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One Thing That Love Is
Everything here is true Just as stated because it's already happened or - it has yet to occur - but it's very soon to occur and I have such strong feeling that the future will be as I see it as you read this that in the end I will be proven right. You are that occurrence you are happening and I think you will understand. Love is a dog on a chain in a muddy yard on a cold day in a silent town where the land slopes down to a river. It's the end of autumn or the beginning of winter and the silence is tidal total and you know that things are not right under the sky of hard iron between all the old buildings of red faded brick that were made when labor and materials were cheap. Big old buildings all squares and rectangles former warehouses tenements that saw many families hotels of a prior age offices where she used to work where he ran the elevator where they came and went but now nobody is walking no vehicles move on the streets it was just me. And the dog. There is more about the place it could have been in a movie with the camera panning around capturing aspects of vertigo and dread a province of scary infirmity that makes you think you are dreaming because you've had dreams before and you've seen horror movies before but you know there's no such escape not a dream not a movie and the dog is real. Lonely. Thirsty. Hungry. Cold. It wasn't always that way not the dog not the town. Long ago the Continental Army was headquartered here in the American Revolution and the city thrived into the future lots of transportation and manufacturing through the 1800s but then river traffic fell to almost nothing railroads and trucks took over companies and people moved south and overseas and the town grew quiet. Now it's the cold season the silence of an endless cold season almost monochromatic under that iron sky all black and white or in-between except for the fading red of the bricks in those big old buildings. This is where the owners love the dog part of the time. This is where a pigeon steps on a little discarded plastic ring from a jug of milk and the ring stands up above the ground where a cold wind blows torn candy wrappers around your feet near the chain link fences the dirty concrete with moss growing in the cracks where branches show against the sky from dark tree trunks by the wrought metal railing that has caught a plastic bag that was blown by the wind. The silence. You feel the lack the absence of bird calls coming down in rivulets and chips of silver showing they are alive. It's not to be this day the silence holds sway life seems more of an echo. Any faint smile of the sun shows false in the shadows. The dog didn't make a sound either. I'm tempted to end right here but no we haven't really gotten to the love part yet. Sure - maybe they loved the dog some maybe the owner was sick or old or just couldn't care for it much anymore or they had grown up and moved away while the dog remained. Long ago there was the Telephone Company of New York and through buyouts, governmentally enforced divestitures, and mergers it later became Metropolitan Telephone and Telegraph Company then American Bell Telephone Company New York Telephone NYNEX Bell Atlantic and now we know it as Verizon. The dog was real. The town is Newburgh, New York, USA and it does slope down to a river the Hudson River and the old buildings latent waiting bear witness. I was there in the late 1990s when it was called NYNEX and then Bell Atlantic. The old telephone building still had the places where the switchboard operators would sit with earphones on listening to call requests, or they manually plugged in wires to connect incoming calls with house telephones in the local exchange. A light would glow on the bottom row of their array and they'd connect a wire from the plug-in hole by the light to number 0313 for example if that was the number in the exchange that the caller wanted. The materials were beautiful all the hardwoods fiber, metal and cloth high-quality stuff that hadn't been used since the late 1960s. The lattices were still there the wire pairs for each number ten thousand at a time i.e. 0000 to 9999 those wire pairs had their brackets from where they went all the way to people's houses the hard wired connection. You're with me now there's nobody else nobody from the telephone company and I have the door code for the electronic lock. We exit the building and the dog is looking at us from the lonely cold muddy yard behind the next old rectangle of faded red bricks there is something there not much not real hope but dark eyes upon us some wonder some... something... no sound. The dog never makes a sound. You see one of the shames of my life. I go over to my truck and drive away. It wasn't that the dog just couldn't make a sound. It didn't quickly raise its head it didn't jump up or come toward me as far as the chain would let it or at least tilt its head questioningly as if I might present some hope. There is love but it was so far away from that dog that all was silent the most terrible silence. So now I'm a 57 year old man sitting here crying because I could have gotten that dog a good home or I could have called somebody who would do that you should see me crying or I could have just called somebody or I could have gotten that dog something good to eat and some water oh dog I'm sorry I could have knocked on the door and asked about the dog and offered to help you should see me crying I'm a mess I could have gone over and hugged the dog and said oh dog it's okay you're a good dog
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