We used to hang out a lot at my friends dad’s house. He had a large enough driveway that we could play hockey, basketball, and beat each other up in. We didn’t have to worry about cars making us put our games on pause unless his dad came home and he forgot we were there, then all bets were off.
Across the street there was a fruit stand that did surprisingly well for itself. Could it have been an illegal drug operation that was hiding under the guise of being a neighborhood stable?
No, it really couldn’t have.
We would frequent this place once in a while to get Gatorade or steal fruit to throw at people or cars that passed by on days we were bored.
Which was most days.
We had quite the ruse which, now that I’m an adult, was probably pretty transparent – we were never as clever as we thought we were as kids. When you boil it down it was really just us distracting the woefully underpaid clerk – whose effort at his or her job was reflected in their poor customer service – as one of our friends put something under their shirt then winked at us so we knew the deed was done.
Regular enterprising criminals we were.
Despite their ineptitude to protect their establishment during the day, whenever they were closed they had a watchdog as their security. The dog was really just there to bark whenever people happened to think about walking past the store.
It was effective.
Our idea of a good time was to rile the dog up, get him all worked up and then taunt him through the plastic covering that worked as an extension from the actual store. Any time he jumped up against the plastic we would all take a step back while reassuring each other we didn’t pee just a little bit in our pants.
Maybe that was just me.
I’m not sure if dogs have good memories, or if they just happen to be good at their jobs, because one day I had a close encounter with the mutt and I thought I was going to die.
I’m pretty lazy so the closest point from A-to-B is the way I go. No matter what.
Is there a huge puddle in the way?
I don’t mind wet socks.
Do I have to jump over an obstruction – such as a person laying on the ground motionless – which will exert more effort than just walking around?
I consider it a workout.
Is there a dog inside a locked-up fruit stand that scares me a little but – at the end of the day – really poses no threat?
Pscht that dumb dog thinks it can get to me –
UH OH! Why does it appear that the dog can EXIT the stand?
Is this dog like the Velociraptor in Jurassic Park? You know, the one that took advantage of a timely malfunction in the power grid that unlocked all the doors around the park and somehow figured out how to turn the handle on a door.
Let’s be realistic here, folks.
Turns out the dog COULD exit the fruit stand and as I’m casually walking through the small parking lot I hear the familiar snarl and bark of the dog and, because my friends are watching, I pretend it’s like all the other times and continue forward not showing my friends the fear or the small wet spot in my pants.
I didn’t notice at the time but the dog had actually broken out of its confined area and was heading right for me. I imagine my red hair being seen in his eyes as a tomato, one of the fruits – or is it a vegetable? – he was sworn to protect, and he was going to get it back or turn it – me – into ketchup trying.
“RUN!” My friends from behind me are screaming, encouraging me – or maybe the dog? It’s possible they all didn’t actually like me. It was a secret fear of mine growing up that people just pretended to be my friends – to speed up as the dog was gaining on me.
Despite the fact that I was a little on the heavier side I was able to run pretty fast. I had to be running for about two minutes, or 100 meters – I told you I was fast – and the dog was closing the gap at an alarming rate.
I could hear the anger in his bark, the panting of his breathing, and the awful stench of his breath as he was now within inches of lunging forward and clenching his powerful jaws on the back of one of my legs.
I knew this was it. This was going to be how it all ended. I was 13 years old and my best days were behind me and 100 meters may have been the longest distance I had ever run and I gave up.
I stopped dead in my tracks and conceded victory to this vicious animal. All I could do now was wait for the dog to jump on top of me and go straight for the neck. I wasn’t wearing one of those crazy pillow outfits dog trainers wear that makes them look like the Goodyear man, so I wasn’t sure if I would survive the attack.
With my eyes closed, my fists clenched, and my body tense I stood there counting down the remaining seconds of my life.
Is this dog torturing me like we did to him all those times? Did he smell the fear and it wasn’t enough for him and he wanted more? Was he distracted by that duck over there?
Out of no where I hear the jingling of his collar and I open my eyes just in time to see the dog run right fucking past me.
It’s a moment in your life where you pat yourself down to make sure nothing happened to you. Did my body go into shock and now all I have is half a leg and my friends will call me limpy or peg leg or wheels?
WHERE IS THE FUCKING PAIN?
When I realized I was completely whole I turned around to see the stunned faces of my friends who welcomed me back with high-fives and hugs, one of our friends who didn’t come out of the closet yet grabbed my ass and whispered in my ear, “you’re so brave, it was kind of hot.”
The story of me and the dog was a favorite among my friends who told it as if I was the hero in the tale. That I miraculously outran the dog and then, as if I was Barry Sanders, “juked” the dog, faking it out and confusing it so horribly that it was as if I vanished into thin air.
I’m happy dogs can’t talk.