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Lady of the Evening
by Paul Perroni

I've been waiting for hours. The click of the belt and squeak of the opening door sing, and at last, I see freedom. Well, minimal freedom. I race down the winding cement staircase and leap onto the cool pavement. Skipper reins me in as my cold, wet nose greets a slight breeze and I take in the scent of the landscape. The perfume of a chicken pot pie baking lingers in the open air. Children playing roller hockey kick off their skates, cut through a conference of fireflies, and run over a freshly clipped yard to greet their parents; those poor working stiffs attempt to maintain an expression of joy as they putter into the driveway. My eyes land upon little Matthew landing in the arms of his father, Charlie. Poor Charlie; as I was taking a leak one evening, I overheard Charlie rambling to Skipper of his working 10 hours a day at a corporate desk and had 5 different supervisors. "It's complete bullshit," Charlie said. 

A faint chattering buzzes in the air as we loop around Whispering Wind Way; a cocktail gathering at my favorite joint across Main Street. I hope she's there. I shiver in excitement at the thought, tugging and pulling at Skipper like a work horse strapped to a cart full of whiskey, glaring back at him and thinking to myself: don't forget whose walk this is, asshole. I search around for the perfect spot, and at last, discover an untouched area. I study and circle it like a hawk, then begin: I drop my backside and my hind legs shake. At that moment, people begin collecting on the cul-de-sac with beers in hand, laughing and visiting; a car passing flips on its headlights; the light is too distracting; I feel like an actor in the spotlight ready to deliver a Shakespearean monologue, but nothing comes out, the stage fright is killing me! I give up, lift my backside and trot along: tugging and pulling. 

We cross around the cul-de-sac and disappear towards Main Street, arriving at Solche & Dux. It's a classy joint, with outdoor seating shaped in a "S" pattern swooping across the front, and brilliant lights twinkling against the light of the moon. Skipper ties me to the table leg, strokes my head and tells me to "stay." I hate when he says that, especially in this situation. I look down, then back up at him, thinking: where the fuck am I going to go? You tied me to a table. Then...she appears. She wears a black dress that is absolutely stunning, even more so against the background of the moonlight, which seems to usher her into my gaze. My eyes lock in on her legs; legs that connect to a swagger in her stride that's full of confidence and spark. And her laugh; it travels in the air and rings through the beams of light like a fighting bell. Sometimes, she'll touch me behind the ear, my left ear, speak softly and let out that beautiful laugh. I needed her at the cul-de-sac earlier; I would have been so at peace and relaxed. I would have released and it would have been perfect. My eyes open wide as she approaches. Oh, shit.