A lethal goddess, a savage beast, and a band of unsuspecting passerby converge, to chilling results…
by: Frederick Foote
I grew up in the South, in the countryside where I’d run barefoot on dirt roads and paths throughout the summer. When I became older, I moved West and channeled my love of running towards tracks and cross-country courses in high school and college. Today at thirty-eight, I greet the sun as I run along the river and through parks six days a week while wearing high-tech running shoes and reflective neon running gear. I record my mileage and route on my phone and end most of my eight to ten mile runs with a hundred-yard closing sprint.
This morning I’m running west over the Old Town Road Bridge as the sun chases away the last of the night. I’m in the groove, feeling the bridge, tasting the humid breeze, and building strength with each stride — a powerful start to the day. I don’t see the ninety-pound Pit Bull charging my way until the beast is about a hundred feet away.
I have just crossed the bridge. I skid to a stop and turn back to it. I slip on the morning moisture, then vault over the six-foot bridge railing to a narrow ledge as the dog slams headfirst into the rail right where I was standing.
I’m looking down on a battered, bloody, foaming-at-the-mouth animal that is breaking his teeth on the steel bridge. I’m shaking. I can’t take my eyes off the ferocious attacker on the bridge.
The canine suddenly turns to the other end of the span where two women runners wearing earbuds are trotting onto the deck. The monster charges toward them. I’m yelling at them. Waving at them. Screaming at them.
They see the threat — too late to escape.
I vault back over the bridge as a cyclist in yellow racing togs speeds onto the bridge heading toward the developing disaster. I sprint toward the women, but the dog is almost on them. The cyclist is side-by-side with the mad dog.
There is a sound like a gunshot from my end of the bridge.
The sound freezes us for a second. Humans and beast look toward the sound. A tall black woman in a floor-length gown of brilliant blues, blinding reds, and incendiary orange snaps her fingers. The running and rolling come to an abrupt stop.
The bicycle rider takes a spill.
The women topple over backward.
I fall on my ass on the damp bridge.
The dog is a statue.
Amid our chaos, all our eyes are on the black woman. She slaps her right thigh with her right hand, hailing the dog. The dog turns and starts trotting to the strange woman. The animal does not want to go to her. Its terrified. Its small eyes are showing only the whites. We all see it. It shudders and shakes like in a fever. But its pace never falters.
Its fear is heartbreaking.
I feel sorry for the damn dog.
I keep my eyes on the mutt.
I don’t look at her. I have seen enough of her to last a lifetime.
The brute is a few feet away from her when she turns. The helpless, whimpering creature follows her down the embankment and under the bridge.
The dog screams in agony.
The four of us now rubbing elbows, shaking, and grabbing each other for comfort.
We are freezing on this warm summer morning.
Everything is quiet. There are no bird sounds, nor the noise of traffic. We can only hear the wailing of the screaming dog.
I want to cover my ears and my eyes and retreat home. I yearn to start this day over.
The cyclist takes a step toward the witch’s end of the bridge. One of the women follows. The other woman and I take a step back. The witch is in the middle of the bridge. She points at us.
The cyclist grabs his bike. The four of us scramble off the bridge.
We’re ashamed to look at each other.
The witch is gone.
I run an alternate route. I feel that I have just narrowly escaped the fate of the dog. I’m feel a coldness in my core now. Exercise and heat can’t warm me.
I stay away from the bridge now. In my every night nightmares, she and I are on the bridge. She slaps her right thigh for me.