*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When my best friend and I were teens, we loved to spend our afternoons playing games in the neighborhood. One of our favorites was bouncing a tennis ball back and forth between us while walking down the sidewalk on opposite sides of the street. It was always a fun way to pass time, but it eventually led to an unexpected adventure.
One particular afternoon as we merrily bounced our tennis ball back and forth, it suddenly flew over a neighbor's fence and out of reach. In an effort to salvage our beloved game, my friend and I decided to investigate further by approaching the fence together. As soon as we got close, however, we heard a deep bark coming from behind it. We assumed it was a big dog that had gotten itself a free tennis ball.
My friend and I stood at the fence for what seemed like ages, debating whether or not to attempt getting inside, or even whether such an act would be safe at all.
What should we do? Do you think the dog will bite us if we try to get our tennis ball back?
Neither of us wanted to confront a barking dog, but we did want our tennis ball. We didn't have another one. Nor did we have the money to go out and buy a can of tennis balls.
Eventually, necessity won out, and we slowly opened up the gate only to discover something much more interesting than a dog: an old man who was quite clearly annoyed with us. We learned later that he had been living there since before either of us was born and didn't appreciate young kids losing their tennis balls on his property.
In the end, the old man relinquished our tennis ball. First, he scolded us for bouncing it over his fence in the first place, and we promised not to let it happen again, which was a shame. I think he was just lonely.
We thanked him profusely for returning our tennis ball, but we didn't ask about the barking "dog" we'd heard. We thought it was best not to antagonize him... just in case we accidentally lost our tennis ball over his fence again.
To this day I still chuckle whenever I think about that afternoon; how two teenagers could mistake a cranky old man for a barking dog is beyond me. I suppose the fact that he tried to scare us away by barking at us had everything to do with it. I'm glad we had the courage to investigate. At least we got our tennis ball back.
What would you have done? Comments are welcome.
All rights reserved: copyright Tracey Folly 2023.
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