The Bite Path






Margie Marek


 
© Copyright 2022 by Margie Marek



Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez at Pexels.
Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez at Pexels.

It all happened so fast. I’ll never for certain whether the bark and the lunge was the reason or the result of my snatching Hiro back.

NO! Gunner, sit.” she orders. The German Shepherd instantly obeys. Tightening her grip on the choked leash, she meets my horrified eyes, placating “I’m soooooo sorry,”

It’s alright. I don't see any blood.”

Are you sure?” she presses. “Check him again. What’s his name?”

Hiro. He’s still white. He's smiling. I'm pretty sure he's okay.”

Pshewewww,” she exhales, relaxing her shoulders and giving us some space.

There’s a whooshing sound like standing on the platform a little too close to a passing train. The library looks extremely big and red. The trees shout green leaf noises and the new spring foliage blurs together like Monet’s Water Lillies. The air has a pulse and I can taste fear ringing in my ears. Hiro feels extra soft and super strong. Restraining him is difficult. He doesn’t want to be scanned like an alien life form any longer and struggles to break free.

HERE’s the problem,” I wince, noticing big, dark droplets of blood spattering the concrete. Slow at first, the drips steadily gain momentum and in seconds I have a Florida summer afternoon torrential downpour streaming out my sleeve.

OWWWWWW! … ohhhhhhh, nowwwww THIS hurts!!” I hear myself wail.

Let me help you,” she insists, roughly wiping my wrist with her dirty sweatshirt.

StoooP.”

Ok, ok, ummmmmm, ….I’m Dawn. What’s your name?”

Margie.”

Margie, listen,..I’m taking Gunner to my car and call my son to come get him. Do you live around here?”

Yeah.”

Great. I’ll drive you and Hiro home, We’ll drop him off and I’ll take you to get help”

I feel the hard ground through my exercise clothes and attempt a nod of assent, except my head is too heavy to lift. Instead, I roll my neck sideways resting my cheek on the cold pavement. A full-body ice-pack straight from mother-nature.

Please, PLEASE, sit up,” Dawn beseeches.

I can't.”

Try.”

I don’t want to.”

Bikers come by very here fast; they might run you over.”

I’m NOT sitting up.”

Aruuuhhh, I’ll be right back,” she relents, tugging on Gunners leash and they disappear from my view.

I hear a disembodied voice hovering, soft and gentle, like a white fluffy cloud. It’s not Dawn.

Hi... excuse me, is everything alright? Are you hurt? Do you need me to call the police?”

NO, no police,” Dawn adamantly affirms, returning at that exact moment.

Yeah, no police,” I groggily echo, mesmerized by the spinning bicycle wheels’ egress.

My son will kill me if I get his dog taken away,” Dawn confides desperately. while squatting down to my level..Abruptly, she yanks Hiro’s leash from my clenched fist and supports me upright. The weight of my body leans on her, as we three wobbly make the twenty-five step trek toward the parking lot, her car and home.

Really, it was so fast, I… I don't know what happened first. Did I grab Hiro BECAUSE Gunner barked or after? I can't believe I didn't feel this. Oh I'm a mess. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Thank you for helping,” I babble as she arranges Hiro on my lap and reaches over me to buckle the seatbelt. Her fancy SUV feels safe and sturdy thumping and bumping over the parking lot’s familiar interlocking brick pavers

Apprehensively, Dawn breaks the silence as we crest Mt. Hope Road, asking,“Do you want to go to the hospital?”

I HATE hospitals,” I confess, directing her to my house with hand and head gestures, adding, “I hope urgent care is enough? I'll call my dad once we’re at my place. He’s a doctor. He’ll know what to do.”

This is a nice house,” she placates, as we traverse the hallway toward the kitchen.

It's a mess.”

I shrug off her attempt at a compliment making a B-line to the sink, grimacing and groaning as the cold water washes away the dried blood. I fashion a makeshift tourniquet out of a twisted paper towel. It bleeds through immediately and I change it before picking up my cell phone.

My dad’s not answering; it’s 2 hours earlier there; he’s in Colorado.”

Wellllll…. Where do u want to go?”Dawn asks, anxiously circling my kitchen island.

Urgent care is fine. If they can't treat me, they’ll send me to the hospital.”

Perfect; let’s go,” she directs, picking up her keys and grabbing ahold of my elbow; stabilizing me to her car.

We arrive at urgent care in under five minutes, because of its proximity, not our speed. The waiting room feels like a social service office or the DMV. with its fluorescent lighting, orange plastic chairs, grey flecked tile and outdated children's toys.

The woman at the window collects my insurance information and asks me a lot of questions.  Dawn offers to pay.

What’s the point? My insurance covers it.”

I flatly refuse her offer and turn my attention back to the woman at the window. She looks at Dawn and apologetically explains,
 
I’m going to need some information from you, too, ma’am. Its the law. We have to file a mandatory report with animal control,”,

Even if his vaccinations are up to date?” Dawn weakly protests.

The woman at the window answers yes with her eyes and Dawn reluctantly complies

The wait is negligible and they call us back. The nurse instructs me to sit on the padded chair and gently begins to clean both puncture wounds with cotton swabbed in alcohol.

This may sting,” she warns, after the fact.

Squeeze my hand,” Dawn generously offers.

Reclining on the adjustable vinyl lounge-type chair covered in white paper, I stare blankly at the sandpaper ceiling and see the water stains in the corners for the first time. I wonder how clean the place actually is, then consciously push the thoughts from my brain, replacing them with relief that I’m not in a hospital. I reposition myself and hear a crinkly sound, reminiscent of walking with my Hiro over dry leaves in autumn. This soothes me. as the light is too bright and it smells like a basement.

At least I'm not at the gynecologist,” I think.

HaHAhaaaa!”

Did I say that out loud?! I don’t like the gynecologist as much as I hate hospitals”

Me too,” the nurse admits, winking conspiratorially.

Me three,” echos the doctor upon entering the room. I like her already.

After examining the wounds on both sides of my wrist, the doctor reports I will need a tetanus shot.and stitches. I'm starting to like her less.

The tetanus shot hurt. A lot. Then, the doctor gives me a shot of novocaine directly into the wound below my thumb. Now I don't like her at all, and am really glad I’ve got a hand to squeeze. I hold onto Dawn with all I've got, and maybe give an extra squeeze for vengeance. I can’t decide which is worse, the tetanus shot or the stitches, when it dawns on me THE WORST part already happened.

In the aftermath, albeit traumatized, I bravely start walking Hiro on the same stretch of bike path. We are swaggering more confidently as days turn to weeks. It’s a sunny summer day,. We’re on an afternoon walk and a chill cuts through me like a laser. I shake my head like an etch-a-sketch, frantically erasing the unpleasant memory. My reverie is interrupted by an approaching shadowy shape.
Hiiiiiiiiii. How ARE you?” Dawn calls out, as if we are long lost friends.

I'm all healed, Dawn,” holding my right arm up, as proof. To proactively protect us, I stop walking, move onto the grassy shoulder, tighten my grip on Hiro’s leash and tell her, “Youuuuu stay on that side and I'll stay over here.”

After inevitably crossing paths, I wait until she and Gunner are a safe distance away, before I’m able t laugh at my own wit, Stepping back onto the concrete with my Hiro, my right arm still raised in triumph, I shout to everyone, “Now I call this the biTe path!”


Margie Marek resides in New York, is an animal and nature fanatic, and, outside of her dog, Hiro, and Heritage Hills Community Theater company, WORDS are her favorite  PLAYmates. She has shown and sold her visual art work, written and performed stand-up comedy, and acted in a Garrison, NY production of an original play titled Dinner Theater. Lately, her poetry  has been making “guest appearances “in her local newspaper, The Somers Record, and she is involved in an HHCT production of the play An Inspector Calls; learning that “good people” transform words from PLAYmates into lasting friendships.




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