A Christmas Disaster (w/ happy ending)

When Sheila and I arrived at the park this morning, about a hundred of her furry frenemies were already there frolicking. One woman had lost her furry friend.

“Coco!?” she called.  “Coco!”

The woman (who was clearly either Barb or a Kathy, let’s go with Kathy) was not alarmed. Kathy sounded irked. The irksome Coco was nowhere to be seen, and Sheila and I continued our walk.

Fifteen minutes later, after completing our urgent business, we were ready to leave the park.

Kathy also approached the exit, still yelling for Coco.

“Coco!?” she called.

A guy with a beagle pointed outside the park, toward the busy intersection where the farmers were setting up the greenmarket.

“She went that way,” he said.

Kathy broke into that shuffle you do when you’re trying not to look like you’re hurrying. You do it when you’re less calm than you would like. It’s the exact opposite of the elbows-up fake run you do in an intersection when some driver wants you to hurry, but you could not care less about the driver’s poor time management. Her hands were straight down by her sides, and her shoulders bobbed from side to side as she hurried out of the park.

At the open space created between the park exit, the farmer’s market, and the streetcorner, five men with leashed dogs were standing around like a Greek chorus.

“Right there!” someone said, pointing to a long-haired yellow dog, whose half-hour of freedom was rapidly coming to an end.

“Coco!” yelled Kathy. “Stop!”

Coco did not stop. She bobbed and weaved, her head and hips low, looking guilty but defiant. Sheila and I watched from the park exit, both our mouths open, one tongue lolling out. The farmers at the market unloaded crates of apples and evergreen wreaths.

The five men converged in a zone defense. Coco, who had been reading the news about men, did not like their pentagram trap. She darted toward the busy street. Cars and trucks raced past, downhill on DeKalb Avenue, bound for very important destinations on Flatbush Avenue.

“Coco, NO!” yelled Kathy.

“It’s a Christmas Disaster!” yelled one of the farmers, unhelpfully.

The five men and their pentagram trap collapsed into a useless open-sided blob shape. A bloodhound mix, sensing drama, began baying.

The bloodhound bay is one of my favorite sounds because it achieves a perfect balance of urgency and hilarity. You cannot take one seriously, but you’re interested in whatever they’re talking about.

“OooOoooOO,” said the bloodhound.

That set off the other dogs. Coco saw the thick traffic and darted like Kam Chancellor around a tree. Kathy lunged for her. She missed. Coco dodged around the five men and their dogs.

“OooOOOoo,” said the bloodhound.

Then, a Christmas Miracle. “Oh, here, look,” said Kathy. She pulled from her pocket a little baggie, presumably dog treats, and jangled it.

Coco was enticed. Jangle, jangle, jangle. The men held their dogs back. Coco slunk up, ears flat. We all went still, even the unhelpful farmer. Coco crept closer, then nosed against the baggie for a treat. Kathy grabbed her harness.

The five men breathed five sighs of relief. Kathy’s recollection of the treats in her pocket, although perhaps belated, had saved the day.

“Let’s go home,” said Kathy. Coco wagged her tail.

“OooOOOoo,” said the bloodhound.

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