That morning, May 12, Mary Jane washed her hands in the kitchen sink and looked out the window observing the sun and calculating the temperature. She put on her walking shoes with shaking hands and her Walkmen and headphones with the same precision and purposefulness she'd done for the past 12 years since living in Southern California. Today, she was listening to Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Tomorrow, would be the gospel of Matthew—Sermon on The Mount.
She walked out into that morning, the sun shining on her like melon cream, as a gentle breeze lightly pulled at her hair, cooling her skin. Her face gave off an expression of sadness; apathy. She headed down to the boardwalk and looked for Bob. She knew he wouldn't be there today, but something told her to keep looking and he'd show. It was the first day of the county fair and the workmen were setting up the sellers booths with fine fresh produce squeezed from the Pacific sea, great mother to us all.
Mary Jane picked a bench where a seagull sat and immediately flew away when she approached with that same quiet patience she always had, not ever wanting to disturb any living thing. She'd known Bob for eight years. Bob was a former Naval officer at Port Hueneme. He'd done two tours and come back with a drinking problem. His wife left him. He never married again. He was funny and charming. Bob had a real nice sense of humor and took to Mary Jane quickly. They were bingo buddies at the adult community center. She was good with predicting people, and he was a numbers man. They were something else together—competitive and seemed to win every week, but knew how to take it graciously like most competitive people don't know how to do. They would just laugh and get the whole room rolling so hard on one of his jokes. He liked to tell stories. Mary Jane sat herself upon the bench and looked serenely out over the sea.
It was approaching ten in the morning, and she had just completed the second letter to the Ephesians when she was startled out of her daydream by a soft whimper coming from below the boardwalk. She stiffened up and listened. The sound persisted. She got up from her seat and leaned over the railing. Below, a small dog of whitish fur stained yellow and brown was panting furiously and looked to be injured. She approached the animal with reservation.
The dog looked up at her with small beady black eyes hidden behind a shaggy tuft of hair. He whimpered softly. She bent down slowly and extended a hand. He sniffed it, curiously, then gave up in an expression of sadness, dropping his head between his front paws. She extended her hand again, this time to stroke his matted coat, accidentally touched his left leg and the dog gave a shout and reared his head as of to bite her—but she pulled her hand away to prevent such an occurrence.