John took Brad's offer to stay at his place until the police could figure out the death threat letter. Brad had a remolded farmhouse on seven acres in a very rural part of Virginia Beach called Pungo. The pace was slower in this farming community that proudly supported one traffic signal and an annual Strawberry Festival. For one weekend a year the tiny country town turned upside down with live bands, pig races, and strawberries made into everything humanly imaginable. Brad's house set two miles away from the famous lone traffic signal. It was a brick ranch with a two story, two-car garage deep in the back yard. He claimed he liked the peacefulness of the area; no close neighbors and no irritating traffic, but John knew better. His friend was just too damn lazy to move closer to the beach.

John had trouble sleeping in such a silent place. He was used to the usual thumping and the two in the morning slamming doors of apartment living. However, he did manage to finally nod off around three in the morning with the guest room light still on. Some of the newspaper he had been reading to fall asleep twisted under him as he slept.

It was near mid-morning when he finally woke. The distant sound of an acoustic guitar danced sweetly on the air. It was a pleasant Spanish sound coming from somewhere downstairs.

John got out of bed, rubbed the sting from his eyes, and followed the music.

Brad was sitting at the kitchen table. He had his guitar in hand and an open notebook pad on the table in front of him.

"Sounds good," John said as he pulled out a chair for himself.

Brad stopped. "Been wanting to show it to you."

"What's it called?"



"Great title," John said, jokingly.

"Help yourself to whatever I got to eat. Fix something to drink. I'm not much on breakfast."

John yawned and stretched his arms high over his head. "Play that song again. I like it."

Brad nodded and quickly wrote something down on his pad. While he got back to playing his guitar, John started rummaging around the kitchen. He found some old looking doughnuts and a box of pop tarts. Disgusted, he settled for what was left of the orange juice in the refrigerator.

Brad stopped playing when John came back to the table. "So," he said, "tell me all about her."

John looked out at the back yard through the bay window adjacent to the kitchen table. A flock of huge black birds had landed and were searching and pecking at the green grass. "Who?" he asked, trying to conceal a grin.

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