Even the most domesticated lapdog dreams of the hunt. Stretched out on the cool tile floor, belly full of kibble, the neutered hound kicks his leg in pursuit of dreamy game. Those breeds so far genetically removed from their wolf ancestors still hold the seed of the hunter and as they sleep the seed sprouts briefly and they give chase with blood-filled nostrils and bared jowls. I am alpha! They howl. I am predator!
You may see them wake with a snort, the curled lip and furrowed brow give you a nervous jolt from the loyal friend and companion you thought the hound to be. What dreams this killer who sleeps beneath my roof? Will the hunt stay in dreams or will the hound one day chase the prey to wakefulness?
As I watched my friend double back to the expert jump on the Cadillac trail I thought none of these things about lapdogs and wakefulness. I thought how odd it seemed, this impulse. "I just want to take it easy today. I haven't been on my bike in weeks." This he told me not 45 minutes prior as we met along the trail.
Now, from some deep place, the wolf was running. Straight off a cliff.
With great speed he charged the ledge, assuming he would fly safely the ten feet necessary to land in the trough of packed clay, between the oak trees below. I was spellbound, a victory cry poised in my throat as he charged into space, then dropped like a cinder block into the steep slope below.
Moving in the slow-motion surreality of watching a car crash, I was helpless to turn events another direction. The time for intervention had unceremoniously passed. Arms and legs splayed out like a scarecrow, he tumbled down the hill with great violence.
Asleep no more, he hunted.