Beginnings (Not)

Sunday is for beginnings – when we take a look at the start of a Peter Abrahams novel, including all those – like the Chet and Bernie series – written under the Spencer Quinn moniker™. But instead – before I forget – I want to clear up a little something regarding Chet’s gator skin collar, which first appears toward the end of The Sound and the Furry ($1.99 in digital till the end of Feb.) The collar is not the remains of Iko, the enormous gator Chet fights to sort of a draw. Instead, this rather long passage – which will probably try your patience – explains:

The food truck guy leaned out of his window and said, “Hey!”
Bernie turned to him. “Yeah?”
“Couldn’t help but overhear some of your palaver with the sheriff.”
“Uh-huh,” Bernie said.
“Had me a dog once myself.”
“Name of Doc, on account of he was so goddamn smart. Ten times smarter than yours truly.”
Which left me no wiser, the only Truly I knew being on the staff at Livia Moon’s house of ill-repute back in Pottsdale, and she’d always seemed smart enough to me.
“Nice name,” Bernie said.
“Thing is, Doc’s passed on.”
“Sorry to hear it.”
“’preciate that. Do you believe in the rainbow bridge?”
“I’d like to.”
The food truck guy thought that over. Were we talking about the bridge over the mighty Mississip? I believed in it totally, having already been on it several times.
“Thing is,” the food truck guy said, “Doc left behind somethin’ I want you to have.”
“What’s that?” Bernie said.
The food truck guy held up a collar. “I like the look of that dog of yours. And his appetite – reminds me of Doc big-time.”
“Very nice of you, but … “
“Doin’ it for myself,” said the food truck guy. “Would make me feel good, like Doc’s still out there, havin’ adventures.”
“All right,” Bernie said, his voice turning gentle. “Thanks.”
We went to the window. “Killed it myself,” the food truck guy said, handing Bernie the collar. “Out bow-huntin’ – that’s my relaxation.”
Bernie examined the collar. “Alligator hide?” he said.
“Totally legal,” said the food truck guy. “Kick in the twenty-five bucks for my license every year.”
“It’s not that,” Bernie said. “I’m just wondering whether Chet might not … “ He … he sniffed at the collar! Oh, Bernie. Then he held it in front of my nose, maybe thinking that would help me get a good sniff, too. How nice of him, but I’d already sniffed all there was to sniff on the collar, which included gator smell, but toned way down, and also the smell of a member of the nation within, plus some food truck smells, of course. In short: a great collar. Hadn’t I ended up doing sort of all right with Iko, coming pretty close to at least holding my own? I wouldn’t mind being reminded of that, although I had no plans for more swims in the bayou. You can put that right out of your minds, pronto.
“When his tail gets goin’ like that it means yes,” the food truck guy said. “Doc was the same way.”