Bong….bong….bong….the stately grandfather clock
announces midnight. Pepper, my elderly Shih Tzu,
and my Corgi, Rusty, appear eager to walk the block.
Each night, before seeking bed, it’s the last thing we do.
The mid-January night air feels unseasonably warm,
so inviting upon my exposed skin as I step outside.
The neighborhood exudes that monthly special charm,
awash in a silvery glow of the moon so full, so wide.
We leisurely stroll to the end of our suburban street,
each lost in his thoughts, each enjoying the quietness,
the solitude of the night. Songs of mockingbirds compete
with a distant train whistle for my ear – such peacefulness!
As I admire the fullness, the closeness of the moon, I hear
it for the first time – an unearthly howl from far, far away,
a howl that instinctively grips my heart with primitive fear,
a howl that I recognize as embodying pure evil in some way.
A second howl, closer I’d say, sends arthritic old Pepper
racing for home, while Rusty emits the deepest growl
I’ve ever known, his hair bristling in the moonlight. Never
has he been this agitated. A still closer howl makes me scowl.
We head for home – me walking briskly, Rusty looking back
every few steps, growling constantly. A howl comes at the end
of our street…Pepper begs at the door demanding entry. I lack
the courage to stand and wait. I hurry to the door, wanting in.
The night now has turned cold and hostile. I feel my neck hair
standing erect. I shudder, chilled to my soul. “Rusty, come.
Come, boy!” I implore. Rusty lingers; then he is nearly there
when the howl is close upon us. Knowledge from some
subconscious source commands me to shut and bolt the door,
just as Rusty flees inside. The heavy, solid wooden door
shakes from an impact, as a howl louder and much more
menacing than ever heard before comes from outside the door.
I brace the door and wait…and wait, but there is only silence.
After an hour, I cautiously unbolt, pry open the protective door.
Claw marks, cut deeply into the wood, indicate its malevolence.
Right then I decide that we shall be taking midnight walks no more!