I was house-sitting near Windward Circle last week. One night I went out to get a bite to eat. Before picking up some organic pink lentil soup and vegan coconut mousse at Seed, I took a stroll along the beach to watch the sunset then came back via the Boardwalk. There was a rock band made up of very thin and hip young men – all in very tight jeans – who were playing at the end of Westminster. They had a horn player, in particular, that caught my ear. I liked the song that was finishing. The sun was gone, only crimson dusk and baby blue left in the waning day sky. A gathered crowd was in a good mood, grateful that warm had returned to Southern California.
The singer – shirtless, standing next to a blonde guitar player – announced they were going to play one more song. An old black guy in a wheel chair and heavy green coat, sitting near me, made a sarcastic aside, “Oh now it’s the last song. The last one was supposed to be the last one…and before that, that was the last one.” He didn’t seem as if he wanted them to stop. I think he was annoyed that they were indecisive about when they were through.
Before they launched their final number, the singer – his hair cut so that it kept falling in his eyes – told us, in a European accent that might’ve been German, to look to our left, then to our right. “These are your new neighbors,” he informed us with the deep sincerity that only young boys, sure of who they have decided they are, can have. Regardless, of whether or not that friendly neighbor talk was real or just part of the show, I smiled. They were so young. Giddiness is fleeting, but sneaks up on you from time to time.
The Pink Floyd cover that came out next was barely tolerable, unfortunately, unlike the previous two songs I had heard. I lasted a few more minutes then headed back to the apartment.
The next day, I was walking dogs in Venice, near San Juan and Westminster, when a woman, with whom I was familiar from the neighborhood, called to me. She was holding two boxers by the collars. One of those boxers was red, but old with a lot of fur that had gone gray. The other, a female – was even older, white with sores on her belly.
The woman, in her 40s, had a walking cast on her left leg. She was of the Old Venice sort, a plucky, aging Granola gal kind of like me, I suppose. ”Do you know whose dogs these are?” She explained that the boxers were out wandering.
“No, I have never seen them.”
“Can you help me? I don’t want them to end up in a pound.” They did not have tags and she wanted to put them in her car, so she could drive around the neighborhood. Though I knew old dogs like those would be put down in about five hours at a pound, I was a little nervous to assist, because the old female lab I was walking, did not always take to other dogs. But, she was fine. So, I held the grandlady boxer by the collar, while the woman put the other one in her car.
“Well,” I said, “you know they haven’t come from very far. An old gal like this can’t move that fast.”
“Oh, I know. They belong to someone close.” She took the other boxer from me, balancing herself on her good foot.
“I will look for open gates while I am walking dogs. If I see anything, I will let you know.” Pointing to the red boxer who had on a navy blue doggie jacket, “That one has a coat, so they haven’t been out very long.”
A half hour later, I hadn’t seen any houses, that looked as if they might have been security breached by a couple of curious, ancient canines. I told the woman when she stopped and asked. The dogs were still in the back of her car. She hadn’t had any luck in locating the owner either. “I’m going to take them to the vet and see if they have microchips,” was her next plan.
I found out later from a third party, who lived on that same street, that the dogs had been implanted with chips and they were returned to a grateful owner. I thought that a stranger in a walking cast had certainly gone to some trouble for a couple of really old animals that didn’t belong to her. That’s Venice. That’s any place where there is love. That’s home.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee.