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Blackfish wanted to follow me.  I needed a walk. My knee isn’t really playing up that much so there’s no excuse for being lazy other than being lazy. Help me out here Muck. I didn’t want to put him on the chain leash. It would break my heart to see him cry. I tried to push him in doors. He got his paw jammed in the door as I tried to drag him to the hotel. Then he wisely bolted  out the back of the hotel. Muck who feeds the stray dogs smiled. He’s always amused and nothing is ever a problem for him. ‘No problem.’ 

It’s always reassuring to hear that. If he was any more lay back, he’d slip through the cracks of the floor. I leave Muck to his clove cigarette and cut  across the mosque. I feel someone is following me.  I look around, it’s Jagger,  Blackie’s brother.

Jagger is a bit too blasé about the walk and keeps on veering onto the road. He’s going to get run over and Jagger is Muck’s sweat heart. He hand feeds him every night. And if Jagger dies on the road, I’m also roadkill.

I walk Jagger back to the motel. Muck picks him up, caresses him and then puts the leash gently over his head. Blackie has disappeared with Lady White, who really is Jagger’s sister. Muck tells me that Blackie and Jagger are not real brothers. But they seem to love each other, like brothers. ‘Very rare for two male dogs from different mothers,’ says my dog loving friend in the USA.

I’m back on the road, cross the bridge. I run into the same Malay lady I saw ten minutes ago. She’s outside Eddy’s Warung. ‘Better you walk around the river, cheap food and good views of the river.’ I agree but it’s getting dark and it could be dangerous. Safety is always an issue for me, I tell her.

Eddie asks where is the dog. I said he’s on a leash. His coworker who scolded Blackie last time with a bucket of water seems quite human today and now I know his wrath wasn’t directed at me. Eddie says having a dog around is no good for his business. I said that I was worried that the dog would die while crossing the road. He was thinking from a practical point and so was I. But our agendas were poles apart.

The couple that sell nasi lemak have set up their tent a few meters away from Eddie’s warung. A generator is burning fuel and Auntie says sales are hit and miss at Eddie’s place. Looks like they had a falling out. She speaks some Malay to me. I kinda understand it. She says my Malay is getting better. I have no idea why she would want to go at this alone. But I think she prefers to have independence.

I head past the mosque and turn left at the lights. The tower is long behind me. I keep on looking over my shoulder for any trucks or other vehicles that want to cut my walk short.

Safely back on the foot path that has gaping collapsed sections revealing the sewage system,  I turn left and cross another busy road. It’s follow the road till I reach the bridge. But I stop first to look at a line of Chinese. They are waiting for prime cuts of pork. It’s too good not to take a photo.There’s something almost sacrilegious about the thought of someone buying pork in a predominately Muslim country and the Chinese don’t see anything wrong with a foreigner taking a picture of their favourite butcher shop.

After I got back to the Motel, Blackie licked me to death. He’s not holding any grudges. Jagger was still on the leash. Muck knows he’s on a  walkabout phase as the full moon arrives, and just doesn’t want to risk it. On the first week here, Jagger walked with a few times. I know today he t keen to piss in the park where the town’s name is emblazoned with concrete letters. Maybe he could smell Blackies mark from the walk the other day. He likes to dig up the grass and really let his doggy presence be made.

Blackie   is  howling again. I throw him a piece of chicken out of my window.  He’ll sleep well tonight.The only worry he has at the moment are the mosquitos which he snaps with his jaw. 

The next day I have a milky tea at Eddie’s warung. An old man gets off his bike and orders a tea. He has very hairy arms and is Malay. When he leaves, Eddie tells me he is  a snake. ‘He might have the same skin, the same blood, but his heart is different.’ Eddie thinks the old man wants to set up a warung next to his.

I do the loop again. Three hours later I’m totally beat. Blackie took my no, ‘you are not coming’,with out any argument today.He’s learning and he’s going to live a lot longer without our walks. But I can say I do miss my walking partner. I think it’s time to test drive him on the chain leash.

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