There is a man walking so slowly up the park path. He pauses near a bench. He’s wearing black sweats over a button-up white shirt. He pauses to watch a corgi named Linus. He shuffles to the other end of the bench. He reaches down and holds onto the arm of the bench. Shuffle-turn, shuffle-turn. He switches hands, turns with a hand out behind him to catch his fall and sits down.
The park is maybe two acres. Governor’s Park. The benches are black steel or wrought iron.
He sits for at least five minutes, deciding who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Just kidding.
He doesn’t believe in heaven and hell. He only believes in white button-downs and black sweats. He believes in exercise and other men. He wishes for his youth and shakes his head at the Boston terrier trying to tree a squirrel. Alien dog.
Not that I would throw rocks at a squirrel but I have hunted with my childhood dog. We had that bond and voles ran in fear.
The man still sits. We have the same thought. A Chihuahua-Dachshund mix stops to roll in something. He thinks about believing in hell. Being a Chiweenie would be, quite possibly, hell.
So would wearing the cologne of the man with the blue heeler mix smoking a cigarette with his pants falling off. The man is smoking, not the heeler, but still.
The old man in the black sweats stands. He greets a Scottie dog. He greets a woman who is healing from shoulder surgery. He judges a young man doing CrossFit in the park. (I don’t actually know that but I hope.)
A woman steps out of a car and brings the man a walking stick – his daughter perhaps – and he tells her everything he’s seen. The corgi, the Boston terrier, the heeler, the Chiweenie, the Scottie dog. She, it turns out, has been waiting in the car this whole time.