As I walked down the street towards the stop where my bus would pick me up, I noticed the sun was hitting the trees in just the right fashion, making the needles of the pine trees shine like gems. I don't know why that's the first thing I remember, but it's where the memory begins, the whole day seeming to have an oddly abstract glow about it.
Walking down the hot sidewalk concrete that morning downtown in the city, the entrance to a road tunnel about 100 feet down from where I walked, I heard a dog barking. I immediately went from happy to scared as I remembered where I was - the heart of the city. I turned my head in the direction of the sound and saw on the other side of the street a young pitbull come bounding out from behind the convenience store that sat on the corner of the block. Seeing the way its legs were cocked and that adventurous look in his eye, I knew exactly where he was headed.
The road at that moment was mostly clear of traffic - a few cars here and there, but not much of a commotion. I knew in my mind, though, remembering the fate of my own pup several years back, that it only took one car, one truck, one bus with a driver looking this way or that to be completely unaware; to miss a cute dog bolting out with liberation on its mind and a yearning for freedom in its heart.
The dog was a cute one, too - brown with white stripes running down its back. It had a skinny body, one not traditional of a pit. Probably a mutt of some sort I thought, my legs finally finding themselves, gearing up to leap off. He had dark brown eyes and a big, muscley head that housed all the wonderful, innocent thoughts about people and society and pets and cats and economics and international relations and treats and equal conditions; all of that shit we take for granted.
I dropped my bag off my shoulder near the bus stop I was approaching and heard the laptop inside of it thud against the sidewalk as I launched off my left foot, my brain finally making contact with the rest of my body to inform it about the present happenings. I felt myself bounce off like a spring and start heading towards the road as fast as I could manage.
And the dog, now noticing me, headed right in my direction.
Come on little guy, don't cross the road. The thought passed through my mind, widening my eyes and injecting me with panic as I watched the dog's paw pad onto the asphalt of 500 S. But he still wasn't all the way out...maybe he'd get spooked and run back.
But he just kept on coming, straight towards that bus stop, straight towards me.
Shit, I thought, finally making it off the curb after what seemed like hours.
Suddenly something red flashed right in front of me as I ran, melting into the dog that I swear had been there just a second ago, and swerving off to the right, coming up over the curb with a snap of its front tire.
Spooked, I lost my footing and tripped one foot over the other, falling directly in a burgundy-red pile that smelled of cheap beer and metal. I looked up and got to my knees, tears beginning to race down my face before my brain had had a chance to catch up. Words that weren't really words began to tumble out of my mouth like broken pieces of glass, my mind trying to make sense what had happened, what was happening?
It was just carnage I was sitting in, something that had once been joy and innocence but was now mush. There were noticeable pieces of fur here and there, bones sticking out in various places. I wasn't quite sure what do except sit on my knees shaking and utter guttural noises through the tears, noises that sounded like a child retching at a carnival.
After a moment, someone grabbed my left arm, and another hand found its way under my other, pulling me from the small massacre I was currently engulfed in. Soothing words of encouragement sifted through the sobs and cries telling me it was okay, that at least I'd tried, that I'd done my best. I could barely hear the words...it felt like I was floating above the whole scene and viewing it all through some sort of fish-eyed lens. Everything felt so surreal. I closed my eyes to block it out, put blood-stained hands over my ears to drown out the bystanders' words.
When I opened them, I felt slick all over and realized I was covered in a film of sweat, one that had come out of nowhere and was drowning each of my pores.
And it was dark.
I threw back the sheets and swung my legs over the side of my bed, flipping on the bedside light, remembering that poor dog one-hundred-million metaphysical light years away from me who was dying in some surreal dreamscape. I hoped and prayed that the owner of that dog wouldn't resent me for not being able to save his or her dog, for not being quicker.
I tried my best. I really did.
I flipped off the light and slipped back into the dogless abyss.