By Jim Bowman
Man stops to let small white dog come up to Jim on bench, who is staked out, 7 a.m. of a Sunday, book at ready. Dog says nothing. Neither does Jim. Owner man says good morning, takes dog away. Good.
Moments later, "Good morning" from woman with another little white dog, also silent, she from a few yards away, not yet abreast of Jim. He looks up and nods with a half wave, looks back down again, she takes her dog away.
Two up, two down in the early-morning Grumpy Jim game. Third person moments later with little black dog. Jim looks up as they approach, sees smiling off-white face of short-haired friendly woman, smiles good morning. Her little black dog, a poodle with no personality, stops before Jim and stares.
"Phoebe, he doesnt want to play," woman says but does not pull Phoebe away. Instead, she tells Phoebe again that Jim does not want to play. Phoebe, unconvinced, stays there. A third time Phoebe has it explained to her and finally she gets it and goes her way. Inning over.
But no. Comes fourth batter, mahogany-skinned younger woman with pop eyes who brings her little brown dog, who also finds Jim interesting. This woman says nothing, seems rather more anxious than the others, who seemed not anxious at all. Her little brown dog she too is reluctant to force away but dog is allowed, anxiously, to stand before Jim, curious and possibly seeking a touch on his little brown head accompanied by mild tickling of chin. But he or she too is taken away.
Down the path, there is a flurry and Jim looks up and sees little brown dog approached by little black one with much yip-yapping and then little white dog on leash and then other little white one off leash and now four little dogs in mish-mash of growls and yip-yaps.
Off-white woman, older, with short hair, is clearly gratified by this turn. Owner man of off-leash little white dog calls from other side of park and in due time the congress is dispersed and crickets are heard again, also aeroplane overhead. Also, homeless pair across the park are heard yip-yapping with occasional growl.
It's morning in America, Austin Gardens-Oak Park, 2013 A.D.