Midnight is the devil's hour, said my grandma to me when I was young. I believed - I had to. Grandma was on the side of God, and that meant if Grandma was wrong, God was wrong, and this could not be. As an adult I've come to know those coveted midnight hours and dislike them intensely, but there are worse. Midnight is just dark. Sorry, Grandma, but I've been out walking and never once come across Sulfur nick. 5:30 a.m., after a late night with a sick child, *that* is the devil's hour, because waking a parent then is just *evil*. It was 5:30 a.m. When I heard it. My head hurt, I ached in ways that only those that tread the night halls can sympathize with, but I'm a parent. I rolled out of bed and headed upstairs to where I knew my daughter lay whimpering in her bed. The night terrors, the fever terrors, the terrors that have no name or association, but just are: One of these had my daughter. So I headed upstairs comfort and shush and calm. The house is light in gray light at that time of day. Not dusk and not sun, and a wall of clouds overhead that comes in September and stays through may, but I knew my way through piles of laundry to consume the afternoon and over toys and up stairs and into the room. We keep an aquarium nightlight running, the humm and bubble and pump vibration echoes in the house and you can feel it in your feet through the cold hardwood floors. My daughter lay sleeping, her face cool, her limbs limp in that blessed sleep that only children know. They have a way of giving themselves to rest, and I think it is the key to their boundless energy, that ability to not let the day before chase them through the night, but I checked and she was fine, and I went back to bed. Again I was roused, and again I journied, and I heard it in the stairs, and sighed - it must be my middle daughter, it was coming from her room, and so braving rows of petshop toys and a mountain of books I forded her room - and she was asleep. It is a sad fact of my existence that when I am awake, I am, and I might as well not even bother going back to bed, so I went back to editing some text, hammering together coherence at a time when I should never be awake and thinking there aren't enough coffe beans in columbia to make up for last night and this morning together. Then I heard it again, and this time, my wife woke too. A sobbing, sniffling sound, and it was coming from upstairs. This time I heard it on the stairs, this time I crashed through the toys and scattered the books and scared at least one life out of the cat, which I don't really like anyway, so that's ok. I stood in my daughters room and listened, and I heard it again - the sobbing sound of a weeping child, but now I knew it was from outside. I cast my eyes out the window - there must be a child gone wandering in the night, when the mind sleeps but the feet go on. There it was again - now I knew it was in my backyard, and right there, an evil thought crept into my mind. You see, I've been raising a new flock of layers this year, and they live in a greenhouse on our deck for a few more weeks, and right then and there I began to think that maybe something else was crying in the night. In my night clothes I crept out onto the deck and there it was again, from inside the greenhouse. I opened the door and chicks scattered. Well, most of them did, except for the buff orp, who walked over and looked up at me as if to say "About time you got here. Hold me." There he was. It's a he, I know that 10,000% now, the Silver Laced Wyandotte with a red comb and wattles. He looked at me sideways, and as if to prove a point, threw back his head and gave what I now knew was the world's worst crow. It sounded like he was sobbing, and as he finished, he did something new, each step looking like he was slinking forward. He was strutting, which ticked me off. At six weeks old, which ticked me off even more. At six o'clock in the morning, which proved to me that this thing wasn't JUST a chicken. It was Satan. We hadn't named him yet, because I don't name things I'm going to eat, and even though he's the size of a boot I've had it with him. I swear that cockerel was smiling at me, a chicken grin as he gave a little crow sob and strutted back and forth. So Grandma, sorry. You are wrong. Midnight ain't the devil's hour, it's just dark and cold and sad. Five thirty in the morning after a long evening, THAT is the devil's hour, and I've met him. He's about ten inches long with silver lacing and he seems to enjoy tempting me to eat him. On the other hand, we have a name for him (lucifer) which will last until about 4:00, when we'll have a new name for him: Snack. If I have to play the crying game, I'm playing to win.