Once strays terrorized a neighborhood. They considered themselves to be elite purebreds, examples of proper bearing and discipline, but in fact they were just vicious strays, abusing anyone they met and proving themselves a menace even to those good souls who might have befriended them. When officers from the pound showed up in response to mounting complaints, they found these strays acting as if they were a law unto themselves, running wild and injuring adult and child alike. Cries of pain from their victims only seemed to increase their ferocity. Even the officers dispatched to the scene quickly grew apprehensive these strays might prove a danger to them as well. Rather than confront the problem directly, the officers chose discretion over valor and decided to follow up on accusations made by many victims that these out-of-control strays were not strays at all but trained attack dogs belonging to the owner of the biggest house around. Assuming this owner would be concerned about the menace posed by the attack dogs and would be eager to control them out of a sense of civic responsibility, the officers approached the house, only to find the place heavily fortified and forbidding. That is, except for a small gate in the back, which had been inexplicably left to swing on its hinges. The officers moved to do what they saw as their duty and close the gate when an angry voice suddenly rose from somewhere in the depths of the house. “What the blazes are you doing?” “We thought you’d like someone to close the back gate for you,” one of the officers replied helpfully. “Well you thought wrong. What I do with that gate is my business.” “But your obligations to the community—“ “What do I care about the community?” the answer boomed back. “Do you own a number of attack dogs?” “What’s it to you?” “Community bylaws require residents to keep—“ “Don’t quote the law to me. Do you have any idea who you’re talking to? The mayor of this burg, that’s who. I am the law, in case that hadn’t dawned on you. Attack dogs, protection dogs, it’s all in how you look at them. People who get bit must deserve to get bit. What were they doing to attract the dogs’ attention, anyway? And if they don’t like it, they should get out of town. Now, I’ve got more important business to attend to, so don’t bother me about what I’m sure is just a case of a few bad apples, nothing more.” “But you’re the one who left the gate open, aren’t you?” “So what?” “That makes you legally liable for any consequences.” “No it doesn’t.” “Why not?” “Because.” “Because why?” the officers asked repeatedly but received no further response, leaving them to look at each other and wonder what they should do next. And as they looked and wondered and looked and wondered, the strays sniffed them over once or twice and then returned to their life on the loose unconcerned.
Copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Grosshans