“You go girl!” says the girl not exercising to the girl exercising.
The girl exercising continues exercising without missing a beat.
The girl not exercising turns to her two girlfriends, also not exercising, the three of them just walking, and she gesticulates.
“She does,” says the girl not exercising, “look at her running fast up this hill,” as if she has to convince her girlfriends, who don’t bother looking at the girl exercising, leaving their girlfriend looking by herself.
I don’t look either. Why bother?
Lenny walks 8 ft away from me, plowing through tall grass, dipping his nose in wet holes.
What looks like a pile of ash attracts him something fierce. His skulls whips violently as he sneezes. Once. Twice. The third time the side of his skull whacks the mountain of fine ash.
I’ve seen this happen to him in our kitchen. We have wood floors.
“Are you okay, Lenny,” I say.
At first he looks for me where I am not.
On the second try he finds me, cocks one ear and side cocks his other ear, and I see tiny goldfish swimming around in his chestnut eyes.
At the workout station I tie him to a pole, the same pole I always tie him to. He has a right to hate this pole, but still he gets along with it, lying at attention in the gravel, panting, hyperventilating, his pupils dilated.
The chemicals in his brain fascinate me. He looks wild. At home he’s tame, but out here the corners of his mouth stretch back to his ears and his eyes glaze over.
It takes longer for my voice to reach that part of him that responds to Lenny.
I put my feet on an inclined wood bench, my left hand on a green post that reaches higher than the bench, and my right hand on that green post’s partner.
I do 25 pushups, dropping my chest low between the green posts.
Lenny watches me as I do downward facing dog followed by upward facing dog.
I leap my feet in between my hands and do a back bend.
I reach my arms over my shoulders and gaze through the leaves at the sky, standing on the wood bench.
Lenny whines and acts crazy when I walk too far away.
“Sit,” I say.
Lenny looks at me and takes a few seconds to sit.
“Lie down,” I say.
Lenny does this surprisingly fast.
“Chill,” I say, “chill, so daddy can be strong like Lenny.”
From my perspective this seems to work, but maybe I’m overoptimistic.
Pullups happen, 10 of them because I do it the easier way.
Lenny lets me workout. Every now and then I tell him, Good boy.
3 sets amounting to 53 pushups and 22 pullups later, I free Lenny from the post he was once tethered to and begin our return home.
On the way, near a parking lot, footfalls behind us get louder. Lenny stops to get the lowdown. I see him intensely looking at a man running toward us.
The man sidesteps into the grass after gauging Lenny’s gravity.
“Sorry,” he says to Lenny under the waning Austin moon.
He presses the wireless car alarm on his keychain.
A brightly painted car with a superfluous spoiler beeps and blinks its turning signals yellow twice.
I look at the moon while we wait to cross the street.
An acute feeling of us being part of the universe.
My chest cavity expands.
Lenny’s chest cavity expands.
All along the right side of our street, at regular intervals, splashes of tiny pieces of glass that missed the recycling truck glint under the streetlights.
Two cabbage palms stretch their necks higher than the surrounding trees, firework fronds silhouetted by the night sky.