by Howard Rue
Nicko and his new friend discover that relaxation at the dog park might not be an option.
|"Yeah, my new little space, right up there, you can see it, great view of this little park. It's nice, too, since I don't have a dog or anything and I'm new to town-hence-yea, you know..."
"Oh, I see, do I count as a possible local?"
"I think so? Are you?" Nicko laughed. He had to bite his lip to not say 'Hollister,' but he also caught himself punching the guy in the shoulder. Something he never does. Something he would never do. And something he was not into with guys he did with him.
And he did it.
And he realized how suddenly self-conscious he had become and took a deep breath. The stress of the new job, the new setting, the new everything. It was causing him to break character.
That, and being, basically, lonely.
"Well, yes, I am. I like it here. Have you had a chance to explore?"
"Digitally. Figured it'd be good these first few weeks to limit my sorties to the good, given stuff. You know like the coffeehouse and things. What do you recommend?"
There was a brief, dark, spittle that came into view, just beyond his field of vision, just beyond his grasp of what was going on. He thought he saw it and withdrew his awareness. He had something similar happen once when he was in a job interview, one taht was going a bit too well. He was trying to be so careful, he over pronounced his terms and language.
That must be what he had just seen.
But another moment of foam, of greasy flight, popped into view. Luckily, his counterpart was seated on the edge of the table, looking to the grounds at their canine companion, his arced back flexing in tension. The wetness clung to the Hollister's tea shirt and it bothered him. He started to reach for it and wipe it away, disgusting as it was, but that would have gone too far. So he looked to match the view.
"Excuse me, Nick, but something looks like it's wrong with my dog-" he stood up abruptly and stiff leggedly crossed the small expanse to his dog. The dog was hunched, growling at him as he crossed the area, unfamiliar with her owner and staring beyond him. Nicko saw his chance and glanced back to the dried wood of the picnic table. The warped boards were covered in slobber and foam, a recent addition, with a decent semicircle swatch removed where his companion was propped. With a sneer, he followed the yellow foam backwards to the it's origin.
The fence surrounding the park is not particularly dangerous, but it is tall, discouraging the largest of the dogs to stand upright, but not jump. The metal mesh had wide squares and connected with various wooden poles.
The dog might have been a pitbull or a mastiff, but Nicko did not know, he was not one for the naming of breeds. But the beast was horrific in visage. He was a fawn tan, but a series of bite marks, dotted his flanks along both sides. It's paws were expanded by the wire fence, as it stood on it's back legs, vertical.
Nicko had no idea a dog could ever get that big. Standing, the monster was the same size as him, if not slightly taller.
"Hold up, dude, grab your dog! And we might wanna leave, this-this isn't-" Nicko could not see what Hollister was doing, for he was watching the predator that had slid silently up behind them. The beast was panting and the flights of foam floated to the ground and their place.
And Nicko remembered. Rabies in the saliva. He looked down at his hands.
He had not even touched the stuff, but he couldn't be too careful.
"Pick up the dog, and don't let me touch it, in case it's some kind of-"
The monster of a canine launched itself vertically, attempting a clumsy climb of the fence.