They were the party days. The days started in the afternoon and the nights ended as the sun was rising. They were the dog days. Heat and humidity oppressed the days and obstinately hung on through the nights.
After Vernon dropped me off at home, I stealthily made my way through the dark house hoping that my parents would not hear me. I was in college, still living at home with my parents. No rent, free food, low living costs. It worked well for my budget.
In the early morning quiet I carefully shut the door to the bedroom that I shared with my two younger brothers. They were asleep in the bunk bed that was across the room from my bed, which was beside the room's only window. My mind was racing. I knew that I needed to go to sleep, but my mind was still in party mode.
The sky gradually began to brighten. The bedroom was stifling from the tedious aftermath of the hot August night. Leaning on the windowsill, I extended my face through the open window trying to capture a bit of what would be the coolest part of the day. There was no real relief, yet the illusionary morning air pretended to provide coolness.
As a splenetic sun edged over the houses in the distance, I saw the dogs. Blackie, the stray that had made our yard her home, appeared from out of the carport accompanied by three other strays that regularly passed through our yard. The canine quartet sauntered diagonally across the yard, leaving a pathway marked in the scarce dew that would soon be evaporated in the heat of morning. I watched as the dogs crossed the street and continued through a neighbor's yard until they disappeared from sight.
I had seen them before. The dogs made their daily passage to a destination unseen by me. Even after the dew had dried the spoor remained. The dogs were making daily rounds and I began to wonder where did they go each morning? Perhaps food was waiting at another house. Maybe a neighbor on another street also thought of Blackie as his dog. Or maybe Blackie was just a friend of one of the other strays that he thought of as his dog. The dogs seemed to be goal-oriented. They seemed to know where they were going. But I wanted to know.
Stirrings outside my bedroom told me that my father was up and getting ready to go to work. I didn't want to leave my room for fear that he might begin lecturing me about finding a job or enumerating chores that needed to be done around the house. And besides, I was so tired.
I lay down upon my bed so that in the event my father looked into the room I could pretend to be sleeping. It was no assurance that he wouldn't rouse me to give me marching orders, but perhaps he would let me sleep.
He didn't look into the room. I could hear him leave the house and I heard the car pull out of the driveway. I did not look out the window lest he see me. With a deep sigh of relief, my head settled into the pillow and my eyes closed. My thoughts wandered.
Classes at the university would be starting soon. This evening I would probably be partying again. I had no big plans for my life. The days would come and go and I'd eventually figure out what to do. For now, there was no hurry. I'd bide my time, eat when it was time to eat, and be careful not to get hit by a car when I was crossing the street. Then, like any good dog on a hot summer morning, I lazily drifted off to sleep.
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