Authors: KC Frantzen
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Dogs - Paris
he gang jumps to attention as Miss Sandy and Sassy stride to the center to return Director’s salute.
Léonce grimaces as I pant for breath. My instincts were correct all along! Miss Sandy and Sassy ARE with the anarchists, in cahoots with Rukan this whole time! That’s how he escaped in DC. They don’t need protecting, they must be exposed!
Sassy shifts her stance and slowly turns in my direction, nose sniffing suspiciously.
I try to shake quietly and hope she can’t hear me, too.
Miss Sandy speaks, her voice steely with a trace of accent I’ve not noticed before. “Due to your success, and because the enemy will not expect an additional assault on the same target
so soon, leadership has honored you with the first round in the worldwide escalation. I bring details.” She nods to Director.
Fists again pump the air as a presentation starts on the screen.
Miss Sandy says, “Your teams will engage various places of commerce. Group guides will inform teams during training.”
Cheers boom off the walls. They pat each other’s backs while Miss Sandy’s eyes glint.
“The Americans have had an oppressive hold on Paris for hundreds of years. It’s time to take it back. After tonight’s training session, you are officially on standby for the next 36 hours. Teams will activate the with text code ‘gO.’ When received, your teams of five will have 47 minutes to proceed to your designated locations.”
Director continues. “Trainees will observe only. Obey your guides. We want confusion among the masses, no martyrs. This will keep the authorities busy. Know this. What you will soon accomplish is part of a larger endeavor. Your contribution to the disruption of the status quo is critical. We are the Movement. This is our Cause.”
Sassy howls and the pack of young humans joins in. “To the Cause, to the Cause!”
As the maddening cheers echo off the walls, Miss Sandy shouts, “We will be heard.”
Positioned behind the crypt, I hear them clearly.
We wait until long after they are gone before emerging. Which is a good thing. I’m still shaking and “why” is back in my vocabulary.
Léonce says, “This deeply disturbs you?”
I growl, “Not now, okay? I’m trying to figure things out. All I know is, I have to do something to stop them.”
The white crypt looms large over me.
How can it be Dad and Mom’s dear friend and love of my brother’s life, Miss Sandy, is working for the wrong side? She even fooled April. It’s impossible, except I sensed it for myself.
Sassy too. I respected her enormously… One thing for sure, April will accuse me of fabricating the whole thing unless I can prove it. I sob, just a little.
Léonce pads nearer and curls his long fluffy tail across my shoulders.
I moan, “Thanks. I can’t believe all this, except… Except my gut told me they were up to something at our house. That’s when I found Rukan’s photo in Miss Sandy’s dead cow bag. I’m glad I nosed through her stuff, though I got in trouble for it.”
He listens, tip of his tail patting my back.
As tears begin, I stamp my paw and sniffle. “How can this be?” I stare into the distance for a moment, then my gaze rests upon the crypt again.
I’m distracted by little dots in a nice pattern underneath his name. At least it’s something else to think about.
“Léonce, do you know what those dots are for?”
All he says is, “Let’s go.”
Not knowing what else to do, I follow my friend, padding through the darkened hallways. We pass by the way we entered before and find it is shut tight.
My shoulder starts to ache.
It’s real dark and we’re trapped, underground, with all these crypts. I stare down the darkened corridors and hallways, tightness in my throat. “H-how will we get out?”
He doesn’t reply but continues trotting.
I uncovered a dangerous plot and I’m stuck in this cold building with no way out.
Far from my family.
Darkness closing in.
I feel very small.
At the end of the corridor, a brilliant spotlight highlights an emblem. Alpha & Omega! That’s a symbol for the Creator as the beginning and end of all things. When I first came to live with them, Dad told me Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet
and Omega is the last. It must have been there all the time, but I only noticed it now since it’s so dark. I don’t remember what the middle symbol is, but I hope to ask Dad again.
Hope. Amazing how a tiny spot of light reminds me.
Okay then. I’m still breathing.
That means He has a plan with my name on it, because I know He will never betray me. He loves me.
I can do this.
We trot along quietly, deep in the dark. When I can stand it no longer I ask again. “How will we get out?”
“I know a way,” says my feline friend.
“It seems quite a long way. Where are we going?”
After almost forever, we climb a long flight of wide steps into a different part of the building.
When we top the stairs, the intricate stone floor is smooth and cool on my pads. The sound of my nails click-clicking echoes through this part of the building. We turn a corner and…
Wow. Just… wow.
I trot near the middle of the room and crank my head way back. A few lamps wayyyy high spotlight the sight. The painted ceiling goes up and up, nearly into the clouds, and… How odd. It almost looked like the shadows moved.
Huge paintings cover each wall. There’s a battle scene, with a canine character!
When we near the front entrance, Léonce says, “Keep busy. I’ll be back.” He leaps onto the souvenir counter and uses a paw to push a drawer open, then a cabinet, then hunts under the counter. Wonder what he’s looking for?
Closer to the floor, I notice jewelry and cardboard photographs of
La Tour Eiffel
, scarves marked “Paris” and mugs
for coffee or tea. Now that I think of it,
sounds French. Mom calls these “little remembrance gifts.”
I spy many books on shelves, kind of like we have at home. But it’s odd. There are several copies of the exact same books. On the outside of one, I recognize the lady Marie Curie from the video and, ooh, there’s one about Louis Braille. I glance over at Léonce – still hunting – so I’ll peek inside. Maybe it’ll tell me about those intriguing little dots.
Here’s a drawing of Mr. Louis as a young human. He was three years when he went blind. How sad. While attending a special school when he was about eleven years – young for a human – he began improving on a secret code the military used at night.
The book says dots in raised patterns form letters of the alphabet. Someone blind or in the dark feels the dots to decipher the code.
I turn more pages. It says his system changed many blind people’s lives, all over the world. Long after he died, his remains were moved so his memory could be honored. I guess I should have paid my respects. Hey. Here’s a photo of where we are in
“Put it away.”
Yikes! I jump. “I was only doing what you told me, Léonce. And I found out about those dots.”
He gives me a look.
I nose Mr. Louis’s story back into place.
As a young human, Mr. Louis might have thought he was very small. Just look at his achievements!
Léonce paces as he scans the ceiling. “They are here.”
“The humans who will help us get out.”
gain I follow Léonce into the shadows, but this time we climb narrow steps leading up and up and up. I catch an occasional glimpse of the floor far, far below. The designs are beautiful.
I start to pant, but Léonce leads me to more steps. Finally I see some wooden crates leaning against a wall, most of them open. I sniff some humans, eight I think.
“This is it,” my companion says, and disappears.
I hear a man’s voice. “Come to join us, have you?”
When I round the corner, I see Léonce getting his back scratched. Looks good! Another man sets down a dish of water.
A smiling voice greets me. “
May I? I’m parched.
The man, obviously a gentleman, waves his hand towards the water. “
Merci, monsieur. Laplaplap.
When I approach to properly thank him, he offers to pick me up and I let him. He obviously knows critters. It’s good to be hugged again.
see what I thought I saw. I think. All these humans are dressed in black. Moving shadows.
As we cuddle, I look off to one side and observe several men and a lady hovering over a worktable. They’re focused on lovely old wheels and gears. Parts of a timepiece? Odd. It would be too large to wear on one’s foreleg.
From the lap of his friend Léonce purrs, “These humans work in secret from other humans, coming and going undetected. They will let us out.”
A telephone rings. My human carries me over and listens to the caller for a moment. Then he says, “
will make a statement.” When he hangs up, he announces to the group, “I’m to meet the reporter. Keep working. I’ll show our friends tonight’s passage when I go out.”
This time Léonce follows. The man carries me all the way down to a side entrance near the steps and kindly sets me onto the pavement. Immediately I shake it off.
When he looks concerned, I woof, “Oh no
. I’m so glad to be out.
He smiles and says, “
When we wake up next morning at the lady Marie’s, I roll over and say, “Hey Léonce, I’ve made a decision.”
He opens one golden eye.
“I have to go to the Embassy. Wish I knew whom to trust when I get there.” I tell him about the ride with Miss Coralee, where I saw the flag, and about the big plaza with the tall spire.
“Purrhaps this is
Place de la Concorde
. We shall ride ze
until we are close. Something familiar will appear.”
It starts to sprinkle just as we see the sign for
. We travel underground and walk under the ticket-taker like before. Again, humans scatter through hallways, up and down stairs, through archways and tunnels.
I spot a map that indicates one of the stops:
Franklin D. Roosevelt
. “Hey Léonce, that name is familiar.”
“Many humans with ze American accent are near there. Possibly you will find ze place you seek.”
When the doors open, we jump on and mingle with the crowd. Some have briefcases. They make me a little uneasy. One man starts playing an instrument. It’s the one I’ve heard several times, with the breathy sound. But there’s not much time to think about it because after a few stops, it’s time to get off. We climb the steps and exit onto a wide street.
“May, you saw ze most famous landmark. This is ze most famous avenue in all of Paris –
Avenue Des Champs Elysees
The trees are so old. And layers and layers of stories. My sniffer is getting a workout. My legs too. These aromas are making me hungry, and not for raw mole. There are some well-groomed dogs dressed to match well-groomed humans. Long-legged young girls hurry past, “dressed like they stepped out of a magazine,” as Mom would say. Maybe they did. One girl looks familiar.
It’s difficult not to be distracted but I must get to the Embassy.
We make our way east through a charming park and then, my heart beats a little faster. “There’s our flag!” Amazing how I used to take little things for granted, like thinking our flag would always be around.
“Flapping cloth on a pole, with a pigeon on top?”
“It’s represents our country like” – I motion to a French flag – “this one does yours.”
Come to think of it, I’ve seen only one other American flag…
. I wonder…
Yes! I see the US Embassy sign and begin to prance. “This is the place, Léonce. How can I thank you!”
“Miaow.” He observes me closely though I don’t quite understand his expression.
“I’m sure we’ll meet again. I’ll bring someone over and show them what Director is doing at the lady Marie’s. Then we’ll find you a good home, like mine.”
“I am content.”
“I know, but still…” Awkward. How do I thank someone who saved my life? Though he’s fierce, think I’ll offer him a little kiss on both cheeks, like I’ve seen other Frenchies do.
He seems surprised, then he kisses me in return – with his raspy tongue.
“Goodbye Léonce. As is custom to say in the K9 Service, ‘If I don’t see you here, I’ll see you there.’”
He bows low. “Until we meet again, fare well my canine friend.”
I trot to one of the guards in his rain coat uniform and give the K9 Service signal. He seems unimpressed. Righty-o, I’ll talk to him then.
Bonjour. I’m May, a lost dog from America. I need entrance to the Embassy…
“No handouts. Go home.”
Yes sir. I’m trying to sir.
“Away little dog.”
When he assumes a threatening stance, I step back to assess the situation. I could make a dash for it and get through the fence bars but unless they buzz me in, I won’t make it inside the doors. What am I going to do?
A couple with children approaches. The man is carrying a briefcase. Does he recognize me?
I casually drift into the park and hide under a shrub to observe the Embassy entrance. After the guard finishes checking some briefcase papers, he buzzes the family in.
There’s got to be another way for me. I could ride on a delivery truck, like at the airport. Wish I knew where Mr. Vince was staying, maybe he would help.
Near my nose, a small piece of metal glints in the grey light. How could I not have noticed it before? Surveillance equipment. Definitely. It’s fastened to the branch directly in front of me. And
someone has tinkered with it recently. They talked about embassies and surveillance in class, but we didn’t have time for detail yet.
I spy a man with a backpack who sits on the bench nearby. I should keep an eye on him.
I need more eyes.
I start to pant. There’s so much going on. Alexis needs help, then there’s his mother, Director. Horrible woman. Right along with Miss Sandy. And Sassy. And that operative from the plane. Pack Leader too. They’re
working for Rukan and they
must be stopped.
Maybe Léonce can help me again. But which
back to the lady Marie’s? I don’t remember the exit even if I manage to find the correct train.
While keeping an eye on Backpack Man, I watch many humans exit the Embassy. Wish there was someone inside I knew I could trust. Maybe the other guard will help.
I observe him checking humans through the entry gate for a while. Both guards use similar protocol. What should I do?
Finally Backpack Man leaves so I can turn my full attention to the Embassy.
More humans leave, then I notice a particular lady coming out the front gate and a man extending his arm. It’s Miss Coralee and Mr. Vince! She tucks her arm under his and snuggles close as they start walking towards the
I start barking “Hey, it’s me it’s me!” and race across the street, dodging several cars which honk. But Miss Coralee and Mr. Vince don’t look. They seem preoccupied, each focused only on the other.
They join a group boarding a two-story red bus with no roof. Hop on/hop off – Oh NO!