   It was the last place he thought anybody would look for it. Now, it was the last place he wanted to go to, ever since the girl had been dug up. That was a mistake. He should have tied her to an anchor and thrown her in the ocean. He wasn’t going to make himself miserable about it, though. Trial and error were the way he did things. It was how Thomas Edison had done things. Thomas Edison was the only hero he ever had. The Wizard of Menlo Park had invented light bulbs, record players, the movies, and electricity to make it all work. Monk could live without light bulbs and the movies but not electricity or Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest.

   Monk lived in Charlottetown on Dorchester St. in a yellow flat fronted two-story two-family house with front doors as far apart as they could be. There was no front yard and barely a back yard. There was just enough yard to park and chain his motorcycle out of sight. He kept his shades drawn night and day and never answered the door. He didn’t have any relatives or friends and kept it that way.  

   The Confederation Centre of the Arts was two blocks away. It opened the year he was born. The Queen of England officially dedicated it. He had never gone there and never went there. The year after it opened the musical “Anne of Green Gables” opened. It had been playing every summer ever since. He hated Anne, even though he had never read the book or seen the show. He hated everybody who went to see the show. If he could have, he would have modified the pipes on his motorcycle and roared up and down Queen St. whenever it was playing. As it was the Kawasaki was as quiet as a stealth bomber.

   The Olde Dublin Pub was a block away and he ate there every Wednesday. They had a “2 Can Dine for 1” special on Wednesdays. He ate alone but ordered for two. He took the leftovers home. One of the managers had told him his contrivance wasn’t allowed but Monk told him in a menacing way where to go and after that nobody ever bothered him on Wednesdays when he ate by himself at a corner table. The managers gave him a wide berth.

   After he scouted out the green house, he realized he wouldn’t be able to dig up his stash during the morning noon or night hours. It would have to be the middle of the night. It didn’t matter to him. He hardly ever slept, anyway. He lay in bed on his back with headphones listening to heavy metal on his portable CD player.

   Conor Murphy’s cat Snaps slept most of the time. The rest of the time he prowled around, except when he was eating. Sleeping and eating came first with him. Everything else paled by comparison. He got his name the day he showed up and walked on Conor’s heels into his kitchen.

   “What have we got here?” Conor asked. “Where did you come from?”

   Snaps told him but Conor didn’t understand. The cat knew the language he spoke, and the language people spoke, were worlds apart, but it didn’t hurt to try. Conor rubbed his head and put some cold chicken on a plate for him. Snaps wasn’t especially hungry, but since he usually didn’t know where his next meal was coming from, he wolfed it down. 

   “There’s no collar on you, even though you’re a big one, and a healthy-looking son of a gun.”

   Snaps was a black Maine Coon just shy of seventeen pounds. If he had been a house cat, he would have been bigger, lazing around, but being a rolling stone, he stayed lean and mean. Being a Maine Coon, he wasn’t by nature mean, but he knew how to take care of himself. He had beaten off foxes and coyotes in his time. Dogs were no problem, unless they were Pit Bulls, which he avoided.

   Being a black cat could be a problem, a riddle problem he had trouble working out. Sometimes when he crossed somebody’s path, he would overhear them saying black cats were bad luck. He was alive and kicking and considered himself a lucky dog. When he tried explaining that he was just going somewhere, nobody ever seemed to understand what he was saying.

   Conor made himself a bowl of Rice Krispies and sat down at the kitchen table. The cat finished his chicken, licked his chops until he was clean as whistle, hopped on the chair opposite Conor, and sat there staring at the bowl of cereal. 

   “That’s not for you, Snap Crackle Pop,” Conor said. The name was too long to say, so Conor called him Snap, but the cat liked Snaps better, and got his way.

   Snaps was opportunistic at the best of times but understood that what Conor was eating was his and wasn’t his to try for. He knew full well how to bide his time. He slept in the shade on the porch the rest of the day and that evening slipped back into the house. When Conor put another plate of cold chicken and a small bowl of water on the floor for him, he ate all the chicken and lapped up half the water. That night he slept curled up on the floor at the foot of Conor’s bed. The next day it was like his name had always been Snaps.

   It was the middle of the night the night Monk parked his Kawasaki at Cape Turner and walked down the Gulf Shore Parkway to Murphy’s Cove. There sky was heavy overcast, and the full moon was a missing man. If he had seen headlights or heard a motor, he would have ducked into the pine and spruce that butted up to the shoulder. But he didn’t see any cars or pickups coming from either direction. What he also didn’t see was Snaps coming back from Rollins Pond, where he had been hunting frogs. He tore their legs off and ate them first thing, considering them a delicacy.

   The cat had fallen asleep under a holly bush after dinner and slept through lights out. He was getting acquainted with the bush because he knew that although the orange berries were poisonous to people, they were prized by red squirrels, ruffed grouse, sparrows, and ducks. He wasn’t going to mess with squirrels but everybody else was fair game.

   When he pawed at the door of the kitchen but found it locked, he made a night of it, exploring and reconnoitering. Rollins Pond was almost a mile away. It was as far as he went. He and a red fox skirted each other on the way back. A rabbit pretended he wasn’t there. He exchanged suspicious glances with a racoon.

   He saw Monk the second he darted off the road and crept toward the barn. The small lanky man looked like a hairball some stray mutt might have coughed up. Snaps stood stock still, almost invisible inside a dark shadow. He didn’t normally over think anything, but he thought whatever was going on had to be sketchy. When Monk ducked out of sight, Snaps followed. He moved slowly alert and vigilant. He knew full well people could be dangerous. He had good teeth and razor-sharp claws, but he was out of his weight class going up against a full-grown man.

   He stopped when he heard digging sounds. He got low and looked around the corner of the barn. He had always heard curiosity killed the cat, but he wasn’t the suspect tonight. The man doing the digging was the suspect. He had a garden spade and was using it to dig at the base of the barn. The soil was loose, and it didn’t take him long. He pulled a canvas bag out of the ground reached in removed some banded money cinched up the bag returned it to where he had found it filled the hole and smoothed the dirt over to make it look undisturbed. He put the money he had taken into a paper grocery bag rolled it up tight and walked back to the road and towards Cape Turner.

   “What is this all about?” Snaps wondered, although he knew some kind of a cat was out of the bag.

   Monk had been planning on taking all the money with him, but at the last minute decided to only take some of it and leave the rest where it was. He had to hide it somewhere, anyway, and the scene of the crime was as good a place as any, probably better. Who would ever think of looking there? It had been ridiculously easy getting what he wanted. He could do it again anytime he wanted. He had enough in the bag to last him the rest of the year, and maybe longer. Once the heat was off, he would get the rest of it in early spring and leave Prince Edward Island for good. He had been thinking lately of going to the States, to New Orleans for a while, and from there to Mexico.

   He could live like the King of the Jungle in Mexico.

   Snaps was still watching the road from the base of the roadside mailbox when he heard the Kawasaki coming. He backed up into high grass. When the bike was gone in the direction of North Rustico, he cautiously came out and made a beeline for the house. The kitchen door was still locked. He followed his nose to the holly bush and got comfortable for the rest of the night.

   He would have to tell Conor in the morning about what he had seen.

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