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Missing Girl: Found
A dog, a body, and a hole.
Jamie McCannon leaned on his shovel, staring down in the hole. It was a good foot and a half deep, lower than Maybelle liked to dig, and certainly bigger than the mole-holes she liked to explore. Her normal habits didn't usually include following her nose almost two feet into the earth, but she was a retired hunting dog, and hunting wasn't exactly a trait that retired easily.
He shook his head as he looked at the pile of wet dirt. Any other day, Maybelle'd come home with a squirrel, or a scrap of the mailman's pants, or a half-eaten biscuit from the neighbor's cookie jar. Sometimes she even scrounged up a dead coon or a slice of smelly old fish stolen out of somebody's trash can. Certainly had peculiar tastes, that one. Should've been no surprise when she'd come home with a femur bone. Didn't take long to find the rest of them, too.
206 bones in the hole. A whole human body. Well, 204 after Maybelle dragged two of them through the kitchen. The femur and tibia had been relocated back to the rest of the body once Jamie figured out where they came from, and judging by the howling from the back door, Maybelle didn't like that very much. She seemed very proud of her discovery, and didn't understand why Jamie wasn't happy for her, too.
In all fairness, finding a body in the backyard wasn't anyone's idea of a good time. Once word got out, there would be questions. Press crews. Cameras, interviews, parades in honor of the findee. People would stuff Maybelle so full of biscuits she'd pop. The vet already warned Jamie against feeding her too many sweets, and she still found a way to up her blood sugar. The last thing he needed was a total stranger giving his dog a treat.
Not to mention the investigation. Trials. Judges, courts, and juries. We-do-find-the-defendant-guilty on live television, broadcast into the homes of every bloodthirsty family and housewife with nothing to do. MISSING GIRL FOUND! everywhere. People would fall on it like starving piranhas on fresh meat.
"Lordy, lordy, lordy."
McKenna Williamson was her name. High school athlete, cheerleader, big sister, daughter. Girlfriend to the football star, of course. Went rogue three years ago and vanished without a trace. The cops promised her parents they were hot on her trail until all the leads dried up. A few months later, the case quietly slid into obscurity as the next tragedy took center stage. Nobody ever figured out what happened to the girl, and after a while, nobody cared.
Nobody except Maybelle, of course. That damn dog never could resist a good challenge. Thanks to her, McKenna resurfaced in Jamie's backyard and had a second chance to condemn whoever put her in the ground.
Jamie chewed on a piece of flavorless gum, staring down at the unearthed body. Three years in the dirt had done a number on her. Nothing left but bones and some wadded-up clothing. Exactly what she'd been wearing the night she disappeared. Pink t-shirt, jeans, white shoes that were more like brown now. Probably a silver bracelet buried somewhere near her, half a friendship necklace wrapped around her neck. Around her spine, anyway.
Rumor was a stranger kidnapped her. Put her in a car, drove her around, offered her drugs and asked for unspeakable things as payment. Or it was an adult she knew and trusted. Or a teenager with a drinking problem and a gun. The theories flowed fast and loose, and there weren't enough clues to support anything in the end. It would be hard to explain exactly how she ended up in Jamie's lawn, but he'd think of something. Something easy, like: "I don't know".
Only thing left to do was call the police. They'd come dig her up, package her in boxes or bags and reconstruct her body somewhere else. Do a bunch of testing, see if they could pull her attacker's DNA off the remains. Call her parents, make them cry on national TV all over again. Press would come flying in with their camera crews and vans, trampling Jamie's azaleas and running over his blue-ribbon roses.
Still. Definitely the right thing to do.
There were other options. Not good ones, but they were there. He could leave her. Nobody knew what Maybelle'd found except him. Dump some more dirt on her head and let nature do its work, bones seeping back into the soil and feeding his azaleas until she turned to dust. Pretend he never saw her and give his dog a different bone to chomp on tonight.
No press, no mess. No judge or jury. No fluff and no stuff. Certainly not the choice for a fine, upstanding citizen, but it was there.
Jamie turned the shovel over in his hand, weighing the pros and cons. He knew what he needed to do. Only an idiot would choose anything else.
His shovel bit into the dirt as he dug a chunk of dirt. Hefting it in his hands, he felt the weight of it pull against his back. Been a while since he tried to dig something up. Forgot it was such an intense activity. Last time was to put up a fence around his property, and he rented a posthole digger to help with that. One time before that, he'd spent hours digging and put so much effort into it that he had to fake being ill for the next week so people would stop asking if everything was all right. That was about three years ago.
The shovel tilted, and the first handful of dirt slid back onto McKenna's body. He should've known that dumb dog would find her, but didn't expect it that fast. Now he knew better. Got to go a little bit deeper next time, give it time to decompose. Hard for Maybelle to dig something up if there's not much there.
Hello readers! This is for Fictionista’s June prompt: Your dog has dug a large hole in your backyard and is losing their mind about what’s inside. You look in the hole and know instantly that you will be on the news.
There’s still time to participate! All the rules and regulations (there aren’t many) can be found here:
Hope to see your story there!
(Photo by Lukas, Pexels)