It took me awhile to understand that the dog that hung around the carpeted hallways of the 16th floor of the condo building late at night didn’t belong to any of our neighbors. But this was not a stray dog, either. In fact, it wasn’t a dog at all, I realized, in a 3 a.m. encounter near the trash chute. I heard the chimes of the elevator and turned to discover the creature calmly stepping from the doors, sleek and silver, ignoring me but looking both ways before taking the corridor that led to my door. The corridor bent round in a baffled curve so that you couldn’t see all the way down. When I gathered up the courage to walk back to my apartment, I remembered that I had not locked my door when I had gone to the trash chute. My door was shut but the dog, or whatever it really was, could not be seen. Had it passed through the walls or somehow grown the nubs of hands to turn my door handle? I searched everywhere in my apartment for that dog but couldn’t find it anywhere, not in any closet, not under the bed. I even checked the stove, for some reason, but inside there was only a handwritten note saying that whatever I turned my hand to in life would fail.
J.M. Tyree is the coauthor of Our Secret Life in the Movies, an NPR Best Books selection. He is an editor of New England Review.