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Midnight Friends

I don't think of myself as a nocturnal creature but others do; at least they tell me that they do, but the juices don't seem to start flowing until about ten, and I always work for two-hour stretches: no walking around, no fiddling with those little tasks for improving the computer's behavior, tasks long forgotten until they come to a mind in the act of again creating its own worth. Nothing but the object of my focus. If I am tempted to go down to my kitchen for something to eat, I take a swig from my water bottle. 

And so I go on for two hours. At the end of them, I may have hold of something, and then there emerges what some people call my nocturnal self. 

Upon emergence, the nocturnal self takes a walk on the porch outside my door. And I hear the dog.

It's voice is intelligible. I hear clearly the plaint in its voice, the insistence that it deserves more from life than it has, that it wd be a good friend to anyone who wd love it. 

"We will meet. We will meet," I whisper to the night and wonder if somehow it will take my message to the other.


And then I'm here. There are no lights on this street. We are by a doorway. The house is deserted. I sit on a milk crate half crushed with neglect.

My friend eats, cautiously at first, sniffing the biscuit. He knows, his fellows know, that food can kill. One eats, then suddenly thrashing, then only twitching, then nothing.

But now he begins to eat with boldness, tho' not ravenously. Wild dogs have a dignity.

We rest. He has stopped eating, has finished the food. He sits. I sit. We rest, conscious each of the other's exhaustion, aloneness.

The place is not all darkness. A moon, half full, shines through the almost clear sky into a patch on the potholed mess outside the doorway.

We sit. We rest.

But he is not driven to defiance. From my porch I imagined that he wd be, that we wd sit in our defiance, sharing our defiance. But now I hear again his crying in those nights before I came here and realize that there was no defiance in it; a complaint to the universe, yes, that it was not receiving its share, yes, but no defiance, no despair, only a requesting, a praying. I am disappointed. I wanted someone to share my defiance, wanted to sit with another in defiance of anything which sought to crush us, defiant, defiant, defiant until the last. And now, with the dog, I realize my fatuity, my self-deception, realize that the dog has brought me to my senses. The dog sits. I sit. He teaches me to listen to the universe.

An hour, two, I am not sure how long it has been, but when I stand up I realize that it is not morning yet, that the light has not changed since I sat down. So how long has it been? I'm not sure. And then another question, "do I take him with me?" 

"No dogs!" is my landlord's rule. And still I think about it. I cd live elsewhere. I cd live in my car. I have options, the dog has options. 

I decide that ours will be a midnight romance. I lean down to pet him, extending cautiously the back of my hand to be sure that our time has not been illusion. He moves his tail slightly. He sits as before. I leave another biscuit. The dog does not follow. He knows.