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 A woman's taking her late-afternoon walk
on Chestnut where no sidewalk exists
and houses with gravel driveways
sit back among the pines.
Only the house with the vicious dog is close to the road.
An electric fence keeps him in check.
When she comes to that house, the woman always crosses to the other side.
I'm the woman's husband.
It's a problem loving your protagonist too much.
Soon the dog is going to break through that fence, teeth bared, and go for my wife.
She will be helpless.
I'm out of town, helpless too.
Here comes the dog.
What kind of dog? A mad dog, a dog like one of those teenagers who just loses it on the playground, kills a teacher.
Something's going to happen that can't happen in a good story: out of nowhere a car comes and kills the dog.
The dog flies in the air, lands in a patch of delphiniums.
My wife is crying now.
The woman who hit the dog has gotten out of her car.
She holds both hands to her face.
The woman who owns the dog has run out of her house.
Three women crying in the street, each for different reasons.
All of this is so unlikely; it's as if I've found myself in a country of pure fact, miles from truth's more demanding realm.
When I listened to my wife's story on the phone I knew I'd take it from her, tell it every which way until it had an order and a deceptive period at the end.
That's what I always do in the face of helplessness, make some arrangements if I can.
Praise the odd, serendipitous world.
Nothing I'd be inclined to think of would have stopped that dog.
Only the facts saved her.

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