It was a few minutes past midnight and Officer Joe Morris was getting ready to pull his cruiser out of the school’s empty parking lot to patrol Main Street when he saw a man walking on the sidewalk. The man, thin and well dressed walked like he was deep in thought. His hands were thrust into his pockets, and his head was down as if he were looking at his feet as he walked. What was peculiar, at least to Joe, was the enormous, unleashed dog that trotted behind the man. It looked like a wolf.
“There’s something odd about that guy,” Officer Morris said to his empty patrol car, but he couldn’t figure out what it was. He didn’t register the man’s missing shadow, yet the dog’s shadow was in full view. The school grounds were lit up like a prison yard, and the harsh blue-white light seemed to pass right through the man giving him a ghostly glow. Probably some kind of sequined jacket is what Joe thought. Citiot most likely, and Joe was part of that crowd. Calling the town’s new arrivals city idiots, or citiots, because they didn’t know the rural ways of life and were upsetting the way things had always done around these parts.
Most of the guys on the force, life time members of this here community hated the mass migration of city folk. Ever since 9/11 they’ve been coming up in droves. Joe secretly blames Al Roker for being the first celebrity in the region, although he would love to pull over Faith Hill one of these days. He’d heard she had a place in the neighboring town of Ghent, as did Parker Posie, although he wouldn’t know her if he tripped over her. The rich and the famous, coming to find some of the peace and quiet in a place the rest of the people up here called home.
Joe was a recent high school grad and these were once his stomping grounds. He was a three-sport athlete: soccer, basketball, and track. He liked being here on school grounds reliving the old days without commentary from anyone else. He spent hours this year parked in his car or walking the bleachers around the track reminiscing about the last six years. Four of which were great from his perspective. The other two, well, he had no idea what happened to those two post high school years. He lost those to repetition. Or as his father called them, the real world.
Joe turned on the lights, but didn’t flash his rollers. He lit them up too, but only as a means of identifying himself. It was warm weather, and spring, and he knew that certain disaffected seniors, the ones who wouldn’t graduate, had a tendency to take out some of their aggressions out on a helpless school bus or playing field. So, come midnight’s he’d stake out the parking lot, where he had a decent view of the schools, both the Elementary School and the High School, and it always seemed to him an odd pairing of the buildings side-by-side like this, but that’s just how things worked around here. Part of the good old boys network that while being challenged by the new folks, like that guy strolling with his dog, were still in firm command of these here towns.
He put the car in gear and slowly drove up to the man. He rolled down his window.
“Evening Joe,” the man said and gave Joe a wave.
His skin was so white, Joe thought. And he came over to the car. He moved so smoothly, and his dog sat waiting in the distance. The man’s eyes blazed through the streetlight’s glow, and Joe couldn’t stop staring into them.
“How did you know…”
“Your name? It’s right there on your tag,” the man said.
Joe was about to ask about the dog when the man answered for him. “Yes, she is part wolf. I got her as a pup in Canada a few years back.”
Joe wasn’t sure if had said anything. The man’s eyes seemed to go right through him. Joe started to feel sleepy. But he fought closing his eyes. He was going to remind the man about leash laws, but not to worry this late at night since the dog was so well behaved.
The man showed Joe the dog’s leash and said, “Yes, if see anyone around, I’ll certainly give you a call.” The man held up his cell phone to indicate his readiness. “Don’t worry, it’s a Verizon, I’ve got three bars here.”
Joe was about to say no kidding but the man just beat him to it as well. “Yup, no kidding.”
The man reached his arm in through Joe’s open window and shifted the car into park. Joe didn’t mind at all. “Hey, thanks,” he said sleepily. The man pushed his tongue between his lips, and Joe felt so tired. Maybe I could shut my eyes for just a few minutes, he thought and then had an urge to lean his head back and expose his throat to this man. Joe couldn’t resist the longing to stretch his head back and feel his skin pulled taut on his throat and he imagined this man biting into his throat and it would be so cool.
With his eyes closed, he could still sense the streetlights above him. They glowed orange through his eyelids. He felt this man’s mouth on his neck. It hurt at first, then it didn’t. It was a comfort. The orange glow faded into black as if Joe had fallen deep within himself. It was like a dream of falling without end. And it felt. Absolutely. Fantastic.
©2013 James Kidd