“STUNG! A Theophilus Hornby Mystery” (Ch. 7)

13 Jun

~~ Ch. 7 ~~

When Hornby got home, he opened the front door and called out, “Luther, I’m home! Got the dishes done from last night?”

He knew very well that the dirty dishes would still be in the sink and Luther would stumble out of the bedroom, leaving a warm, round indentation at the foot of Hornby’s bed.

But Luther loved doing figure 8’s around Hornby’s legs and his deep purring was his way of saying, “I’m so glad you’re home. Can we watch ‘Columbo’ tonight? And might we have an encore of that tv dinner which we enjoyed last night?”

As much as he appreciated Luther’s company, Hornby really missed his long discussions with Ellie. They could talk about anything, often finishing each other’s sentences. At their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, one of their friends described the Hornbys by saying, “Even their minds seem to be holding hands!”

Eleanor had had a distinguished career, first as a high school guidance counselor, then as head of the guidance department. She seemed to have that motherly or grandmotherly appearance that drew students with struggles to her like a magnet. Even though her primary job as a counselor was to help students select courses or make good decisions about which college to attend, much of her time was spent in listening to and providing wisdom to countless young men and women who needed “just a few minutes, Mrs. H?”

When she retired a year before her death, Mrs. Hornby had impacted literally thousands of young people on such critical issues as sexual purity; personality styles; parental respect; academic excellence; the pitfalls of popular culture; the importance of being an active member of a solid, local church; etc. After she left, the administration realized that it needed to hire two people to take her place: one as head of the guidance department and another as a confidante and counselor.

Her death left a lot of holes, and not just in my heart, thought Hornby, as he plopped into his recliner with Luther jumping up to lie next to him. “Luther,” Hornby said out loud, “please don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a pretty poor substitute for my Ellie. I’d sure love to have her back. If only I could have my wish . . .”

Luther perked up when he heard the word “wish.” Hmmm. He thought to himself. “Wish” sounds like “fish” — and I haven’t had any tuna in a long time!

“Got you something special for dinner tonight,” Hornby said to Luther. “It’s that new Seven Seas Hungry Man Seafood Platter,” he said. “Here — it will take me just a few minutes to microwave it.”

Luther licked his lips and thought, I’ll bet we watch “Columbo” tonight. As long as I get the leftovers!

“I wonder what’s on the ‘Classics’ TV channel?”, Hornby asked as he took the dinner out of the microwave. “Doesn’t that smell delicious, Luther?”


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