The Harlequin Great Dane was maybe two years old and almost grown into his over-sized puppy paws. His massive head bigger than a basketball with quizzical deep brown eyes. Porter admired the dog’s unblemished gray coat.
“I guess I’ve taken to calling him Boo Boo,” Jo said as she shrugged.
“Isn’t he yours?” Porter asked.
“Naw. He just showed up last night. Now he won’t leave my side.”
“If he’s Boo Boo, does that make you Yogi?” Porter asked.
“Maybe. But Boo Boo was the smart one. Yogi was a con man.”
“Interesting spin on the pursuit of pic-a-nic baskets.”
“Bundled in his heavy farm coat, wool cap and heavy mittens, Rudy left the warm confines of the homeless shelter. The wheat sculpture was unrecognizable under several inches of snow. He walked in the same direction he and Otto trekked a few days prior. The unplowed snow was knee-deep and still coming down as he trudged on. As he broke a trail in the snow, he thought of his animals on the farm and hoped his father put them all in the barn to survive the night.
“A layer of ice remained hidden under the snow. The first snow of the season was always the wettest and this was no exception. His thick, wool socks were no match for the frigid snowmelt soaking into his boots.
“The hike that had taken him and Otto only fifteen minutes was approaching an hour when he reached the first structure buried in the snow. Rudy had never seen snowfall like this. He’d heard his father and other old farmers talk about thundersnow like it was a mystical act of God. Trudging through waist-deep drifts as he crossed from the industrial complex while listening to thunder rumble and boom with the staccato flashes of lightning, Rudy decided Dante got it wrong all those years ago. Hell’s address was more north than south: more ice than fire. Sinners needed a parka rather than sunscreen. “
“Men from the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus stood at varying distances down Ninth Street. Several smoked, some fidgeted with their tattered overcoats and others stood like statues dedicated to the disenfranchised, but none of them talked or interacted. On the other side of the street, women scurried down the block leaving their office jobs and headed for their cars parked on the southern reaches of downtown.
“Abby preferred to keep her ostrich head in the sand and oblivious of mankind’s perversions. Predatory and uncivilized, men on one side of the street set to pounce while their quarry ran from tree to tree with heads bowed in fear. She imagined Rudy escorting her down the street, guiding her away from puddles and opening doors.
“Rose and Abby strode down the male side of the street. Several men nodded a greeting, two even said Rose’s name like she was a local celebrity — famous among the destitute. Rose walked with head held high against the freezing rain that misted around them. Abby felt like she was walking down the high school hallways with some of the popular girls. For some reason, this put her at ease like popularity equated to security, but it also made her yearn for the banality of school. Abby longed for fourth period chemistry or even fifth period physics. She’d even welcome the horror of gym class. But routine made her easy prey as she considered Aidan stalking the high school hallways. “