It is not only a man yelling at me, but a large man. He’s twice my size, half my age, looks like he’s more than half gorilla, and he’s walking towards me carrying a motorcycle helmet. Dammit! Did I just cut him off in traffic? No, I have Lilith with me, I’ve been driving very carefully as to not jostle her or scare her. Why is this person, if there is one under the beard and long hair and leather yelling at me, and walking towards me? I have a cell phone and if I call 911 will they get here in time? What if he hurts Lilith? I just stepped out of the truck to pick up a pizza I ordered. The engine is running. All I have to do is take two steps and…
“Don’t you leave that dog in that truck!” the man shouts and suddenly I realize what he’s saying. He can’t tell the truck is running. He thinks I’ve left Lilith, who is standing up and looking out of the window at all of this, in the truck with the windows up. But my Dog that was fast.
“It’s still running.” I tell him.
“Oh” the man stops and looks back. There’s a woman on his bike. She’s staring at me, past me, at Lilith, and now I understand.
“No, really, come look.” I tell him. “The AC is on and everything. Lilith is perfectly fine.” But he’s close enough to tell now, and can see the truck is running. He looks back at the woman again. She’s off the bike and walking towards us. He’s rough looking and she’s not much better. Hell, I think she could take me in a fight when it gets right down to it.
I open the door and Lilith wags her tail at the man. He gets down on one knee and it’s like a religious transformation. Baby girl dog! PUPPY! Lilith has melted hearts all day long and she’s hitting her stride with the cute. The woman comes up and he backs away to let her see Lilith. Again there is the advent of the adorable. There’s a tattoo on the woman’s bicep of a pit bull face with the name, “Rocky” under it in red. It’s not a great tattoo but Rocky looks like he’s smiling.
“Pete” the man says sticking out his hand.
“Mike” I tell him and we shake hands while the woman pets Lilith.
“We thought you were leaving her.” Pete tells me. “Terry saw your puppy when you pulled in and we thought… I’m sorry about this, man.” Pete is a mountain of a man. He looks like he could tear one of my arms off and beat me to death with it. But he also looks embarrassed to death right now.
“Where’d ya get her?” Terry asks but she doesn’t look up. She and Lilith have bonded.
“Rescue group.” And I tell her the story of Lilith and how she came to be. “Who was Rocky?”
Rocky was their first dog together. He was a bull dog puppy they found on the road and carried three hundred miles from Daytona back to Dothan Alabama. (Hey! I know Dothan!) Rocky rode sitting up between them and seemed to love it but they didn’t make it a habit of riding with him. Rocky went down one day just short of his thirteenth rescue day anniversary. They threw him a birthday party on that day every year and had already bought stuff when Rocky got sick, and then got sicker. I nod. I tell them I just lost Bert. Terry hugs me hard and for the first time in my adult life I nearly cry in front of strangers.
So here we have two people I wouldn’t have thought to make friends with and would have never guessed they rescued a dog. I mean, why would they, right, just because they’re typical looking biker people that doesn’t mean they don’t like dogs, does it? I never thought about it. I just always saw stringy hair and bikes and never thought there was a mountain of a man whose heart is still broken because he and his woman lost a dog they had found thirteen year ago last year. The woman smokes and had homemade arm tattoos but the one of Rocky was done in a real tattoo place and suddenly, Rocky is smiling. He was a red pit bull but the color in the tattoo was too brown, Terry said, but the face was right so she didn’t have him recolor it. Somewhere under that hard life this woman has lead, and it does show, beats a heart of gold. They decided to put Rocky down the day before his party because they couldn’t stand to see him suffer for that.
They haven’t been able to get another dog yet but they will. Terry likes the idea of rescue groups and I can tell that’s where the next one will arrive from if they do not find a stray. I tell them they will know when it’s right because I did and I didn’t think I could invest so soon after losing Bert but I had to. A part of my heart belongs to dogs. They need me. I need them. My life isn’t the same with a dog missing from it and I know it. Lucas proved to me I could attach to another dog, even before Bert was gone. I do love Sam but he has been sandwiched in between two of the better dogs I have known in my life. Now Lilith is here and she is also special in her own way already.
I follow them down US 84 because they are heading that way, and Terry’s long hair seems to mingle with Pete’s as they navigate the road. They wave when I turn off, head South, and towards home. Lilith looks at them as they disappear and I think she knows who they are better than I.