Hemingway and the Dog.

by Rai

A large, dark cloud throws a shadow on the plants lining the wall. The thunder gods rumble across the sky and I run to the window to affirm – it’s early, too early. I hadn’t slept but a few hours the night before and woke up at the crack of dawn. My phone says 6:45a.m. and I slump down on the couch just in time for the rain.

Listening to the drops beat against the windows, feeling the thunder in my gut is a tonic. So much so that I’m dozing again – a deep, restful nap that lasts about an hour. I’d dreamed of a dog. It’s balancing on the roof of a car and I’m trying to stop the car from moving, but the driver doesn’t hear me, doesn’t see me, and hits the gas. The dog falls, unharmed but shaken. I cradle it in my arms. The dog is medium sized, tan, almost white.

When I wake, the rain has passed and the sky is a pleasant shade of blue, clear as the day is young. The breeze feels soft and cool. I know so because I crack a window to smell the sun shinning on wet pavement, pine and summer adding to the aroma. Sleepy and unfocused, I reheat the coffee that was left in the french press from the day before. It would take a minute or two, so I settle back in the front room to stare out the window. There’s a rocking chair on our porch that isn’t rocking. A stray dog runs by. It’s medium-sized, tan as a toasted bean, black face. It looks stressed, scared. Through the open window I whistle at it and it looks towards me, briefly. Now I’m outside on the porch because the dog is heading for the main road, Woodward and 8 mile, on a busy Friday afternoon. A tall thin lady with short pink hair is speed-walking after it, in pursuit of the spooked canine.
“Is it yours?” I ask as she passes.
She doesn’t look at me.
“No. I just don’t want it to get hit.”

Two cars stop near the intersection. Heads are leaning out the windows. Everyone is watching the dog and the dog is still darting this way and that. I walk down my steps and whistle at it. Calm, detached. The dog seems to respond to this so I keep whistling. It turns from the cars, dodges the lady in pink, runs towards me, but crosses to the opposite side of the street before it gets too close. Now the dog is sprinting down the street toward the innards of the neighborhood. Wouldn’t have been the first time I’d caught a stray and brought it home.

The lady in pink whisks by me again. She’s still following the trail of the dog. She still doesn’t look at me.

I’ve burnt the morning coffee. I’m back in the house recounting the dream I’d had from just an hour before, wondering where all the wonderful “breakfast” smells are coming from. It’s not until the coffee is really cooking that I remember. I’d put it on high in a large pot, nearly a whole french press full, and now it’s reduced to a thick, brown sludge. I drink it anyway.

An older man on a green bike rides by. He has a blue sweater, round glasses, a blue knit hat and a brown satchel. He looks like Hemingway, I think. He looks straight into my window.