It Happened One Night
A warning for those who like to push peoples’ buttons.
How describe this district on the outskirts of San Juan? The perimeter of every yard guarded in a similar manner with broken glass embedded atop surrounding walls to scrape knees, cut hands, inhibit intruders. The black, cloudless sky is starless. We didn’t have a word for it then but understand it now as light pollution.
We have no glass on the windows, only screens. The air is neither cold nor hot with a year-round temperate amiability. Outside one hears the gentle hum of mosquitoes in the still air. I lie on my mattress with only a sheet, my head nestled against my pillow.
Occasionally one hears a muffled laugh, a stifled cry, a car engine coming to life with its radio playing salsa. My thoughts begin to drift.
Somewhere near a dog has begun barking. It’s a plaintive bark, loud and incessant. One assumes it will tire of this nonsense, but it’s a strong bark and most likely a strong-willed dog who has no interest in giving up easily. He wants something and he wants everyone in the neighborhood to know.
I roll over to see what time it is. It’s nearly midnight. I must have faded off into sleep and had been re-awakened by the barking.
The dog must be angry. He definitely wants something and is unrelenting. I imagine that there are other neighbors listening to this impassioned performance.
In the next instant a door opens followed by a staccato burst of cursing, obviously directed toward the dog. I picture a stocky man though I have no idea really what he looks like. The barking continues, the dog’s attitude unaltered by the man’s screaming.
Suddenly the dog yips, the way dogs yip when being struck, and he pauses a beat, then returns to his barking. The door slams. The entire district is an audience now.
A half dozen barks later the door opens again followed by a deafening explosion of sound. And dead silence.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere, I believe.