For the second time in a month, someone opened my front gate and let my dogs out onto the street. For kicks. I’d taken to padlocking the damned thing at night, but on Monday night, I forgot.
I saw the gate ajar from upstairs while I dressed for work yesterday. I’d only pulled on my boxer briefs and a pair of thin navy dress socks when I ran down the stairs three at a time and raced through the neighborhood screaming “Eddie! Stephen!”
Maybe it was the outfit that attracted so many stares, although once I went back home and gussied up in my suit, I felt even more out of place. Where I live, I think the underwear and socks combo is more common streetwear than a suit.
I found Eddie right away. His tail shot up and he was all smiles while I wagged my finger at him. I picked him up, cradled him home, all the way cooing “Bad doggie,” in his over-sized pointy ear.
Then I went on the hunt for Stephen. He’s not the brightest guy in the world, a four-legged Jeff Gillooly. After over a year, it’s still a new experience for him when he arrives at our gate.
First I ran around the sidewalks then drove hollering out his name from the open windows while Eddie kept good watch from the back. This went on for three hours. I made some new friends with the neighbors along the way, even if we didn't speak the same language.
I gave up, drove to my office, my lip on the verge of quivering. About an hour later, one of my neighbors called to say she had Stephen in her front yard. Her name was Maria, a stout woman with a kind smile and a limited grasp of English.
I dashed back home, saw him roped around her fencepost, and I scrambled out of the car. I thought I pressed the Up switch to unlock the back, but as soon as I slammed the door, I realized I locked the car while it was running, the keys safely in the ignition.
I called AAA and waited.
I asked Maria what she liked. Flowers? Candy?
“No, no, no. I like seeing the look on your face when you see him.” She gestured to Stephen. I wanted to hug her, which seemed wholly inappropriate with her teenaged son standing nearby.
I’ll get her some flowers this weekend. Thank you, Maria, for putting Stephen’s gangly legs and stupid smile safely in my sights.