Sleeping Thieves

The city is at its darkest several hours before sunrise, when the thieves have only just fallen asleep.

Good reader, you ask “Who are these sleeping thieves and what do they steal?”

All thieves sleep at such an hour that are unsuccessful and have given up and gone home. Even a thief has a home. Home is a good word, even when someone bad lives there.

A gentle rain begins to fall, more like a mist than a rain, and the practical nurse pushes the wheel chair much faster now, hoping to catch the light and cross the street. They approach the clinic door.

The old woman in the wheelchair says, “Wait! Don’t go in yet.”

The nurse asks why, surprised.

“It feels so good.”

“What feels good?”

“The rain on my face. It has been a long time since I felt the rain.”

“But, who are the thieves?” the reader asks.

“Well, I am one of them.”

“But you are not asleep.”

“I did not say that all thieves sleep; only thieves who have given up.”

“Look at this old chest I found! What do you suppose could be inside?”

“It is always the wrong people who die.”

“What do you mean, ‘wrong people’? Who is right for death?”

“Well, the ones who really want to die never die when they really want to. Only those, who want to live more, die when they least expect it.”

“But, we all die sooner or later.”

“Yes, this is true. We all die. We all go home and sleep at some point.”

“We are most alive when we are most free. And we are most free when we have lost our desire to live. I am free just now, writing these words.”

“But, to whom do you write?”

“I write to no one. I write to myself. I write to unborn children.”

“We are free when we are alone and have something worth saying. Only, whom to say it to in solitude?”

Do you see how we need to be in control? We demand to know who the thieves are and what they plan to steal. Who is the old woman in the rain and where is she headed? Does the nurse grant the drizzling request? And what is in that chest? Where did you get it?

A prince is not a prince without his realm of paupers to pay homage. And who steals from whom? Does the prince steal the poverty of the paupers? Do the paupers steal the prince’s fame?

The nurse patiently waited for twenty minutes while the old woman had her fill of rain. A composition by Pachelbel played softly in the background.

When I opened the chest, I found inside, another world. Many worlds. It was a Dr. Who’s Tardis of alternate realities.

A master of words is also a Time Lord.

I stole that memory from the nurse. She mentioned the scene one day, in idle conversation.

I am finished now. I must go home and sleep.

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