The Long Haul

I do respect the concept of timing. It matters. Not always sure how, but regardless of understanding we find ourselves in certain places that are where others are at that same moment in time. Within that are our choices.

I ride my bike to work all the time. Today I was a bit late in starting & even later because I had to run an errand at the downtown bank. I ended up on Main St & 9th as a young man lost control of his dog. Cars everywhere, people running to help with the chase, me on a bike, the young man frantically hollering for the dog and distraughtly exclaiming “It’s not even my dog!”  I climbed the hills hoping to counter the chase as the dog sped in and out of the young man’s grasps.

The dog shot through an alley to take a right up the next hill. I offered the young man my bike assuming the dog would come to him much more easily than it would to me as a stranger. He hopped on. The toe clips were nothing he understood so he said, “I don’t think I can ride this bike.” He went back to running & I went back to peddling. The dog never slowed down, bolting up Franklin on the sidewalk without a glance back. I stayed in pursuit, climbing the hills up the wrong way on a one-way street, in & out of cars or in & out of people when I rode on the sidewalk.

“Have you seen a dog on a leash?,” I now hollered as I passed pedestrians. “Yeah up that way,” over & over they replied. I lost sight of the dog but my fellow Richmonders were being the eyes & ears I needed, guiding me on. “He’s up by the dorms,” they said as I passed VCU. Eventually, I got stuck by traffic in the campus corridor so when I finally moved the oncoming walkers, for the first time, were saying no, no dog. By this time I figured he was running home but, of course, I had no idea where that was so I kept riding up Franklin, now called Monument Ave. A block up a woman offered, “He either went that way or to the left, I didn’t see.” I shot down to the right to see any evidence of him – well, to ask of evidence. No one had seen a dog on a leash. At the next block, I knew to head back to Monument, that straightway he’d been on now for 2 miles. Taking the right, another woman having overheard me asking for the dog said, “I think he’s at the circle.”

Kind of an odd response.

Had someone caught him? Was he running in circles because we made it “home”? Then I saw a stalled caged tractor, with a scoop on the front of it. A small crowd of 4 people stood by it, near the dog, now laid flat on the pavement. Even from a block away I could see blood under his head. I peddled up as a car came to a stop by the scene. I wondered if it were the young man, had he gotten a lift? Or maybe it was the owner. The best I could figure it was a vet because he wasn’t going to take the dog to an animal shelter. With his hand searching for a pulse on the dog’s neck, he started to get out the words that those places wouldn’t take him or do anything for him but just let it slide. He gently scooped up the unresponsive dog and placed him in his back seat. One woman was looking at the name on the collar but the man retorted, “Throw it in the back, we haven’t got much time.” Off he & the dog went.

Having briefly explained my roll in the event, one of the 4 present shared she had witnessed the accident. “A white van” hit the dog & kept going. “Well,” my choked-up condolences began, “he had one long hauling-ass, fast & furious last run.” As I got on my bike to ride back towards downtown in an effort to find the young man I overheard the crying witness say, “I hope the guy gets in trouble.” Peddling slowly I questioned that comment; was it the young man she wanted to get in trouble or the van driver?

Slowly & sweatily I went down Monument toward town. A familiar frantic voice pierced my consciousness. The young man ran up the sidewalk still in pursuit of the dog. As I’d been riding he’d kept running. He was not downtown ringing his hands out. He was marching forward to make amends for whatever caused the problem in the first place. I rode over to where he was on the sidewalk, him running, me peddling, but I was the one with the bad news. “They took him away.” Agony in the form of the word “Where?” screamed out of his exhausted soul. “I don’t know. It’s not looking good, mate.” Side by side we made it to the circle but all 4 people had dispersed.

“There’s two of them!,” I exclaimed as I spied the back of their coats. “Please go get them,” he begged. I was already back on my bike headed that way. I politely informed them the young man had run here, concluding “It would probably be a good thing if you would be willing to speak with him.” Their kindness and concern were evident as they waited for the young man to catch up. I left.

The blood-stained street remained with me as I retraced my steps, my face sharing the news with the construction workers who’d assisted me on that long haul out of downtown and into the unknown. Each of us shared a brief moment for whatever reason. Timing can contribute to many things but how we handle what’s tossed our way is up to the individual.