It’s 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I’m in my pjs, talking with my sister in the kitchen as she makes a snack. Suddenly, we’re interrupted by a knock on the door.
Immediately, I panic. Have I been listening to too many true crime murder podcasts lately? It’s possible. But when you learn that Richard Ramirez wandered around town testing people’s doors and windows to see if they were unlocked, and when they were unlocked, he took it as a sign that they were asking to be brutally murdered, AND when you learn that various Manson Family members would go on “creepy crawls” in which they would sneak into people’s homes and rearrange the resident’s furniture while they were sleeping just to mess with them, you start to question everything. You can’t unlearn things like that.
Unfortunately, I am so paralyzed by the images of these terrors flashing in my mind that, by the time I come-to, my sister is already standing at the open door talking to the person on the other side. Shoot. Quickly, I recognize the voice as belonging to LaRhonda, our quirky neighbor, which of course is better than hearing the voice of a psycho killer… but only slightly.
I walk to the door. LaRhonda greets me with her gravely voice, waving a plastic bottle of what appears to be a tall, homemade vodka/orange juice. “Oh hey, girl. Were you asleep? Sorry to bother ‘ya – this’ll just take a minute. Hear you’re havin’ some trouble with that neighbor’s dog over yonder way?”
“Yeah, the pit bull?” I respond. LaRhonda nods as she swigs from her bottle. “Did Bryan talk to you about it?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she says. “Yer husband said that damn dog cleared the fence and came after his neck a few days ago.”
“Well, it did jump the fence and run at him, yes,” I agree.
“I’m havin’ all sorts of trouble with that mutt, too. Day after he came after your husband, he came after me and Ashley.” (As you may recall, Ashley is LaRhonda’s very rotund Chihuahua who sometimes gets pushed around the neighborhood in a baby stroller wearing people clothes.)
“I walked out my house, and that pit bull came right for Ashley,” LaRhonda continues. “I kicked it to get it away” – she mimics the kicking motion here – “then it came lunging after me! Right for my face! Now, you know I’ve been attacked by many dogs before, [??!] so I know the first thing to do is lift your arms up above your head and cover your face like this.” Again, LaRhonda demonstrates the posture. “Last thing on earth you want is a dog tearing off your face. Ain’t gon’ help me get no dates with a dog bite face, you know what I mean?”
Her gravely laughter peals through the air as she pokes the soft of my arm with her finger. “Mama needs to meet a man! Ain’t gonna meet no man with a half-face!” We laugh together as Ashley appears from around the corner of the house.
“Anyway,” LaRhonda says, “Point is, I called Animal Control, and that dog will be gone by end of the week.”
“Oh really?” I ask. “Can’t they take it to get rehabilitation or some kind of training? I really don’t want it to be removed from the home permanently.”
“Nope,” LaRhonda pronounces. “Dog’s gone by Friday. And if that dog ain’t gone by Friday, it’ll be gone by Friday.” She winks. “Know what I mean? GONE.” She slides her pointer finger across her neck.
“Uhh, ohhh?” I stammer.
“And that reminds me another thing,” she says, speaking softly through gritted teeth so I know it’s a secret. “Off the record, ‘kay? You ever feel threatened? I can offer you some protection. Yes ma’am, just come over to me, say ‘LaRhonda, I’ma take you up on that’ and I have got you covered. You know what I’m sayin’? One time, I almost shot a cop with a Glock when he was trespassing on my property. Anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, I can help.”
“Oh…” I can’t think of how to respond. “Well, thank you-”
“Well, guess I better get Ashley on home for bed. All right, you let me know if you or your husband has a problem with that dog again, ok? Y’all have a good night.” She mumbles to Ashley as they walk through our yard toward her home.
“Don’t forget,” LaRhonda shouts as she rounds the corner. “Always keep yer face covered! Cain’t get no dates with a dog bite face!” Her laughter splinters into the sky as she turns out of view.