I huffed along the winding path; two plastic dog poo-bag containers clunked together as I held the two leads in one hand. The dogs were in good spirits, panting happily and trotting along at a decent clip. This was not bad, considering one of the dogs was certifiably ancient and the other was of a highly distractible nature. I nodded a greeting to a middle-aged couple going the other way; they wore matching puffer vests and had a self-satisfied look. Maybe they just weren’t being dragged along by one-and-a-half reasonably motivated dogs.
I rounded a bend. This section of the park was about five hundred metres from the road, with a broad grassed area. There were plantings of shrubs and trees in little islands between the walking track and the road. Obscured from the road but visible from the path (if you happened to be walking in this direction), an actual human person seemed to be lying prone at the edge of one of the plantings. I turned to see if the matching puffer people were still in sight but they had disappeared from view around one of the many curves in the path. They probably hadn’t seen the figure lying on the ground from the direction they were walking on the path.
I looked from the figure on the grass and back to the two dogs on the leash in front of me. An internal debate began.
Me: Should I go over and see if the person needs assistance? What if they’re injured, or incapacitated? They might need CPR, and that is fairly time-critical.
Voice in Head: You’re going to do CPR on a stranger? Here at the park?
Me: Well, I don’t know! I should at least check if they need it.
Voice in Head: No, keep walking. It could be an elaborate trap to mug you.
Me: Even though I have two dogs?
Voice: It might be the dogs they are after: people steal dogs, you know.
Me: What, even these ones? One of them is about to keel over from old age and the other looks kind of stupid. A face only a mother could love, surely?
Voice: People steal all kinds of dogs, I’m telling you. Besides, if you went over there, the dogs might go ballistic and attack the person and make things worse. You could get sued.
Me: I think you’re being ridiculous, it’s only humane to check on someone lying on the bare ground in the middle of the afternoon. Besides, if they want to mug me, I have nothing.
Voice: That’s worse. They might get angry that you can’t give them anything, and murder you out of frustration.
Me: Well, again, I have the dogs.
Voice: For protection? Bah ha ha ha. That’s hilarious. You think these two are going to protect you? One of them is deaf and demented and the other is more concerned with leaving a trace of wee on every blade of grass between here and home! Good one.
Me: Ok, but you just said the dogs might attack the person. You can’t have it both ways.
Voice: Yeah, I was kidding. I was hoping you’d just keep on walking and we’d leave this dead dude lying here and get home in time for Family Feud.
Me: Dead? You think he’s dead? What if I need to ring the ambulance or the police? I should have brought my phone…
Voice: What, you didn’t bring it? What if there had been an instagrammable opportunity on this walk? These dogs have Followers, you know. You have an audience to satisfy. I can’t believe you didn’t bring your phone. Idiot.
Me: All right, all right. But since I gave up tracking my exercise with all those apps, I decided I didn’t need to take my phone absolutely everywhere. I thought I’d be able to enjoy ‘the moment’ more…
Voice: Pffft. ‘The moment’. You sound like a damn hippie.
Me: Shut up! What are we going to do about this? waves hand at possible corpse
Voice: Ask this guy.
Me: Oh, ok. This guy.
At this moment a rather strapping young man approached. Bedecked (yes, bedecked) in running clothes, he was keeping up a good pace while no doubt enjoying a thought-provoking podcast via his earbuds. I flagged him down.
Me: Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt your run.
Guy: Oh, that’s ok. removes earbuds from ears
Me: There’s a person lying down on the ground over there…
Guy: Oh really?
Me: … and I don’t know if they’re ok or not–
Guy: Oh, ok.
Me: … and I’m too scared to go over there on my own…
Guy: looks suitably macho
Me: … would you mind coming over with me to check on him?
Voice in Head: Did you just say you were too scared? What are you, a little girl?
Me: Shut up! Look, I am a petite woman. I could easily be attacked and overpowered. I’m being cautious. Look I’m just trying to put this guy in the picture quickly, and now he’s going to help!
Voice: Yeah, maybe he’s a murderer too, and it’s all a set-up. You’re about to be gang-murdered.
Me: That’s not a thing. And see, he’s helping.
The jogger and I left the path, me dragging two confused dogs behind me. We cautiously approached the figure, who was still lying motionless on the grass. The dogs displayed a supreme lack of interest. I waited a moment for the burly bloke next to me to make contact with the individual, and when he didn’t take the initiative, I spoke.
Me to corpse: Excuse me, are you ok?
Guy, coming to the party a bit late: You right mate?
Corpse: rolls over and frowns at us Yes, I’m just having a sleep.
Me: Oh, ok. Sorry to disturb you.
The jogger guy and I backed away apologetically, as though we were the ones behaving strangely. After I thanked the jogger for his help, we resumed our opposite paths. I pointed the dogs for home and power-walked away.
Me: Who the fuck takes a nap, in a park, in the cold?
Voice In Head: A hobo. A weirdo. A homeless person… I could go on.
Me: Yeah. At least he wasn’t dead. Or a mugger. Or a murderer.
Voice: Yep. That whole thing was worth it.
Me: Shut up.
Voice: You shut up.
Me: I don’t even like Family Feud.
Voice: flips me the bird