Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Star-Crossed Lovers and the Chipmunks, Lake Hortonia, Sudbury, Vermont

Jody and Steph stood on the cottage deck and held hands, gazing down the glass-like Vermont lake, a hidden jewel. Their heads turned as there was movement and they saw two chipmunks scurry from the brush and stand on their hind legs, chirping at the reconciled couple.
        "Aren't they darling." Steph commented, then looked away. Jody stared at the chipmunks and would swear one of the chipmunks raised a tiny fist and shook it at them. As if they had disturbed its peace.
        The next morning Jody awoke feeling refreshed and smelled the morning coffee. He hollered at Steph he wanted cereal with the fresh peaches they had purchased from the Wood's fruit stand. Steph started to respond, then yelped. Hopping out of bed Jody joined his wife who was pointing at the kitchen side table and glass bowl which was full with half-eaten peaches. "We have a rat!" She exclaimed.
        "Maybe a mouse," and Jody paused." But more likely those chipmunks" Jody looked out on the porch and noted the screen door to the outside had a small hole chewed through the screen. As it had been warm, they had left the door to the porch open. Jody stared at the screen door and decided to go to nearby Brandon. He would buy some traps and screen repair, then visit Woods for more peaches, maybe some corn. He smiled, the chipmunks had declared war.
       Later that day Jody purchased a package of mousetraps, screen repair and also a box of shot gun shells for the shot gun he kept hidden in the spare-tire well of the SUV. He also got more peaches and some Vermont corn at Woods.
        That night, much to Steph's protest, he set the traps around the cottage and in the kitchen. He primed them with peanut butter which, according to Google, attracts chipmunks. Steph groused she would not arise until Jody had checked and disposed of the mousetraps. She took an ambien to get to sleep, worrying about her cute chipmunks.
        To further her protest, Steph slept in the roadside bedroom next to the bathroom. Jody was alone in the lakeside bedroom and fell asleep immediately. About one in the morning, he awoke with a start. There had been a sharp "snap", then three more snaps. Jody cautiously got out of bed and peeked out the door, a moonbeam lighting the living-dining room. All was quiet. He took the broom he had positioned by the door and went to inspect his traps. 
        He saw that the trap by the porch door was sprung with a twig. Quickly he checked the other traps and found the same thing; the chipmunks had  sprung the traps. Jody felt a chill, wondering at the ingenuity of the chipmunks, snapping the traps by poking a twig at the peanut butter.  
        The next morning Steph was back to herself, obviously relieved that no chipmunks had broken their necks in Jody's traps. Her husband was more contemplative. He would have to move on to Plan B, the shotgun? Double mending the screen doors and sealing cracks around the chimney with putty occupied his morning. Even when they closed the road and lakeside doors, the chipmunks got in as they could squeeze through narrow spaces.
        That night Steph retreated to the guest bedroom, which allowed Jody to load his shotgun and position it by the bedroom door. He lay awake for more than a hour, listening for the pit-pat of the invaders, but all was quiet. 
        Then in early morning, Jody awoke to a munching sound. He sat up and confirmed something was going on. He got out of bed and took his shotgun, pulling back both hammers.  He slowly opened the door and there on the dining room table was a chipmunk chewing on the new peaches. The door creaked as Jody opened it and stepped out. The chipmunk looked at him, chirped, then flew off the table. The startled husband swung the gun around and fired.
        Both barrels hit Steph square in the chest as she emerged from the bathroom at the end of the room. Jody's mouth hung open and the gun drooped in his hands, smoke filled the small cottage. 
        On instinct, Jody took a close look at his fallen wife then ran to the cupboard and grabbed a large paint cloth, which he gently put under her still body. One look told him, there was no need for the EMS. 
        His mind was racing. These two weeks were supposed to be  reconciliation. Actually, it was Steph's lawyer who convinced Jody to try again. Their pre-nuptial was solid, the lawyer reminded sternly. Steph was an heiress to the Hood Dairy fortune and worth millions. The lawyer had patted Jody's shoulder and laughingly said the only way Jody would see any money was to kill his wife.
        And now he had shot Steph. 
        Jody went out on the deck and stared down the lake. Somewhere to the south a Loon sounded, a mournful cry that echoed, sounding like a demented soul, someone had written. For Jody it was the end... or perhaps a new beginning as a plan formed in his mind. 
         Going to the barn across the road, Jody found old boats canoes and fishing gear, including three small anchors. There was lots of rope, plus the sail from a neglected windsurfer. Returning to the cottage, Jody carefully wrapped his wife's body in the paint cloth, then placed her on the sail, which he had spread on the floor. Wrapping her in the sail, he placed the anchors at her head, middle and feet, then completed folding the sail over her.
         Jody then tied the rope around the sail. He stood back and admired his tightly secured, anchored package. It was dead of night, so he felt secure dragging his burden out and placing it in front of the small motor boat that came with the cottage. 
        Admiring the three-quarter moon, Jody motored out of the cove and headed across the lake to the cliff that rose on the western side of the water. He set the motor to troll and went to the front and toppled Steph into the dark waters in the deepest part of the lake, some 200 feet. 
        Rest in peace, he thought as he motored back to the cottage. But once again the Loon sounded, as if a warning to Jody. 

Two days later Jody had set a course. He would return to their Burlington Mansion. The servants had the month off so no one had seen them go. He would start calling Steph's cell which was in her purse with the package.  After another week, he would call their few friends, continue calls to Steph's cell leaving a voice mail asking her to come home. Steph was known to go off by herself. The cottage on the lake was to be their quality time together.
        Jody decided it was time to return to Burlington. But he wanted a final goodbye, as he had truly loved his rich, erratic wife. Early in the morning, he drove over to the road to the cliff, his thought was to look down on her resting place as the sun rose over the green mountains.
        As he turned on the sloping road to the cliff barrier, Jody tapped the brakes, but the pedal went to the floor. No brakes. Then the SUV suddenly accelerated. Jody glanced down and was shocked to see two chipmunks perched on the tip of accelerator, forcing the pedal down. Had the chipmunks chewed through the brake line? The black and white barrier was looming ahead and in panic Jody reached for the door, thinking to tumble out of the speeding vehicle. But he slammed through the barrier and flew out over the lake as the sun peeked over the Green Mountains. Then gravity took over and the SUV plunged into the dark, cold waters beneath the cliff.        
        Ironically, the car settled 15 feet away from Steph's sail-wrapped body. When the divers found the car, they would see Steph's white shroud.

It was late fall and the trees were ablaze with colors. Andy pulled the car up to the quaint, white cottage on the cove that looked down the lake. The newlyweds stared at the isolated spot. "Oh my, perfect!" Sandy gushed. "I'll take a peek." And the young bride hopped out of the car, knocked on the door, then cautiously went inside.
    In a minute she reemerged. And Andy leaned out of his window. "How is it? Anyone one there?"
     "Just what we want." Sandy replied. "Its empty, except for two adorable chipmunks."  



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