Before The Loki Mutt decided to be part of the pack, or rather before I decided to stop and pick a stray off the road, and really, you have to wonder if he would have been just as happy anywhere else he would have found food and shelter, or for that matter, just food. I’m straying myself, I realize that, but I see dogs chained to trees or living in tiny pens or having to stay inside until they’re walked for a few moments each day, and I wonder how truly happy those dogs are, and in some cases, why the hell some people even have dogs. If you can’t treat a dog like he or she is a member of the family why would you take away from that dog the possibility someone out there would?
Anyway, before I went off on a mutt tangent, I was actually heading in the store to get mutt food something that, Before Lucas, took place once a month. Post Loki, the trip is being made every two weeks. If you get a stray that is hungry that dog will never truly feel at ease about food, and the will totally devote his life to anyone who brings home the biscuits. I’ve got one who is damn near a Nazi about food and one that is merely fanatical. There are some very compelling reasons to keep bringing in that fifty pound bag every two weeks, and to let them know who brings.
If I time it just right, and nothing goes wrong, and the train isn’t blocking the tracks, and I get good lights, and for some reason no one does anything stupid, I can leave work at noon, go get mutt food, and be back in time to wolf down a quick meal and not listen to people when they tell me going for dog food isn’t an act that requires that much stress. Oh, I could go after work, but the noon crowd is in a hurry, and they have got to move quickly whereas the five crowd might have time enough to screw everything up. The five people think they are in a hurry but the time they spend is opened ended to a degree. The noon people are lethal when you get in their way. Unless you are a train, that is.
Valdosta Georgia has a mile of train track for every man, woman, child, and goldfish in the city. Every road longer than one hundred feet is required by law to have a train track at both ends. At each major road there are two sets of tracks and you can just about set your watch by the time the trains come and just sit there, not moving at all for hours on end. To be in a hurry is to have ample opportunity to see some really great graffiti on the sides of a train. Liked that one did you? No worries! The people who run the trains, art aficionados all of them, will deftly back the train up so you can see it once again or more, at no additional charge. I got side tracked, I realize that.
This all got started, three paragraphs or so ago, because as I was pulling into the parking lot there was a woman in pink pants. I’m not a big fan of pink. Pink is just a timid taint of red. Pink is medicinal and it is gooey. Pink is neither a panther nor a singer, really. Houses and vehicles should not be painted pink. This woman is as wide as a house. She is as big as a car. She is also in my way. She has to move quickly to get out of the way, and I wonder how long it’s been since she’s moved like that. How long has it been since she ran? I wonder if the last time she ran she realized she would never run again? I look back at her and the two people she is speaking with and they hand her something.
I get into the store, find a cart with a few items in it, ditch those items, and get a fifty pound bag of dog food. Everyone in Valdosta who is a Mutt Person, and who runs a cash register, knows who I am. Mutt People ask what kind of dogs the people who buy dog food have, and they smile. “How Lucas?” the woman asks me and I like her for this. She knows my dogs because she is a Mutt Person, and it shows.
I pass a woman and a young man, and you are not going to believe this, but as I am walking behind the woman, I realize I know her behind. “That’s…” and I’m right, it’s a woman I dated twenty years or so ago. I know she got married, had kids, lived happily ever after, but I haven’t seen her since we broke up. I turned around and steal a glimpse of her and realize the young man with her is her son. She’s wheedling him about something he wanted to buy, and she didn’t let him, and that voice, it is that same tone of voice that made me want to pick her up and shake her until all the irritants were slung out of her body like shaking baby snakes out of a wet sock.
I walk faster and I wonder if she is watching me and thinking, “Damn, that’s…” But the woman in pink is still in the parking lot, and she approaches me as I’m loading a giant bag of dog food into the passenger seat of the truck. She’s got the stealth of a collapsing statue of Hitler in downtown Jerusalem so I already know she’s coming up on my blindside.
“Excuse me sir can I bother you for just a minute?”
I turn and look at her and she has this odd smile frozen in place and she’s clutching a bible in front of her so I can see the title, as if there was a black book of that size in Georgia that might be anything other. I just look at her, not saying a word, and suddenly she breaks down and starts crying.
“I can see I startled you. I’m sorry.” As she walks off and begins sobbing. She is racked with pain over having startled me, I suppose, and I watch this. She slowly waddles off a few yards and cries loudly. I get into the truck and watch. She heads towards the store, turns around and sees me still sitting there, so she goes inside. I move the truck over to the other side of the parking lot and watch the door. Pinkie comes out, heads for the nest person who pulls in, and starts crying.