Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dogs in the Dark

Last night, being a crisp, cold, clear sort of night, I walked down to the park.  Wrapped in an aura of twilight and church bells ringing the local faithful to evening service, I wandered all the way down to the slides and swings, and was standing happily under a lamp post when two small dogs came boiling out of the dark. Their teeth were pinned back over their lower lips and in a torrent of snarling and snapping and loud whuffs, they were aiming directly for my shins.

            I shouted "NO!" in my biggest baddest "bad dog" voice, and to my extreme surprise, they actually stopped. The schnauzer subsided a lunge-length from my knee and with a filthy look, commenced to growling:
            "Boy oh BOY," it said.  "Boy oh BOY.  If you ever let me to get my hands on you, I'll, well I'll -" and it flung me a look of such furious passion that it brought him to its feet in another howling hail of barks. "Get you get you get you get you" - and the dachshund joined in  - "Yowowowowow!"
            From the darkness outside the cone of light came a voice.  "It's your hat."  The voice said.  "They don't like hats."
            Me and my winter hat stepped forward into the dark.  A man stood in front of me. He was wearing a hat himself: a woolly beanie pulled right down over his ears.  A cigarette flared.  A woman sat with her feet up on a park bench, nodding her head.  
            "They don't like hats."  She had one of her own as well - a wrap of elderly fur.  Behind them, another young woman - hatless - wrestled with something enormous - possibly a wolfhound - on a leash.  It leaped in silence, but the silence was pregnant with menace.  The little dogs boiled around my feet, yapping shrilly, telling me they wanted blood, - or at least a bit of skin from my knees -  and an enormous German shepherd looked up at me with liquid brown eyes and pressed her nose against my hip pocket.
             "Shut up, dogs." The man said casually. He aimed a kick at the dachshund and they subsided abruptly into silence.
            "That's Sofia" he said, pointing at the shepherd.  "She's a good dog." 
             Sofia sighed and looked up at me, and her tail thumped, once. I reached down and scratched her ears.  "GOOD Dog, Sofia."  I said. "GOOD dog."  
            She sighed again, and lowering her chin into my hand, sat down at my feet.  She was clearly ready to sit there forever, to settle in there with me for the night.
            Behind her, the little Schnauzer cocked its head.  He looked at Sofia, and he looked at me; you could practically see the little cogwheels working inside his little skull. Perhaps a different approach was in order?  With a short, conciliatory "gruff!" he trotted over and sniffed my trouser leg. 
            "Nothing doing, kiddo."  I said.  "After the way you carried on?"
            I bent and scrubbed at Sofia's soft neck, by way of illustrating what he'd missed.  Sofia got in on the game with gusto - twisted half on her side, she was leaning heavily against my legs and  banging out a tatoo on my thigh with her long brown tail.
           The schnauzer gave her a disgusted look and turned her back.  I stuck out my tongue.  Behind her, the dachshund made a spluttering sound.  The young lady with the wolfhound had clipped a leash onto its collar.  With one furious bark it leaped for the wolfhound, aiming for its belly.  The wolfhound yelled in shock and bit its own leash, and the schnauzer, yapping joyfully, leaped into the fray.  The wolfhound tried to eat its leash, the dachshund tried to eat the wolfhound, and the schnauzer was getting in a few good bites anywhere it could.  The man in the beanie was in the middle of the fray, bellowing and flailing.  The young lady tried very hard to go in several directions at once, and on the bench, the lady in the fur turban contemplatively extinguished her cigarette.  Fur was flying, sand was flying, and in the middle of the scrum, Sofia got up and lay down on the man's feet and rolled herself around on her back, tugging his trouser legs and begging for a cuddle.
            Very quietly, I tiptoed away.

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