Ten-year-old Julia lurched forward in her Dad’s groovy bright green Volkswagen bus as Dad lurched to a stop in front of the the Five and Dime Store on Irving Street . They were headed to the Friendly Pet Store between eighth and ninth Avenue. The year was 1967, and it was an unusually sunny day for this part of town as Julia jumped out of the Volkswagen bus and skipped to her favorite store which was tucked between Progress Hardware and a Shoe Store. Irving Street or Haight Street were the two places to go where people could find just about anything.
Two teenage girls wearing mini skirts and white go-go boots giggled as they wandered by listening to an AM Transistor radio. “A Hard Days Night” blasted on their radio and they almost bumped into Julia because they were looking at a magazine and not paying attention. Julia didn’t mind. She loved any song by the Beatles and she usually listened to her AM Transistor radio as well. But today she was on a mission.
Dad, his long, dark hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a suede jacket jeans and a tie-dye shirt, caught up with Julia as she continued to skip down the street with a big smile on her face. Her wild, unkempt blondish brown hair blew everywhere, and today she didn’t care that she had to wear a yellow patch over her blind right eye. For now. She started to sing the words to words to A Hard Days’ Night. “But when I get home to you, I know the things that I do will make me feel all right!”
Dad smiled. “I’m glad you’re happy, Julia. I know you didn’t want to go to that eye doctor appointment today”
“I hate the eye doctor.” Julia said. “But now I can have Stubs, finally! Oh Dad, thank you so much! Stubs needs me and I need him!” Julia stopped and hugged Dad tightly. She had wanted Stubs for at least three months now — Stubs was a three-legged golden-colored guinea pig, but you could hardly tell because he was so furry. Julia visited him almost every day, and she’d been trying to talk her Dad and Mom into letting her have Stubs. Dad said they were both busy, and she would be responsible for taking care of Stubs.
They had almost arrived to the pet store when Julia stopped and watched the tall man with frizzy hair and burly eye brows stride out of the pet store. He wore a long white lab coat and held a small carrying cage. Julia was sure she saw a white cloth with blood on it hanging from his pocket. He strode right by Julia and her Dad.
“Hello, Bob and little one.” he said as he strode by.
“Hey,” Dad answered.
Julia gasped. “You know him, Dad?”
“Sure, I’ve seen him around,” Dad said.
“Dad, that’s Professor Fentley. He has a sheep skull in the backyard. I’ve seen it. And he used to have white bunnies back there, but one day they disappeared.”
“Yeah, and he collects animals and does experiments on them, and probably he kills them too!”
“How do you know?”
“Well, what happened to the poor sheep? And the bunnies? He takes all the animals to his lab. And no one ever sees them again.”
“Oh wow!” said Dad as Julia opened the door to the Friendly Pet Store, relieved that Professor Fentley was gone already. The nervous skinny guy stood behind the counter today. Julia was bummed.
“Where’s Nadine?” she asked the guy.
“Oh she’s off today. How can I help you?” He clasped his hands together as a parrot on top of a bird cage squawked, “Hello, hello.” The pet store looked small from the front, but wound way back, filled with fish aquariums, bird cages, turtles and lizards, and the hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs were in the back of the store.
“I’m here to get Stubs! I finally can have him!” Julia said excitedly.
“Yes, the three-legged guinea pig. He’s so beautiful. I visit him all the time, but Nadine is always here and…”
“Well, I think that man who just left bought Stubs today…”