The twittering of the sparrows had been joined by the screeching of the starlings, the two dominant birds of the predawn hours among the shrubs of the city.
As I walk south up from what had once been a streambed, to the house crowned ridgeline, I see a minivan swerving from one side of the street to the other, some 200 yards ahead, coming my way.
Some unseen dog seems to protest this errant driving, which marks the vehicle as belonging to a newspaper distributor, those who zoom from address to address in contravention to all motoring laws, haphazardly tossing newspapers into subscribing yards.
As I cross Pinewood on Glenoak—streets that no doubt exist in most cities of this unimaginative nation—the barking grows louder as the van nears. As I gain the sidewalk on the south-side corner, the whine of the engine and the bark of the dog growing louder as it speeds past, I have no time to regard the driver, for his companion steals the bizarre moment.
He is a golden retriever, head pushed arrogantly above the roof as his paws press on the door below, hair blowing in the wind, a toy police badge jangling from his collar, his wide eyes owning a sense of superiority as he barks down at me as he and his master speed by in the morning dark.
I shake my head, wondering if this apparition is real or just a figment tossed up from my increasingly clouded brain—but I hear him the next block over, shouting with seeming triumph as the idiot driver zooms south on the northbound street.