"You," the woman called from the open window of the car that was coming to a stop next to us.
I pulled Duncan's leash in tight until he was standing next to me, his tongue lolling out but barely visible in the deep blue dark of early evening. We were standing on the edge of the park, which is almost completely dark this time of year, except for the baseball diamonds and the lights from the street. Behind the car, the traffic moved quickly past, their headlights bright in our eyes, illuminating us where we stood.
The door opened and the woman--a big, burly thing with an enormous mop of platinum blond hair--climbed out, slamming the door behind her with force.
"You," she said again, and this time I recognized a heavy Russian accent. "I see you every day," she announced, stepping away from her idling car and toward us.
I smiled my bravest smile. "I'm sorry," I apologized. "Do I know you?"
As she approached I could just make out the traces of a smile, although because she was Russian it was difficult to be certain. "No, but I know you. I see you all the time. With your dog," which she pronounced, "Dohguh."
"I see in the morning on my way to work. You cross this busy street and your dohguh stays right by your side. I see you every night on my way home from work. And again--your dohguh is right beside you."
I nodded and smiled and kicked a pebble awkwardly with my toe. "Yes, I walk him a lot," I told her.
"Sometimes I see you in the afternoon. I watch for you. I always see you."
I didn't know what to say so I just smiled.
"You love him, no?" she asked, stepping toward him and holding out a meaty hand. Duncan sniffed her tentatively then relaxed and wagged his tail.
"Yes, very much," I told her. "He's my best friend," I said.
"No," she said, scratching his ear. "He is more to you. I can see that. I see that every day for long time," which she pronounced "lohnguh time," hitting the T with a gutteral crispness. "He is your brother, this dohguh. He is more than friend to you."
I blushed and did the only thing I could, which was nod and say, "I love him very much."
"And he loves you." She scratched his chin and then looked up at me. "I have wanted to tell you that for lohnguh time. So tonight I did."
And before I could say anything else she moved back toward her car and climbed in. "He loves you very much," she called out through the window, which was now rolling back up. "Very much." And then she put the big car in gear and pulled away, her tires crunching the gravel and sand as she passed.
We walked home, my brother and me, a smile on my face, a wag in his tail. Duncan, I'm sure, knew nothing about our exchange, but on a deeper level––in that Golden heart of his––he's known all along. This was nothing new to him.
If you like this post, my good dohghuh and I would love to hear from you. We've been waiting a lohnguh time.