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Midnight and the Night Watchman

Snow falls. A thick white blanket covers the city streets. Tom the night watchman clicks open the padlock of the south truck yard.

John Sullivan

The cold metal stings his fingers. He pushes the long gate wide open for the salt trucks.

Drivers arrive and start up the engines. The salt trucks roll to a nearby mountain of salt. A loader scoops up bucketfuls and dumps them into the backs of the trucks. They rumble off to plow and salt the streets for the city’s busy traffic.

The night watchman is glad his two young children are asleep at home, snuggled in bed. Every hour Tom walks from one end of the truck yard to the other to make sure everything is OK.

Tom checks the west yard. Graders, sweepers, rollers, and backhoes sit as quiet as sleeping animals. Then he walks through the repair shop. Hoists, jacks, oilcans, air hoses, and tool cabinets fill the huge area.

Tom turns to walk back to the lobby, but something darts out from under a truck.

“Aw, a kitten!” he exclaims. The kitten’s fur is velvet black except for the white tip of her chin and the white tips of her paws. “What are you doing here at midnight? Come with me . . . Midnight.” And just like that, the kitten has a name.

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January 2017