Diddly

There I was walking among the swaying trees, palms I think, although I didn't give it much thought at the time. I was deep in thought. Trying to release what i had to release, retain what I had to retain. Regain what I lost. Restrain what I couldn't hold back…

Ok I digress. Did you know that digression is a form of expression, but only to yourself? Tragically too many people don't realize this. Or realize that. Whatever person you're talking in or to.

Anyway, I was walking among those trees. The fronds were slapping against my wet legs, or maybe my legs were dry and the fronds were wet. That seems a little more logical. They were the ones out in the rain overnight, not my legs. I can prove it. Just don't ask for photos.

The waves crashed against the rocks and I ate a sandwich. That was after I got out of the trees and being frond-slapped. It was a good sandwich, made of lettuce, tomato, and some kind of white cheese with sliced turkey. No spread though which made it rather dry. Quite the opposite of my wet legs.

All of a sudden I saw a red and silver jalopy swerving down the beach toward me. The driver's door was swinging open and closed, and sand was kicking up everywhere as it bore down on me.

Of course I stood there like my socks had been cast in iron and welded to 10 yards of 1" boilerplate. I suppose either I didn't believe my eyes, or I had left my glasses back in the room and just plain couldn't see it, which I knew I hadn't done or I never would have made it down the hotel stairs. I dove to the right—my right, not yours— into a small minty-smelling grove of flowers, and narrowly escaped being the victim of a heinous jalopicide. As it turns out all I was a victim of was yellow flowerburns on my elbows.

I climbed to my feet, and brushed myself off—something mostly done by others—and looked around for the jalopy. It had tumbled on down the beach and had come to a jolting stop against a white picked fence about 20 yards away.

A scraggly little terrier jumped up on the back seat and start barking at me as I got closer. I didn't see any other people in the car, not that the terrier was a person, although I have considered them more intellectually focused than more than just a few people I've known.

"Had the dog been driving? Wow what a question," I thought to myself.

Anyone looking at me would have notivced an inquisitive expression on my face, but I don't think the terrier did. He just kept barking.

I had stopped short of the back bumper, fearing a nasty terrier bite. Especially after being frond-slapped. The barking was getting on my nerves. Finally I cleared my throat and conjured up some words to throw at the mutt.

"Hey! Have you been driving this vehicle without a proper license?" I said in my most authoritative officer-of-the-law tone.

The terrier just cocked his head and looked at me like I had suddenly gone blurry. "Great he's drunk too," I thought.

"Where's your driver's license?" I said again, acting impatiently with a slight bit of agitation mixed in for good measure. "Have you one or are you operating outside of the law?"

Another head cock. But this time he also stood up higher on the back seat and I could see his tail wagging. Flop, flop, flop, slapping against the vinyl upholstery it slapped.  

"Bark!" he said. "Bark, bark."

I could tell he had plenty to say but since I had no translator it was tough for me to figure out. This terrier was definitely no Lassie.

Maybe he was just an unfortunate passenger in a vehicle that was abandoned by it's driver at a most inopportune time. I decided to take a chance and look inside the car for clues. Taking care to not arouse his suspicion, I slowly walked over and peered through the open driver's side door and looked at the floorboards. No blood or anything. No silky lingerie. Nothing but a ragged gray Dodge floormat.

I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck. I felt a bit uneasy and snuck a glance to see what he was doing, and his eyes locked with mine. It wasn't a happy meeting.

He began barking crazily and running around the back seat like he had just treed a mama raccoon in July. Then he jumped out of the car and ran around to where I was bent over and snapped at my khaki cargo shorts, pulling at the right pocket where I kept my cellphone and keys.

"HEY NOW!" I shouted. "I mean you no harm! Bacon! Squirrel!" I hoped those magical words and a good strong hand motion towards the trees would distract him, and maybe make him run away salivating. It didn't work and he continued pulling at my pants. Great. Dog slobber.

"What's going on here?" a husky voice from behind me said. The terrier released his bite to see where the voice came from and I turned to see a short, portly gentleman in hip waders and a red and white striped shirt walking up.

"There you are Diddly," said the man, as the terrier jumped on him excitedly, licking his hands and face. "I was wondering what happened to you and my car."

"That's your dog and car?" I asked.

"Oh yes. Diddly—my little friend here—likes to take it out for a toddle every so often on the beach. Since it's mostly secluded I don't worry much, but it looks like he found you today!" he chuckled.

"I think he lost control of it this time. He crashed into this fence and I doubt the owner's of this house will be too happy about it," I said.

"He has a hard time with turn signals, and the clutch of course. Just not made for a dog's feet. I've been mulling sending a letter to Detroit about that. Of course I could always just break down and buy him a new car…one of those new sports jobs from Italy. But then he couldn't do any more beach driving, just strictly streets and his astigmatism just won't allow that. You know, the glare and all…especially in the afternoons."

I laughed. I laughed again. Just the thought of a dog driving was enough to toss the responsible party in the lock-up, but to actually encourage and accomodate it? Well that was too much. Way too much.

"Are you serious?" I said. "Diddly should'nt even be in the street let alone operating a moving vehicle." All of a sudden I sounded like my father. If I wasn't bald I would've sprouted a couple gray hairs and a new wrinkle or two. Good thing I wasn't wearing black socks with my shorts or I think I would've just sat down and cried.

The portly man's face grew a sad frown and I could tell he was either going to verbally abuse me or re-enact a scene from Westside Story.

"Oh you wander onto MY beach and tell me what MY dog can do with MY car? You make me sick. You and your close-minded culture full of only-humans-can-drive mentalities. You can all go straight to…"

Right then the jalopy engine fired up and roared to life with a smoky blue backfire. The wheels spun in reverse and I caught a glimpse of Diddly's ears flapping in the wind as he powered past us and drove directly into the surf. The car immediately died with a steamy hiss, and both the portly man and I ran out to see if we could rescue or recover the car or Diddly. I stopped short of the water because I was wearing new kicks and didn't want to expose them to a lot of sea water quite yet, but I shouted my encouragement from a dry patch of sand.

"I'm not risking ruining my good shoes over this kook and his mutt." I thought. "Grab him around the shoulders," I shouted, acting as if I knew anything about canine anatomy, and really cared.

The car was being pulled out to sea. As the man carried Diddly out of the water he kept glancing towards the disappearing vehicle, muttering something about insurance and his heart condition. As the waves swallowed it entirely we just stood and looked at the empty surf. Even Diddly seemed depressed. You could see it in his eyes. His wagging tail didn't help matters much though.

I shrugged and expressed my condolences, and then thanked the heavens above that the dog wouldn't be driving anymore.

I spent a few more days on the beach—in a different quiet area far from the Diddly spot—enjoying the sunny days and starry nights. As I checked out of the hotel and was loading my bags into the airport shuttle bus, I caught a glimpse of a brand new shiny blue sports car speeding by on the street in front of the hotel. I didn't see a driver but saw a short brown furry blur and heard a familiar bark.

It couldn't be...

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