It’s so much easier to watch from across the street, you don’t have to pretend that you’re not. Three parties: The victim. The victimizer. The witness. He’s a big, tall, burly man; a thick blanket of white hair sits on his head, he tugs at the leash with distaste, disregard, hate. He walks fast, with a purpose. I can’t see his face from across the street; well, more like I can’t get an accurate understanding of his eyes as I keep missing them. They stay set directly in front of him or darting down and shooting bullets at It. “It,” is a beautiful, coffee-colored mutt, mid-size, and in complete terror of him. I can’t distinguish if it’s a male or female, as its’ tail remains wrapped between its legs protecting itself with the sheer will to survive. The witness: the couple who remain a few feet behind, walking briskly in chase of him and it. She’s furious. Her pace matches his set, tense, hate-filled energy; her partner just behind, trying to catch up.
The dog is almost paralyzed by fear. It stays crouched when walking, as if ready to be hit, smacked, burned, kicked, bitten. It attempts to do what normal dogs do, that is, smell its surroundings and learn its environment, but there is a constant interruption by violent tugs of the leash, spinning it into more terror. For a moment here or there, the man stops them, another tug, and says something low and spiteful, as if spitting onto its face a gob of black flem. Another rough tug before continuing to walk.
The girl has her phone in her hand. I can see what she is attempting to do. She remains at a distance, unaware by the man, trying to catch an act of violence “worthy” of calling 911. It is clear in plain sight that this dog is being abused but if there’s no evidence, the law deems it unfit to press charges or act at all. This infuriates me. I find myself following them down the across the street, hoping to remain hidden in plain sight too.
She’s so tense. She looks like she’s about to cry with rage. She can’t take another minute and decides to make the call. Her partner tells her to calm down, take a beat, wait on doing anyone just yet. I hear, “You’re upset…what can we do?…he’s doing nothing…what are you going to say?” He tries to take the phone from her but she violently tugs her arm away from him, unaware how her anger is now leashed out on him. Her eyes stay fixed on her target. Hungry for revenge.
And then there’s a moment. A shift in a decision. She lets distance grow between the victim, the victimizer and them. Her partner sees that she’s listening, faintly. She takes in his words like from some corner in another room, some muted place where perhaps her ears aren’t fully functioning. A look of failure seeps over her face. He softly touches her arm again and says something quiet I can’t hear. It calms her. She sinks into is embrace and cries.