THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY

Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

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ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER FORTY: A REAL STICK IN THE MUD

Expand for Adventures with Gus Table of Contents

Where we left off…

THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. EXTERIOR.

The Terrain:

Detective Inspector Guster Nabu and I went for one of our brisk walks on a winter day. The snow had mostly melted, but the temperature rarely reached above freezing. Since hearing various gunfire the past few weeks, we’ve been more on alert. At least with firearms seasons (currently for small game and deer), you can hear them. The problem is when we could be walking over logs and under thorn bushes and not have any awareness that an archer is around.

The last time Gus hauled me up to near the top of the mountain, he wouldn’t let me lead the way of course. He kept going west, but I had seen something to the northeast that I wanted to check out. Well, that didn’t happen. It looked like it was a target set up with an arrow or maybe two protruding from it. I couldn’t understand why anyone practicing wouldn’t take their gear with them. Maybe they assume no one will disturb it since it’s on private land and only a couple of people have permission to hunt there.

Gus

Gus stuck his head under rocks. He smelled under leaves. A few times he even walked out to the edges of rocks with drop-offs and he braved them. He was harnessed and the drops wouldn’t have been more than a few feet anyway. Still, those times, I kept a firm grip on his leash. Other times, when we were on more stable ground, I’d let him go so that I could walk around the thorns when he went right under them.

I couldn’t believe Gus had us that far up to be honest. Because of the wet and icy snow lingering on the ground, he didn’t seem like he wanted to walk over terrain. Once he made a couple rounds of the paved areas, he was warmed up enough to keep going. He went around to Oliver’s patio and the front border. Then up along the edge of the woods. He headed into the back corner trail. I hoped we would stay on the trails. I should know better.

Halfway through the looping trail, Gus looked at me and cried. He wanted to go into the woods. How could I say no? Really? I tightened up my laces and followed him off the trail and up a hill. There’s a small grove of evergreens, not sure what variety, with branches so low that I can’t walk under them. Since we were far away from traffic, this was when I decided to test Gus further on his willingness to stay by me if untethered. I unlatched his leash and he walked through the trees to the edge. I called him back and he came right over. I hooked him back up and made him stay there for a minute even though he was ready to try again.

Gus

I unhooked him again and he walked through to the left that time and examined all those trees. But then he didn’t stop. He knew he was someplace familiar only I couldn’t get there directly. I had to go down a few feet and then break through some of the unkempt branches. I came out to the K2 trail and he was right there by a tree waiting for me. That’s when I hooked him up again and thought we’d go down. Nope.

Gus wanted to explore and he didn’t care if I could keep up. I huffed and puffed behind him up the toughest trail. At the halfway point, he again decided there was more fun off the trail than on it. We ended up crossing through the areas where we found treasure and artifacts last year. Nothing like that turned up this time except for me spotting that archery setup.

We could see all the way to the next developed area since the trees were bare. It was a great view, but I wasn’t totally comfortable being so close to someone else’s house. Gus is usually pretty good at listening when I tell him it’s time to go home. He knows “home” and “down-down” the hill. Adventure was calling. He didn’t want to go home.

Gus

He laid down in protest. I walked closer so he moved. He climbed up on another boulder so I took a much needed break too. When he tried to head up instead of down again, I had to scoop him into my arms listening to his vocal arguments. I headed down along the rock wall when a glacier must’ve dumped all the boulders eons ago. The smaller rocks were harder to navigate. My ankle wobbled. Didn’t drop the cat though.

I finally made it to a trail and he jumped out of my arms. We were on a trail I hadn’t let him go on before. In order to stick to something like a routine, we had to hike back up then turn at the K2 trail and go back down. Gus was great at this point. He listened to all the directions and trotted at a good pace next to me or in front of me. We made it back home with no trouble and had lunch.

The evidence:

A couple days prior, we were walking down the driveway from a different exploration when something in the mud caught my eye. I reached down and pulled it out not knowing what it was until I had the whole thing out. It was an arrow that must’ve been run over by a truck and mushed down into the snow and mud.

Arrow

I brought it inside to show off to the other humans and to let Oliver have a look. It appears to be a target practice arrow with 40-pound pull for compound bows. To give you an idea, the research I did for Bear Roots said that a large animal like a deer or bear would have a 70-pound draw to be most effective.

Closeup

I don’t have anyway of knowing who the arrow belongs to in order to consider returning it. To be honest, I was quite annoyed because of where I found it — alongside the driveway close to the Old Man’s workshop, the wide trail plenty of people use, and near the edge of the backyard where the neighbor kids play. Just by being at the edge of the driveway, only a few inches from pavement, tells me that someone didn’t care how close to humans they were shooting the damn thing. So unless it was dropped accidentally, I’m going to remain quite ticked about it.

There are plenty of questions left unanswered besides who owned this arrow. What was their target? What day were they here? Are they coming back? Did they get what they were after? The weather has kept us confined for days and Gus is itching to get back out there. The trail may be long cold like my bones in the morning.