By: Michael C. Keith
The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.
–– W.C. Fields
The closest we get to sex anymore is sharing the toilet seat, thought Brandon, who’d been spending his nights in the guest room for months. His Restless Leg Syndrome had him flailing about in bed interrupting the sleep of both he and his wife. Finally, Edith had enough of being elbowed and kneed by him, and he had retreated to the adjacent bedroom to stop her complaining. His aggravation did not end there. In fact, it was about to increase.
In the middle of the night Brandon could hear his spouse peeing, since the only upstairs bathroom adjoined the guestroom. While he had always been a sound sleeper, her frequent tinkling had awakened him each time she went, and he found it impossible to get back to sleep. He tried closing the toilet door on the guestroom side to halt his mounting insomnia, but his ears invariably perked up and tuned into his wife emptying her bladder.
He considered asking his wife to use the downstairs facilities but expected she’d understandably refuse his request . . . and she did.
“Are you kidding, going all the way downstairs in the middle of the night. You want me to break my neck? Christ, you can be so unreasonable. You have a problem and you want me to solve it for you.”
Maybe I should sleep on the couch in the family room, contemplated Brandon, but then rejected the idea, thinking he couldn’t move around the way he had to in order to get to sleep. I could watch the adult films on cable, though, he mulled, but then figured it would surely put the end to any possibility of sleep.
Finally, Brandon resigned himself to the fact that between his damn burning legs and his wife’s frequent trips to the bathroom, he was doomed to a life of wakefulness. And the consequences of his sleep deprivation began to manifest in strange and disturbing ways. The side effect that most jarred him was the hallucination of a large predatory bird watching him. But what he thought was some prehistoric creature perched on his car’s roof was merely a leafy twig that had apparently tumbled from the elm tree above it. He had called to his wife after first seeing it and was quickly set straight.
“What’s the matter with you? You’ve been acting truly weird lately. A giant bird, indeed! You really need to get it together. I think you’re losing it.”
Brandon explained that he’d been seeing strange things because of his inability to sleep hoping she would show sympathy for his state of mind and be open to a suggestion.
“How about if we switch places and you sleep in the guestroom. You’d be closer to the bathroom, too, honey.”
“No, I like my bed. The mattress in the guestroom is too hard for me. Besides, you’re the one with the problem,” she replied.
Although Brandon was unable to sleep, he took to the spare room bed each night in the hope he eventually would nod off. Besides, keeping his eyes closed seemed to help alleviate the upsetting hallucinations, which were increasing. If I don’t get a night’s sleep soon, I’m going to go nuts like Edith said, he thought. And then he heard the all too familiar sound of his wife peeing.
“Jesus, that’s the fourth damn time tonight!” he grumbled and stormed into the bathroom.
To his astonishment it was not his wife he encountered but rather a beautiful young woman astride the commode. She smiled sweetly at him and began to strum a small lute that rested against her bare breasts. The music she made soothed him and soon he began to feel tired. He made his way back to bed and slept deeply until the rumble of his wife’s vacuum woke him the following morning.
That evening, Brandon turned in early eagerly anticipating the sound of his wife relieving herself. He waited patiently for the sound of liquid trickling into the porcelain bowl and when it happened he got up quickly and dashed into the bathroom. To his great regret, his wife greeted him and not with welcoming words.
“Get out, you idiot! Can’t I take a pee in peace?”
Brandon returned to his bed distraught. He figured that his desperately needed sack time the night before had stopped his hallucinations. After all, he concluded, what could the vision of the lovely naked woman have been other than an apparition?
For the next few nights, sleep eluded him . . . and he was happy about that.
Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction. http://www.michaelckeith.com