September 17th, 2018

The doorbell rang late yesterday afternoon. That always makes me a bit edgy. There was a time, not too long ago, when the only time the doorbell rang was when the local cops wanted to discuss the activities of a certain family member. When I went to the door, I was relieved to find that it was not an official visit this time.

Duane was waiting for me on the front porch. Duane and his family live in the house on the corner. Over the years, our neighborhood has slowly become more diverse: we have Muslim families, Latinos, Hmong. Duane’s family is, thus far, the only black household. The folks on our street tend to get along pretty well. Duane and his wife have been to our house a couple times. They always greet us with a smile, and they are, quite simply, good people.

Duane often sees me walking our daughter’s border collie, Shocky. Karin and I take of her pet while our daughter is away. Duane is aware that I take Shocky for very long walks along Oakwood Road. Oakwood, at one time, was a quiet country lane. Now, after the building of several subdivisions in the local area, it more closely resembles a race track. The road still only has two lanes to it, and there is no shoulder or sidewalk. A pedestrian, like myself, is by necessity on the road. Sometimes drivers have trouble understanding that fact.

Duane greeted me as I walked out the door to talk with him.

He said, “I brought y’all a present. I know you walk that dog at night, so I got you a leash that lights up in the dark. I don’t want you to die, Frank.”

That was very neighborly of him. It’s not often that people on our block show that much concern for my welfare.

In all honesty, I am somewhat negligent about safety precautions. I generally do not  wear reflective clothing. It is not unusual for me to walk the dog along Oakwood Road at 4:00 AM. A portion of the road is completely unlit. I know for a fact that some of the people going to their shitty jobs at that hour of the morning are either inattentive, or bleary-eyed, or both. They don’t see me and my black dog until the last possible minute. That probably scares the drivers more than it scares me.

Duane told me, “Frank, I almost hit you one time on the way to work. Well, you know, it’s because I didn’t see you.”

It’s comforting to know that Duane didn’t try to hit me on purpose. That wouldn’t be so neighborly.

I thanked Duane, and we talked for a bit. Then he went on home.

I walked Shocky this morning at 4:00. It was a clear night, with a sky full of stars. Oakwood Road was dark as the inside of a cow. I used my new, illuminated dog leash. It worked great. It kept Shocky safe. That’s a good thing.

Our daughter would be really pissed off if her dog got killed while I was walking her.



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