It’s a lovely afternoon in New Orleans… a lovely afternoon for EVIL.
After what we’ve experienced, Mardi’s keeping a close watch on the front gate. Every two minutes she turns to me and gives the all clear. Mostly this sounds like “ruff,” but I know what she means. Even though we don’t speak the same language, when you’ve been through the trenches with another creature a connection is wrought. We can ruff without ruffing.
Our excursion began innocently enough. An after-lunch walk through neighborhood to aid in digestion; which is society’s polite way of saying it helps us poop.
People used to walk in the evenings after dinner. Now they watch television. The loss of the evening walk is, most scientists agree, the reason so many people are full of shit.
Pardon me, I’ve veered from my tale of horror into the realm of fact. Facts, I’m afraid, are life preservers for the coward’s sanity. And I, my dear friend, am a coward.
We perambulated down one street and up another. The sun shone, but the birds did not sing. Perhaps they knew of the darkness in the light. Perhaps they were singing racist Disney songs.
Perhaps I once knew the reason but that knowledge was scared out of me.
I chatted to my four-legged companion. “Will you be voting for Beagle Sanders or Pug Cruz in the upcoming Pawsidential election?” I asked. “Or perhaps Basset Trump?”
Mardi gave me the same look you have now.
Two houses ahead I spotted an elderly lady making her way down her front steps.
She bore the marks of Cain – a light blue dress and wild white hair. I know these marks well. I went to Catholic school.
Was it morning or afternoon? I asked myself, preparing a proper greeting, so as not to draw her ire.
She glanced up. Evil was in her eye.
Most people mistake evil for cataracts.
Those people did not go to Catholic school.
“Good—“ I began, in way of a greeting, but was unceremoniously spun around, before I had a chance to finish.
The dog was flat on the sidewalk, muscles taut, attempting to army crawl backwards down the block.
“Knock it off,” I hissed, pulling on the leash.
Perhaps if the old woman did not know the I knew what she knew to be true, she would let us continue on our way.
But the pull launched my companion into action. She bolted to the side, across a lawn, and dragged me into the street. She continued moving backwards, keeping her eyes on the old woman.
“I think your dog is hurt,” the old woman said.
An obvious ploy with which to invite us into her house of horror, which was accented with a lovely azalea bush.
“Yes, she must have — Oof!” I stumbled, the leash slackened, Mardi bolted. My imbalance afforded her the opportunity she needed to get us to the other side of the street.
I kept myself from being thrown to the ground by locking my knees and pinwheeling my legs. Safely on the other side of the street, Mardi pulled forward, away from the woman.
“I think she’s hurt,” the old lady called out again, relentless in her pursuit to draw us into the devil’s pit itself!
“Yes, perhaps she is — Oof!” the dog yanked me back a few steps.
Frustrated, I knelt down and took her face in my hands. Making eye contact I firmly said, “Calm down. It’s fine.”
I wanted to explain the dangers of letting evil know you know it’s evil, but before I could, she nudge me aside.
I was blocking her view of the old woman.
“Ruff!” she said, with just enough softness to suggest maybe she hoped the old woman wouldn’t hear her. She turned, lowered herself to the ground and began crawling down the street, dragging me behind her.
Every five steps she turned, looked back at the woman, and let out another, barely audible “ruff.”
“Have a good morning!” I called, waving to the woman.
Damn, it was the afternoon.
Would my lapse show her how terrified I was?
The woman rolled her eyes, bent down, and began weeding her garden in the cruel, soulless way evil has of landscaping.
Mardi dragged me three blocks back home, all hopes of a properly digested lunch gone.
The dog knocked against the gate until I opened it.
She knocked against the front door, until I opened it.
Then she bolted to the front window, where she stands now, waiting for the woman to appear.
“Ruff,” the dog says, her hackles rising. She tucks her tail between her legs. Someone is knocking on the front door.