He starts around 3AM. A distant unfamiliar cry, overlaid with the sounds of the city beginning to wake up (tires whooshing, crosswalks counting down, engines rumbling). The incongruous mishmash of city sounds plus a noise I associate with rural countrysides: a rooster's cockle-doodle-doo.
He's consistent. One crow every minute, simultaneously triumphant and plaintive. I wonder what he's thinking of when he trumpets, whether he knows the sleep-rousing effects of his calls or if he simply likes the sound of his own voice.
Either way, he's effective. Inconsistent time zones plus unfamiliar beds means I'm up when he demands, rolling on my side and drifting in and out of the kind of sleep that comes when you're floating on the surface of slumber, the hazy in-between stage punctuated by a barnyard animal's brays.
I remove myself from bed eventually. It's now past seven, and I set off in search of food. As I cross the street, I see him. He struts around next to a scattering of picnic tables. No one seems to own him, but even if someone did, I have a feeling he'd answer to no one. We make eye contact. He lifts one clawed foot dramatically and sets it down as he parades across his domain. His tail feathers are a firework explosion behind him, quivering with his every step. I watch him, and I shake my head ruefully. The price of sleep seems irrelevant now in the face of this quirky, self-possessed bird.
As I walk away, I hear the Hawaiian alarm clock go off yet again. Island time indeed.