“This is not a public toilet for dogs”
by Armando Gonzalez
At a small exercise park next to a bike trail, there were three men in the resting area. One of them was sitting on a cement bench, one was on his bike, and the other was standing, a bit drunk, talking and laughing about something. Mexican music was playing on a small portable radio. They are usually there everyday, especially in the morning.
A young fit looking woman wearing running shorts and spandex was running past them. They stopped talking and stared. The woman had earbuds in, and kept looking forward. The man standing said, “Unos, dos, tres. Unos, dos, tres.” The other two men chuckled. Whenever someone passed by, they tried their best not to make eye contact with the men, which made all three feel a little superior, and in turn made them feel good.
A few moments later a man walking his husky dog was passing by, but then stopped right in front of them. The dog crouched and began taking a shit near the cement bench. The men glared at the man and at his dog. As the dog was taking a shit, the man standing said “No mames guey,” loud enough for the man with the dog to hear.
The man looked up and directly at him and said, “¿Qué?”
“Aleja tu pinche perro de aquí.”
“Vete a la mierda.”
With no hesitation, all three men yelled the best insults they could think of at the man. The man shook his head and laughed and started walking away when his dog was finished, though the men were not finished with him.
“¡Me cago en tu madre!”
“Cara de mongolo!”
“Tu puta madre.”
“Eres un maldito.”
“¡Callate hijos de puta!” the man with the dog yelled. “¡Todos ustedes pueden irse al infierno! ¡Ninguno de ustedes vale nada!”
After another rapid exchange of insults, eventually the man stopped yelling at them back. He gave them the middle finger, turned his back and finally walked away for good. The men continued to yell insults at him until he became a small person in the distance. Suddenly, there was silence. No one knew what to say. The man standing tried to get another conversation going, but it felt very forced. The one on his bike said he had to go. Not long after, the one sitting on the cement bench said he had to go, too, and took his radio with him. Now, the man standing was the only one left. He sat down on the cement bench. He saw people stare at him as they passed by. He stared back at them until they looked away. A mother and her son who was on a small bicycle were passing by. The child stopped right in front of him and stared at him. The man stared back, but the child did not look away. The man wished he could say something mean to the child to feel better about himself. The mother told her son to keep on going, and smiled and said to the man, “Perdón.”
There was a long and silent moment where no one passed by. He was completely alone. To his right he looked at the pile of dog shit, which now had flies hovering over it. Eventually, he couldn’t take the smell or sight of it, so he left as well.
Armando Gonzalez was born in Santa Ana, California and continues to live there. His parents migrated from Mexico and met here and married. He has no schooling in creative writing, and has two short stories published in Somos en escrito called “Haircut” and “Working Man.” He is Mexican American/Chicano.