“That’s Merced,” after three years, I still use these two words to brush off the reality some people I experience leave on my psyche. It is like the series Twin Peaks you should not expect anything resembling normalcy here in Merced. For example:

My two dogs and I started out for an early walk before the hot weather imprisons us in the house for the rest of the day. I visit the park often to chronicle the still falling Eucalyptus trees. Somebody, online,  actually rated the park  4 stars, he commented, “a great park with three felled tree bridges and one man-made.” Was that meant to be a joke,  but it is true?

After running their free spirits away, my tired dogs and I started the walk home. A few seconds after this photo,

Buddy and Mitzi
Heading Home

I clipped each leash back on their leads; Mitzi tends to not like to share the park. Sure enough, here comes Merced, she was about 24 years old, 150 pounds, 5′ 8″, and broad at the hips.  We noticed each other.  She swayed her shoulders side to side. The “I’m bad” double step many Mercedians do. Without fail, I look straight down at my phone so that she knows I care less about her performance nor her presence.  I looked back up as Mitzi started to growl so I pulled her in by the lead until she was within three feet to my left side. The girl gangsta walked past Mitzi who then barked, and to my WTF, the girl kicked Mitzi in the ribs; an abused shelter rescue dog under my care was kicked for barking. Mitzi howled in pain and ran behind me whimpering. The girl stopped and I stood there giving her the death stare.

Past experience had taught me there is no heated argument, interlude, nope. You skip that and go right into getting beat up. Having been attacked once for being vocal in Merced, I knew better not to say a word. Yet I felt my heart beating and begging for me to say something. My stare never wavered until finally, the girl said, “I’m a wolf, a wolf, I eat shit like that for breakfast.” “Well, my! Guess we should be moving along,” I said as I created some distance between wolf girl and me.

Looking back I felt she was far enough away that I could run if necessary. So, I let my rage out with my face raised to the sky I howled like a wolf over and over, adding, “I’m a wolf.” I laughed as I heard her profanities echo through the trees across the park.

When I called my girlfriend in Colorado later that night she replied, “I told you not to irritate the natives.” I just cannot keep quiet. If I see something I inherently know to be wrong, you will hear me speak.


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