I write so much nonfiction, It’s been almost a year since I began some public fiction which I ultimate took down from the blog. Let’s have an unedited go, shall we?
Start: 10:32a — I’ll stop at 11:02 (AM… c’mon… give me some credit.)
She let the dog lead the way on the walk. It was a warm spring day that began cool and damp. The leaves, in their maturity were still bright green with newness, but larger than they were the day before. The hour before, probably.
In her neighborhood, a new spring gardens boasted tulips that were smiling at the sun, open and ready from their nighttime retreat and the crocus had died off from winter’s last gasp the week before. She admired the landscaping and took in the sweet smell of fresh grass and wet earth, still glistening from the previous night’s rain.
Samson, the dog, sniffed at a pine tree, looking for the popular spot where all the other dogs had left their calling card. He found it and left a little squirt at the base of the tree on top of the brown needles that fell over the winter.
Samson turned to a street they hadn’t been on in years, because she didn’t steer him in another direction, he eagerly advanced up the street toward “the fancy houses” as her daughter used to describe them when she was little. How Daria mooned over those houses, wanting to be in one for years, never really appreciating the one she had, which was lovely enough and provided all the safety and security and privacy she could ever really need. Her own neighbors were lovely people and she knew that having good neighbors was an intangible and unreliable benefit no matter where she lived.
On this long road, were only four fancy houses with their all-brick or slate exteriors, weathered and gorgeous cedar shaker shingle roofs, second story porticos outside french doors leading from some imaginary place: perhaps a boudoir, or a sitting room adjacent to the salon? Maybe a music room? An artist’s studio… a sewing room. The idle pleasures of the rich, she supposed. One house was perched atop a ridge, larger than all the others. There was always one larger, nicer, more prestigious; that’s how life was, she thought to herself. “Compare and despair” she remembered hearing someone say after church one day.
The open space across from the houses was dense with tall grass and trees; a path meandered through it. Samson nudged toward it and Daria allowed it but then he changed course. A squirrel was bounding about a front garden at the biggest house on the ridge; its tail effortlessly mimicking the body’s movements, always erect. Samson sprang after the rodent, his leash snapped out of Daria’s hand and he gave chase as though his life depended on it, or at least his fulfillment in life. After all: what is the point, if you are a terrier, if you can’t hunt down a pesky tree rat every once in a while?
If Samson was one thing, it was disobedient in matters like this. Daria was embarrassed and suppressed the urge to scream after her dog. These were the fancy houses and people who live in fancy houses have their acts together, they don’t yell. They say, “Samson, come hither young canid and do as I say. Now. Come.” They ask for water with gas, they lift their pinkies when they do everything. They don’t touch anything for very long. They are busy people very much in demand.
Samson careened about the yard, his leash screwing up the mulch, his barking disruptive and increasing as he impelled the squirrel to leap to a tree. It barked, the squirrel or did something with its vocal cords. Some sort of warning to its fellow squirrels, like the sheep did in “Babe.” This squirrel was the sentry, the vanguard rodent.
Daria spoke, “Samson, please come, boy. Very good. Please come. Sams. Now. Come, darling…” and as she did an elderly woman in a lovely light green dress, beige pumps and with reading glasses hung from around her neck walked on to the macadam outside the garage.
“What a lovely creature, your Jack. I used to breed them. I’ve got the scars to prove it. Do you know about Jack Russells? Do you understand the breed? They’re ratters, you know. They’re bred to hunt small rodents, during the plague, actually, so it’s not just a dog thing your … Samson? Is doing; it’s a Jack Russell thing. He’s got lovely a lovely little body. He’s what? Three? Four? Look at that little tail. I hated to crop them.”
“Four. Almost. If I let him live that long.” Daria said. “I am so embarrassed. I put him in the wrong collar and I let him lead the way and here we are and he’s ruining your yard and I’m just …ugh! So sorry. We’ve disrupted your quiet morning. SAMSON…!”
“No, not at all. He’s a beauty. … Uh, may I call to him?”
“YES.” said Daria and the woman made some click click sounds, and light high whistles. She called him once and in an instant Samson was at her feet, looking curiously at Daria, as if to say, “Did you need me?”
The woman reached down for the leash at the same time Daria did, they almost bumped heads. Daria’s baseball cap skimmed the woman’s platinum bouffant; her reading glasses swinging, catching Samson’s attention. He stood on his hind legs and watched the glasses, timing them and just as he was about to leap for them, as Jack Russells are often wont to do, Daria stood on his leash about four inches from the collar and he was grounded.
“Oh! Good thinking! My specs were almost his next victim. Samson … you naughty boy. I’m Evelyn Frost, Miss….?”
“Daria. Daria Goodwin. I live over in the neighborhood across the way. I haven’t been on your street in many years. I apologize, sincerely, for the disruption. You look like you were getting ready to head out. Your lovely dress and heels. I won’t stay a moment longer. I …”
“Would you …”
Well, that’s it.
Tell me what you think. I just let it start itself. More?