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2004-07-02 - 1:38 p.m.

I purposely placed my alarm clock in another room, thinking if I had to get up, make the walk all the way over on my cold tile floor, I would just throw up my hands, conceding defeat and stumble towards the shower. The best laid plans of mice and narcoleptics…

Now I regularly get up, walk over across the cold tile, reset the alarm for twenty minutes later and fall right back into the mangled nest of pillows, a quilt and, oddly enough, a sleeping bag, that have collected over time on my futon.

At the last possible minute, I take my shower, and try to gather up an outfit that does not need ironing or a healthy dose of Febreeze. My wall clock reads eight thirty as I go for the door – a whole thirty minutes for my commute into Manhattan.

I regularly stop at the door to take a quick inventory, keys, wallet, cell phone, and never expect much of an audience for this little ritual. The building is generally quiet in the morning, especially on the sixth floor. However, these last few days, I’ve had company.

Eight thirty in the morning, I stand at my door, patting my pockets, with prayers that I don’t lock myself out again, when suddenly I see her at the door.

She’s in her late twenties or early thirties, somewhere around the age when you being saying your twenty-three. A mane of straight brown hair with blond highlights streaks down just below the small of her back. I usually expect such long hair to be a little bit wild. It’s tough to manage such a large team, but this woman seemed to have ordered them all into place. The lined up parallel to each other, without a single hair wandering off – a well-tended flock.

That sixth sense that women seem to have that tells them when a guy is staring at some part of their back side must have gone off. She turned around fast enough to flash the inside lining of her suit jacket.

“Hello.”

I nodded.

I quickly returned to the suddenly intense process of locking my door. As I triple checked the bolt, I heard her door close. When I turned, she was gone. She wasn’t on the stairs as I went down. She wasn’t outside. She was in her apartment. She was coming into her apartment, at eight thirty in the morning.

I’d have forgotten about it, were today not the third time this week she’s entered her apartment as I was leaving for work.

This mystery is now the only thing bouncing in my head.

Maybe a club kid, going wild, at oddly office themed raves. All the usual rolling people come down to hear Digweed spin, and for ironic bonus points, they wear heels, ties and something with a lapel. (Anything that can be described as having a lapel is immediately, possibly involuntarily, formal.)

A high priced prostitute, possibly. Given that the male/female ratio in this city is decidedly tipped on the male side, the women have the ability of being extremely selective, and with billionaires traipsing about, the power women – Italian leather briefcase of weekdays, Prada purse for weekends – seem inaccessible up in their Ivory towers, and certainly in no need of saving. Maybe the Night Owl has picked up on this and found a lucrative, if not morally questionable means of cashing in. Then again, there are few lucrative activities in this world that aren’t at least a little morally questionable. Still I’d hate to think of the creature that spends her evenings with premature baldness and a hernia who beg her to tell them they’re fiscally sound mid-coitus.

The Night Owl may be fluent in several Asian languages, so late at night, when it’s early afternoon in Hong Kong she’s brokering multi-million dollars deals in perfect Mandarin. She took classes all through college, perfecting her accent, all without buying a kimono, or a decorative fan, or losing herself in calligraphy or folklore. She refers to her studies as an investment, and now she received the return. Of course, if this were the case, why in the name of Rudy Giuliani, would she be living in Brooklyn?

Most likely, she has a late night job doing customer service for some evil company that insists its employees dress to impress even in the hours when the only people available to make an impression on are either extremely drunk, or extremely lost…or both.

Then again, she could just be the best-dressed sales associate on the night shift at White Castle.

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