At midnight Tyger Linn gets up and leaps from the bed. We’re having some New Dog Issues and someone, and I know not who, has been peeing on the floor. I suspect it is Tyger Linn because Lilith is just too damn polite. I let the two permanent dogs out, keep Tanya in her crate, and go back to bed. Tanya isn’t happy but I know she went right before bedtime and she will be okay until I get up, which is about four hours away. I sense Tyger Linn’s return and she snuggles next to me, even though it is very warm for it to be very late. Summer is beginning to leave a few reminders of Her own.
At four forty-five I’m standing in the back yard with Tanya peeing. It feels like a sauna out here. The fogs is thick and heavy. The mugginess of the morning is oppressive. I can feel the sweat forming on my body. The air is so wet the body heat sticks to the skin and sweat tries to ship some of it off but it isn’t working at all. There’s a foul smell in the air as if everything that is decaying is jammed in the air at nose altitude.
Even the air on the inside of the house feels fouled. The fans only stir the humidity and there seems to be no relief. I take a shower and cut all the hot water off just to feel a sense of coolness a sense of aliveness that the very air seems to have stolen from me. The cold is a bit much but when I switch back to warm water I can feel myself sweating, in the shower, at five in the morning. Even with the windows open the bathroom fogs over and it is a portent of things to come very soon.
The black night is highlighted by white fog. I had a dream once, I had fallen asleep while reading, and in that dream someone blinded me with a flashlight that produced a beam of darkness. The darkness was very intense, so very intense that I awoke from the dream to discover I had rolled over and my face was turned directly into the reading lamp. The fog produces a blinding whiteness in the incredible dark. Blindness upon blindness and if there is a deer out there or a herd of deer, or even an ocean of deer, I’m going to hit them before I see them. I slow down and I hope I don’t get rammed from behind.
Fog makes people stupid. They go faster than they can see. They slow down slower than they have to, usually. And most of all, they forget it’s harder to see other people and they do not make allowances for being blind and for the blind. The fog is getting thicker and I wonder if it would be safer to return home, keep going, or find a place to ride this thing out. These thoughts occur to me as I see a pair of headlight coming down a side street that intersects with the road I’m on. She isn’t going to stop for the stop sign and she doesn’t see me.
I hit my brakes before she’s past the stop sign. I’m locking them down, foot braced, teeth clenched, hand on the horn, butt cheeks clenching the seat and there’s no way in hell the truck is going to stop on wet pavement. Without thinking about it I pull the wheel hard right, harder, and just as I’m sure I’ve hit her everything stops in time. Both sets of headlights are pointing in the same direction. We illuminate the house across the street and I can see tiny droplets of water drifting through the air. It seems obscene that Bach’s Partita in D minor is still playing. I can hear the woman beginning to scream.
“A Dingo got my baby!”
Okay, now this is weird and suddenly I have the feeling this has to be a dream. Did a woman I almost hit in the fog scream that a dingo had taken her child? The woman is out of the car and looking around as if she’s lost something and suddenly she runs down the road a short piece and comes back.
“I forgot my baby!” She screams. And she gets back in the car.
I have to back up to let her turn around and she’s is freaking out.
I have to follow her, I have to know what happen to the baby, or if this is a dream, and two blocks away I find her on the porch of a duplex tearing a baby out of a car seat. She left the baby on the porch.
I get out and this is a woman who is rattled and rolled. Oh my god I forgot my baby oh my god I forgot my baby oh my god I forgot my baby. She’s oblivious to me. She doesn’t care about anything else.
Finally, “I thought I left her on the back of the car, I knew she was dead, oh my god I thought I left her on the back of the car what if I left her on the back of the car?” She’s holding the infant and rocking back and forth. I think the child is still asleep.
I break the spell she’s under but gently. Is there someone she can call? Is there somewhere she has to be? She returns very slowly, but she looks at me as if she isn’t sure where we met.
“I ain’t never forgot my baby.” She tells me this and wipes the tears out of her eyes.
“Everyone forgets,” I tell her and it is true.
“Lord have mercy why did I go and have this young’un I can’t take care of nothing.” And with this the woman leans into me and sobs. Her body is racked with shame, terror, guilt, horror at what might have been, and most of all relief.
I still have the tears on me when I get to work. My shirt is damp with them. This is going to leave a stain on that young woman and it’s going to be a permanent scar. But her baby is still alive and she gets another chance, and another day to be a better parent.