Friday, March 14, 2008

A Walk to the Mailbox

There is much I would miss if Duncan was not at my side. I could not tell you how many times I have plodded to one mailbox or another, watching only where I was going (still wise, especially after the minor concussion I suffered Wednesday afternoon after slipping on the sole remaining patch of ice in the parking lot), not looking up, treating the brief walk as little more than a chore. There was no joy in going to the mailbox, except on the occasional arrival of a letter from David or April, or one of the eclectic packages Ruth sometimes sends.

While most of our jaunts to the mailbox are uneventful, at least in my eyes, there's no telling what juicy morsels of information Dunc gleans from all his sniffing (Oh, that saucy little spaniel is in heat, or the floozy boxer won't be in heat for awhile, or even, that macho yellow lab who struts around is no longer quite so macho and will need a few days to get his strut back).

Tonight was a cold one and although I was feeling extremely lazy after my day preparing the champagne apricot chicken for tomorrow night's farewell party dinner for a former co-worker. The apartment was nice and warm, I'd indulged myself in an evening watching my newest guilty pleasure, Battlestar Galactica, and the temperature had fallen quite dramatically after the sun had set, pale and white and not its usual pink and spilled sherbet colors. I didn't want to put my shoes and jacket on and I certainly didn't want to take Duncan because what should normally be a five minute round-trip excursion would turn into thirty minutes of watching him sniff every pole and shrub and flower bed between here and there, and then back again for any late-breaking updates. But, being the good and dutiful papa I am, I leashed him up, grabbed some poop bags and headed off, Duncan leading the way.

Almost immediately the walk became an adventure. Not far down the lane the sound of a thumping bass mmmp-mmmp-mmmped its way into my ears and chest in that disturbing way that occurs at stoplights next to teenagers. The further we walked the louder it got until eventually we were standing two stories below what looked to be a rocking party. While Duncan sniffed I did what anyone would do and looked up at the patio window and straight into the barely-covered g-string ass of some slicked up and oiled-down muscle dude dancing in front of a room full of middle-aged applauding women, their eyes wide, their hands clapping. I could hear the cat-calls and whistles as I looked away––blushing I'm sure––and wondered what exactly the differences between the sexes really were. Not wanting to appear to linger too long, I gave Duncan's leash a quick tug and we continued on our way.

After checking the mail (no letters or eclectic packages to be found) we stopped on a small grassy patch next to the leasing office. Duncan didn't see the rabbit lurking in the shadows near the newly tilled flower bed, but I did, so I stopped, whispered the word "Bunny," which always gets his attention and watched his head jerk back and forth as he looked for it. His nose twitched when he found it and his body immediately tensed. We stood there for five minutes, creeping slowly, almost imperceptibly forward. The light on the corner of the building blinked off, casting us in complete darkness, but as we waited it came slowly back on, building from nothing, growing in brightness as steadily and cautiously as our advancing steps. By the time it was full again, orange and as bright as the moon, we stood no more than seven feet from the crouching rabbit. It jerked and turned in our direction, its dark eyes and twitching nose zeroing in on our position. Duncan had hardly moved when it bolted right along the edge of the building, its shadow bouncing across the brick and stone. Duncan reared and was about pursue when the building alarm––a single high-pitched note that cut right through us with its shrill scream––sounded, shattering the quiet like nails on a chalkboard or the sound of breaking glass. I startled and winced as my heart pounded in my chest. Duncan backed off, forgetting the rabbit and turned to me for an answer. The alarm rang and rang, louder than the strip party in the next building, louder than anything the night allowed.

"C'mon, Roo," I said, pulling on his leash and ducking away, hurrying back home while visions of me spread-eagled up against as wall being frisked by a cop ran through my head. I even imagined the bachelorette party and vengeful little bunny looking on, a smirk on his pink face while I was cuffed and dragged away crying, "It was the rabbit! We didn't do anything! I've been framed!" The guy in the g-string, once again wearing his leprachaun hat and bow tie would nod smuggly, as though I were the strange one.

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