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Circle of Life

I can still see Momma trotting up and down the alley next to my house with that long leash dragging in between her paws. She was a mutt of some sort. Definitely had some pit-bull in her. She had a short brown and white coat and a long curly tail that was almost as long as her body. She’d take herself for walks all around the neighborhood. Her cigarette eating owner would eventually appear at the end of the alley with his giant belly peeking out under an oil-stained hoodie; his sausage fingers hoisting up his baggy jeans every three or four steps.

“Come on, Momma!” he’d call to her. She’d turn around and bolt up the alley towards him; almost colliding with an on-coming car. He’d try and scold her by saying things like: “What’s a madder with you, huh?” She’d just sniff his legs and continue to run amok causing more cars to brake in her path.

I stood in my yard and spoke to the man from behind my chain link fence. He told me that Momma was pregnant and this would be her third litter. He even bragged about having plans to sell them after they were done nursing:

“Hundred bucks a piece.”

“Oh, really?” I’d reply with fake enthusiasm.

“Yep, that’s it. After them, she’s gettin’ fixed … she’s done.” I nodded. “Yep, got a couple a buyers already lined up.” I nodded again and watched Momma run past the fence; her plump teats swaying back and forth.

The man always struck me as “not all there” and I sensed he had nothing else in his life except his smokes and Momma. He was a nice enough man and Momma never tried to bite me or anything, but many neighbors ‒ including myself ‒ were concerned for her safety. Of course, no one ever said anything.

One night, while sitting in my living room reading, I suddenly heard a car’s tires scream to a violent halt across the pavement. Then deathly silence. I slowly put my book down and walked out onto the front porch. There was a white SUV parked in the middle of the street and a man in a suit standing in front of its blazing headlights. He was cupping his mouth; I could see agony pouring from his eyes. Sitting in the middle of the street was Momma’s owner:

“Momma… Momma!” he shouted. I opened the gate and walked closer to the street and saw Momma lying next to him. She wasn’t moving. He kept calling to her: “Momma… Momma!”

He then began to cry like a toddler who had accidentally broken his favorite toy. Neighbors soon appeared. They stood and watched from their porches with arms crossed. The driver and I just stood in the middle of the road and watched the man weep for his Momma.

I felt bad for the man and for Momma, but I also wanted to say to him, “Well, what did you expect?” I decided not to waste my breath. Anger in my stomach made it boil and I slowly and quietly walked back inside. His disturbing wail penetrated through front door.

A few days later, while mowing the lawn, I saw the man coming down the alley walking a puppy that looked a lot like Momma. I figured it must have been one that she birthed before her passing. Thankfully, he was holding this one by its leash. The man acknowledged me and stumbled over. I knelt down and extended my fingers through the fence. The curious puppy sniffed them with its wet nose.

I sincerely asked the man how he’s been since that unfortunate night. He swallowed and looked down at his feet. He then lit a cigarette, took a drag, and looked me straight in the eye and said: “Guy’s a moron!” I nodded with clenched fists.


Christopher Campion is pursuing an MFA from Wilkes University.


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