A bonus ramble 30 July, 2020
Conroy was about the most soft-spoken, easy-going six-foot four of man you’d ever meet. One time I watched as a hot-under the collar German Shepherd – and I meant no pun there, just that that black and tan was upset beyond reason – warned everyone and everything he was gonna shred something, guilty or not. Every time the bad boy peeled back his lips to snarl viciously, his teeth seemed to have gotten a little longer than they were the time before. He didn’t bite something soon to wear some of that new enamel off, he’d not be able to close his mouth anymore.
Point was, that Shepherd was pretty soon gonna bite something not smart enough to understand his snarls and growls, and otherwise not fast enough to get important body parts as far away from that bite-machine as possible.
A meter-reader made the mistake of antagonizing the regal beast. When the utility man approached the meter, the Shepherd, in his pen, did his job, and made it known there was a guard standing watch. That’s all. The utility man, boldened by the six-foot chain-link fence he deemed perfectly guaranteed his safety, smart-mouthed to the dog. The dog apparently misunderstood what the utility man said and took offense. The utility man, obviously with less training than the Shepherd, kept his mouth running with the clutch pushed-in disengaging his brain. With his numbers punched into his official utility company device, he turned to leave the property, slung one last insult at the puppy, and started to walk away.
The Shepherd had his fill of insults. With a short run for leverage, he vaulted that chain link fence, only needing to push away from the fence top with his hind legs at the apex of his flight. Seeing this bit of acrobatics, the utility man let intelligence pay him a visit. He knew he’d just bought himself a world of hurt. He took off in fine one-hundred-meter sprinter form for his official vehicle. He’d just about made it when Rin-Tin-Tin used-up all the real estate that previously separated him from the seat of the utility man’s canvas pants.
Leaving a nice piece of britches fabric for the puppy to contemplate, the utility man tore himself briefly free of the dog’s embrace, popped the truck’s door and threw himself inside. But not before Rin-Tin grabbed a slim mouthful of pants leg. Mr. Utility grabbed a long stick from the cab, I assume there for the express purpose of advising aggressive dogs to yield a little territory or else get bonked on the noggin. Which he did. Bonked. The Shepherd, as you’ve figured out, was not stupid. He released the pants leg but only long enough to consider his next move. That was though, long enough for Mr. Utility to secure himself inside the cab with the door closed. Mr. Utility then addressed the issue of an open window, a situation not lost on Rin-Tin.
Conroy, Celia, and I were delivering a repaired tractor to the farm just across the road. I was backing the flatbed into the ditch, so we’d have a nature-made unloading ramp. Celia, our office lady, along for the ride just to get away from the shop, watched. Conroy directed traffic – me – and the flatbed into that ditch. We heard the commotion across the way about the time Mr. Utility reached the target meter. We watched the rather brief scenario unfold. At most, there were maybe ten meter digits to record, so the majority of the dog-reader meeting was used for questionable conversation. Far enough away that our yelling cautionary advice to Mr. Utility would be mumbles to Mr. Utility and aggravation to Rin-Tin, we could offer assistance to neither one of them.
Mr. Utility drove away. Rin-Tin looked for a worthy adversary. As luck would have it, four citified bicyclists pedaled by at that very moment. Rin-Tin couldn’t ask for better targets. People-looking things with queer round but pointy, oddly colored heads. Gaudy bright spandex skinny-legged things with fluorescent almost-shoes. There were also three other likely candidates standing near the neighbor’s ditch. Rin-Tin determined to investigate and secure. He did not swap-out his current state of angry for curiosity. His pride had been compromised, his noggin likely smarted, and he had a bad taste of canvas in his mouth. Someone or something needed to understand the rules. Rin-Tin came toward the half-dozen people at something just under light-speed, dedicating some energy to barks, snarls, and growls.
Rin-Tin made first for the bicycles. Schooled in ‘bad-dog,’ the spandex people put bicycles between themselves and Rin-Tin. There were four of them and one Rin-Tin. Rin-Tin paused his charge, maintaining his vociferations and teeth-baring while considering his best approach.
Conroy left Celia and I to our own devices and walked toward Rin-Tin and the cyclists. At Conroy’s approach, Rin-Tin divided his attentions between Conroy and bicycles.
“That dog should be shot!” said a lanky purple helmet, a man, I guess. Rin-Tin growled.
“No,” purred Conroy. “Dog’s doing what he’s supposed to do. Spooked by the meter reader who just sped away. Meter reader antagonized the animal. Woulda been okay, he’d just done his business and left. Dog’s likely seen his share of meter readers. Knows what they’re about. Just looks to keep them honest. Didn’t pay you folks any attention until just now. Dog played by the rules. So should you.”
“Gonna call the Sheriff!” said a lady sporting an ugly chartreuse helmet and vomit-provoking contrasting magenta leggings. “Gonna report that animal!”
Ignoring the helmets, Conroy started talking to Rin-Tin. That amused Rin-Tin; he listened to Conroy’s low, slow drawl. Squatting as he spoke, Conroy said, “C’mon boy. Nobody here looking to do harm.” Rin-Tin approached Conroy. When Conroy showed his hands, Rin-Tin took a good sniff. It looked that his tail contemplated a wag. Conroy didn’t need or take a sniff; he has his own way of going about things, which includes neither a sniff nor a tail wag.
“Animal shouldn’t be loose!” ranted purple helmet.
“Wasn’t,” crooned Conroy, still focused on Rin-Tin.
Chartreuse and purple helmets kept a steady barrage of indignations and “we’re calling the law,” “put the beast down,” and other senseless threats.
Again, ignoring the helmets and standing, Conroy spoke to the dog, “C’mon boy. Let’s go home.” Not reaching for Rin-Tin or his collar, Conroy simply walked across the road toward the animal’s pen. Quietly, Rin-Tin followed. When Conroy opened the pen gate, Rin-Tin went inside. After closing the gate, Conroy returned to our side of the road.
Celia, Conroy, and I started toward the flatbed. The helmets had trouble letting it go, feeling I supposed, that unless both sides of an argument were properly incensed and yelling, the argument wasn’t finished. Their barrage deteriorated into slurs against wild animals and country rubes, their rights to travel country roads unmolested, and clearly what had been a case of reckless endangerment of innocent citizens. Conroy paused as if to turn to address the helmets. Thinking better of it, he shrugged and suggested to Celia and me, “Let’s get back to the shop. Way past quitting time.”
As we approached our truck, the dog’s owner pulled his truck into his driveway. Unaware of the drama just concluded, he started to walk from his truck to an outbuilding.
Chartreuse helmet blurted-out, “That man needs to be set straight about his dog! He’s an idiot for having an animal liked that! I’m gonna walk right over there and give him a piece of my mind!”
Conroy heard that and still close enough the cyclists all easily heard, he said, “Wanna be careful there, little lady. Seems you don’t have much mind to spare.”
“What does that crack mean?” screeched Chartreuse.
“Take it for what it’s worth,” suggested Conroy.
“Well I still have half a mind to go over there and tell him a thing or two!” yelled Chartreuse.
Conroy grinned. “See? You’re already working from a position of deficit.”
We waited and watched in the truck until the cyclists cycled-away before heading back to the shop.
(c) SP Wilcenski July 30, 2020
Also posted to Prose. This is part of a theme in-progress. If there is interest, I’ll post others of the theme. If not, I won’t clutter your in-box. SPWilcen