At Walgreens, there was Pam. I met her soon after I moved to Covington. She’s a bit younger than me — but who isn’t — with light-brown hair, brown eyes, a small nose and a smile that shines at me. I admit I got a thing for her.
I didn’t mention the barking dog to Pam, didn’t want her to think I’m a complainer. We sometimes shop together in the store. Pam knows I’m new to the area, and in passing I mentioned I went for a walk one day and thought about going into Covington Chili.
“Oh, you should have,” Pam said. “They got good food there.”
“Maybe I will one day this week,” I replied. “Of course I hate to eat alone. Any chance you can join me?”
“Are you asking me out?” she asked while touching my arm.
“I guess I am,” I said.
“Well, I think it closes around 6.”
“How about a late lunch, maybe around 2?”
“Yeah, I can do that,” Pam said, smiling.
“I’ll meet you out in front of the place around 2,” I said, smiling back.
Pam had more shopping to do, so I paid for my stuff and started my short walk home. I had a bit of a spring in my step. Me, old fart Larry Gross who walks with a cane, had a date on Friday.
As I turned down my street, I heard that bark — a bark that sounded all too familiar. I started to feel tense.
There the dog was, on a leash, tied to the railing of a porch at an apartment building about half a block from mine. As it barked fiercely at me, I began to wonder if it was even a dog.
It was about the size of a large rat, pure white short hair and had the face of a bulldog.
I stared at it for several seconds as it continued to get all worked up.
“What a mean little thing you are,” I said to the mutt, rat or whatever it was. Talking to it made the bark even meaner. After staring at it for a few more seconds to see if it was foaming at the mouth — rabies you know — I walked on home.
Wednesday morning I woke up tired again. Same on Thursday. Both nights that damn “thing” stayed out late barking. I had evil thoughts of beating it to death with my cane. I searched Google, thinking if it was a large rat, perhaps they still make d-CON.
Thinking of Pam kept me going. On Friday we would meet for a late lunch and we would get to know one another and maybe have a relationship or at least I’d have a new friend. I was excited.
On Friday morning I woke up early — not because of excitement of seeing Pam later in the day but because of yet another night not being able to sleep. As I dressed to walk up to Walgreens, I was pissed off. I had to do something about this barking keeping me up at night.
As I walked up my block, there it was, waiting for me. I felt my blood pressure rise. As it started its vicious bark at me, I picked up my pace. I walked up the steps to the apartment building and the thing started to go for my right leg.
“Hey, motherfucker, you want me to beat you with my cane, or do you want to be stomped to death?” I recall shouting those words.
The rat or dog backed off, and when it did, the front door opened.
“Pam?” I said.
“You live here?”
“Is that your dog?”
“No,” Pam said. “I’m actually just dog sitting for a friend for a few days. He went out of town.”
“You keep this dog outside most of the night,” I said. “This thing has kept me up with all its barking.”
“It’s not an it; his name is Eugene,“ Pam said. “He doesn’t get along with my dog, so I have to keep them separated most of the time.”
“So you think its fine to keep the whole neighborhood awake?” I asked. “Doesn’t all that barking wake you up, too?”
“I have a fan blowing inside, so I don’t hear him,” Pam said. “I think you’re overreacting. Nobody else has complained.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Believe what you want,” Pam said in a low voice while picking up Eugene, who no longer was barking. “My boyfriend will be back on Saturday.”
“That’s right, Eugene’s owner.”
I stared at Pam holding Eugene for a few seconds.
“Are we done here?” Pam said sounding annoyed.
“I’ll see you later at Covington Chili,” I replied.
Pam never showed up, of course. As I sat at Covington Chili eating a cheeseburger, I thought how strange it was to be in the doghouse already before really getting to know Pam. I thought of her boyfriend and how now I would have to start going to Walgreens in the afternoon instead of the morning to avoid Pam.
As I paid my bill, I concluded that life is complicated. As I walked home, I wondered if Eugene would keep me up for yet another night.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org