Arriving too early in Omaha, I cross the bridge from the train station to downtown. It’s only a couple blocks, but it’s still so dark that I can barely read the closed signs in all the windows. I wander around in the twilight, looking for anything that’s open and possibly selling coffee.

I find nothing, so I perch on a brick wall, tucking my bag under a bush and lighting a cigarette.

Besides the flow of early morning delivery trucks, the streets are empty. I try to write in the dim street light, but the strain hurts my eyes. I give up and watch the black sky slowly become gray. The transition is slow and surreal. An old woman nears with her small dog (the elderly never sleep), and I bid her an overly cheerful “Good Morning!” She looks up, wide-eyed that the homeless gargoyle should speak to her, so I follow it up with a hurried–“I didn’t want to startle you. I just got off the train….” As if the train has the authority to make me a trustworthy stranger in the dark. She laughs nervously, hurries away.

I squint at the sky. The street lights turn off.

 

 

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