Last night I awoke to a gentleman standing over the foot of my bed.

Now, I’m not surprised that I slept through someone entering the house, making his way to the bedroom, and hovering over the foot of my bed until I woke up. I mean, that’s what happens when one takes those sleeping pills the doctors prescribe. First one becomes all loopy, and then one stuffs a bunch of food in one’s face, all the while convinced of having sound mind and making acceptable decisions. Then one turns the light off and –boom- falls asleep.

So I wasn’t surprised that this man was able to get in unnoticed. I was bloody freaked out that there was a man staring at me when I left the wonderful world of dreams to return to the dull world of reality. Of course, this time reality wasn’t dull. Who calls reality dull when waking up to a stranger?

When I realized that something was out of place in my bedroom (and my heart started its marathon pace), the gentleman smiled and tipped his hat. His hat? Precisely. Maybe now I should explain why I call him a gentleman.

The person standing unexpectedly before me when I awoke was wearing a three-piece suit, brown and pinstriped like one might imagine Sherlock Holmes wore when he did his official detectiving. The man had a cane in his left hand and a top hat, as quaint as you can be. Not only was he out of place in my bedroom, but he seemed out of place in time.

This anachronistic gentleman tipped his hat, smiled, and extended his right arm in invitation. Now, it is not my habit to join trespassers in a stroll around town in the middle of the night, nor is it my habit to be dressed appropriately for such an event when I am sleeping in my own bed. However, since he looked rather non-threatening, and because my mind was still a little foggy from my nocturnal medications, I quickly slipped out of my bed and clothed myself.

It’s a strange feeling to consider oneself underdressed when one is, in fact, dressed appropriately for the time and the event, but this gentleman had a certain…panache that I believe would have left anyone feeling a bit inadequate in a similar circumstance. My wind pants and t-shirt may have been more utilitarian, but I certainly wasn’t going to look as good doing…whatever it is we were going to do…as the gentleman in the suit.

He led me to the front door where I was able to get my jacket, which had my house key. This was a good thing because I strongly suspect that I would not be as adept as breaking and entering into my own house as this odd nighttime visitor. Without further detainment, the gentleman led me out of my house and onto my front lawn, whereupon another oddity awaited me.

You may recall a week or so ago there was a strange shape on my back lawn which I imagined to be a large fox or small coyote or something equally sinister. It turns out that the creature on the lawn was a fox, and I am able to relate this as a certainty because I saw the same exact beast on my front lawn when the gentleman led me outside.

This animal gave me a start like one I hadn’t had since, well, since waking up to find a stranger in my bedroom. However, the animal looked at the man, and the man looked at the animal, and both had what I can only describe as a look of knowing understanding. The fox seemed to be quite docile, a mere observer of events, and the gentleman gave it another one of his charming smiles that had persuaded me out of bed.

The gentleman led me away from my house and into the trees. I noticed the fox watch our departure, but instead of following, it turned back to minding my house.

How long we walked through the forest, I can’t be sure. I had not donned my watch during my hasty dress. Familiar landscapes quickly became unfamiliar, and the sounds I am used to hearing at night in my neighborhood changed to foreign, if contemporary, noises. When we did emerge from the woods, we were standing directly in front of your residence.

We didn’t have to walk any further, for what the gentleman apparently wanted me to see was quite plain in the light of the moon. There, watching your home as diligently as one was watching mine, was a sizeable grey fox.

The animal turned to look at us. The gentleman remained silent, merely smiling again his enigmatic smile. We stepped back into the woods and allowed the creature to return to its nocturnal vigil.

After another indeterminable amount of time I was returned to my own premises and allowed back into my bed. The gentleman had left me at the front door, so I was not witness to his skills of entering a locked home. When he left, he left alone, and the fox remained in my yard, staring at the house.

Needless to say, I took some time getting back to sleep last night. I could not get the visitation out of my head, the oddity of the experience, and the sights I had witnessed. I thought long about the gentleman, but I thought even longer about the foxes.

As I lie there pondering these events, one thought, nay one certainty, allowed me to relax until I once more fell asleep. The foxes are no mere observers, my dear. They are guardians.

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