A typical un-Murphy day in the Bronx

Photo courtesy of George Shwed

It is 9 a.m. on a hot Bronx summer morning. I stand behind a thick glass entry door in my apartment building. On the other side of this door, eight brick steps lead up to the street. Alone in the hallway, I silently wait for the bus to arrive.

Five minutes pass, then ten. No bus. My heart pounds, and I start to sweat. I squint to see who might be in the street, but the tall steps obscure my view.

Will Murphy be out there today? Will I have to make a run for it?

A loud horn honks. The camp bus is now on the other side of the street. I have to leave this safe place. I take a deep breath.

I timidly open the glass door and look around. No sign of Murphy anywhere. I slowly walk up the eight steps and reach the top — still safe. I take another deep breath and walk toward the curb.

Oh, no! Out of nowhere, Murphy lunges at me, and I panic. I start to scream and try to run, but he’s too quick. He pins me down on the ground, his body heavy on mine. I smell his hot, foul breath. I kick my legs and flail my arms, but he’s relentless.


My mind races and horrific thoughts form: “Is he going to tear my arm off? Is he going to scratch my face? Will I have bruises all over my body? Does anyone hear me screaming?

I put all my strength into one last struggle and finally manage to break free. I frantically stand up and run to the curb. Without looking, I step down and out into the street.

Screech! To my right, a car slams on the brakes and stops perilously close to me. I stare, deer-like, into the front windshield.

The driver screams, “What are you, crazy? I almost hit you! Where’s your mother? Didn’t she ever teach you to look both ways? I could have killed you!”

A small crowd forms and everyone is yelling. I slither away and cross the street, still shaking.

With trembling legs, I climb the stairs of the bus. I am sobbing uncontrollably, and it takes a moment for the bus driver to console me.

The bus drives off.

This is the beginning of my lifelong fear of dogs.


© 2011 Joanne Shwed

Originally written for CoastViews magazine