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Murder at the B&B. An Ophelia Perhaps Mystery. Part 5.

“Definitely Not that Creep from San Sebastian”

The next morning, as I stirred cut-up strawberries into my yogurt, I asked Sarala, the breakfast server, if she’d seen any strange people in the neighborhood. She’d seen nothing unusual but said she’d ask her friends who worked in the hotels next door and down the street.

I finished up the yogurt, the coffee, and two croissants (I can’t help myself) and thought for a few moments about the mystery man, but I had bigger problems than the American right now. I had to go to the vet, and Ti Jean had only five days left with me.

I have to use every single trick and all of my brain cells to outsmart my cat into his carrier. Last week, I’d set the carrier in the middle of my room with the door open. I’d fluffed up an old tea towel into the bed of the carrier and had inserted a few new catnip toys under the towel. The Royal Canin food doesn’t entice him at all, so I have to employ Plan B.

Ti Jean was now lying on the IKEA couch, tail thrashing side to side. As soon as I got within five feet, he vanished into the bedroom. I calmly went into the kitchen and opened a can of tuna. Ti Jean came to the kitchen island, sat down, and calmly looked up at me.

“This could be for you, you know. I could put this in a bowl for you after you come back from the d-o-c-t-o-r (I don’t dare even spell “vet” to him) IF you behave. I could even give you an entire can of tuna if you behave. I could do that.

As I’m saying this, I slowly sidestep toward Ti Jean, and slide a large, bunched bath towel along the island so he can’t see it. Then, in a brilliant move, I clamshell grab Ti Jean in the towel and wrap him up into a “cat burrito,” as Dr. Mukhurjee calls it. I slide the squirming burrito into the carrier.

When I finally strap in the car carrier, get back into the car, and turn on the ignition, I suddenly feel exhausted. As I pull out of the parking space, a dark blue Peugeot pulls in behind me. The driver’s black bangs suddenly make me think of that creep in San Sebastian. How could he have possibly found me?

The Peugeot passes me and the man looks over at me briefly. Sandy hair, Scottish tam. Okay, he is definitely not the creep from San Sebastian. I must be losing my mind.

Valerie at Dr. Mukhurjee’s office looks up at me with concern.

“Aren’t you sleeping, well, my love? You look, well, em . . .”

“Uh, maybe not so well. Ti Jean keeps me up at night sometimes . . . “

“You know what Doctor says about pets sleeping with owners.”

“I know, I know. But I enjoy having him there most nights.”

“Ah, well, I guess my husband fills that need, lovey.” She’s writing something in Ti Jean’s file and doesn’t look up at me.

Een if she does love animals, I seriously hate Valerie.

Dr. Mukhurjee examines Ti Jean and recommends a teeth cleaning. Robert will probably not do that, so I schedule the cleaning for seven months out. I pay the exam bill, insert one defeated cat burrito back into the carrier, and return to the car. I look behind me. No blue Peugeot and no creeps.

Sainbury’s is pretty empty when I grab my tote bag and walk down the cat food aisle. I look at the Exigent group of cat foods for Fussy Cats from Royal Canin. There’s Savour Discerning, Aromatic Attraction, and Protein Preference. Wow, really? I pull some cans of Applaws Senior off the shelf, this time the chicken with salmon and cod.

When I return to the car with the clackety sack of cans, there’s another concert flyer under my windshield wiper. This time I look more carefully. It’s for a concert for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at a small church near my house. Ti Jean is asleep in the carrier.

“If there’s any insufferable piece of music in this world, it is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” I say as I carry my suspiciously quiet cat into the house.

“Weddings, funerals, recitals. My god, I think it was even played at Robert’s and my wedding. Is there anyplace you do not hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons? But the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling. I let Ti Jean out of the carrier, push my hair around, and pull on my new black Debenham’s pants.

“Worst case, it’s a beginning orchestra. Best case, it’ll be great and I’ll go to the wine cafe after,” I tell Ti Jean, who’s now on the couch cleaning himself in a quiet fury.

I glance up into the mirror as I’m fastening my pants. Did I just say “after”? I say aloud with alarm. As in “Meet me after”? The neck hairs start tingling again. This concert might be where I finally meet Heinz Ketchup Man.

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