The folks across the street from us, when we lived outside of Nashville, were an older retired couple with a Cocker Spaniel named Carnie, who was the "neighborhood dog". Carnie spent his days visiting the houses of all the kids in the neighborhood, getting petted and fed and spoiled. At night, he went home (and I think he slept inside).
At this point, my uncle Ronnie and aunt Debbie were living in the house next door to us, at the bottom of the hill which had provided me with such a thrilling introduction to riding without training wheels. It was a duplex, and Ronnie and Debbie lived in the side closest to our house.
I don't remember the exact circumstances of why I was in such a hurry to get to their back door, one night, but I think I might have been late for dinner. We often ate with Ronnie and Debbie, or vice versa. It's probable that I had been sent up to our house to take a bath before dinner, and I needed to get back so that everyone could eat. The sun was going down, and I recall a slight chill in the air. So, it was probably early autumn.
Why ever I was in a hurry, I was in enough of a hurry that, instead of walking down the hill in the back yard, I jumped on the bike and hauled ass for the back door of the duplex. As I streaked down the grassy slope of our back yard, I planned on hitting the driveway of the duplex and executing an awesome power-slide which would end right at the steps leading up to the back door.
Just as I hit the gravel and stomped down on the pedal to lock the wheel, Carnie came running out of the shadow of the house to greet me. I hit him broadside, fell down and, as we slid across the driveway, and I ended up pinning him against the concrete steps with the wheel of the bike.
By the time I could gather my wits, Carnie jumped up and ran off, whimpering. At that point, the tears started. I wasn't crying because of the scrapes and bruises (I was used to that kind of stuff, by then), but I was afraid that I had killed Carnie. Or, just as bad, was the prospect that the little dog was mad at me and wouldn't play with me any more.
At this point, my mother and Debbie came outside to see what all the commotion was. I tried to get across to them how badly worried I was about Carnie. I really wanted to go looking for him to make sure he was okay.
I was made to eat, first. But then, Debbie let me take a slice of balogna with me so I could give it to Carnie, if I found him.
After I had wandered around for 15 minutes, calling Carnie, my mom called me back to the house.
"He's probably inside, for the night," she said. "You'll see him, tomorrow."
I left the balogna on our front steps, hoping that Carnie would come by, realize it was from me, and forgive me.
The next morning, the slice of lunch meat was gone and, soon enough, Carnie came wandering over for petting and treats. Whether he got the balognagram, or not, he seemed to have forgiven me.
But, I did notice that he no longer went up to the dead-end and ran alongside as I rode my bike...