Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Dog, A Plan, Interrupted

E.S. Wynn can see the future. Maybe.

A Dog, A Plan, Interrupted.

The get well soon card he sent was classy– a picture of some disposable celebrity from the nineties throwing snow with the edge of a cheap, neon boogie board on a downhill slice across a frosty slope. Inside, he had taped pictures of trout cut from the pages of a magazine, outlined them in crayon and used finger paint to write sorry about the dog. Jerry was forty-eight. I was sixty-two. The dog was five. We were all in different hospitals for different reasons.

Turn the tape back thirty-nine hours, ignore the scratching and the knocking that comes with a bad recording on a dusty old recorder that was never meant to outlive the nineties. Hear the dog barking in the background? That’s the dog. The one that Jerry used the card to apologize for. The voice in the foreground going on about celebrities and boogie boards is mine. You can’t hear Jerry yet because I haven’t given him a chance to respond. It’s two PM on Saturday, September 20th, 2014, and the sizzling you can barely hear is less static than the hotdogs turning black on the grill.

“Here, hold my beer,” he says, and you can hear from the clapping of his flip flops that he’s got a decent, running start. What you don’t hear is the sound of the dog looking on expectantly, meaty thighs quaking with the dribbling urine of excitement. There’s the sound of the latch, the gate swinging to, then the scattering of feet across asphalt. I look on in silence as the dog darts into the street.

I yell something, but it’s wordless, some kind of mix between a “hey” and a “woah.” The dog is headed right for me, eyes wild, excited, and even as one of the hotdogs splits and drops into the coals, I meet his stare, half terrified, half uncertain.

The dog never reaches me. There’s the searing blare of a car horn, the squeal of brakes, the crunch and yelp of tire-meets-dog. What you can’t hear is the little old lady behind the wheel, the sound she makes as she panics an instant too late and swerves (with the dog under her wheels) toward a yard she can’t see yet through the fog of her cataracts. In one swoop, she slides into my yard, pins me under the hot coals and iron of my barbeque before I have a chance to move.

Hear that yell? That scream? One of those is mine. The other is Jerry’s. Hear the car door opening? That’s not the little old lady. That’s Jerry. That’s him ripping her out of the seat and pummeling her instead of running to check on his dog or his friend (me.)

The only sound the little old lady makes is a grunt, a huff. The thunder clap at the end is her thirty-eight special.

The slurred yelling is Jerry. There’s blood on his face, on the ground. The little old lady has gone limp. The gun is in the grass. Forty-seven minutes later, I’m in the hospital. Jerry is in a different hospital, under armed guard. The dog is at the vet. At some point, someone brings Jerry a get well soon card. He blows the dust off it, scratches out the sentiments inside with a crayon, then covers the crayon with trout cut from a magazine, makes it look purposeful, artistic. In the remaining space, he writes his own sentiment, finds someone to deliver it.

And then, at the stroke of midnight, Jerry turns forty-eight, I turn sixty-two, and the dog turns five. Only one of us dies before the sun can finger the horizon and blind us awake.


1 comment:

  1. Earl Wynn, one man literary movement