Early afternoon, and The Dog wants a walk. We take a meandering route through North Berkeley, winding up in the straggle of streets named after California counties. Back around the turn of the last century, some locals put in a bid to have the state capital relocated here, and the county streets are a legacy of that. Approaching Yolo Avenue — Yolo is the county at the southwestern edge of the Sacramento Valley — I spot a car I’ve seen before. Or rather, a license plate: “Pearl Harbor Survivor.” It’s official California issue and has a four-digit number. I always wonder what the owner’s story is, and that crosses my mind again.

Just then, The Dog signals — there’s a certain gait and body language involved — that he’s about to take a dump. The spot he chooses is at the foot of a raised deck attached to the house where the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s car is parked. The sliding glass door out to the deck is open. It’s too late for me to get The Dog to move on. I think, what if the Pearl Harbor Survivor emerges to find a dog squatting in his yard? It seems like an indignity a Pearl Harbor Survivor should not have to witness.

While I’m contemplating that, I hear the voice of an older man coming from inside the house. Singing. The tune and lyrics are familiar: “Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp/Brave courageous and bold…,” though I can’t be sure he’s not substituting some other name for “Wyatt Earp.” I haven’t heard that song in a long time; not since I was kid watching the Hugh O’Brien western series in reruns.

The Dog finishes what he’s doing. I scoop up the leavings, as required by city ordinance, with a plastic bag I’m wearing over my hand. The Dog and I move on, and the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s peace is undisturbed.

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One Reply to “Vignette”

  1. Dan,
    Great story. I liked your reporting on the oh-so-typical Berkeley Marine saga too, but this story is superb.
    You should be on NPR reading it aloud.

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