Bootes The Wagoner


Staying overnight with friends in Melbourne,  Veronica, my wife,  who usually sleeps like a log, woke me by suddenly sitting bolt-right up, as if spring-operated.

“I’ve got to do something,” she was saying more to herself than me. ” I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to do something.”

While I was still trying to figure out where I was and what was happening, she threw on her white dressing gown and I heard the outside door open before I could even ask what it was that anyone had  to do at this time of night for god’s sake.

I looked at the alarm clock. Its green hands indicated 2.15. How embarrassing! I thought. She’ll wake the whole  household! and I waited for next-door’s big brute of an Afghan hound to start its barking, loud enough to wake the whole neighbourhood!

Next time I looked,  it was 3.10.

I got up and looked out of the window. The street lay empty in the white moonlight.  Empty except for Veronica  standing like an angel in a circle of light from a street lamp,   looking upwards, her dressing gown pulled tight about her.

I tiptoed downstairs.

The outside door was still wide open. I began to shiver as soon as I stepped outside.

Veronica gave me a quick glance  then resumed her upward stare.  I looked up but couldn’t see a  thing.  I looked down at her bare feet.  ” You must be frozen”, I told her. “Do you know what time it is? You’ll catch your death for god’s sake!”

She barely seemed to notice my arrival.

“Look!” she said softly like you try not to disturb a bird you’ve come across singing its heart out. “Just look at that!”

I followed her gaze but  still couldn’t see anything.

“Bootes, ” she said softly and pointed.

“Look.  Bootes the Wagoner.”

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