The little white dog romped in the wild grass along the side of the road while the man waited impatiently, as if he was being kept from an important engagement; though, when the dog returned to the road and started making her way forward again, the man kept a slow pace behind her, as if he was afraid to lose sight of her, as if she was some kind of jubilant roaming compass that he was dependent upon for direction.
The dog darted back into the tall grass and all he could tell of her existence was her green, waving wake. He growled at her to watch for ticks. She popped back out onto the road and, free from the constraints of the wild, quickly motored forward. He was able to only take three or four strides before she caught another scent and was back, once again, into the wild on another hunt.
He stopped, growled something at her, and then let his eyes fall on the expansive, gray view. Row upon row of severed stalks, some upright and blunt, others twisted and mangled, ran all the way to the bottom of the hill. It seemed to him as if he was looking upon some kind of strange, abandoned cemetery. An unseen sun was setting behind cold clouds that threatened the coming of snow. A chill overtook him and he tugged on the already tightened coat zipper. The old dog was still frantic with scent. Neither noticed the car as it approached.
He jumped some when the woman said, “Shouldn’t you have that little puppy on a leash?”
It took him several seconds before he could accept the intrusion. Then he looked hard at the woman. He was unable to make out her age, her dyed hair was that red. Plus, her hair was just about all he could make out of her through her door’s opened window. How could she see the road to drive, he wondered.
“I’ve seen you out walking with your little puppy before. She’s so tiny and cute. Aren’t you afraid she might get hit by a passing car?”
He looked down at the oblivious dog and calculated that she was at least three into the grass. He then slowly, blatantly, looked up and down the lifeless road. Finally, looking down on her, he replied, “Is your driving so dangerous that I need to be afraid?”
It was the woman’s turn to ask, “Excuse me?”
He bent down into the grass and scooped up the old dog. He then stared at the woman briefly before slowly heading back in the direction from which he and the animal had come.
The headwind was strong and he spoke harshly into it. “Neither me or my dog are puppies,” he said. “Neither me or my dog requires a leash.”