This is a factual story that I’m putting under the heading of fiction since I am a habitual liar (no, say embellishes, it sounds legit). No, I’m a liar, I made this whole thing up. Actually that last sentence was a lie. Thoroughly confused? Just read the story.
I had certainly run over the dog, no doubt about it. Not intentionally of course, and in terms of “running over” the poor animal, I think it would be more appropriate to say that I clipped it, or perhaps that’s too light a word when a vehicle is traveling at 35 mph. I may have killed it, it may be dying right now in the woods where it ran off to, I simply don’t know. I was driving to lunch with my co-worker and friend Roger, I was in the process of lighting a cigarette and watched as an emaciated sand-colored dog that appeared to be of some small greyhound mix darted towards my oncoming vehicle with reckless abandon. Apparently some dogs don’t know well enough to look both ways, I’ve seen some dogs that are smart enough to wait for traffic so I must assume that it was either impatient or was emotionally unstable and wanted to end it’s existence at the fate of my tire tread. Either way, the dog apparently had an epiphany that death was not going to be synonymous with a belly rub or MilkBones™, and halted its dart partially in my path. I swerved and braked; Not enough, and clipped it with my bumper and tire with a sickening thud and bump. In my rearview, I saw it scramble away from the road and into the woods that lined that section of the highway. I only said three words through the whole ordeal: “Oh shit!” when I saw that dog, and “FUCK!” when I actually hit it. I did not get a chance to light my cigarette of course, swerving, braking and cursing took obvious precedence.
I pulled into a parking lot a few hundred feet down the road to inspect for damage to my bumper. Ironically, there was a dead orange cat on the side of the road where I pulled in and my focus caught it. I nearly laughed, had it not been so morbid and sad to see yet another dead animal.
The white pickup truck that was in front of me (and had obviously seen me hit the dog) also pulled in. The driver circled around the lot and stopped where I had pulled into a parking space. Somehow, I fully expected and dreaded the smarmy, self-righteous, words that were sure to spew forth from this soon-to-be enemy. It was the passenger, a fat guy in his early twenties wearing a baseball cap and an ill-fitting sweatshirt that made him look uncomfortable. I began to light my cigarette for a second time, but my hands were shaking violently and my heart thumped frantically from adrenaline. Frankly, I didn’t need shit from this guy after such a horrible thing, but I was about to be lambasted.
“You’re more interested in your fucking bumper than that poor dog”. He said in an irritated manner through his thick Southern drawl.
I wanted to slap the hell out of this guy, who was he to judge me for what was obviously an accident and a horrible thing. What did he know about what I was interested in? Had I swerved at the dog, I could understand his apprehension, but he was simply out of line. I could tell he wanted me to go back and retreive the injured/dead/comatose dog and perform the civic duty of last rites or perhaps a burial for it. I simply did not need to track some injured dog through the woods (a feat of no simple means, considering the heavy underbrush), and nurse it back to health. He was also not qualified to verbally blast me on what was clearly a very unfortunate accident. I took the cigarette from my mouth with my shaking hand and pointed it at him, stabbing the air to punctuate my frustration with the entire situation. I decided to try and smooth his ruffled feathers a bit, but what I said came out sarcastic and mean.
“What do you want me to do? The dog ran off into the woods.” I was clearly turning into an asshole in this case.
“I think you should look for the dog that you just hit.” He retorted.
I guffawed. “Alright whatever, let’s go.”
I got back in my car, Roger got back in as well and we drove back. It was lunch traffic and the road was busy. There was no light for us to turn and it took us about five minutes to make our way back to the spot. I parked along the side where I had swerved, there were a bunch of orange construction barrels blocking a newly paved turn lane (which I hadn’t been able to swerve into and cause a spectacular accident as I’m sure the fat man would have appreciated). We pulled into that lane and I told Roger to call Animal Services and see if they would send someone out. My head was clearing and the rush of adrenaline and I got out of the car. The unlit cigarette that I had begun to light as the whole event occured dangled from my mouth. I looked over to the other side of the road to where the dog had run off and tried to pinpoint where it had run, or where I had hit it. There was no blood on the asphalt, and no trace of the dog that had taken its pointless kamikazee run at my car. There was a low ditch, then a hill that rose swiftly into a thick forest of trees that spanned the entire stretch of road. I reached into my pocket and fumbled for my lighter and finally lit my cigarette after too many tries. Adrenaline was still rushing through me and my hand trembled as I lit it.
I knew there was no reason for us to try to track the dog, from my glimpse of the emaciated body to the slender head and neck sans collar I knew it was a stray, it probably lived in the woods and had set out for some trashcan foraging of some sort. The guy in the white pickup trundled across the street, he was fat and out of breath as he spent a few moments realizing that the dog was indeed deep in the woods. He turned back and came across the street.
“We called Animal Services, they will send someone out.” I said.
“You have a cellphone?” He asked.
I was growing impatient with his self-righteous attitude and tone, I considered shooting him a quick reply of “No, we sent a smoke signal while you weren’t looking”, but instead I pointed to Roger, who was sitting in the car on the phone.
I could see that they had nothing better to do than become benefactors to this injured dog, perhaps revive it from death with a ghoulish application of CPR and get on some show on Animal Planet and tell the world what great guys they were. It was selfless, and when I got back in my car I told Roger. We debated for a few seconds, he thought they were selfish because they feel better about themselves, and I had to explain that it was indeed selfless because they thought less of themselves than of others opinions of them, thus the comment on my concern with my bumper. He still didn’t get my point, so I dropped it.
The fat guy got back in the pickup and they drove down the road a hundred feet and pulled into a dirt driveway that led into the woods. I pulled onto the shoulder and nearly drove into the muddy ditch where ground clearing had dug sharp muddy drops into the shoulder.
“I’m not going to drive into a fucking ditch over a dog.” I muttered.
I drove a few more feet to where the shoulder was more solid and parked. Across the street, the fat man was getting out of the truck, the driver was also getting out this time and they started walking into the woods. The driveway they had parked in was blocked by a chain rope that hung between two poles and moments later they were gone. I wondered if they liked to drive around looking for injured animals and taking care of them, berating people who had accidentally run them over. I took a long drag from my cigarette and turned to Roger after exhaling.
“What did the Animal Services people say?” I asked.
“They said they could come out if the animal was found.”
I looked in my rear-view mirror for traffic, then pulled out to continue our way to lunch. I turned to Roger after a few moments and said “They won’t find that dog.”