In the hot, damp darkness amid the smell of engine grease and motor oil and kibble, I felt the weight on my chest as more ursine than canine. For a moment, I was like, a fucking bear? If it weren't for her breath, which was distinctly digestive-juices-of-dog reek, I would have imagined a mama bear had somehow broken into the garage and I had wandered between her and her cubs. I fell back into the Harley's carburetor, my weight, and the dog's, taking the bike down so that it fell in a mirror-shattering clatter and half-empty-gas-tank thump. I had been on the phone when mauling commenced, and I could hear Howie continuing the conversation, repeating what the CEO had told him, that I had been too angry, too confrontational, and that I needed to dial it back a little. He continued in this manner the whole time I was lying against the downed motorcycle, while my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I wondered why the dog wasn't coming in for the kill. The sound of the motorcycle had momentarily confused the bitch, and then I felt something around my right loafer, a warmth and wetness and then a flash of pain as canine incisor passed through skin and into bone. I told Howie I had to go.
"Mahali, hey, Mahali," I heard Tonk calling off his dog.
"Hey, Mahali, girl, down girl, down!"
The dog was actually gnawing on my foot. I could now see the massive tip of the nose, the rhinarium, shiny and moist in the light spilling from the open kitchen door. Tonk was trying to see into the darkened garage. I was watching the dog, its eyes rolling up with delight at using my foot as a chew toy. I had read an account of someone who survived a pit bull attack by shoving his arm up the dog's esophagus after the dog had locked his jaws on his hand. The suffocation causing the dog to unlock his jaws. This seemed a reasonable approach. I was ready to shove that loafer all the way down Mahali's windpipe, to let her deep throat that spendy Italian leather until she gagged.
The dog's head was jerked back and she yelped in surprise. Tonk had taken her collar and was pulling her back toward the back door and the yard. "I'm sorry." [End Page 96]
I looked down at my foot—was that bone?—which was turning shiny with blood.
"I thought she was—"
"Took her up to Pulaski. There was a papered purebred sire," Tonk said, shoving Mahali out into the yard.
"Right, you told me she would be gone. So I didn't expect any—"
"Didn't go well."
Mahali and the male mastiff had been let free in the backyard, you know, to sniff each other out. Mahali ran straight at the poor stud and snapped his neck. My foot was just her idea of a late-night snack.
"Hey," Tonk said, taking in the bloody mess of my foot. "The room? Let's say that's on the house."
What? I wondered. Of course the room is part of the house—oh, I got it. I leaned down to get a better look at my foot and then, wow, a lot of blood … I didn't recall anything until I woke up in Tonk's recliner, his fellow Outlaw biker and former army medic Doc looking at my foot and holding a syringe up to the light.
"A prick," Doc said.
"I need to go to the hospital."
Tonk shook his head. "Mahali's clean. Had her tested for everything before we tried for the litter and Doc here can stitch you up better than any professional croaker."
"I kind of don't feel—" I was about to say something about not trusting Tonk or Doc or any of the other bikers who were gathered in the kitchen, drinking beer and murmuring amongst themselves. Gail, a slender woman who wore lace dresses and wrote romance novels, was standing next to Doc and...