A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2017 Karen Lockhart
That thump was a sickening sound, and it meant someone had been hit by a passing car. Wendy and I jumped out of the SUV, while Ellen called 911.
A large black car slowed a bit, then sped off towards Swampscott. In the street lay an unconscious woman wearing crumpled blue coat. Still attached to her wrist was a leash with the cutest little poodle sniffing at her owner, while barking her head off at Wendy and me.
I told Wendy to take the leash and hold the dog, while I checked the woman. Without moving her, I felt for a pulse in her neck. She was still alive!
I took off my coat and covered her trying to keep her warm. In the distance, I could hear two different sirens approaching. The first to arrive was a Lynn police cruiser. One officer ran to us while the driver started to talk to Ellen.
I started to look around for the woman's handbag, but apparently, she didn't have one while walking her dog. The policeman was checking her pockets for some indication as to who she was.
By now a small group of onlookers had gathered, each one with a different version of what had happened.
A fire truck and an ambulance arrived at about the same time. The firemen immediately started to give her first aid, while securing her neck. The EMTs carefully placed her on a rigid back-board, then lifted her onto a stretcher. Sliding her into the ambulance, they whisked her off to the nearest hospital, North Shore Salem, just ten minutes away.
As the EMTs worked on the stricken woman, the cop talking to Ellen had returned to his cruiser and was talking on the police radio.
Wendy was still holding the leash as she and I walked back to Ellen. She said the police were putting out a broadcast to the surrounding cities and towns with the description of the hit and run car, and the partial license plate Ellen saw.
One cop started to ask the crowd what they had seen, while the first cop returned to us.
“You know, ladies, we'll get a dozen statements, each one different from witnesses. Some will make things up, just to feel important.”
I was quick to say that wasn't us. We saw the car slow then speed away, and turn left past the Monument circle into Swampscott's maze of small streets.
He was just as quick to say he didn't mean us, and laughed, saying, “Your daughter is still holding the victim's dog, and she seems to like her.”
The second cop returned, “It was a red car, a blue car, a small Toyota, a big Lincoln, jeeze, what a bunch. Thank goodness for you ladies, otherwise we'd be looking for a million cars with a thousand different drivers.”
We three were positive that a man was driving and he looked to be the only occupant. When he slowed the car and turned around, Ellen and I got a good look at him, and felt we could identify him.
The cops had our identifications, not Ellen's “daughter's”, it wasn't necessary, and a detective would come by our house and talk further with us either that day or the following one. I told him where we'd be at the construction project down the road.
“Oh great, you're an engineer, the best kind of witness,” the officer said. “Now I have to call the dog officer to come and get this dog off the little lady's hands.”
Wendy immediately turned to Ellen, “Can't we keep her until the police find out where she belongs? A kennel with other lost dogs will terrify her! Please, oh please!”
I gave Ellen the look. She said okay, but just until the dog's owner was able to take her back.
“Is this okay with the Lynn Police?” she asked. “You know where we live and who we are.”
The cops both smiled, and the older one said “I have dogs at home, and would hate the thought of ours spending even one night in the dog officer's kennel. You have a good daughter there.”
Wendy coaxed the poodle into the back seat with her and we headed home, first stopping at a convenience store for a bag of dog food, and a couple of cans of fancy wet food.
No sooner than we were in the door of the condo, than Wendy grabbed the phone and called Kevin's asking for Billy, so she could fill him in on the day's excitement and of course, rehash last night's double date.
Ellen decided to call Pete, and fill him in on the hit-and-run accident, but more importantly, that the driver looked like Vinny Morales with no mustache and a shaved head. Until I heard she say that, I didn't realize the similarity. Engineers!
This of course gave Pete an excuse to come by with pizzas for lunch, while he picked our brains!
In a half hour, he showed up with pepperoni and Hawaiian pizzas. After putting these on the table, he returned to his car for a six-pack of Corona beer and a thick envelope.
The dog, Wendy called her “Daisy”, ran around Pete's legs barking like crazy until Pete reached into his pocket for a piece of bacon. Presto, Pete now was “Daisy's” best friend.
Pete smiled, “I used to work with K-9 units, and I hated to have to mend my uniform pants. A piece of bacon works wonders, with me too.”
Ellen looked at me and said, “I rub a little bacon grease behind each ear, before we go out.”
Well that broke Wendy and me up, even with the seriousness of the day.
“Wendy, shouldn't you walk your friend before she has an accident on the living room rug?”
If a dog could cross her legs, that was what Daisy was doing, after all her daily routine had been interrupted by the accident.
Wendy led Daisy out of the kitchen door to our enclosed postage stamp-sized back yard. As soon as the door closed, Pete told me and Ellen about the poor woman that was hit that morning.
“I've just got a text message that the woman, a Jane Webster is no longer a Jane Doe. She has a broken leg, broken arm, and severe head injuries. Salem Hospital had her Med-flighted to Massachusetts General in Boston. She lives alone on Ocean Street, with no relatives on this side of the Atlantic.”
“On this side of the Atlantic? You mean she's a Brit, Pete?” I asked, “Has anyone contacted her family?”
Ellen smiled, “Boy are you full of questions Ginny. So Pete, are you going to answer or just stand there like a manikin?”
Pete shrugged, “My interest is in the driver; family notification is the province of the Lynn P.D. Let's wait for the kid to come back in before I show you what's inside this folder.”
Ellen and I grumbled but started to talk about the dog. “Looks like we just got a dog, at least for the time being.”
“It doesn't work that way Ellen, once we have a dog, we'll always want a dog. And I vote for a Siamese cat to keep “Daisy” company during the day. Our lives have changed, unless we train the dog to use a litter box.”
Wendy and Daisy came rushing into the kitchen. As she unsnapped the leash, Wendy asked, “Litter box?”
“That dog will need to be walked in Northeaster rain storms and during snow storms, and I know who will be doing the walking.” I said.
Pete cleared his throat, “Before I show everyone this envelope, does any one want tea or coffee?”
I put the kettle on the stove while Pete opened his envelope making sure the papers were face down on the kitchen table.
“Before you girls (I ground my teeth) see these sketches, I want Wendy to look at these first with no help from you two.”
“Now Wendy I want you to look at these artist's sketches. If one looks like the driver of the car, just point it out to me, and don't let Ginny or Ellen see your choice.”
“Are you ready?” he asked Wendy. She nodded her head and flipped through the sketches, pulling out one and handing it to Pete. He smiled, made a note, and mixed up the sketches before showing us.
“Oh, my lord, the fifth one looks like Morales, doesn't it Ginny?” said Ellen.
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