Mr Bob & the Mystery of the Missing Hay
‘I was quite sure I’d left your box of hay here.’ Tarah looked thoughtfully at the place where she usually kept Mr Bob’s stash. Her head was a little fuzzy this morning, but she was strict about things being in their right place. Living in a small studio in Fuerteventura meant she had to be organised so as not to have everything all on top of her.
Hay hoarding was a not a look she fancied, plus she was quite sure she was allergic to the stuff.
‘Aichoo!’ that was Tarah’s reaction every time she opened the box of hay. Mr Bob would roll his ruby eyes at her in dismay at her human frailties. He’d then wait patiently while she dillied and dallied and took far too long (he felt) while she got herself together and finally got him his hay.
Mr Bob wasn’t ungrateful though, he knew Tarah went to great effort to get his favourite Small Pet Select Timothy Hay delivered especially for him to their Canary Island home in the sun. So he always rewarded her with a juicy lick on her finger. He knew she liked it – she always giggled and smiled at him and gave him some extra fussing.
‘I’m at a loss where it could be,’ Tarah said, turning to her furry friend. ‘Have you any ideas?’
Mr Bob sniffed the air. He was always on high alert to the scent of hay and knew the steps Tarah took from the hay pile to his food bowl. He twisted his fluffy muzzle to where the treasure usually lay. He stared at the empty space.
There was no Timothy Hay!
Tarah turned to Mr Bob. ‘It’s OK, don’t worry, I’ll sort it,’ she said soothingly.
Tarah picked up some clothes and various bits of paper to see if the hay had got hidden under some things. She looked under the bed, opened several drawers (none of which had any room for hiding any hay) and shoved her head in every spot where a box of hay could be.
The hay was gone and Tarah didn’t know what to do.
She sat on the chair and looked from Mr Bob’s pining face to the dishevelled contents now upended in her little flat. Where on earth could this hay be?
And then it struck her: yesterday she’d finished the box of hay and was due to open another one, she’d ordered it a couple of days ago and delivery was…?
Tarah pulled out her mobile phone and checked her Amazon account. The hay should’ve been delivered yesterday. Yesterday. She sat and thought about what she’d done the day before. It had been a Sunday, so she’d had the day off work.
Mentally she retraced her steps of the day. Where had she been? What had she done? Who had she seen? She moved to the bed and thought back from the start. She’d got up quite early yesterday, it must’ve been 7ish. The sun was glorious and had been streaming in through the cracks in her curtains. She’d made a tea, had a Magdalena cake and then decided to have a second – it was her day off after all.
Tarah and Mr Bob had sat on her little balcony and enjoyed their side view of the sea. They’d watched together as sun-seeking tourists had laid their towels on sun loungers in preparation for their day of roasting. She’d played a little guessing game, pinpointing those who would tan nicely like a sausage and those who would burn red raw like lumps of undercooked roast beef.
Had she fed Mr Bob hay for breakfast yesterday? She felt hazy as she cast her mind back to their breakfast on the balcony. No, yesterday, she’d fed him a carrot as his Sunday treat.
What did we do then?
Mr Bob ruffled his fur and wagged his bum. He was tiring of Tarah’s recollections. He wanted his hay.
‘OK, I know, I know.’ Tarah smoothed his hair, her hands stroking down a slice of ginger fur sticking up at an awkward angle. ‘OK, I think we need to treat this like a mystery, you up for helping me?’
Mr Bob threw his head back like a lion showing off his mane. He didn’t need asking twice.
Tarah looked at her watch. Luckily she still had an hour before she started work, so she had time to track down the missing hay before the next guests at Jorge’s Place were due.
Pulling on her flip flops, Tarah did one last check about the studio apartment, flinging bags and clothes into the air in a last ditch attempt to find the missing hay. She folded her arms. It’s definitely not here, she said to herself and picked up Mr Bob in his carrier.
Walking down the whitewashed stairs and across the cobbled yard, Tarah’s thoughts flicked over all the food stuffs she could feed Mr Bob until a new batch of hay arrived. She did a shopping list of things she could entice him with: romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, spinach, peas. She knew it was no substitute for hay, but the local supermarket sold that, so at least he wouldn’t go hungry.
‘Buenos Dias!’ Jorge called from across the courtyard.
Tarah waved at her boss. ‘Good morning, Jorge! Have you seen a package that was delivered for me yesterday? I seem to be missing Mr Bob’s hay and I’m trying to track it down.’
Jorge furrowed his bushy eyebrows. ‘Ah, I saw the man, he came maybe some time in the morning.’
‘Do you know where he left the package?’
‘Sorry, no, I was going in the car and so I didn’t stop to see him. I thought maybe you saw him and got the parcel?’
Tarah shook her head. ‘No, I must’ve been out, but usually the driver hides the packages behind the bougainvillea pot so I’ll try there!’
Tarah looked over at the flowing blossoms of the bright pink laden vines, the turquoise pot she’d recently painted looked stunning in the early morning sun. It made a perfect contrast, even if she did say so herself. Twisting behind the floral twines, Tarah was disappointed to see there was no package hidden behind the flower pot. She scanned the courtyard – where else would a delivery driver leave a parcel?
She opened the office door, hopeful some helpful person had already left it inside for her. Nothing. She lifted and moved every plant pot. Nothing. She opened the rubbish bins. Nothing. She moved the stacked parasols. Nothing. She shifted the sun loungers. Nothing.
Who on earth would want a box of hay? She muttered.
And then she went quiet as the realisation dawned on her. Nobody would know it was a box of hay. All they would see is an interesting shaped package from Amazon. It could be anything.
Anybody could think it could be anything!
‘I’m sorry Mr Bob,’ she said, turning to stroke his face through the carrier. ‘I think somebody must’ve pinched your hay thinking it was something interesting.’
‘I know it’s interesting to you, but I don’t know where else to look,’ she said, her hands resting on her hips.
Mr Bob shook his head. His ruby eyes staring at her.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll pop to the supermarket now, then I’ll get another order from Amazon and it’ll only be a day or two…Maybe I could even call Pablo the vet and see if they’ve any hay in stock for you? I know it’s not your favourite brand, but just for now, you could do that for me, couldn’t you?’
Mr Bob let out a high-pitched squeal and flicked up shreds of hay.
Tarah bit her lip. Her cherished pet could be such a diva sometimes.
Opening the gate to the complex, Tarah exited onto the beach side. The golden glow of the sand never failed to make her smile and she stood for a moment watching as the deep blues of the sea and white fluffs of the waves buffeted and banged. The sun, even though early in the morning, was hot and blanketed her skin with its rays. It’ll be a scorcher again today, she smiled.
A gaggle of newly arrived tourists, five adults and three children, juggled with their overly-stuffed bags and caused way more noise than was necessary or desirable for this hour of the morning. Tarah could feel her smile disappearing into a frown and decided to look the other way. She hadn’t seen them smile and wave and bid her good morning.
Tourists will be tourists, she tutted, and reminded herself not to be too judgemental. Not before 9am, anyway.
She started to head towards the supermarket when she saw the gaggle of tourists were now dancing in the sand. They were playing music from a little portable speaker wedged amongst their colourful bags. A memory flittered into her head.
Tarah had been out walking yesterday. Had stopped by the supermarket and got some bits and then had gone to the beach to read her new book. Well, that had been her intention, but then she’d bumped into Kris ‘Karaoke’ King and he’d convinced her to have a drink at The Ship and try a new cocktail recipe he’d put together.
It had been strong. Way too strong than Tarah had ever drank before, and she’d felt rather woozy for a Sunday lunchtime. But she hadn’t wanted to stop drinking the cocktail. It was a delicious sweet concoction of strawberries and cherry liqueur and some special secret ingredient that Kris wasn’t going to share (although she was quite sure it was his triple strength vodka) and it made her feel warm and fuzzy inside.
He got me drunk!
An overwhelming plunge of panic soared through Tarah’s brain and a cold trickle of sweat pricked at her forehead. That’s why her head felt fuzzy this morning and her memory of yesterday was hazy.
What had she done?
Tarah swallowed and realised her throat was a little sore.
Kris had convinced her to sing karaoke – the one thing she swore she’d never do. She had a terrible voice, you couldn’t even call it a voice, it was more like a whine, or a whinny or a wheel coming off a car at high speed.
‘You’ll be great,’ she could remember him saying as he led her to the stage. And she’d tried to say no, but the crowd were going wild. They were clapping and fist-pumping and Tarah felt like she was some sort of rock star. And she’d drank another drink for courage and she could remember bending down and talking to a guest from the complex. She tried to recall his name: was it Geoff or Gary or Gordon? He was a small man with a pinched face and a large belly. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt that looked a size too small with the top collar buttons done up so tightly, that it looked like his head was being squeezed through a sausage maker. And Geoff, Gary, Gordon – or whatever his name, had passed her a parcel.
And despite every fibre of Tarah’s being shouting at her to get off the stage and not sing, she’d gone along with the buzz of the crowd and she’d got up, caught up in the moment, the energy and the vibe. She’d chosen a song to sing, a nice crowd pleasing, easy singalong: Dolly Parton‘9 to 5’.
But then the computer had got stuck. Her selection hadn’t come up and the out-of-date karaoke gear had jammed on the Billy Idol song ‘White Wedding’.
‘I can’t sing that!’ Tarah had said and put the microphone down.
But the crowd had shouted at her to stay and sing. And she’d wanted to get off the stage. But then Kris had said he’d duet with her and once the music started, and after a few faltering lines and twisted tongues, she’d got into her stride.
Tarah was a rocking God.
Or that’s how she felt. She’d imagined herself with spiky, peroxide white hair and a punk attitude. She’d stomped and she’d sang at the top of her voice and she’d flung her hands into the air with a wild abandon only reserved for five-year-olds. At one point, mid headbang, she’d even considered crowd-surfing into the arms of her braying fans.
And it was maybe at this moment, when she was at the peak of her performance and she wanted to give more, go further, and really kick some beats, when she reached for the parcel she’d been given by the guest. With a lashing energy, she’d ripped open the box and the contents were just like confetti.
And it was likely at this point in the song, Tarah was sure she’d been shouting rather than singing, that the final ‘It’s a nice day for a white wedding’ seemed the appropriate time to launch the contents of her parcel into the crowd, showering the karaoke pub-goers with bits of the finest Small Pet Select Timothy Hay.