the old man and the little dog

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

 

Jens, the solitary man next door

Spot, his spotted Chihuahua

they kept each other alive

into old age

 

every morning they took their walk

Spot leading ahead slightly on a leash as thin as thread

Jens shuffling in his boots

Spot waddling in cadence

 

every time they passed me, Jens would nod expressionlessly and Spot would growl

two angry souls made for each other

they were happy with each other and no one else

Spot was a cocky bastard around his master

 

one day I was in my driveway after my mother grounded me

next door Spot was watching me from the bottom of the porch stairs

I looked him in the eye, hopeful that he would throw me a little sympathy

but all he did was yap constantly

 

Spot’s barking angered me

as if reinforcing my mother’s scolding

I yelled back

he moved toward me, his bark now raspy

 

I grabbed a nearby twig and ran at him

I was going to call this little bastard’s bluff

he barked louder running to the sidewalk

in my fury I didn’t realize he was without leash

 

I ran after him; he kept running

in the confusion so did I

he ran faster to stay ahead of the monster that was chasing him

at the end of the street his bark faded as quickly as he

 

I ran back into my house before Jens could see me

I checked the window all afternoon expecting to see Jens and Spot on their walk

I only saw Jens; he was Spot-less

I remembered Spot’s terrified, bulging eyes glancing back at me as he reached the end of the street

 

the next morning I saw Jens walking

he was alone

I tipped back behind the shrub along my driveway before he could see me

he reached his porch and sat on the stairs

 

he had the same stern face as always

but his eyes were different

needed

was this how mortality might feel

 

I wanted to run to him to explain

but I was scared

what if Spot never came back

and Jens died

 

Jens sat on the stairs for hours

anxiety rode me all day

until I had to go in for dinner

I was still grounded

 

I ate little thinking about Jens’ eyes and Spot’s eyes

I expected the police to knock on our door at any minute

learning that my snoopy neighbor Miss Jones ratted me out

I couldn’t spend the rest of my life in jail

 

after dinner I sat on my porch

staring at the vacant stairs next door

from a distance I heard the familiar shuffling boots

I turned to see Jens – Spot was waddling beside him

 

life was good

Spot was alive

Jens wasn’t going to die

I wasn’t going to jail

 

as they passed I waived

Jens nodded back

Spot the bastard barked at me

we were all alive again

 

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