“Does Wilson need to go out,” I asked.
My wife was in the tub with salt scrubs. A rolled up towel rested softly under her neck, a wet face-cloth covered her eyes. It was a well-deserved end to a long day at Legoland with the kids. Sade bellowed zen-like from her cellphone that rested on the toilet. Her left arm dangled over the side of the tub, her dainty hand barely holding on to a glass of red. She never looked so relaxed.
“What?” she asked exhaustedly.
“I said…” I walked around the corner to the bathroom drinking a whiskey. “…Does Wilson need to go outside?”
She repeated it back to me.
“Ummm, does Wilson need to go outs—OH SHIT!”
She exploded upright. The water erupted and flopped over the side like someone just cannon-balled her. The face cloth was now sideways and hanging from one of her breasts, and her delicious pinot noir had gulped itself out of the glass. It slapped against the cold tile floor forming a thin sea of crimson that glistened like red tide.
“Babe, I don’t think I brought him back.”
“What the fuck do you mean you don’t think you brought him back? Are you shittin me? How long ago was that?”
Three hours earlier my wife, Melissa, went to the grocery store. It’s only two blocks away. Usually I go. She brought the dog with her, tied him up outside like I always do, like everybody does with their dogs; it’s a nice neighborhood. Then she went in and did her thing. Back to the present.
“Oh my God, Babe! I did. I left him outside Albertsons.”
I slammed the whiskey and went to my closet. I grabbed a shirt and took off toward the stairs, cursing.
“You gotta be shittin me…”
She said nothing.
I went down the second flight of stairs to the front door, grabbed my keys off the key ring, dropped my keys, bent down to pick them up, kicked the keys across the floor, said FUCK, then picked up the keys. I opened the door and ran. I forgot my shoes.
The red hand flashed at the crosswalk. I slowed down for a moment, then imagined Wilson tangled in his own leash, being humped—without consent—by some mangy Rottweiler looking for a cheap piece of ass. I ignored the red hand, picked up speed and ran across the street, barely avoiding an onslaught of…nothing; there were no cars. On the left was a chic sort of restaurant called, Relm—it’s where the swingers go. I clocked my reflection in the window as I sprinted by. My hair was standing straight up in a few parts and my shirt was off balance by one button. I looked frightened. Some of the patrons sitting inside were also frightened, like that cat-faced country-clubber wearing pink and eating a spin dip, her husband waiting for some slutty thirty-something to walk in wearing a gold pin (the gold pin indicated that you were down to swing).
Just past the dry cleaner some Indian fellow was walking his dog toward me. He froze, a deer ready to be bulldozed by an Escalade, or more like a Jetta—I look more like a compact sedan. The dog was barking, the man said something in Hindi and held his hands up. I had gained too much momentum to stop, plus, there was Wilson, potentially being pissed on by some uppity Schnauzer. Not on my watch.
“Out of the way!” I said.
I hurdled the dog and continued to the store. I ran by a nail salon, a yogurt shop, and Hendo’s Pizzeria before taking a sharp left. I could see the table I usually tie Wilson up to. He wasn’t there. I ran faster. I got to the table and looked under it. No Wilson. No leash. I turned to my right, saw a man holding the leash with my dog at the end of it. Wilson’s ears were back. He looked sad. The man was talking to some guy in a white BMW, leaning into his window.
“Oh, Thank God!” I said.
The man turned around. I ran up to him and bent down to console Wilson.
“I’m so sorry buddy. Are you ok?”
Wilson said nothing, he was too frightened, plus he doesn’t speak. He started licking my face frantically. I stood up, still breathing heavy, still disheveled.
“Sir, thank you so much,” I said to the man holding the leash.
I nodded and waved to the guy in the BMW, then grabbed for the leash.
“He’s been out here for like 3 hours, man.”
The man looked down his nose at me—a human Schnauzer. He wouldn’t let go of the leash.
“Yeah, tell that to my fucking wife.”
He looked confused. I pulled the leash toward me.
“We didn’t know what to do? I was gonna take him home but he didn’t have a tag. I didn’t want to leave him here alone.”
“My apologies! I’m grateful, sir, really. Thanks so much again.”
He was one of those boat shoe wearing, preppy types, probably named his vessel Shindig, or Avantgarde, or something like that. He was in his mid-fifties, sunglasses on his head, tanned and pretentious.
“Wait, how do I know this is your dog?”
He pulled the leash back toward him. I turned from grateful to annoyed.
“Well, you see how Wilson has his nose in my crotch?”
I looked down at Wilson sniffing my balls, he was really getting in there. He does that when he’s happy to see me.
“Sit Wilson. Good boy!”
I turned my attention back toward the pompous man.
“Has he gone for anyone else’s crotch like this in the last three hours?”
He didn’t laugh. I continued.
“He didn’t have his nose in your crotch did he? I noticed you had some organic peanut butter in your bag there.”
“That’s not funny!”
“It’s a little funny.”
I bent down so I could see the other guy inside the car.
“You thought that was funny didn’t ya, Captain?”
Captain’s face was a void. I didn’t give him a chance to answer.
“You see, my crotch has a very distinct smell…” I reached down the front of my pants, made sure to get a little of the taint, then put two fingers to the guys nose. “See? Unique right? Smells like pea soup and day old cabbage.”
The man pulled back in disgust, but he still had a good hold of the leash.
“You’re a goddamned animal.”
“Just gimme the damn leash.”
I grabbed for it. He pulled away. We jockeyed for position. He was smaller than I was. He pulled again. I pulled again. The glass jar of peanut butter and a bottle of Kombucha fell out of the bag and smashed on the ground. He was caught off guard as he looked down so I jerked on the leash. He flailed dramatically like he’d just been whiplashed. He slipped on the Kombucha and the leash came out of his hand. He landed on his ass on the broken glass and peanut butter.
“OWWW!” he screamed.
“Shit man, are you ok?” I asked with a subtle laugh.
When he stood up his ass was covered in fragments of glass, and a fresh coat of peanut butter speckled red. Wilson went for the peanut butter.
Captain got out of his BMW.
“What the hell!”
“He started it,” I said.
He tended to the bleeding man.
“Are you ok, sir?”
He helped the man up and let him lean on his car. Bloody-peanut-butter-ass-guy was holding his back side, slightly bent over the BMW. A cop pulled up. I had to think fast. I picked Wilson up. He was shaking. I put on my most distraught face. The cop stepped out of his car.
“What’s going on here gentlemen? We received a call about a disturbance.”
“Good evening officer,” I said. “Thank God you’re here. These guys just tried to molest my dog.”
It just came out. I didn’t know what else to say.
“Molest your dog?” He looked at the two guys and back at me, rightfully confused. “What do you mean molest your dog?”
Captain and Bloody PB tried to interject.
“Officer, that guy assaul—”
The officer looked at them, so I interrupted.
“That’s right officer, they molested him. I came here to the grocery store, I tied him up there, at that table…”
The officer looked at me, then at the table.
“He left the poor do—” said PB.
The cop looked back at them, so I interrupted again.
“…I went in to get some feminine hygiene products and a quart of anti-freeze. I wasn’t gone but ten min—”
“Now hang on a minute. Let him finish,” said the cop, then looked back at me.
“I wasn’t gone but ten minutes, I come outside and these fucking perverts have my dog. That guy’s on all fours…” I pointed to PB. “…and he’s got Wilson licking peanut butter off his ass.”
I pointed to the man bleeding. The officer was so disgusted he subconsciously put his hand on his weapon and looked back at them.
“Officer, that’s ridic—”
“Shut up and stand against the car!” said the cop, then looked back at me.
“…And that guy was doing something in his car.” I pointed to Mr. BMW. “I don’t know. I couldn’t see his hands. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, officer. My poor dog! I’M GONNA FUCKING SUE.”
“Officer, this is preposterous. That guy left his dog tied up outside for three hours…”
The cops eyes were glued to Captain and PB. I started to sneak away as they continued.
“He comes down here claiming that it’s his dog, and all I asked was can he prove it. Then he starts getting aggressive.”
The officer turned to where I was.
“Is that tr—”
He clocked me picking up speed as I tried to make my getaway.
“HEY!” shouted the officer.
I only made it about twenty feet. Wilson was in my arms, looking at me with that puppy head tilt, blood and peanut butter dripping from his mouth.
“I want a lawyer!”
Three hours later, Melissa came down to the police station to bail me out. Disorderly conduct they got me on. She was shaking her head as we walked out of the station. We said nothing to each other until we got to the car.
“Hey babe! Thanks for coming to get me.”
She didn’t say anything, just looked at me with a certain lack of surprise.
“Where are the kids?” I asked.