The Unofficial Dog Park (Flash Fiction)
Simon watches as Cricket browses sawgrass alone.
Cricket rushes waggingly. Then, Zoe! Poodling hysterical.
Tension from Flipper’s mother stains the air. Danger syrup. Simon nods to Zoe’s mother: elderly stalk of wild cotton. Flipper whimpers as Zoe circles away and back. Neck hairs electrify.
“Zoe No!” snaps Flipper’s mother.
Zoe’s mother surveys trees. Rotting broccoli mountains.
Flipper yelps when Zoe bites her hard on the haunch. Simon imagines a Gaullish plain, a trip of wizened goats herded by a sepia version of Zoe. But the unofficial dog park has no time for history.
“Goddamnit, Brenda! How many times have I told you to train your dog?”
Circling, Zoe bites Flipper hard again on the leg. Cricket snorts grass.
Flipper’s mother is madder now. “No! Stop, damnit!”
Flipper curls supine as his mother kicks the poodle whose mother shrieks. Simon steps back.
“How dare you kick my dog.”
“For the last goddamn time, Brenda, train your animal.”
“I’m never coming here again,” whimpers the older woman arm-swaddling her poodle.
Zoe’s mother snorts.
Simon pretends to browse the distant hills. He drifts back to the last time a woman that age cried so public, so rough: the home before his mother passed.
Homeward, memory burns a hole in his pocket. He flips it with a biscuit chip. Both disappear into Cricket’s maw. Aerial velocity. Common at the unofficial dog park.
< Originally published in First Stop Fiction >