“You see him?” said the woman pointing to a dog sitting next to a corrugated tin wall. “That’s the fastest dog in eastern Mississippi.”
Slouched in the dust was a lanky hound that looked more tick magnet than four-legged racer.
“You sure you got the right dog, ma’am?” I said.
“Oh that’s him,” she said. “You just got to know the magic word.”
“And what would that word be?” I said.
“If I say it, he’ll be gone like a stripped-tailed ape,” she said.
“I take it a stripped-tailed ape is pretty fast too,” I said.
“Yessir,” she said. “I believe so.”
I looked at my GPS and wiped sweat from my face with a paper towel I always carry since living in the Deep South requires more than a little sweat wiping for a man who spends a lot of time outside the air conditioned luxuries of an office.
“My dog is pretty fast,” I said, “and I mean no disrespect to yours, but I have to say he doesn’t look too fast all leaned up against that wall with one eye open and the other asleep.”
“He’s not my dog,” she said. “He’s is the community dog. Sleeps all around like my ex-husband. Everybody feeds him.”
“Speaking of food,” I said, “I hear there is a mighty fine barbeque joint around here.”
What happened next defies easy explanation. A puff of dirt exploded from the ground around the dog as canine elbows and knees and feet and ears turned into a whole different animal, twisting and churning and grinding like those big robots in that “Transformers” movie. And then he was just gone in a howl of delight, a trail of red clay vapor pluming down the road towards a cinder block building.
“Well,” said the woman, “you used the word.”
“Barbecue?” I said.
“Yep,” she said. “If you’re hungry, just follow the fastest dog in eastern Mississippi up to that building yonder.”
I did. And I have to give the dog credit, he was not only fast, he knew good barbecue when he heard it.