Suddenly, a dog is running furiously towards her. It stops just a foot before her and barks. The woman rears as the barks dissolve into a threatening growl.
The dog falls silent and wags its tail. It is shaggy with mottled brown fur, medium size. Ugly, thinks the woman as she goes to step around it, but the dog lurches, growls again and bares its teeth. The woman stops. The dog falls silent and its tail sweeps back and forth.
In her softest voice, the woman says, "Good boy." The dog pants and sits. She steps forward, but again, the dog jumps and menaces.
The woman is paralyzed as she waits to hear a voice--any voice--call to the dog, but the street is dead silent. A handful of seconds seem to stretch on and on as anger and humiliation redden the woman's cheeks. The dog alternately pants with its dog smile, then growls and bares its teeth, its tail wagging intermittently. The woman has never felt more alone.
She inches her hand from her pocket, extracting a small handgun. Before the elements of the equation fully register, a shot rings and the dog drops. The silence that follows is confusing and unrealistic. Uncertainty washes over the woman.
A girl in a stained tee with stripes the colors of Necco wafers, bounds from an adjacent yard and kneels before the wounded dog.
"I ... He ..." the woman stammers.
"Jayjay?" repeats the girl as the dog lifts its head, it's tail thumping weakly on the asphalt.
It is a completely different animal than the one that had stood before the woman just moments ago, with meek eyes and spindly legs. The girl pets the whimpering dog. She gently touches the dark spot of wet fur in the dog's middle and looks at her bloodied fingers in disbelief. The girl raises her eyes to the woman, who is standing speechless and slack-jawed, the gun dangling from her hand.
"Desi? " calls a woman as she steps from the nearest house, her hands worrying a dishtowel. "Desi? What was it? What happened, baby?"
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