I’m writing a short story that features a guy I see in the park who has a dog. Most of the feedback has been like, “Yo, can you put some conflict up in this piece?”–as if conflict were as easy to add as red pepper flakes on a slice of pizza. Every time I see this guy, the part of me that loves to be awkward wants to tell him about the story and maybe ask for a lock of his beard. The part of me that has more social decency just wants to make small talk to find out if he has any drama in his life. 

This morning, for the first time since I started the story, I saw him outside of the park. He and his dog were on the corner of my street. It seemed that they had walked east for a cup of coffee. Maybe he’s writing a short story about a Dazbog barista, because I know there’s better coffee on his side of Cheesman. Or he could have a nascent Cheesman East romance going on. I have no idea what he was doing this morning. I know this guy so vaguely that I’m not sure I would recognize him without his dog.