Tin Can Dreams

His ears drooped as he stood there wearily, flicking flies away with his sparse tail and resting on his back leg. The day was muggy and damp, and the purplish clouds hung low in the magnificent sky, casting a bleary shadow across the dark city. Cars sped by, spraying droplets of water onto the pedestrians, who were hunched down, ignoring the insolent weather.

I was one of them, sweaty from my yellow plastic raincoat, which stuck to my damp, humid skin. I was late. Again. I had awoken 40 minutes after my alarm clock was supposed to have driven me from my slumber, following a dark dream filled with men in tin can costumes floating on giant beds in the tropics, scorching all those who went past, and laughing tinnily. It was an unnerving dream, and I couldn’t put my finger on what lay behind it. I just knew that when I woke up this morning, everything felt different – the world had shifted imperceptibly, changing the course of fate.. Probably.

So there I was, trying in equal measures to hurry, and to stay composed in my yellow plastic raincoat, head braced against the misty rain, journeying towards the bus stop I passed every morning, and again every evening on my way home.

I pulled up abruptly when I saw him. I don’t know why the others kept walking. I mean, it’s not that common, to see a tied up donkey at your local bus stop. Is it? Particularly in this corner of the city.

Perhaps it is, and I just miss them.

I didn’t today though. Today I stopped and talked to the tied up donkey, standing at the bus stop, withered and grey. I looked at him, with his head hung low, pointed dejectedly at the ground, and his back, which shivered every now and again as the flies swarming around his muggy body burrowed into his fur. “What’s wrong with you, poor tied up donkey?” I murmured, as I brought my hand under his chin and lifted his heavy head towards me.

“I don’t know,” replied the tied up donkey, sighing and turning his sad eyes towards me. “It’s just, I woke up here, and I can’t get loose. And no one will stop and help me. I know they’re thinking, ‘That’s not a donkey!’ I even heard one man muttering to himself as he scuttled past. I saw him. He looked at me. And he looked quickly away. ‘That’s not a bloody donkey, Howard,’ he said. ‘Got to lay off the gin, Howard,’ he said. And now I’m not even sure if I am a donkey, you know.”

I stumbled and dropped the tied up donkey’s chin. My vision swam as I strained to refocus my eyes and shake the misty fingers which clung to the clouds still lingering from the tin can dream. “Yyou cccan’t b be a a ddonkey,” I stuttered, shaking my head.

“But now you’ve spoken to me, you can’t pretend I don’t exist,” said the tied up donkey. “You’d have to go home and know that you’d abandoned what appeared to be a tied up donkey at the bus stop.”

I looked bewilderedly into his watery eyes for a time; at some point I felt the stirrings of my conscience. “Goddamn it,” I said, giving my head a final, absolute, shake, and untying the tied up donkey.

As I led him off in my plastic yellow raincoat, a car skidded past, trailing some tin cans; a sunbeam bounced off the metal, catching my eye. The donkey brushed his withered whiskers against my hand and pushed me on along the dark street. A siren wailed in another pocket of the city.

Image Credit: Thomas Beetz Photography

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