I’m in the shopping mall and I’m walking Randy in the shopping mall and no one is going to stop me. We are moving quickly today and I doubt that Jeff or even Candice will be able to catch us. I have him on the short leash and so when he stops to give a table a quick sweep of his tongue or to bark at a misbehaving child I tug on it hard and we don’t pause for more than a couple seconds. Randy is a big dog and he could tug against me if he wanted but above all he is good and he knows not to cross me. I am his master and I bring him food and give him a place to sleep and today I am walking him in the shopping mall and that is all that he knows or ever will know about it.

This shopping mall is not very big and I could walk from one end to the other in no time at all and get out before they even begin to load the security tapes in the VCR but today I have decided to do laps. I decided to do that just now walking past a leather store and noticing the profile of a woman’s leather boot out of the corner of my eye. Oh how that profile breaks me and reminds me that there is no one for Randy and I to come home to. Oh how that boot brings me to me and Darlene dressing in my cramped entranceway, dressing and undressing, undressing mostly, the smell of food and the warmth of the bed beckoning. I’m walking so fast people are spinning left and right and Randy is barking but I keep tugging on his leash saying Randy, Randy, C’mon Randy, and he is keeping up a respectable clip and here comes Jeff and I ask where Candice is and he says she’s sick and I say Thank God because she doesn’t have that gut on her like Jeff does and Jeff is wheezing and I am in no danger of slowing down because I am fit and I keep my body in shape through exercise.

Randy, Randy, Randy shouts Jeff and he is a bad dog and a Turncoat because he starts to tug against me and pull towards Jeff who is fat but wiley. I see Jeff coming up now and I’m pulling Randy as hard as I can but he locks his legs against mine and throws his entire body into the leash while his tail wags behind him beating against my legs. No Randy, No, I say trying to correct him but he has his heart set because Jeff always spoils him so I have no choice but to let the leash go and watch as Randy loses his footing and spins out on the floor and recovers and barrels into Jeff knocking him off-balance.

Randy, Randy, I call but I don’t stop running and I’m tired of laps and so even though he doesn’t turn from Jeff who is struggling to find the leash I keep on running and head outside where the cold air catches in my throat and the sun blinds me and I’m forced to stop and catch my breath while Jeff comes up and puts his arm on me and puts Randy’s leash back into my hand and says the mall is closing soon and says if I want to wait he’ll drive me home to where I live without Darlene.

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