It’s been quite the month. First I was beset with leg cramps for which there is no apparent cause–or cure, for that matter. For almost 3 weeks I didn’t sleep for more than two consecutive hours between midnight and six a.m. being awakened by excruciating pain. They’ve gone, thank goodness, but were replaced by a miserable virus. In sum, I’ve seen more of the midnight hours this month than I care to.
I don’t like the late night hours, a dislike that I developed in Atlanta, Ga. in the 1970’s. There I was part of a United States Justice Department, Community Affairs Division Task Force that was responding to the alarm, even panic caused by the now famous, or infamous, child murders. One night we deviated from our assigned task of speaking to folks in random ways in random places and trying to calm their fears. That night, responding to the disappearance of a child that very day, we fanned out into designated areas to see what we could see. What I saw was down right scary.
Know this– a whole different group of characters populates the night than populates the daytime hours. Having gone to an urban university and had more than my fair share of 3 am snacks during finals preparation, I knew that. This was beyond that, way beyond that. Strange, icky, dangerous looking, deranged sounding human forms. Characters out of movies I don’t go see and books I don’t read. Creatures who blend Stephen King with science fiction.
Then there was the stuff they did and left behind–like the bloody “alter” on which something (someone?) had been wounded? killed? Who knows? Or the bible nailed to a wall. Or the discovery of a Witch’s Coven. Or the structures someone obviously lived in, but whose interiors were out of old black and white Alfred Hitchcock movies. “Here, I’ll give you all my money, just don’t make me spend the night in this place–puleeze!”
Understanding this, one can understand, hopefully, why being up to hear the noises of the night, doesn’t thrill me. I am married, married to someone who slept thru a 3 alarm fire–next door to our apartment. Enough said. I do however however have a dog, a loving, mischievous cocker spaniel who moves every time I move, even if its to shift my place on the couch. Through these nights of agony and illness Jax was my companion and I got to know his nights. I could track him. Each time I woke up he’d be in a different place. Each night I woke up at the same time, he was in the same place as he was on previous night. I just assumed that at night he went to sleep and woke up where I had left him. Basically a stupid thought, that was, since for his first two years of life he slept in his crate with the door locked! FYI Cockers are notoriously tough to house break. So, Jax, I discovered had a restless soul.
He starts his night with a goodnight treat. That he gets in his bed, scarfs up into his mouth, jumps up on the bed, and then eats. He then goes into the master bath to sleep, sometimes on the floor, sometimes in the shower, and oftentimes in the bathtub. Don’t even ask. I have no clue, not even why the bathroom. Then sometime around one or two a.m. he jumps back up on the bed and sleeps with us at its foot, at my wife’s end. That I can explain. I’m six feet tall, she’s a shade over 5 ft tall. He’s got more room on her side. Finally at some point he repairs to my side of the bed, but on the floor, where his bed is. There he awaits me for his morning walk. Sometimes he’s curled up. Sometimes his chin rests on the platform that holds the bed, eyes glued to my sleeping form.
People tell me Jax is big for his breed. As the former owner of two Great Danes, I have a different standard for “big.” Jax doesn’t make the cut. Great Danes were put on earth to scare the bejeebez’ out of people. Jax was put on earth to be loved; he’s insulted when someone doesn’t stop to pat, play, inquire, or otherwise give positive feedback. Children are the dessert of his life. Yet for me he is the ghost-buster and whenever I’m forced to face the night, I know who I’m gonn call.