Friday, March 30, 2007
Television, Part 1
(First in a two-part series.)
Lynn noticed the dog first. A rope with a puffy, frayed end tied it to a light post.
The dog wagged its tail, but didn't bark. Three women bent to coo in puppy talk, but their eyes narrowed at the girl leaning against the wall. It was her dog. She was the one who tied the dirty bandana around its neck.
The girl sat cross-legged on a few layers of cardboard. Kind of Zen-like. A couple knelt to talk to her rather than the dog. Their faces were shadowed and pained. The girl's face drifted with a slow, syrupy peace.
Lynn approached and stood behind the couple.
"Can we get you something? What would you like? A sandwich? We can get you a sandwich."
Food. Always a dilemma.
A woman butted in. "Do you feed this dog? Look. I can see his ribs."
The boyfriend glared back. The girl just stared down at her knees.
The woman dug into her purse in a huff. She shoved three dollars at the girl. "This isn't right. He shouldn't be out here all day like this."
The girl took the money. The woman patted the dog, cupped his face, and sang a goodbye. She rushed off with her spring coat flapping.
The couple shook their heads at the dog lady. "So what can we get for you?"
The girls lips parted only a crack, like the effort overwhelmed her. The couple leaned in. Lynn couldn't hear what she breathed out.
"Alright. If you're sure. You find a safe, warm place tonight then. Okay?"
The girl took the five the couple offered. Lynn spied mottled bruises creeping down her forearm. Of course, the couple saw nothing.
"We'll come see you again, okay? To make sure you're alright."
Lynn watched the couple stand. They didn't want to leave her. They were such good people.
Lynn was now the only one. The girl fixed on Lynn's shoes, then crawled her gaze up to Lynn's knees, her waist, her face.
No recognition. Lynn was too clean and well dressed.
Good. What would she have said, anyway?
Someone swooped in and dumped more change for the dog. Damn, the girl was good.
That was enough cash for two bags. Did she shoot three? Probably. The chick could obviously afford it, so why not?
Lynn moved on. She had a few dollars left for coffee. That's why Danny always sent her to buy. She could talk anybody down.
She decided to sneak a bagel too. She liked the way they looked in the basket so much better than they looked in the trash.
Danny didn't have to know.
Go to Part 2.