Dunc and Amos Go to the Dogs (4 page)

BOOK: Dunc and Amos Go to the Dogs
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Dunc thought about it. “No.”

“Cynthia.”

“This time I’m sure she’ll be in her cage. Doc Woods wouldn’t take the chance of her scaring off his accomplice. And what with the new dog coming in—”

“I don’t know.…”

“Trust me, Amos. If we see any sign of her, we’ll leave.”

“Promise?”

Dunc nodded. “Now are you sure you understand the plan?”

“If you call climbing up a hundred-year-old trellis into a second-story window a plan. That’s not a plan, that’s a death wish.”

“It’s the only open window I can find. Of course, if you’d rather try that hole in the back door again—”

Amos moved to the trellis. “On second thought it’s probably stronger than it looks. No telling how many people it could actually hold.”

“Good. Now let’s get in there before we miss something important.”

Dunc held the wobbly trellis while
Amos climbed. When Amos reached the top, Dunc started up. “Go ahead, Amos. Go on inside and see if you can hear anything.”

Amos shook his head. “Not this time. This time
you
can be the boa bait.” He gave Dunc a hand and pulled him up toward the window. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind you—in case you need me to call the paramedics.”

Dunc put one leg cautiously over the window ledge. “So far so good.” He stepped inside. “All clear, Amos. We’re in the bathroom.”

Amos hesitated.

“Amos, if you don’t get in here, I’m going to keep the two hundred and fifty dollars all for myself.”

Amos stepped through the window.

“That’s better.” Dunc opened the door a crack. “The hall is empty. Let’s go.”

Out in the hall the boys heard voices coming from downstairs. They stopped at the edge of the stairs and crouched behind
the railing. Doc Woods was holding Scruff.

“He’s a nice one, but there’s not much call for border collies. Usually they go for the fancy breeds.” He turned and patted another dog. “Like Brutus here.”

Amos looked at Dunc. His mouth fell open. The thieves had stolen Judge Simmons’s Great Dane.

Dr. Keene looked at his watch. “I better take him back, then. The boys who work at the pound might be wondering where he is. We wouldn’t want them getting suspicious for nothing.”

“I’m pretty sure they’re the same ones who came around the other day asking questions. We have to be careful, or the whole operation could be in danger.”

“I know.” Dr. Keene picked up Scruff. “Yesterday Ms. Craig asked me where I attended veterinarian school. If she finds out I’m not a real vet, it’s all over.”

Doc Woods ran his hand through his snow-white hair. “If we can hold out until tomorrow, everything will be okay. What
time is the truck supposed to be at the pound?”

“Midnight. That’s when we take the last shipment to the boss. If we pull this off, they’ll be talking about it for years.”

Dunc paced the floor in his room. Amos sat at the desk and watched. He tossed a nacho-flavored marshmallow into the air and caught it in his teeth.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. Why don’t you call the cops and let them bust these guys? We’ll still probably get the reward.”

Dunc stopped. “I thought about that. But if we turn them in now, the ‘boss’ might get away.” He started pacing again. “It’s hard to believe that sweet little old
man is tied in with a gang of ruthless criminals.”

“Who? Doc Woods? Maybe they’re forcing him. Holding something over his head.” He tossed another marshmallow.

“It didn’t sound that way to me. I think he’s as guilty as that phony doctor. The question is, how are we going to catch them?”

Amos stood up and stretched. “I’m tired. You want the floor or the bed?”

“Are you staying over tonight?”

“Yeah. Since we don’t have Scruff, it’s safer. My mom thinks he’s staying over too.”

“We could have dropped by the pound earlier and picked him up.”

“I know. But a night down there might make him appreciate how good he’s got it at home.”

“Ahhh …”

Amos took off his tennis shoes and plopped onto Dunc’s bed. “You can stay up worrying all night if you want to, but I’m going to get some sleep.”

“I’m not worrying. I’m just trying to figure out some things.”

“What is there to figure out? We know where the dogs are being held, and we know who the bad guys are. Case closed.”

“What about Brutus?”

“What about him?”

“There hasn’t been anything in the paper about his being stolen. Don’t you think we’d have heard about that?”

Amos turned over. “The judge is probably too proud to admit that he was the victim of a crime. This is not your average warm fuzzy judge we’re talking about here.”

Dunc went to his closet and took down a sleeping bag from the top shelf. He rolled it out on the floor. “I have a funny feeling about all this. Something’s not right.”

The boys locked their bikes to the flagpole in front of the city pound.

Amos took a leash out of his pocket. “Ol’ Scruff will be so glad to see me, he’ll be doing handstands. Or pawstands.”

“I wouldn’t take bets on it.” Dunc opened the front door and stepped into the lobby. A funny little man not much taller than Dunc, wearing a red bow tie and a name tag that read “Eugene Phipps,” was standing behind the desk.

“May I help you boys?” The man noticed
the leash in Amos’s hand. “What kind of pet are you looking for?”

Dunc scratched his head. “Actually we aren’t looking for a pet. We work here.”

“Oh? When I was hired, I wasn’t told there would be anyone here but me.”

“When were you hired?”

“Last night. Someone from the city called and hired me over the phone. They said the lady who used to work this shift had suddenly quit, and they needed someone else right away.” The man smiled. “I jumped at the chance. I’ve had my application in for months. There’s something so rewarding about being able to help poor helpless little doggies find homes.” The man tugged a tear from his eye. “Don’t you think so?”

Amos moved to the desk. “You don’t happen to like border collies, do you?”

“Why yes, I—”

“Amos and I are only helping out down here for a week, so I’m not really surprised they didn’t tell you about us. We’ll just go
out back to the dirty cages and get to work now. ’Bye.”

He jerked Amos out of the room and into the hallway.

“Hey! What’s going on?”

“Shh!” Dunc closed the door. “He probably works for them.”

“Them? Them who?”

“The dog-nappers. It’s all starting to fall into place. A truck is coming here tonight to pick up the rest of the dogs. Ms. Craig was in the way, so they got rid of her and put Eugene in her place.”

Amos looked deep into Dunc’s eyes. “You’re losing it—bad.” He led his friend to a bench. “Did you get a good look at that guy? He wouldn’t know how to get rid of a mosquito.”

“I’m telling you, Amos. This whole deal is rotten. I think something big is going on here. Something very big. They’re probably using the dogs for illegal science experiments. Who knows—foreign agents could be involved.”

“And my granny is an Iraqi terrorist. Come off it, Dunc. Ms. Craig quit, and the city replaced her. No big deal.”

Dunc jumped to his feet. “If that’s true, it won’t be too hard to check out.” He grabbed the receiver from a nearby wall phone and frantically searched the phone book for the number for city hall.

“Hello. Could you give me Personnel, please?” Dunc cupped his hand over the phone. “They’re probably using the dogs to smuggle drugs.” He waited while the operator put him on hold.

“Personnel? Hi. My name is Duncan Culpepper. C-u-l … never mind. Could you tell me if you hired a Eugene Phipps to replace a Ms. Craig down at the city pound?” Dunc’s voice fell. “Yes, that is interesting. Thank you. ’Bye.”

Dunc replaced the receiver and collapsed onto the bench.

“Well?” Amos asked. “What did they say? Is Eugene a foreign drug-smuggling scientist?”

“No.” Dunc sighed. “Ms. Craig brought
in her resignation personally, and the city called Eugene just like he said.”

Amos patted him on the back. “Don’t take it so hard. Just because you made a complete fool of yourself and were totally wrong about everything and probably have been from the start—that’s no reason to get down on yourself.”

“Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Amos headed for the animal compound. “Let’s go see how Scruff made out.”

Dunc reluctantly trudged after him. He watched while Amos searched the cages. There were a few new dogs, but Scruff wasn’t among them.

Amos looked at Dunc and shrugged. “Oh well, easy come easy go.”

“Yeah, it’s probably for the best.” Dunc slumped forward and looked wistfully out the window.

Amos cocked his head. “Wait a minute. You’re not supposed to do that.”

“What?”

“Agree with me. You’re supposed to
chew me out for leaving Scruff here and say I told you so and stuff like that and then come up with an off-the-wall plan to get him back and then I act like I really don’t want to do it and then you make me and—”

Dunc sighed. One of those long drawn-out ones that are kind of pitiful and go on forever. “What’s the point? I’d be wrong anyway.”

“Quit kidding around here. If you don’t come up with some ideas fast, I won’t be able to go home!”

Dunc gave him a blank look. “Whatever I came up with probably wouldn’t work, and then you’d be worse off than before.”

“Man, I can’t believe this! The king of conspiracy, the prince of planning, the sultan of strategy has given up because for once in his life—well, maybe twice—he guessed wrong.”

Amos joined him on the bench. “I guess I could tell them Scruff ran away and joined the circus. Nah.” He snapped his fingers. “I know. I’ll tell them he decided to
get on the truck and go off with the rest of them to doggy never-never land.”

Dunc inched up. First a little. Then all the way. Then the frowning and the chin-tapping started.

He jumped to his feet.

“I’ve got it.”

“Are you ready, Amos?”

“Ready.” Amos was holding a large tiger-striped cat in his arms. “But Herman here is getting a little restless. Don’t you think we could turn the light on?”

Dunc shook his head and looked out the back window of the pound. “They should be here soon. Doc Woods said the truck would come around midnight.” He looked over at Amos. “Remember, don’t release our secret weapon until you’re sure they’re in the door.”

Amos stroked the big cat. “We’re counting on you, Herman.”

“They’re here!” Dunc dropped to the floor and crept over to the back door. “The truck is backing up. Get ready.”

Amos moved to the other side of the door. He was still holding the big cat. Then the door opened, and two figures stepped into the dark room. Amos tossed Herman a little way into the air. He landed smack in the middle of the row of dog cages.

The dogs went crazy.

One of the men yelled at the other, “Find the light switch—quick! Something’s loose in here!”

Amos and Dunc ran for the truck.

Herman played his part perfectly. He jumped from one cage to the next, tantalizing the dogs with the fact that he was free and they weren’t. Every dog in the place was trying to get at him.

BOOK: Dunc and Amos Go to the Dogs
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