A wet nose in the face woke Sadie Barnett, and not for the first time. She tried to ward off the damp tongue she knew would follow the nose, but her eyes weren’t open yet and she missed. She wiped her face on her pillow and peered into the shiny black eyes that belonged to Mr. Bradshaw, her fierce and loyal companion of the last three years.
“Want to go out?” Sadie asked Mr. Bradshaw and he vaulted from the bed and ran for the stairs.
“Mr. Bradshaw, we cannot go down those stairs until I’m dressed, and you know that.”
She made her way into the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair. Her teeth were just like anybody else’s, as far as she could tell, but her hair was hers alone. Bright red peppered with white, it curled like a mad woman’s briar patch. Sadie loved it. So what if she couldn’t get it to behave. Why should her hair be different than any other part of her life?
Mr. Bradshaw jumped around her ankles and made the growly noises that passed for canine conversation. He was ten pounds of muscle and fur, and the smartest Jack Russell cross she’d ever met. No matter he was the only Jack Russell Terrier she ever met, Mr. Bradshaw was incomparable.
Sadie pulled on her work day clothes: a skirt, blouse, jacket combination that was respectable if not pretty and a pair of sensible shoes. She spent large portions of her day either standing or walking and she did not tolerate aching feet. Mr. Bradshaw danced beside her to the doorway at the top of the stairs and then bounded down them ahead of her, waiting at the front door of the shop.
They went for a quick walk in the park across the street with little baggies in hand; Sadie was ready to dispose of Mr. Bradshaw’s morning droppings, as she called them. There was nothing in the world as awful as stepping in dog doo. She wasn’t about to leave Mr. Bradshaw’s lying around.
The morning business attended to, Sadie and Mr. Bradshaw made their way back across the street to The Bake House, the bakery next to her store. Mr. Roger Roberts had her coffee and chocolate chip scone with a strawberry garnish all ready for her, as well as a plate of tiny doggy treats for Mr. Bradshaw on the floor. Sadie dropped into the chair across from the balding baker.
“Roger, you are a prince,” she said and sipped her coffee, “what’s new with you?”
“Sadie, my girl, you are easy to please. It’s very gratifying. Tell me what you picked up on that trip to Ireland. Anything I want?” the older man asked.
“I don’t think so, Roger, unless you like China. Do you like China?” she asked. He shook his head, his mouth full of muffin.
“No, I didn’t think so. The most interesting thing I brought back was an ancient potato peeler. It looks almost like a tool an Undertaker would use to let the blood out of a corpse. Sharp as anything. Look, I sliced my thumb on it.” She held up her bandaged thumb. “Stupid of me really, I was trying to see how sharp it was.”
“You are not supposed to use your fingers to test the sharpness of a blade, Sadie, dear. Slice a piece of paper next time.” He reached over and patted her hand. “You must save your fingers for finding treasures.”
Sadie picked up the strawberry from her plate and popped it into her mouth.
“These are delectable, Roger. Did you get them from Olivia Brown’s organic farm?” she asked.
“I did,” Roger said, “but I could swear I saw Olivia using conventional pesticides and fertilizer and it’s been worrying me ever since. I don’t think I can keep buying her produce.”
“Oh, surely not,” Sadie exclaimed. “Olivia has always prided herself on a pristine organic practice. Why in the world would she ruin that by using pesticides?”
“I can only tell you what I saw,” Roger said. “And I’m positive I saw a jug of Smack Down weed killer when I was there buying fruit two weeks ago. I may have to