Wow. She really likes you. She doesn’t usually just go up to people like that. And I don’t think it’s just because the park is empty. She usually finds people uninteresting, unless she smells fear. You’re not nervous are you?

There’s no need to be nervous. She’s a K9 Unit. A dog-cop.

Freeze!

Just kidding. She’s a rescue. I found her behind the water treatment plant on the Westside. That’s why she smells like Noxema. I lured her into my car with some loose meat I found over there.

Oh, uh-oh. Why’d you let her grab ya? Because I’m a perfect stranger and she’s not your dog? That’s too much thinking for being this deep in the woods.

Relax.

Also, be careful not to urinate any more than you have. Your khakis are a dead giveaway, and the smell might make her territorial.

This’ll be over in a second. She’s only playing. She’s funny like that. Your hand probably just has a really interesting mouth feel. Navigating the contours of your hand’s bones is good for her neuroplasticity. A thousand different roads for her teeth and tongue to explore. She’ll let go when the lesson is over.

It’s funny, she’s usually such a picky eater. I typically feed her refried beans, minute-rice, and some Quikrete, for her teeth and coat. That’s what gives her that glimmer and most of her girth. She’s double the size of what most Saint Bernards should be. She looks like a Saint Bernard, right? Their canines usually poke out like that, sort of like mini tusks, but reversed and way more frightening. And that little tail that looks like a tassel, classic Saint Bernard.

I’m kicking myself because I usually keep treats in my pockets for this sort of thing. Leave it to the one day that the Goodwill runs out of baby shoes, Francesca makes a new friend. I guess I could give her a book to gnaw on. You don’t have a Bible do you? She loves chomping those things. And you know what? No matter how much she chews, Revelations somehow always stays intact.

Maybe we should walk over to my car so I can play some music to calm her down. Frankie likes “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” by DMX. She finds all the barking soothing. Or, I could put on a podcast for us, since we’re going to be standing there anyway. Sword and Scale makes her ears perk up, especially when they go into overly graphic detail, like enough for you to remember that they are talking about real crimes that happened to actual people.

Lighten up, will you?

It’s not a ton of blood. A ton is two thousand pounds. That’s a quart at most.

Well, yeah you look pale, but you’ve been standing under my sun-brella. That would make anyone lose color.

Oh! See, she let go. Who’s a good girl?

Ah, I guess she wants to explore your other hand. Bon voyage, Frankie!

Oh, don’t be silly. You don’t need your phone. She’s just messing around. Dogs love to play. It’s how they excise their primal demons. Besides, your fingers will probably tear off if you try to reach into your pocket. And if Frankie sees blood, she’ll lose it in the worst way.

She’s calming down now anyway. All that foam in her jowls means she’s about tuckered out. Just ask our mailman, TJ. That is, if you can find him. Strange how such a meaty man can go missing.

If you do somehow see him, let him know I found his watch wedged in between some funny-looking bones in Frankie’s stool.

You know, I really don’t take her to the park much. I mean She’s great off the lease, though I will say, yelling her name only seems to make her run faster and farther away. She’s my little missile.

But most of the time I just put her in a harness and have her pull the car around our block. The neighborhood kids love it. They all run inside and peek through the curtains as we pull by. It’s how the sun must feel during an eclipse—everyone staring directly at the thing that can do them great harm.

Well if you’re just gonna doze off like that, Francesca and I will get going.

Frankie. Stop? Drop? Shut ‘em down, open up shop?

Good girl!

Say, goodbye to your new friend, Frankie.

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