(As I mentioned last week, "Sundays in My Neck of the Woods" is on hiatus while I participate in Knucklenead's Blog-Off. After reading my entry, please click on the link to Knucklehead's site to read the other entries and vote for your favorite.)
Often during the summer when I was about 13, I would ride my bike up the road to my brother’s house in the late afternoon to visit. Sometimes it would be dark by the time I rode home, but there was hardly any traffic back then (remember, I’m old; probably not that many people had cars!), so it was still safe to ride my bike that distance in the dark. Well, mostly safe.
My neighbors, the Vincents, had a large, black, ferocious-looking Great Dane. I was less than 5 ft. tall, so when standing opposite Sember (the beast’s name), our eyes were about the same level. More than once, when I would ride my bike up the road past the neighbor’s house, Sember (not to be confused with Simba, that sweet little lion cub in the Lion King) would be crouched down in the ditch, hiding. When I reached his hiding place, he would spring up and grab my arm with his enormous jaw. He wouldn’t bite, he would just hold on for a minute or two. When I complained to Mrs. Vincent, she said, “Oh, he’s just playing with you. Just tell him to go home, and he’ll leave you alone.”
It usually worked, but it didn’t change the fact that I was terrified of him, and one night his game nearly made me an early candidate for Depends! There were no street lights in the country, and Sember, being as black as night, was invisible in the dark. As I rode home from my brother’s, I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. He wore a choke collar that jingled as he trotted along behind me on my bike.
“Go home Sember,” I shouted with false bravado. The “jingle, jingle” sped up and faded away as he obeyed, but a few minutes later, there it was again. “Jingle, jingle.” This time it was closer. My heart was pounding as I pedaled faster. “Jingle, Jingle.”
“Sember, go home, “I shouted once again; again the jingle faded as he backed off. The distance between my brother’s house and mine wasn’t even a quarter of a mile, but it seemed to take forever as the same scenario repeated itself. Beads of perspiration dripped down my face and my knees shook as I pedaled. Again, but with less conviction, I croaked, “Go home, Sember!” The jingling stopped, but it didn’t fade away. I knew he was still there, biding his time, so to speak. Probably he smelled my fear!
I turned into our driveway, quickly parked my bike and ran into the house. I switched on the outside light, looked out the window, and there he was, standing on the walkway, about 12 feet from the door. Furious, I grabbed the first thing I saw, which happened to be a hard rubber coaster, the kind you put under a bed leg to keep it from damaging your rugs. It was about 3 inches in diameter and an inch and a half thick. I opened the door and heaved the coaster at him. He stood looking at me, then at the coaster which had landed next to him. In one motion, he scooped the thing up in his mouth and swallowed it. Then he turned to me with a look that said, “Is that all you’ve got?”
I closed the door quickly and locked it; I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if that black beast from hell could turn door knobs and open doors! He finally did an about face and trotted back towards his home.
Sember was never seen again after that. I don’t know if Mrs. Vincent heard me yelling at him in the dark and decided to keep him in the house, or if he died because his digestive system couldn’t handle that rubber coaster! Needless to say, I didn’t miss him. The Vincents moved away a short time later, so the disappearance of Sember remains a mystery to this day.
(Okay, now click here to go to Knucklehead's blog to read the other entries, and vote for your favorite, which will be me, of course!)