The goal now, as you see it, is to get home. The front has come in early. Wind jars the car on the asphalt. The rain comes hard and cold, makes flashlight beams of streetlights. It’s hard to drive, but it’s also hard to steer. Maybe one too many boilermakers with buddies at Nightlite. But who can blame you, even if you had been good about staying on the wagon for three months, since Liza left.
She hasn’t sent as much as a postcard. You watch her credit card charges on your bill, then throw it away. You tell yourself you won’t check the mail again until it’s time for the unemployment checks to come. Four years in the sausage room at Don’s Deluxe Meats didn’t mean a thing in the end. No gratitude, no severance pay. Let go without any ceremony at all.
If you can just get home, you’ll be okay. The streets are filling with water. You imagine you are the captain of a boat in strong currents. But you do find a way to stop at Discount Package Store for two fifths of cheap bourbon. That will get you through tonight, and maybe longer.
At last you reach your street, hit the curb twice, coming to a stop in front of your dark house. You stagger up the walk, and you can hear your dogs bark. They watch you through the window. The Welcome wagon. They have waited, the faithful boys, Lewis and Clark.
You feed them and let them run outside in the rain. They come in, shake off the wet night, and lie down at your feet. You gulp the bourbon and watch them. First one, then the other, falls asleep. Let go. Begin dog dreams.
You think that dreaming is best in a warm, dry room. Better still if outside the darkness howls. What do they dream about? Old hunts, saliva, instinct. In a lurching pack under a grey dawn sky, waiting for a waterfowl kill.
Or do they dream of being human, inside a warm house on a wild night. Sitting back, plastered, watching the dogs dream.
Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. He has published a novel, THE DREAM PATCH, a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. His work has appeared in THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, NEW ENGLAND REVIEW, NEW ORLEANS REVIEW, COLUMBIA and GLIMMER TRAIN, among others. His photographs can be seen in his gallery - http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/. He is currently compiling a book of photography prompts for writers, FROM VISION TO TEXT.