The Devil Can Wait
The old man cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled for his dog over the howl of the North Atlantic wind. The shepherd’s muted bark came to him from the distance.
At three in the morning, the stretch of beach between Williams Landing and pier twenty-eight was cloaked in impenetrable darkness. The wind raged with particular vengeance on the pre-dawn hours of November 12. It churned the waters of Chandler Bay and spewed a biting mist off the swells before the waves slammed onto the shore. Still, the cold snap that swept across the isolated section of beach was as expected as Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie.
Moist sand sunk under the weight of the old man’s steps. He staggered and leaned into the gusts to keep his balance. He aimed the flashlight beam deep into the night and yelled for his dog again. Tiny pellets of snow spat at an angle past the shaft of light before disappearing into the darkness.
“There you are, you stinker.”
Ten yards ahead, the dog stood poised like a pointer barking incessantly at the incoming waves.
The dog lowered his head and eased toward the water’s edge.
“Fogerdy. Here, boy.” He clapped his hands to get the pet’s attention. “Get over here.”
The dog remained fixed; his hackles on end.
“What’s gotten into you?” he asked as he bent to leash him. “You’re never this …” The man swept the light in the direction of whatever had caught the dog’s attention. He squinted, leaned in for a closer look, and recoiled. Disgust hit as hard as the stench that rose from the decomposed body.