[Ella, a middle-aged widow has moved into an apartment in an attractive neighborhood. She has met other tenants in her building and is beginning to feel settled. Odd and sometimes frightening noises from the apartment next to hers mystify her, but putting her worries aside, she decides to explore the area and go for a walk along her street in the evening. Coming to a dead end, she turns right at the corner.]
One streetlamp at the intersection cast a dim but spreading orange light as I rounded the corner. I didn’t realize it was so late, nearly 6:30. I tossed my cell phone back into my tote bag and continued my neighborhood stroll. A full moon would be rising soon and I looked forward to enjoying its light in the chilly evening air. All I needed now was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata playing in the background to perfect the scene. I reached for my phone again and asked Google to find the piece. As I passed the next few small houses my tote muted the sonata’s rising and falling da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da and slowed my pace.
I looked around. This block’s structures were run-down and dark, hovels unlike the cheery apartments and bungalows on my street. No one seemed to be home. No windows welcomed the passerby with warm, amber-tinted curtains or shades; here windows were boarded up. I passed an aged frame cottage less than inviting with a dim blue glow in its one rear window and broken steps leading to a sagging front porch—a dreary contrast to the sprightly middle section of the sonata playing in my tote.
The cottage matched a cracked and littered sidewalk in front of it. I kicked a grimy, plastic bottle to the curb. Crumpled on the patchy parkway lay a damp, moldy glove. Further on, a torn man’s sock, old chicken (?) bones, and a few leather coat buttons led me to the next lot, empty except for a large, cone-shaped structure at its center. As the pace of the sonata picked up, I followed the lot’s perimeter for a better view. Pulling out my phone and hoping I had enough light, I photographed it just as the sonata was gaining in frenzy. At that moment I heard a low growl.
In the growing dark—the streetlights on this block were out—I saw the shadowy shape of a large dog circling the structure and approaching me in slow, measured steps with hackles raised. My heart quickened with the last agitated bars of the sonata as I felt panic clouding my thoughts. Should I run? No. That would provoke him. Should I speak low and gently to calm him? He looked big enough to tear me apart and as he neared me I could see his fangs exposed by a horrendous snarl.
Facing the beast, I began to back up slowly toward the intersection and hoped some other person out for a walk would help me. The Beethoven ended and Mozart’s piano sonata No. 11 followed on the YouTube thread Google had picked up. While terrified, I swallowed an involuntary laugh as the strains of the Andante—my late husband’s favorite piano piece he played nearly every day until he fell ill—wafted out of my tote.
The dog stopped moving. I was sure his crouch signaled an imminent leap at my throat. Instead of a fierce growl, he lifted his muzzle and howled with such notes of grief, I nearly felt pity for him. Or did the music hurt his ears? Whatever the reason, he whined and turned away from me. Circling the cone, he paused to look at me then disappeared inside it.
Not wanting to lose sight of this creature, just in case, I continued backing toward the intersection. Once again on my street and relieved the dog had lost interest in me, I looked around. No one else was out for a stroll. Not one person or car was anywhere near the intersection. I hurried home and debated reporting my encounter. On the loose, the dog might harm kids going to and from that school. I decided to be a good neighbor and call Animal Control.
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