GALEN HOLLEY: Distracting myself on a sleepless night

That night I couldn’t forget the images I’d seen on television, of swollen bodies floating on a brackish, tea-colored sea, of sweaty, half-naked children crying out in thirst, of cruel, cowardly men inflicting pain upon the weak and the poor.
My wife told me to let it go, to stop rolling and tossing, said I never should have watched that documentary about the hurricane because I knew it would only upset me.
I rose from bed, slipped on a t-shirt and without turning on any lights made my way to the kitchen. I took out a bottle of chocolate milk, slipped on my house shoes and quietly opened the back door and stepped outside.
The moon had risen over the tops of the pine and oak trees that stretch for a quarter mile behind my property, and to the northwest the cool, white light it gave off illuminated the marble tomb stones rising up the hillside in a ghostly glow.
A scrawny, yard cat my wife calls “Little Girl” rubbed against my leg, and in the woods I could hear the oafish stomping of a possum or an armadillo.
I poured a bit of the chocolate milk onto the grass and watched the cat sniff at it then lick it. I could feel the wetness of the grass soaking into my slippers.
I stood there for a long time, listening to the night and feeling the electric sensation of the moonlight on my skin. It lit up the property and made the wet grass shine like ice.
I poured out the rest of the milk and went back in the house and sat in a room where I like to work.
I didn’t want to think about the suffering on the television. I sat in my desk chair and spun it halfway around tried to think about the things in my room.
I stared at a poster of the actor Johnny Depp portraying the writer Hunter S. Thompson, the lights of the Las Vegas strip reflecting in the lenses of his aviator shades.
I took down a postcard I’d pinned to a map of the Delta, a picture of the haunted bluesman Robert Johnson, his long fingers stretched over the fret board of a guitar, a cigarette dangling from his lips.
I traced my finger down the bridle and over the forelocks of a bust of the greatest racehorse that ever lived, Secretariat.
In the bedroom I could hear my wife start up a DVD of the old television show, “Dallas.” That wonderful theme song rolled through the house, the one that will forever remind me of my childhood, the one of which, no matter how many times I hear it I’ll never tire.
Rupert, my tabby cat, had rolled onto his back on the bed behind me and started to snore. I watched him for a long time, laying there with this chin in the air, curling his tiny forepaws like an infant.

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