It's ten in the evening. I'm wide awake. Orion's wide awake. We decide to go pester Zachary, my nine-year-old neighbor.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Zachary told me if I ever want him to knock three times and he'll know it's me. I fail to notice how my regular pattern of knocking on anyone's door extends beyond three knocks, but just go with it.
Delmy answers, with a joyful "OOH! Oh Ry anne." Delmy does not speak much English and seems to perhaps have never had a dog in her life, but I can tell she's amused by Orion and sort of likes his enthusiastic kisses and attention that he applies to her. Zachary on the other hand, pokes around her back, lego's in hand and Orion clobbers all over him.
Orion gets off him.
"Hey, I was wondering if Zachary could go for a walk with us?"
The exchange occurs in Spanish then Zachary tells me, "Oh yeah, I was just changing arms, let me go put them down and I'll be ready. I already went on a long walk with my mom this morning to the store. She is tired."
I tease Delmy about building muscles, then tell her to holler at Zachary to meet me up front.
Disappearing into my apartment, I grab a bag, find my keys and loop out front to meet Zachary.
We're walking along, the sidewalks empty in the night sky. Street lamps toss a flat color in patches along one side of the sidewalk and Zachary's blinking his pocket flashlight while fiddling with his Lego men in his hands.
"So I was thinking maybe you might like to walk him," I say, aware that Zachary is now getting shorter, while Orion is getting taller. This fact has not escaped Zachary either as I see him turn his body away slightly at the fifty-five pound lab bounding to meet him.
"I don't want you to be scared of him as he keeps getting bigger."
"Oh I'm not scared of him."
"Well okay but just if you ever are we can work on things. He has to learn not to jump anyways. Maybe you can help me train him with that."
We're chatting away, talking about maybe Zachary coming over for the day when all of a sudden something jumps in the grass and Orion dives. My arm about gets ripped off and I see a flutter of what I'm quickly realizing are wings.
"OH NO! ORION DROP IT!!!"
I wrap the leash rapidly trying to get ahold of Orion's face. Bird feathers are wiggling in his mouth. Oh gross. Gross. Gross. I begin to pry his mouth open hoping that it's true that labrador's gently hold their prey.
"Gross gross gross!"
Zachary, behind me has the other half of the leash and is laughing at me gagging.
"Oh this is so disgusting. Oh gross."
I shake the bird out and drag him up the sidewalk. About fifty paces away I'm still grossed out.
"You should've let me do that. I see blood all the time," Zachary says. "Bird blood wouldn't gross me out. I could've done it."
Fifty-five pound lab mouth prying to a eighty pound nine year old boy's hands....
"Will you go back and see if the bird is alive with your flashlight?"
Off Zachary trots. His little light is tracing over the grass.
"I don't see it."
"Well that's good. Maybe he just stunned it."
"Let's go home. That was so gross."
Zachary laughs and resumes control of Orion.