WHO LET THE DOG OUT
The house was very modern, very spacious. The door was wide open and I walked right in. A minimal artsy setting. A familiar shiny white face greeted me. A short-haired blonde man in his early 40’s. Dressed in expensive slacks and cotton shirt. A deco look, not unlike the furniture. Someone I had seen before but I could not remember where or when exactly, but somewhere in the TV or film production business. A face that had always been friendly before but not now. “What are you doing here?” the face said. “I was invited.” I said. Thinking “You asshole.” Who are you to ask me that?
I moved passed him. This scene is the usual group of slightly above the line film industry people. However, that was not strange for me. I had been at a dozen of these parties and usually had a good time. No music, that is strange.
I helped myself to the punch bowl of fruity booze and moved on ignoring another familiar but unknown shiny face. I was invited! I think. I look in my pocket and checked the invite. There it was in big block red letters on white paper, “Party” and the address. Hearts too like a Valentine. Silly invite, I think.
The house was not crowded and yes, most of the men seemed gay but there were pretty women about too.
I see there is a balcony terrace overlooking the Hollywood Hills and the Valley below. One of those balcony terraces that look out over a two hundred foot drop to darkness.
This house overlooked Universal and its famous tour. The tour tens of thousands of tourists traipsed through each day, wondering what it was all about and a tour that was now sending fireworks off into the night sky. I was seeing all this through a large bedroom window. I wondered how to get out there on to the terrace where most of the guests seemed to be. I want to be there too.
I looked for a door out. No door. A voice in the corner of the bedroom shouted something to me. A direction — so quick, so sharp. What was this guy saying? I must just not be seeing the door. Sometimes my vision was sloppy. I could not see something right in front of me. The bedroom was very dark. Only the glimmer of lights from outside lit it.
I felt a draft at my feet. There was a low door slightly open. I pushed it all the way open and thought I might bend down and go through this low door, maybe four or five feet off the floor and three feet wide. The door was wide open now. I thought to bend down and go through it. But that did not feel right. No. A crazy idea.
As I bent my head to stoop down, a dog ran passed me at a full trot and with a burst of energy that straightened me up. A longhaired and shaggy beast of a good size. Like a large sheep dog. Black and white with wavy long shaggy hair. Running straight out the door, right at the low wall of the terrace, never stopping, leaping over that wall in one powerful determined leap to the drop far below. God!
It is one of those moments in life where you know you have just seen death. You have just seen a final act, a final defined image that you will never forget. Blink! Picture that! Sealed in time.
The dog was toast. Gone. Dead for sure and some how — I was partially to blame. I had opened the door and these two other guys in the dark bedroom still sitting behind me would attest to that fact, I’m sure. “He opened the door!” I told him “Don’t open that door!” “He opened the damn door!” I did.
A low murmur and a sigh went up from the crowd outside the bedroom window; they all knew the crazy dog leaped his last leap. Dead for sure or so broken up you have to shoot him or have him put down.
By the time I got outside the whole party was abuzz with the dead dog. The leaping dog story. Whose dog was it I wondered? I should say something. Or should I? These bastards and all their stylish friends will want me dead. They may throw me off the balcony. Why did I open the door? What did that guy say to me? Maybe “Don’t let the dog out!” The dumb beast was probably locked in the bedroom and I let him out to his death. These people will have my head. Why did this dog not do this before?
I am now at the spot where the shaggy dog leaped and I look over the balcony, there is more light below than I would imagine. In some back yard I see the lump of black and white hair next to a pool, not moving and yes, very dead. A patch of blood, a large dark spot next to it.
I should talk to the owner. Nobody is saying a word to me and no one is even looking toward me. Maybe I should just get the hell out of here? Just slip off to my car parked down the street. I feel for the car keys in my pocket. I quietly slip the lone car key off the bulky key chain. I don’t want to be searching for it with a mob chasing me. I should talk to the dog owner. The house owner? Who owned the dog?
Now and then people are glancing at me. I hear the cops have been called. Cops? I didn’t do anything wrong. Although I feel like I did something wrong. I feel that I am to blame. Why was I in the darkened bedroom? Lost like Mr. Magoo. The party was outside. Why did I stupidly open that door that was obviously not for people? Why? I had better go.
I move to the front door of the house. Most of the guests seem to have gone. Where is the homeowner? Where is the person who owns that dog? No one is stopping me. I am outside on the street again. I see the cop talking to what I imagine is the owner. I am not talking to anyone. I did not do anything!
I will walk to my car and drive out of here, forget this night, forget this party. I am scared like I am going to be hunted down and shot for letting this guy’s dog kill itself. Dumb animal! It must have been miserable. An unhappy dog, sure. Maybe the guy beat his dog? Maybe it didn’t even live here and had no idea there was a drop over that wall. Yeah, that makes sense. Just wanted to run home again. His owner should have left him home. I finger the key in my hand and walk to the car.
I get in the car and slowly get in the line of cars that is pulling passed the house. I tell myself I am not going out for a good while ever again. Just stay home. I have a cat that I never take anywhere. Never.