I was already mourning the morning walk.
Before we’d even traveled a block my dog had decided to lead the caravan, walking directly in front of the jogging stroller, her hindquarters mere inches from the front wheel. I don’t know why she insists upon this walking arrangement–maybe she likes to think she’s in charge–but(t) it never “ends” well for her, typically culminating in me literally running her ass over. It begins when she looks back at the stroller and decides she is terrified of it, so terrified that she freezes in place, causing the usually-taut leash to slack and wrap around the stroller’s back axle, putting us at a dead stop just after the tire bumps her square on the cheeks. I do my best to stop before the butt-bump, but she forces me to tailgate her at an unsafe following distance.
On this particular day, she had jumped to deer-in-headlights mode so abruptly and forcibly that it had pulled her harness clean off. (We attach the leash to her harness and not her collar because after years of scientific research, we have determined she would rather be choked to death than respond to leash tugs.) And because my dog just barely qualifies as obedient, I knew I had to act quickly on this leashless freedom unless I wanted to choose between:
1) chasing her around the neighborhood, loudly cussing her out while she thinks its a game, waking the Twins from their stroller catnaps and yielding a sterophonic meltdown; or
2) tritely employing the if-you-love-her-set-her-free-and-if-she-never-returns-she-was-never-yours axiom, which would most likely mean never seeing my beloved canine again, as she would surely make a grand exit from this life in Harry Houdini fashion while performing her famous freezing-in-front-of-an-oncoming vehicle trick.
It was in that moment that I remembered I am a ninja, as my keen, subconscious reflexes sprang into action, one-handedly snagging her by the tail, keeping the other hand firmly planted on the stroller.
She turned her head towards me, dumbly panting with glee, as if to say. “That was fun, Dad!”
. . .
It was Trash Day in our neighborhood, which meant that all of our neighbors had dutifully placed their garbage cans on the sidewalks in front of their houses for pickup, and right in my way. Every week, Trash Day presents me with the option of weaving around garbage cans (either onto the street or into people’s yards) in an effort to stay out of harm’s way by primarily using the sidewalk, or tempting fate by herding my traveling circus of household dependents along the outer edge of the street, making us easy targets for weary, not-yet-caffeinated commuters zoning out on the way to work.
Today, I decided neither of these options were acceptable, and resolved to try something new. I’m smarter than you, Trash Day, I sneered. The Twins fart a two-gun salute in your general direction.
I devised a genius battle plan–to venture out of our neighborhood and onto one of the Pseudonymous Household’s major cross-streets, which would not be plagued by my fellow residents’ refuse. Smooth sailing, I smiled. Plus, the sidewalk was rumored to be paved with gold.
Sadly, the rumor was false, but luckily, I had room in the bottom stroller compartment to stow my prospecting pick-axe for the remainder of the outing.
. . .
Giggling to myself as I often do when I feel I have beaten a system of some kind or have succeeded in raging against a machine, I strutted victoriously down the sidewalk. Suck on that, Trash Day. I have opposable thumbs.
Several pleasant, uninterruptedly-walked blocks later, I heard my son snoring and decided it was probably time to get home and sneak them into bed in an attempt to prolong naptime so I could capitalize on the opportunity to intend to study but instead write my blog. On the return trip, I saw a navy blue Ford Taurus zoom past us on the opposite side of the street, then screech to a halt, flip a U-turn, and speed back towards us.
My fists clenched.
As a parent of Twins, you become prepared for deviant behavior when you take them out in public, as idiots often respond in an absurd form of Beatlemania upon seeing them, asking highly intellectual questions such as “Are they identical?” when they look nothing alike and are stereotypically wearing a blue baseball jersey and a pink, flowery dress. (Fun Fact: Boys and girls actually have different anatomical features, thus making them very much NOT identical.) So, of course, being conditioned to expect Twin Groupies, I assumed this person saw my devastatingly beautiful loinfruits and just had to turn around to see them again and ask me if they sleep in the same crib, and if so, to rate its adorability on a scale of one to ten. (And no, they don’t sleep in the same crib. They’d wake each other up and we’d never get any sleep.)
The car slowed to our walking pace and drove alongside us. The driver was what appeared to be a 40-ish woman in casual clothes. She rolled down her window and seemed to be craning her neck so she could see the Twins, whom she had just woken with her vehicular maneuver.
So, of course, I’m ready to verbally rip this woman a new one. Come on, lady. Say what you want to say. I am ready, and I will destroy you. Verbally.
But then I noticed she wasn’t looking in the Twins’ direction. She was looking past us, down the neighborhood street we were about to cross, while talking to someone on her cell phone. Noticing us, she pulled the phone away from her mouth, looked right at me, and, pointing desperately, she spoke:
“There’s a coyote behind you!”
My mind reeling, my breath held, I turned my head, and there it was.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Will John Pseudonymous survive to write about this tale of terror? Will the Twinfants become human veal? Will the coyote and John’s dog fall in love at first sight, move into a doghouse in the backyard and have twin coyote puppies?
Browse in tomorrow for the bone-chilling next chapter in the Coyote Fugly Saga:
Coyote Fugly: Part 2 – Something Wicked This Way Runs
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If not, there may be a coyote behind you.
Made you look.