Night Moves

Ella Marilla

At 1am, 2am, the across-the-road-guy decides to start shooting stuff. Cans or nothing maybe. Ten shots each time. After each ten you think he's all out. After the first ten shots I wonder whether he's shooting our dog Snoopy—I guess he's said he would—but he wouldn't shoot Snoopy 1000 times, at least I doubt it. Sky says the guy told his landlord, the blueberry lady, that he would have been down in Charlottesville marching with the Alt Right Tikki people if he weren't terminally ill. Maybe. Or maybe he's more like Boo Radley or Frankenstein or The Grinch. Some nights it's the coyotes. Whenever the coyotes start up I freak out over the barn cats. I wonder how small a hole a coyote can slip through. The cats hide under the hay bales and the Harley. They kill voles and moles and give them piloerection, which is when you're so scared all your hair stands on end. It's real hard to tell how far away a coyote is, how far a gunshot. I work a split third shift. I wake up at 3am, when there aren't bad sounds. I put on pants, eat some toast, drive to the city through the corn in the fog. At that hour you do sometimes see a fox, or a coyote, or a bobcat, or one of the three but can't tell which. The foxes here are gray or red. Mostly you see two yellow eyes locked on you from the ditch. We live on the river, unincorporated county. I pull up to the hotline in the city and punch in the door code. Sometimes I am too sleepy to remember the code, which is also the code for involuntary psychiatric commitment in the State of Hawaii. I blank. For the next few hours I talk to people who are thinking about killing themselves. Online. I am a great typist unless my fingernails are too long. Mostly teenagers and young grownups. They get "clean" from self-harm, they get dirty, they think about journaling, they are homeschooled and alone, they have a long-distance boyfriend who has started acting creepy, they feel like they are trapped in one of those gerbil balls humans use to walk on water, they want to start a business making plush D&D dice for their cat, so their cat can play too. Sometimes they are playing with me, pranking, and they call me a cunt-face or talk about having sex with goats. That's ok. I used to pretend to be Mandy Moore online, or an angel of heaven. When the chats are slow I read the newspaper or make lists of things I want to eat or to change about my house (the wasps). I am pregnant. I read about Mac & Cheese in the New York Times, how it fucks up baby boys' genitals and about wildfires reducing Kmarts to ash and I worry. I try to figure out if I have gas or if it's the baby kicking. My mom says when I kicked, it was like a little blue guppy bumping up against her soul, but I am not that charming. People move to the country, to the county, so people won't tell them what to do. With their guns and their dogs. It's a long drive to the firehouse, the hospital. What will I tell the baby to do? What will the baby do? The black cat roams, some weeks we won't see her. The sun comes up but I don't notice because the call room is a blank box. My manager flies a tiny toy drone around the call room, crashes it into Janice's head and says, "Motherfucker!" It's a little broken. He is too busy to tell me what to do. Janice is in The Army Reserves and wants to find a way to combine trauma therapy and cosmetology afterwards, if there's not war. She drives in from farther out than I do. Then my manager does his Eric Cartman impression again. Then he starts singing "Hallelujah" in Eric Cartman's voice. I text my thoughts and feelings to the people I love on my flip phone. One op-ed says to cook anger like a potato. On the drive home in the light you can see which animals didn't make it through the night and it's mostly possums. On AM radio today it's Seoul that's cause for alarm, San Juan. Boil fear like a potato.