4:58 a.m.

He did it again this morning. After you left for your morning jog, your haphazard ponytail pulled through the back of your baseball cap, your key and ID and five dollars zipped away in the front pocket of your anorak, he did it. He waited, as he always does, every weekday, behind his front door, his eye pressed to the peephole at 4:58, for your footfall on the uncarpeted stairs of your walkup building. And after you passed, he did it.
You always take care not to make a lot of noise, because you don’t want to wake anyone up. But you’re not waking him up. He’s been up since 4:48. It doesn’t take him long to get started anymore, now that he’s been doing this for three months.
He waits at his peephole, and you pause on the landing by his door, checking your anorak pocket three times even though you checked it twice as soon as you left your apartment two flights back. He holds his breath and wills his floors not to creak.
You bound down the last 12 steps to the front door.
He scurries to his front window and watches you make a left and jog toward the park. He watches until you round the corner, and then counts to 30. Just to be safe.
He scurries back to his front door, slides the deadbolt aside, turns the regular lock, unchains the chain lock, and tiptoes up to your door. And then he does it. He licks your doorknob three times — one long swipe on the left, one on the right … and for the last lick, on the lock in the center of the knob, he points his tongue ever so slightly and imagines it is your bellybutton.
At 5:43, he scampers back to his peephole and waits for you to take the stairs, two steps at a time, back up to your apartment. He listens for the sound of your doorknob turning and your door creaking as you open it. He doesn’t even try to go back to sleep. He knows by now that it won’t happen.
Tomorrow morning you will say, “To hell with my run, I deserve to sleep today!” and he will wait at his peephole until 6:30. He will lick his own doorknob, once, without enthusiasm, and feel dirty.