By Bernard Doove © 2008
The week went by rather quietly, and soon it was the weekend again. Ken was getting used to finding a half-naked vixen fixing breakfast when he got up. This morning, Jazmyn was making larger portions to fuel them both for some hard work.
Ken said, "Donít forget that the electrician will be here around about ten to wire up the extension."
"Donít worry. Iíll be keeping my ears tuned for his vehicle," Jazmyn reassured him.
However, the electrician didnít arrive until nearly eleven due to getting lost, but all of Kenís advance preparations enabled him to complete the job in just a few hours. Jazmyn web-surfed in Kenís bedroom again until the electrician left, then instead of doing more gardening, asked if she could help Ken for a while.
"Are you tired of gardening?" Ken asked.
"No, I just felt like doing something different with you for a change. Iím interested in what you are doing."
"Really? OK. I canít let you use some of the power tools because you need hearing protection, and I have nothing that will fit those ears of yours, but there are a few other odd jobs that you can do for me while I do other work."
And so Jazmyn was initiated into the joys of building. She measured, screwed, lifted, steadied, caulked and hammered. By the end of the afternoon, she had decided that she still preferred gardening, but it had certainly been an interesting experience.
"How much more work do you need to do?" Jazmyn asked.
"Tomorrow Iíll put the shingles on the roof. Iíll get you to help me by passing them up to me. With that completed, the drywall boards can be put into place. A bit of patching and painting, and itíll be done. We may have your room finished by the end of next weekend; maybe a tad longer."
"I think that Iíll miss watching the fire from the sofa."
"You wonít miss the fire when the summer heat begins," Ken said with a grin. "Then youíll be glad of that insulation that we put in the ceiling and walls!"
"If the weather here is like it was in my world, then you are probably right. Is it any cooler up here on the mountain compared to the valley?"
"A little, but not so youíd notice in a heatwave."
"Then I hope that itís very good insulation!"
"I only buy the best. This may look like a rustic cabin, but there are a lot of hidden improvements."
"That sounds very good to me," Jazmyn approved.
After dinner that evening, they treated themselves to a double movie, then went to bed with the sense of a day well spent.
Another work week was well under way when Jazmyn realised that she was running out of things to do in the garden. She had planted, fertilised, watered and weeded almost everything, and only a little bit of time would now be needed to maintain it. She needed something else to do.
Ken was working from home again. In truth, he could do the majority of his work from home, but he preferred the interaction with the people in the office, and he enjoyed the scenic drive to and fro. Now however, with Jazmyn staying with him, he had decided trying taking Wednesdays as work-from-home days.
Jazmyn walked inside and cleaned her hands. After that, she put on the kettle, then prepared a mug of tea for each of them. She put Kenís mug on the coaster near his keyboard.
Ken looked up for a moment and said, "Thanks, Jasmine," and then continued with the problem that he had been wrestling with half the day.
"You look frustrated, Ken," Jazmyn observed.
"Just a little," he replied. "Thereís a bug in this code that is eluding me, and I need to get this software package completed by the end of the week."
"You should take a break and refresh yourself," Jazmyn advised.
Ken picked up his mug and sipped the hot tea. "Youíre right. I need to stretch my legs too. Letís have a look at what youíve gotten done in the garden."
The two went outside carrying their mugs. Ken was constantly amazed at the transformation of the yard. It was looking pretty already, and promised to look gorgeous once everything grew up.
"Youíre going to cause a lot of trouble, Jasmine," Ken stated.
"What? How am I going to do that?" she asked in bafflement.
"Nobody is going to believe that I did this all by myself!"
Jazmyn laughed. "Donít forget your mysterious friend that only your sister knows about. Just be glad that only she ever visits, and that only occasionally."
"Too bad she wonít ever get to meet my gardening guru." They rounded the corner opposite to the end where Ken had been working on the extension. The vegetable garden beds had been laid out there. "Wow! I dug up all of this, and yet I still never imagined how much would be going in here. Itís all starting to grow so fast! Youíre determined to make us self-sufficient first try, arenít you?"
"Why not? I know what to do from experience, so there was no need to experiment. If the weather cooperates, weíll start enjoying some of its produce in just a few weeks."
"Sounds great! What else have you got left to do?"
"Actually Iím finished. All that I will need to do for a while is water and weed. Iím looking for something else to do."
"Oh, Iím not sure what else there is left to do besides household chores. Iíll just have to think about that for a bit. Let me know if you have any ideas."
"OK," Jazmyn agreed.
The two finished their tour of the new gardens. Ken threw back the dregs of the tea in his mug and sighed. "Iíd better get back to work. Hopefully the break will have helped me."
Ken went back to his desk and started going through the errant code again. Jazmyn stood behind him and had a hard look at what he was doing, frowning in puzzlement. After a while she spoke up.
"Pardon me, Ken. This program Ė all these symbols Ė what do they mean?"
"Itís the language of the computers, Jasmine. They are all basically a series of instructions written in a way that the computerís operating system can understand."
Jazmyn had brightened at the word, Ďlanguageí. "If itís a language, perhaps I can learn it too?"
Ken blinked, then said, "I dunno. Itís not exactly the same thing. On the other hand, I canít see the harm in trying if youíre really interested. I can get you my old books that I used when I was learning."
"Iím prepared to try new things, so please do so."
"OK, Iíll dig them out of storage later. HmmÖ youíre not going to learn everything in three days and steal my job, are you?"
Jazmyn giggled. "No, I donít think so."
"Whew! Thatís a relief!" Ken said with mock anxiety. "Anyway, right now I need to get back to this job."
Ken eventually found and fixed his problem child. Later he dug out his text books from the storage shed, and handed them over to Jazmyn. "Those ought to keep you from getting bored for a long while," he said with a grin.
"It certainly will be different from anything that I have previously tried doing before," Jazmyn replied.
The next day, Jazmyn was wondering if she had bitten off more than she could chew. Nevertheless she was determined to give it her best shot. She took her time to learn it thoroughly though. There was no urgency, and as Ken had said, it kept her from being bored.
An hour after lunch, her keen ears picked up the sound of a motor vehicle. The sound that it made was different from either Kenís or his sisterís cars, so Jazmyn immediately got up and closed the curtains and locked the door. Peering carefully through the curtains, she watched a large pick-up truck pull into their driveway, and two men climbed out.
"There it is," said the driver. "Just like I told you." He was a short, weaselly-looking middle-aged man with a hint of a sneer on his face.
"I know, I know!" replied the other man. "That damn track was so fucking long, I thought youíd gotten us lost for sure." That one didnít look too bright, but he was big and strong, with a surly expression. Jazmyn didnít like the looks of the duo.
"Nah, Iíve been working on this for too long to screw up that detail. Now shut up and get to work."
The surly man grunted and walked towards the door. Jazmyn began to feel panicky. She was sure that they were up to no good, and she had no idea how theyíd react to her. The door knob rattled.
"Hey, Cal! Itís locked!" the surly man called out to his partner.
"Of course itís locked, you idiot! Did you think the guy was going to leave it open for you? Break it open!"
"Oh. OK." He walked back to the truck and took a wrecking bar from the back.
Jazmyn was desperately trying to think what to do. She could try hiding, but it was too likely that she would be discovered. She considered jumping out a window at the back, but that would leave all Kenís goods in the hands of what were obviously thieves. Then she had an idea. Quickly pushing her hair back behind her ears, she got to her knees and poked her face through the curtains of the window nearest to the door and started furiously barking. At least she hoped it sounded like a dog barking.
"Shit! Hey, you never said this guy had a guard dog."
"What?" Cal came over to look. "He never mentioned a dog before. What kind is that anyway?"
"The kind that bites off my arm!" Surly said.
"You arenít afraid of a dog, are you, Waylen? Youíve even got a wrecking bar to defend yourself."
"You think Iím that stupid? Here!" He held out the bar to Cal. "If youíre so brave, you clobber the dog."
Cal gave Waylen a malevolent look, then cursed. "Fuck! I should have brought a gun. Forget it! Come over to the shed and break that open instead."
Waylen made short work of the lock and Cal poked his head inside.
"Jackpot!" he cried. "This guy believes in the best. Look at what heís got in here Ė power tools, chainsaw, barbecue, generator, compressor, pump Ė heís all set up to do everything for himself. Ainít that considerate of him to put it all here for us? Start loading the truck. We ainít going away empty-handed, thatís for sure!"
Jazmyn had backed away from the curtains as soon as she was sure that the men had misidentified her as a guard dog and wouldnít risk coming into the house. If they had called her bluff, sheíd decided to make a run for the back window before they managed to get in. Now however, she could covertly watch them. She fretted over the equipment that the thieves were stealing though. Then she remembered the digital camera that she had seen in the desk drawer, and she hastened to get it. Very carefully poking the lens through the curtain, she took several pictures, making sure that she got both of their faces and a shot of their truck. Then she withdrew the camera before her luck ran out. She nervously waited until they had loaded the last of the loot onto the truck, covered it with a tarpaulin, and then drove away with grins on their faces.
As soon as she was certain that they were not going to return, Jazmyn got onto the phone and called Kenís office, using the number that heíd left by the phone for emergencies.
"Hello. Could I speak to Ken Morita, please. Ö Just tell him that itís Jazmyn calling."
"Ken very quickly answered with concern in his voice. "Whatís wrong, Jasmine?"
"Ken, there were two men here who tried to break into the house!"
"What! Where are they now?"
"They didnít get into the house because your dog frightened them away."
"But I donít have a Ö oh. You took a risk, Jasmine."
"I know, but I couldnít stand aside and do nothing, and it worked. However, they did break into your shed and steal a great deal of your equipment."
"Damn! Did you get a good look at their faces or see the carís registration?"
"I did better Ė I took photographs of them."
"Fantastic! Smart thinking, Jasmine. How long ago did they leave?"
"I called you as soon as they drove out of sight."
"OK, if I call the sheriff immediately, thereís a good chance that he can intercept them before they can get off the access road. Thereís only one way out, so theyíll be trapped. I want you to get on my computer and upload those photos to my office. Iíll tell you how."
Jazmyn followed Kenís instructions, and soon the photographs were on Kenís office monitor. As soon as he saw Cal, his eyes lit up with recognition. "I know that smaller guy. Heís the attendant at the gas station where I fill up on the way home."
"I overheard the other man call him Cal," Jazmyn offered.
"Yeah, now I remember seeing that name on his shirt. Right, I can now tell the sheriff that I caught this Cal person and his accomplice on my security system. No need to add that the system has two legs and fur! Iíll talk to you later, Jasmine. Everythingís going to work out fine; youíll see."
"Goodbye Ken." Jazmyn hung up the phone with a sense of relief. Everything looked like it was working out right now.
It was nearly an hour later when she heard noise coming from down the road again. This time she identified two vehicles. The first was Calís truck, but the second was new to her. They hove into view, and Jazmyn saw in the gap between the curtains that it was the sheriffís car. Cal wasnít driving his truck. It looked like a uniformed man. Jazmyn guessed that it might be the sheriff, or perhaps his deputy. Cal and Waylen turned out to be in the back of the sheriffís car. They pulled up next to the shed with its door still hanging open, and the two officers got out and inspected the damaged door. After making notes and taking photographs, they hauled the thieves out of the car and made them carry all the loot back into the shed under their watchful eyes. When they were finished, they were handcuffed again and put back into the back of the sheriffís car. He then drove away with the deputy following behind in the truck.
Jazmyn waited until the cars were out of earshot before she left the house. She took a look into the shed and noticed that while everything was back, it had all been piled carelessly. She tried to tidy up a bit, but a lot of the equipment was too heavy for her, so she abandoned her efforts.
Ken arrived home early to find Jazmyn in her favourite chair on the porch. She got up as he drove in, and ran up to Ken as he got out of the car, and put her arms around him.
Ken returned the hug reassuringly. "You did well, Jasmine. You shouldnít be bothered by them ever again. The sheriff was grinning ear to ear when I showed him the photos that you took. Those two will be in jail for a long time."
"Good!" Jazmyn said with feeling. "I donít like being helpless and scared out of my fur."
"Please donít risk yourself again like that. It was only stuff that I could easily replace. I canít replace a friend like you."
Jazmyn hugged him harder. "Thanks, Ken, but I just couldnít let them invade your home."
"Our home," Ken corrected.
"Even more so. I ran away and lost my Companion. I needed to stay this time."
"Well, you can not only have the satisfaction of being successful, but you also may have solved a string of mysterious burglaries in the district."
"How is that?" Jazmyn asked.
"I was wondering why that Cal fellow was always so chatty and curious about me. It seems that he was worming information out of me in order to raid my property. Obviously I opened my mouth way too much because he knew when and where to go. Apparently heís been doing this for some time with a number of people who regularly gas up at his station. Heíd learn about them and their habits, then strike when they were most vulnerable. Unfortunately he didnít count on my secret security system. Of course he didnít know about it because I never mentioned that I have someone living with me."
"Iím glad that something good came out of this, but I hope that nothing like todayís events ever happen again," Jazmyn said fervently.
"Me neither," agreed Ken.
The next day was undisturbed, and Jazmyn was able to study without interruption. The darkening room later in the afternoon caught her attention however, and she peered outside. Thick storm clouds were gathering, and it was obvious that it was going to rain soon. In fact it was pouring down by the time that Ken came home and drove into the carport.
Jazmyn was watching the storm from her chair on the sheltered porch, and Ken sat down on the one next to her.
"You like watching storms too?" Ken asked.
"As long as I donít have to run for my life through them, I do," the vixen confirmed.
"Iím glad that I got the shingles up before this. I couldnít have done it so quickly without your help."
"I was happy to help," Jazmyn replied. "We work well together."
"Yes, we do. Itís been a good three weeks. I hope that youíve been feeling happier lately."
"I have. I will miss Julius terribly, but with a friend like you to support me, I have been able to pull myself together and get on with life. You would have made a great Companion, Ken."
"Thank you, Jasmine. I feel flattered," Ken replied, turning to smile at her. Just then, a huge lightning bolt struck in the distance behind Jazmyn, the light making a halo around her fur.
"Ooh! Beautiful!" Jazmyn cried in delight.
"Yes, beautiful," Ken murmured. "Iíve not seen a prettier sight."
Jazmyn turned to face Ken, curious at the tone of his voice, but he had already turned his sight back to the roiling thunderclouds.
All characters and this story are copyright © 2008 Bernard Doove.
To be continued in episode 5.
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