What is that sound?


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The first time that I heard it was just before dawn. It was one of those hot nights, hot enough to keep all the windows open, hoping for a breeze.

I rolled over wondering what it was that I was hearing. It roared and it screeched, but it was far away. Like in a dream. Not fully in this world, but out there. I lay on my back, trying to orient myself.

“It’s Monday. It’s summer. I’m home.” Slowly, as always, I managed to ground myself in my reality.

I lay there, listening. It was the sound of a racing car that I heard. I heard the engine roar, and the tires squeal.

It was a sound that simply didn’t fit.

I live in a rural place, in a neighborhood where people live quietly and drive carefully.

This was the strange sound of someone racing, gunning for speed and power. I had never heard anything like it in this place. I lay there for a bit, listening to the screaming brakes. “Who is that?”, I wondered. “What’s going on?”

Then the sound faded, and I drifted back to sleep. The early summer morning settled back into it’s usual peace. I almost forgot the strange sound of racing engines in the semi-dark.

But I heard it again the next morning, just as the sun began to rise. And again the morning after that.

I began to wonder about the driver out there. Every morning, just at dawn, I heard the sound of those shrieking tires, out there just beyond my street.  I began to imagine a face behind the windshield of that racing car.

I saw a young man. I saw anger. I saw dark eyes and a tangle of hair. I saw a frown and a clenched fist, pounding on the steering wheel. I saw youth and fear and the power of those four wheels.

I started to drift off to sleep with the hope of hearing that raging, racing sound in the earliest part of the day.

And every workday, every Monday through Friday for weeks, I awoke to the sound of those desperate tires, scrabbling for meaning on the lonely dark roads of our town.

Then the fall came. The wind blew in and the windows were closed.

I couldn’t hear him anymore.

I wondered about him, though. I worried that he was gone. I worried that he had settled into his mind numbing job at the plant. I wanted him to come back.

But the days went by, and the nights settled into warm blankets and quiet breathing.

I almost forgot that he was out there.

Then I drove out of town, over the backroads through our woods. And there they were. Black, angry, impossible to ignore. Black, black figure eights, on the winding road that links our town to it’s neighbors.

“Here I am!,” those tire marked screamed. “Here I go.”

And a few nights later, I found myself awake in the cold, frosty dawn. I rolled over. What was I hearing?

It was the sound of screaming tires, racing against no one, racing against everyone, flying through the icy dawn into the upcoming day.

I wonder who he is. I wonder why he is so angry. I wonder.

And as I fall asleep tonight, part of me will be listening for his early morning declaration of freedom.

 

The Eyes of the King


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I am the Wolf King.  I am a mighty, mighty hunter.

I fear no thunder, no fireworks, no Boom Monster in the cold winter night.

I am the Wolf King!   Hear my howl!

Man Who Walks Me and Woman Who Feeds Me know all about my howl. They have heard me on the nights when I’ve escaped, pursuing the elusive squirrel through the woods. They have reveled in the sound of my howl as I called to the moon from exactly two feet outside their open bedroom window.

And they know my howl when I wake up in the night and I want to walk from the living room to the bedroom. When I want to travel the long lonely way down the hall.

They hear. And they obey.

There was a time when I owned the hall.  In my youth, I could walk up and down from the bedrooms to the living room with barely a pause.  I was bold, in my youth.  I loved to hear the tickety-clicky sound of my fabulous toenails on the laminate flooring. There were nights when I strolled back and forth all night long, patrolling the darkness, the sound of my toenails proclaiming that all was safe.

But then, everything changed.  The Wolf King was humbled.

It all started when Man Who Walks me decided to add a device called “Fan” to the room where the Dust Eater lives. Naturally, I already have an innate aversion to the Dust Eater.

I am a dog.  I sometimes shed.

OK, in the warmth of spring, I shed enough to knit a couple of new dogs every other day.  But still.  I do not appreciate the times when Woman Who Feeds me swoops down on my resting place with the screaming suction of the Dust Eater.  As that evil wand devours every bit of dust, dirt and (sadly) my butt hairs, I whimper in fear.

I do not like the Dust Eater.

But when Fan joined him, and stood in the doorway to the Dust Eater’s room, I knew that I had met a new enemy.

You see, as the years have passed, the mighty gleaming eyes of the Wolf King have grown somewhat dim.

I can’t see shit in the dark anymore.

And so one gloomy night, as I wandered down the hall, I heard the whirring growl of the fan suddenly coming at me from the left.  I turned my head, but all I saw were shadows.

I jumped about 4 feet in the air.

And I mean all four of my feet. In. The. Air.

Now that was a howl for the record books.

And as I came crashing down again, the tickety-clicky turned into “screeeeeek” and my ass went left while my head went right.

Ouchie.

Since that fateful night (which I think of as “Attack of the Killer Fan”), I am no longer the brave protector of the hallway.  I no longer patrol all night.

Now I fall asleep on the comfortable cushions of my couch. I snooze and snuggle in the blankets that Man Who Walks Me always drapes over my shoulders.  I fart and twitch and do all those wonderful doggie things that my kind enjoy as we rest.

But around 5 AM, every single day, the heart of the Wolf King awakens. I rise from my comfortable bed, aware that Man Who Walks Me and Woman Who Feeds Me are far down the hall. They need my protection!  Plus, there’s an orthopedic dog bed in their room.  I place my front paws on the laminate floor.  My eyes try to adjust, but the floor seems to have no color, no solidity, no firmness.  What if I slip again?  Me no likey the ouchies!

I leave my butt on the couch, and my front paws go sliding around on the floor. I frown, I shake my head, making my ears flap-flap-flap.  I try to howl, but only a pathetic whimper emerges.

Slowly, shakily, I get to my feet and tickety-clicky across the living room.  I stand at the entrance to the hall.  All is darkness. All is shadow.  The Dust Eater sleeps, but I cannot tell if the Fan has returned.  I take two steps forward….click, clicky…..I whimper “heeeeeeew”.  I pause.

All is shadow.  I reach deep inside, to where the spirit of the Wolf King hides.  I call to him.

I take another step….tick…tickety….I whimper louder……”HEEEEEEEEEW”.

This goes on for about an hour

……ticky….click…..heeeeeeemmmmmmm…..clicky….tick…tick…….h’wwwweeeem……click….tick……HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

At last, at last, my cry of desperation is heard.  Man Who Walks Me emerges from the darkness, hair askew, pajamas sagging.  He mumbles something gruffly, and flicks on the hall light.

Hey! Look at that!  No monsters, no fans, no slippery icy surface!   It’s our hallway!

I lift my head and focus my Wolf King eyes.  Proudly I saunter down the hall, tickety-clicky,tickety-clicky,tickety-clicky.  I sink into my comfy orthopedic bed.

I consider howling, but think better of it when I hear the sounds coming from Woman Who Feeds Me.

All is well for another night.