Not even halfway through my 10-mile run this morning I turned the corner in Miller Park and I see two sets of eyes glowing in the light of my headlamp. “Fuck,” I think. “Coyotes.”

I don’t know why I thought that. I was in a park in the middle of the city where there are never any coyotes. But that thought gave me a bit of solace because I know that coyotes are skinny little cowards who like to run away. But the two sets of eyes kept getting closer. They started growling. Then barking. The next thing I know there is a pit bull on either side of me, doing that thing where they’re getting low on their front paws, growling like they’re about to pounce.

I unlatched my vest and wrapped it around my wrist in case I needed to punch them to death. They didn’t let up. I noticed one of them had a leash on. They probably belonged to a homeless person camping out by the river. They began to circle me, barking and growling. Although I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes, I did see the headline: Morning Jogger Mauled to Death by Pit Bulls. I cringed at the thought. I would hate to be referred to as a jogger in my final headline. It sounds so bourgeoisie and dainty. Runner would have been better. College professor, maybe. Tattooed bro? Casanova?

Anyway, I was pretty much shitting myself at this point. I had given myself away to the reality that the dogs would eventually get hungry enough to eat me. That’s when I saw a car coming my direction. An SUV. I waved my hands, hoping the driver would stop and take me out of the park, onto Broadway, where I could finish my run. The man looked into my eyes and I looked into his and he kept going. He didn’t even try to look away. There was no shame in his eyes, as if to say, “HAHA I AM IN A CAR AND YOU ARE NOT!”

The only people in Miller Park at 5 a.m. are drug addicts, prostitutes, and the ultra healthy. It’s a bad mix and the dude probably wanted to get home to enjoy his crack cocaine without any drama. I get it. Luckily, the dogs chased his car as he was leaving, which gave me an opportunity to put some distance between us. I saw a parked car about 50 feet away and I made my way there, slowly. A man in the driver’s seat rolled down his window enthusiastically as I approached. “Hey,” I said. “I’m in danger of getting killed by a couple dogs over there. Can you drive me over to Broadway?” The man shook his head “no” and rolled up his window. “I can’t drive you anywhere,” he said with the disappointment of a man who just found out his dreamy male hooker was actually just a runner who was about to be murdered by pit bulls.

Luckily, the dogs had chased the car a few hundred feet down the road, but I could still see them. I was essentially trapped. So I did what any self-respecting middle-aged man would do. I called my dad. When I told him what happened, he almost seemed cheery about it. He loves this kind of shit. One time when I was on drugs, I stole his van and drove it from Sacramento to San Diego. When he found out where it was, he flew to San Diego, took his van back and drove it back to Sacramento. I know he was bummed, but I think he might have appreciated the adventure. Actually, I’m sure he would disagree with that statement, but you’re welcome anyway, dad.

“I’ll be right there,” he said, and I waited for about 10 minutes for him to arrive.

When we pulled up, he was smiling. We passed by the dogs on the way out of the park. They were humping each other. On the ride home I told him about the run, the dogs, the guy who passed me in his SUV even though I was making obvious distress signals with my arms. And I told him about the guy sitting in his car who rolled up the windows when I told him I needed a ride to safety.
“He probably wanted a blow,” my dad said, as we rolled back home before the sunrise, along that empty stretch of Broadway, in the safety of his warm hybrid Camry.

Josh Fernandez © 2020
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