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The Puppy that Wasn't There

You know, there are days I hate working in the city.

Seattle, like most of the West Coast, is an official no smoking zone. Therefore, in order to indulge my nicotine addiction, I usually go outside to the corner of Third and James to smoke.

Well I'm standing there, right, when this woman comes walking down the hill from fourth. I notice that she stopped every few feet and bent over, trying to pick something up from the ground. I just ignored her and pretty much went about my business.

Well soon, she stopped no more than five feet from me and bent over again. This time, she was close enough that I heard mumbling.

"Nice doggie," she said.

I spun to look at her. She was no more than fourty-five or so, and in relatively good phyiscal shape. There was no sign of weathering on her face, as is usually found with the homeless, and her clothes were clean.

But she kept talking to a dog that wasn't there.

I stepped aside, trying to stay out of her world. She leaned down farther, petting the head of nothing, then fell over on the sidewalk.

She immediately rolled onto her back and started crying and howling like . . .well, like a whipped dog.

You know, if I were reading this, I'd be laughing my ass off right about now. Yeah, I'm a jerk. I'm also an ex-cop who hasn't quite gotten over his gallows humour.

But standing there, it was one of the saddest moments I've had in quite some time.

She cried and howled as if she were dying for a good minute. I asked her if she was okay, if I could do anything. She ignored me.

Then, as suddenly as she had started, she sprang to her feet and walked off as if she and the woman who was just sprawled upon the sidewalk at my feet were not just two different women, but completely different species as well.

I'm a fucking weirdness magnet.

Welcome to downtown Seattle.

Enjoy the rain, enjoy the pain.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.

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