I said goodbye to Ryan as I was leaving out the door, one foot not quite fully in my high heel. I turned my ankle to maneuver it in and twisted the door knob opening the door connecting the kitchen hallway to the garage. “Love you,” I called out one last time; Ryan responded with the same words. I looked up from the ground and my eyes met those of the neighborhood dog that lived about eight houses up the street. I don’t know its name, but I know this dog. Many times I’ve had to slow my car to an idle as it pranced across the street seemingly oblivious to vehicles zooming by it. At the moment, however, it was standing in the center of our garage between Ryan’s weight bench and an abandoned sugar bear cage.
I grasped the knob cautiously in one hand, unsure of whether or not I should open it further. Its tongue lolled out at the left side, its dark auburn hair matted from the heavy early a.m. mist. I stared at it for a moment longer wondering if I was staring at a real life Cujo or if the innocent dog was in there peering at me with curious eyes. I extended my arm forward, shutting the heavy door. The locking mechanism clicked in place.
My heels clicked on the tile back to the master bedroom. “There’s a dog in the garage,” I said. Ryan wasn’t sure of what to make of it, but I must have had a look of genuine concern. He acted quickly and stood up.
“Is it still there?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I shut the door on it. It’s that dog that lives at the corner house.” He opened the door and peered out. It was gone. I scanned the garage, playing a dangerous game of “Where’s Waldo, Rabid Edition.” I stepped into the garage cautiously and waited for the sound of dog paws running on pavement preparing to lunge at me. Halfway out of the garage and the dog appeared from behind my car.
“FUCK!” I mumbled. “Don’t make eye contact…DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT!” I said out loud as if to document to Ryan that I was taking the proper precautions to avoid a savage animal vs. woman confrontation. “They can smell fear!” I said in a half-laughing, half-distressed tone.
“Hurry and get inside the car,” Ryan said in the most calm voice he could, but it just filled me with more panic. A small figure appeared from the rear of my car; the dog walked around to the driver’s side. How fast can Ryan get to me if I got attacked right now? I thought.
“Oh God!” I exclaimed. I looked at Ryan and said, “This is how the zombie apocalypse starts!” I recoiled in the safety of my car. I started engine and looked in all directions before backing up. There was no sign of the four-legged demon. I put the car in reverse and the rearview backup camera screen appeared. The dog stood there at what looked like six feet behind the car. I stepped on the brake and watched as it stood there panting, its tongue still lolling at the side. I froze, unable to curse at it or even honk the horn. It looked around before skipping off back in the direction toward its home.
I lived to fight another day.