The Dog Walkers, A Poem by Chris Russell

Michelle Delaney had been walking around downtown in her pajamas all day. Joe Benton said she came right up to him, put her big breasts in his face, and asked how he was doing. Marsha McFadden said she saw her moving from friend to friend down the street, throwing her rear end onto them. Ricky Clifton said she started grinding on the fire hydrant outside McCaffrey’s to some Gangnam Style coming out of a Patti Slatherly’s new Escalade. I walked downtown to McCaffrey’s to see if any of it was true. There was a crowd of what looked like 200 people outside McCaffrey’s, standing behind some police tape. Marsha was in the back holding her camera over the crowd. “Michelle took things too far, didn’t she?” I said. “She took all her clothes off and started trying to do some stuff with Frank’s Dalmatian,” she said. “Enough said,” I said. I didn’t want that image in my head. “No, you don’t understand,” she said. “I suppose I don’t,” I said. “All the dogs walking on Main Street started trying to do things to their owners,” I said. “That’s horrible,” I said. “No, not like you think,” she said. “Paula’s Shih Tzu actually started talking in English,” she said. I looked around again. I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed it before. Dogs were walking their masters down the street, and sitting on benches while their owners lied on the ground. A Saint Bernard told his owner to go save them a seat at Subway, and that he’d be right over to order lunch. “What’s on the other side of the crowd?” I said. “Michelle,” she said. “Doing what?” I said. “Nothing now,” she said. “What happened?” I said. “She’d dropped to all fours and started trying to eat the customers,” she said. “Eat them like someone would eat a dinner?” I said. “She started biting them and tearing at them. She took a few with her. They had to put her down,” she said. “But look at what happened as a result of her efforts.” Dogs were taking the clothes off their owners and putting them on. Marsha tried to itch the back of her head with her foot. “Let me help you with that,” I said. She nipped at my hand, got around behind me and started trying to sniff my backside. A couple dogs wearing power ties and one carrying a Prada bag stopped walking their owners and looked at me something terrible. “He’s smart,” the Doberman said. “Sometimes their brains can get too big for their skulls,” the Rottweiler said. “I think that’s a lie,” a Jack Russell said. “You’ve never had a pet Sam, so you wouldn’t know,” the Doberman said. “Whatever, Lacy,” he said. I pretended I was a dog and circled around Marsha, sniffing her backside. “Billy, what’s happening to us?” Marsha said. “You mean, what’s happening to you,” I said.

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