By J.S. Kierland
are better than human beings,
they know but do not tell.
jumped from the car and headed for the breakwater to piss on the rocks.
He shook off the early morning dampness and looked back at me with his
slit-eyed bull terrier stare. I yelled to him but my voice faded in the
wind. He knew what I wanted but it wasnt until I waved the leash
that he stopped and waited. His quick backward glance told me he didnt
want to be leashed. Just one more time, I yelled over the
sudden gust of wind coming off the ocean, and took the shortcut between
the huge rocks at the end of the breakers. The tourists had deserted the
beach after Labor Day and itd been empty for several weeks. Another
season had run its course,leaving the squawking seagulls, the breakers,
and a few locals to fend off the incoming tides.
The hole Id dug between the rocks was still open with the sand neatly
piled up next to it. I tied Cassidy between the rocks like wed rehearsed,
took off my leather jacket, and said,I want you to guard this...just
like before. He managed a little whine of acceptance and I shoved
a large Milk Bone between his teeth. Good dog, I said, checked
my watch, and ran back to the car in my t-shirt.
I drove down the old beach road where the scattered rental houses stood
dark and empty like gray ghosts among the thin patches of late summer
grass. Pulling into the driveway, I used the back door to the kitchen
and slipped into the old navy blue sweatshirt Id left on the counter,
and pulled its large hood up over my head. The odd leather glove was still
in the front pocket and I flexed it on to my right hand. I opened the
cutlery drawer and reached back behind the knives and forks to where Id
hidden the gun, pulling it out with my gloved hand.
I peeked out the window to see if my neighbor had started for the beach
yet. The long stretch of sand looked empty, clear out to the rocks where
Id tied Cassidy. I checked the time, opened the back door, and stepped
out into the wind to start my slow run around the end of the house. The
early morning sun bounced over my left shoulder, giving me a clear view
of the narrowing beach and the breakwater beyond.
A figure stepped out of the house on the hill and started his run for
the beach. He was right on schedule in his usual rolled up white pants,
bright blue windbreaker and gold braided captains hat. I slowed
my pace to let him reach the shoreline ahead of me, and anticipated his
turn toward the dunes. I gripped the gun in my pocket as he cut across
the beach at the high tide line. Then to my utter amazement, he suddenly
spun around and sprinted away from me toward the breakwater. I jerked
the gun out of my pocket with my gloved hand even though I knew itd
be foolish to try and shoot him at that distance.
He kept pulling away from me and I finally slowed to a walk, and felt
the beginnings of a sharp cramp in my side. Shoving the gun back into
my pocketI bent over to ease the pain and watched as the waves poured
in across the empty beach. Weeks of planning the perfect murder had been
destroyed in a simple turn.
Cassidy whined a greeting when he saw me and I flipped him another Milk
Bone. Slipping off the hooded sweatshirt, I threw it into the hole with
the gun and glove still in it just like wed planned.I put my leather
jacket back on and Cassidy began whining for me to untie him. Thats
when I saw the bare feet sticking up in the sand. The rest of him was
wedged between the rocks.I bent over to get a closer look and saw the
wet streak of bright, fresh blood smeared across the huge rock behind
him. Somehow he had lost his balance,fallen backwards,and hit his head
on one of the sharp rocks.He had a surprised look on his face, a thousand-mile
stare, and the sand under him was soaked with blood.I nudged him with
my foot. He didnt move.
I looked back up the empty beach trying to figure out what had happened
after he turned and ran away from me. There were tracks in the sand where
he had taken the shortcut between the rocks. His jacket had been torn
and there were marks along the front of it where something had hit him.
I brushed some of the sand away and saw the wet paw prints on his jacket.
Cassidy must have jumped up at him, caught him by surprise, and pushed
him backwards against the rocks where he hit his head. If we were lucky
the prints would dry before anyone else noticed them.I stuck to the old
plan and shoved the sand back into the hole, burying the sweatshirt with
the gun still in it.
Everything looked smooth again and the high tide would hit within minutes.
Cassidy and I continued down the beach away from the squawking seagulls
that were beginning to circle the breakers.A few locals were out swimming
on the other side and their isolated towels dotted the beach. I sat down
to watch the swimmers and Cassidy came over and snuggled in next to me
to get out of the wind.
The rest should be easy, I said. He looked up with that quizzical,
narrow eyed Bull Terrier stare. So what if the body is in another
spot? We can adjust to that and just reverse everything. Ill be
the accessory instead of you, I said with a laugh, waving at one
of the swimmers who I knew would make a wonderful witness.
We sat a lot longer than usual,watching the tide creep up the beach. It
had all turned into an incredible bit of good luck and I owed it all to
Cassidy. Hed done a much better job of it than I could have ever
done with the gun. It was simpler this way. Cleaner. A man had fallen,
hit his head, and died. Instead of a perfect murder, it had turned into
a perfect accident.
We sat on the other side of the rocks for so long that Cassidy had gotten
bored with his walk and began pulling on his leash, so we started back.
Just past the rocks the Sheriffs jeep rolled in along the shoreline
and pulled up to where the body was wedged among the breakers at the high
tide line.Ithrew a stick up the beach for Cassidy to chase. He brought
it back and I threw it the other way so he could fetch it out of the high
tide. He looked back at me like Id gone crazy, so I gave up and
said, All right, lets just head home, and we started
up the beach into the sun.By this time the Sheriff was taking pictures
of the body that was now half in and half out of the water.
A waving overweight Cynthia Nelson saw us and started down the beach.
Her skin seemed to glow in the morning sun and she pulled her housecoat
up around her neck against the cool wind. Cassidy ran to meet her, looking
for a treat, and I trudged through the sand after him. Oh Tyler,
its awful, she yelled, stumbling past Cassidy like he wasnt
even there. Its Mr. Randazzo. I think hes dead!
Mr. who? I shouted, hoping the Sheriff could hear me over
The man who lives in the big white house on the hill.I think something
happened to him in the breakers. Cassidy ran back past us and headed
for the body. He came up on its other side, took a smell, and raised his
leg. The Sheriff tried to stop him but it was too late. Put a leash
on that dog, Mr. Crocker, he yelled. I nodded and ran up the beach
When I caught up with him, I clipped the leash back on his leather collar,
and whispered, Its all going just as we planned. Even better.
Just dont piss on him, its in bad taste.
We trudged back to where Cynthia and the Sheriff stood over the body.
The Sheriff was on the phone, and he pulled a small red plaid blanket
out of the jeep and threw it over Randazzos bloodied stare. Cynthia
Did you actually see him get killed? I asked, and she nodded
in a quick excited way.It mustve happened after I walked by
with Cassidy, I said.
Oh, it did. Long after that, she said. I was looking
out the window like I always do and saw Mr. Randazzo come out of his house.
You look scared, I said, giving her a hug.
The Sheriff had finished his phone conversation and was shaking his head.
We walked over to where the large man stood next to the partially covered
body and I pulled Cassidy in close just in case he decided to piss again.
Anything else you can think of? the Sheriff asked.
I dont think so, Cynthia said.
So all you saw was Mr. Crocker here go by with his dog and then
Mr. Randazzo went by, fell back against the rocks and you called 911.
She nodded and he looked over at me. Did you see anything?
Just the usual morning swimmers on the Hampton side, I told
him. Cassidy and I do that every morning.
He gave me an odd look and I thought he was going to cry. You didnt
happen to see a vehicle around those breakers this morning, did you?
he asked. Looks like there are footprints there.
No, I didnt see anything, I said, adding a shrug.
He grunted his understanding, and said, Im having a rough
morning...sorry I got testy about the leash.
Cassidy growled when he heard him say,leash.
He doesnt like that word, I said.
Hell of a smart dog,the Sheriff said, and I waited for him
to continue. Theres going to be a crowd here pretty soon.
Detectives, medical examiners, reporters and cameras...the whole lot.
If youve got anything more to tell me than do it now while youve
got the chance.
There are probably lots of people who wanted to see Mr. Randazzo
dead, Cynthia chirped. The Sheriff stared at her from under his
faded blue baseball cap. I mean he stole millions out of that brokerage
firm he headed...and lots of people lost their money when it went belly
up, even though he kept saying it was doing great. That was pure fraud
on his part and mustve cost the stockholders millions. He probably
took the money and hid it in the Caymans like they all do. The Sheriff
just watched from under his hat, waiting for her to go on. Now that
hes dead those investors will probably get back a lot more than
they expected, she said. Sheriff Knowles nodded, than looked over
I gave him another shrug, and said, I guess thats why he kept
to himself so much. He mustve been hated by a lot of people. It
was inevitable.We looked down at the rolled up white pants and the calloused
feet stuck in the blood-soaked sand.
Well, if you think of anything else, give a call, the Sheriff
said. Right now you seem to be the only witness, Cynthia, so you
better hang around awhile.
Im not going anywhere, she said.
I figured, he mumbled, and walked back to the jeep.
She leaned forward when she thought the Sheriff was far enough away, and
said, Randazzo had loads of enemies, and what I saw this morning
was more than just an accident. There couldve easily been some local
hiding in those rocks that got him.
If youre the only witness it might be better if you left the
locals out of it, Cynthia.
She gave me an odd look, and said, I suppose youre right,
but what I just said is true. All of it.
You look scared, I said.
I didnt ask to be the only witness to the murder of a millionaire
I thought it was just an accident, I said, and she gave me
a funny look. Why dont we drive out to Montauk for some breakfast
and get away from this mess for awhile? I added, just as the town
ambulance drove on to the beach, heading for the Sheriffs jeep.
I dontfeel much like eating, she muttered.
Well, if you change your mind just give a call, I said, and
let Cassidy pull me past the seagulls. He barked at the birds but they
didnt move, and he kept pulling on the leash until we were back
at the house again.When we were inside I slipped off his collar and he
stared back at me through those slanted eyes. There was still another
Milk Bone in my pocket and he knew it.
That Sheriff likes you, I said.
Hes nothing but a stupid fat fuck, he sneered, heading
for the blue water bowl with his name on it.
He thinks youre smart. He said so.
I heard him, he snarled, lapping the water. He didnt
believe a word you said. I guess thats why he kept to himself
so much. Are you kidding? Youre just another rich local with
a trust fund who clips coupons.He hates you for it.Thats inevitable.
But all of our adjustments went fine, I said. I didnt
have to explain anything to anybody, especially after Cynthia told him
that we had gone by earlier.
Your storys full of holes, Dummy.
The glove and the gun for instance, he snarled.
I buried them, I said. Besides, they could belong to
They complicate things because theyre unnecessary. You didnt
fire the gun so you didnt have to bury it. He died because he fell
against the rocks, Dummy. It was an accident.There was an uneasy
silence and I busied myself pouring what was left of the coffee and slipping
another piece of bread into the toaster.And how could Cynthia see
us walk by if we didnt? he asked.
Habit, I snapped. She saw the usual...even if it didnt
happen. I counted on that in my original plan.
You also counted on Randizzis habit to run right at you, but
he ran the other way, he said with a snicker.That bitch saw
everything that happened and shell be calling you any minute for
that breakfast you offered her. Its inevitable.
But she said she didnt want
And shell tell you exactly how Randizzigot popped.
Then why didnt she tell the Sheriff what she saw when she
had the chance? I asked, taking the bread out of the toaster and
the strawberry jam from the fridge.
Because she broke up with Randizzi weeks ago.
You dont really know that.
Hey, Im the one that heard the grunting in there on those
hot August nights. They werent playing monopoly.He stared
up at me, his eyes slits. Now shes figuring on grabbing some
of that money from the stockholders law suit through you.
I shook my head, and said, Maybe Cynthia did have a summer fling,
and maybe she didnt. That doesnt make her a blackmailer. Shes
not the type. He made a quick circle, and dropped on a sunny spot
near the stove for his morning nap. Shes just upset,
She didnt sound too upset when she told that dumb Sheriff
why a lot of people wanted Randizzi dead. And you could tell by the dumb
expression on Fatsos face that he didnt have a clue to who
or what Randizziwas until she told him. She only mentioned the locals
to get your reaction...and she did.
You heard that? He stared at me. Expressionless. I bent down
and gave him a piece of the crust off the toast. What do you think
we should do? I asked.
Nothing, he said. But if sheasks for money, pay her
in cash. If she asks for more...kill her.
She doesnt even know I own that stock.
She found out about your family, didnt she? Cassidy
raised his head toward what was left of the toast just as the phone began
to ring on the wall. We stared up at it, hoping it would stop, but it
Hello, I said.
Im feeling better, Cynthia said on the other end. Ill
take you up on breakfast if you still want to go.
Sure, I mumbled. Be right over.
Cassidy rolled on his side and looked up at me. Keep your head,
big guy. Dont embarrass the family tree. Even if it is was only
some dumb defunct California bank.
That was a hostile take over.
At least look like you know what youre doing. Were moving
into the next phase here, he said.
I wont be long, I said.
Yeah...right, he muttered.
Would you like to come along?
She smells like cat piss, he said, and rolled over.
I went out the back way, took a deep breath, started for the car, and
decided to go back and get Cassidy whether he wanted to go or not.
The restaurant was nearly empty. We sat at a table in front where I could
watch the car. Cassidy had climbed out of the back seat and his paws were
up on the dashboard, watching us through the windshield.
The eggs Benedict and crab cakes came and even before the waitress finished
filling our coffee mugs, Cynthia said, Im so sorry about what
happened this morning. When the news gets out about Mr. Randazzo its
going to make the beach houses harder to rent next year.
I dont think so, I said. People love notoriety.
Itll probably jump the rents ten percent, if not more.
I hope youre right because I have to rent my house and this
was the one thing I didnt expect. I rented my house a few years
ago and ended up sorry for it. They left the place a wreck.I hate giving
it over to just anyone but I have no choice, she said.
Ill ask around, I said. I know some reputable
people who might take it for a month, or so.
Thanks, she mumbled, looking out the window. Does he
always stare like that?
I looked out the window. Cassidy was watching us through the windshield.
Hes upset over what happened this morning, I said.
Cassidy was staring at our lips and I had to be careful. Hes
actually quite sensitive, I mumbled.
I dont think he likes me...or my cats, Cynthia said.
Theyre just strays but he doesnt-
You know how dogs are about things like that.
I suppose, she said, and took a bite of the crab cake. Cassidy
leaned forward on the dashboard, watching us. I was wondering if
we might come to some kind of an arrangement, she said in a rush,
piercing one of her poached eggs and watching the heavy yellow yoke spill
across her plate.
An arrangement? I asked.
Yes, she said. It confused me at first, but when I saw
you and Cassidy out on the beach this morning it all began to make sense.
I looked blankly back at her.I know that you lost a lot of money
in that Corporation Gino headed...I mean, Mr. Randazzo. Believe me, he
knew you owned a great deal of stock in his company. Thats why he
was moving away at the end of the month. He was afraid of you and now
I know why. She looked out at Cassidy through the window. I
saw everything, Tyler, she said. I stared back at her. You
ran up the beach after him in that sweatshirt and pulled out a gun. That
was the whole plan. You knew there was someone in those breakers waiting
to kill him.
I wasnt wearing any sweatshirt, Cynthia, and I dont
own a gun. Cassidy had run off again and you mustve seen me running
after him earlier with his leash. There was no one else on the beach except
some swimmers over on the Hampton side. They even waved at us.
She glanced over at Cassidy again, staring at us through the windshield.
Someone was waiting for Mr. Randazzo in those breakers. I saw him
take the shortcut. Thats why the Sheriff asked if you saw a car
there this morning.
Did you tell him that?
All I told him was that I didnt see Mr. Randazzo come out
on the other side of the breakers, she said. Other than that,
he doesnt know anything and I have no intention of telling him any
more than that. Itll just be our little secret, she said,
and kept eating.
What will be our little secret? I asked.
That you were on our side of the breakers when Mr. Randazzo was
killed. That would make you an accessory.
But I was on the other side of the breakers when Randizzi was killed.
Youre mixing me up with someone else, Cynthia.
Its not important, Tyler, she said. The only important
thing is that I have somewhere to stay while I rent my house. I
gave her the best quizzical look I could muster. And what could
possibly be a better place than your guest room, or that flat above the
garage you never use? That way I can keep an eye on my house after I rent
it. Itd be perfect for that and I could save some money.
We stared out the window at Cassidy leaning forward on the dashboard.
He stared back at us for a moment, shook his head, and than disappeared
into the back seat.I took a deep breath, and smiled. Why didnt
you just say that was what you wanted in the first place? I asked.
I know Cassidy doesnt like cats and-
Thats a dog thing, I said, dismissing it. We can
work all that out. Besides, hes got a girlfriend down the beach
that he visits all the time anyway.
You mean the Cocker Spaniel?
Exactly, I mumbled.
Oh, they left after Labor Day and arent coming back. Its
California for them.
The ride back felt strained. I could tell Cassidy was pretending to sleep
in the back seat because he wasnt snoring, and Cynthia kept talking
about the new houses, beach erosion, and how much she should charge for
rent. Then she completely changed the subject, and said, Its
sweet of you to let me stay at your place for the season.
Well, youre certainly welcome to stay over the garage,
I said. Well just clean it up and get an AC.
Cassidy growled in the back seat.
I suppose it gets terribly hot up there. What about your guest room?
she asked, and Cassidy growled again.
Thats been promised, I lied. I have relatives
coming in from San Francisco.
Oh, how nice, she said as we arrived. Well, Ill
just have to get one of those futons they rent in town, but we can work
all that out when the time comes. Thanks for breakfast and the garage,
an all. Now that I know youre helping me Ill put my house
up for rent immediately, she said, and when she turned to get out
Cassidy made a leap for the open door and flew past her.
That dogs faster than a cat, she said in a rush.
He doesnt like cars either, I said.
She gave out a funny little laugh, and said, Well, Im sure
you both need a rest after such a busy morning. Ill see you later.
I drove around the dune, parked the car in the usual spot, and went in
the back way. The beach looked empty. Theyd hauled off Randazzos
body and nothing moved except the waddling seagulls near the breakers.
I checked Cassidys blue water bowl and his bed, but he wasnt
there. He didnt come even when I shook the Milk Bone box.
About an hour later I heard him snoring. It sounded distant so I checked
under the bed but he wasnt there. The next spot was the cool tiles
in the bathroom, but he wasnt there either. The snoring sounded
louder in the living room and I finally realized the sound was coming
from under the house. I rushed to the front door and looked under the
porch steps. CASSIDY? I called. The snoring stopped and I
saw his white head look up at me from theshadows. What are you doing?
Where is she? he growled.
Back in her house, I guess.
Shes dangerous, he said angrily.
I had to tell her she could stay over the garage when she rents
Thats just the beginning, he said. She wants the
Shes not going away, he said impatiently. Not
ever...and youve got to do something about it.
What do you mean?
There was a knock at the back door and Cynthia called, Tyler! Tyler!
Are you in there?
I looked over at Cassidy and he rolled to a quick standing position with
a low growl. You better get out of sight before she sees you,
he whispered, and I got down on my belly and crawled under the house next
What do you think she wants? I asked.
Everything, he said.
Tyler! she called again,and her heavy footsteps moved across
the living room. Tyler, she called again, opened the door
and started down the front steps. Where could they have gone?
she laughed, and her swollen feet turned toward the empty beach as she
sat down on the steps.
Cassidy moved further into the shadows beneath the house and came back
dragging a dark wet lump. I looked back to see if Cynthia had heard him
but she just sat on the steps, waiting. Cassidy pulled the lump closer
and his snout disappeared down into it. At first I thought it was something
hed caught in the tide, but then he pulled the gun out of it like
it wasa newborn. He had dug up my hooded sweatshirt and dragged it back
down the beach. I leaned over to help him and he placed the gun down next
to me and stared over at where Cynthia was plopped on the staircase. He
was right, of course. It was inevitable.