UnBooks:A Night in the Life of PJ McFreeman
Everyone has one of these nights. I come back from a bar completely slammed from drinking coffee and brandy. A bottle clutched in one hand, I make my way down the dilapidated street and climb the stairs, clutching the metal railing to avoid falling straight down to the grimy, crack-powdered atrium 5 floors below. Taking the key from the roof, I wade back down to the dusty, dark penthouse apartment I had furnished with shag carpeting recovered from the city dump and lamp shades made out of cheap nylon bought at a garage sale.
I try to watch the TV, but it's so old it could be mistaken for black and white, and all the channels just have porn and car chases, all night long. Even the kiddie programs have porn. I'd watch it but the noise is splitting my head like a jackhammer. So I snap it off with the remote control, which is the old kind that makes a high-pitched noise. Now I have a migraine, so I change into worn pyjamas and get in bed.
The bed makes a tremendous creak (the frame), then some twanging (the last of the springs breaking), then a tremendous sucking noise (the gross foam mattress), and finally a shredding noise. I pop a couple Advil and plant my face in the grody, bare pillow.
After about fifteen minutes of lying in the fetal position, I know, I get up and head for the fridge. But the milk in there is slightly warm and when my pour it into a beer mug I realise that it's stale. Then a draft comes in through the unstripped dorm room window, forcing me back to bed. My last thought before falling asleep is that I've broken the bed.
So I wake up and look at the clock and it says 2:00, on the button. Only five more hours before I have to catch my shift at the wrench factory. Must be too high strung from the coffee. But as I lift my head, I notice sort of this array of stains, red and green and yellow. And of course I'm surprised because I didn't bring the bottle of brandy in bed like I usually do.
Oh, that explains it. I've been sleepwalking. I follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the kitchen table, where I find a half eaten hamburger surrounded by ketchup, mustard, and asparagus. In a passing glance at the passing reflection in a full-height mirror I notice my hair is falling out.
"Aaah, back to bed," I groan, then cough fifteen times and trudge back to bed. The smell of condiments lulls me back to sleep.
I'm jolted awake by a banging at the door. So I get up and answer it, being careful to look through the peep hole in case it's that damned Trix rabbit again. But it's just the postman, bringing around free samples of "dust B gone," to everyone in the flat, in the middle of the night. What business does he have anyway? And his eyes are sort of watery, like the tear gas clouds from the police raids are getting to him.
"Oh, well, back to bed," I say, and slam the door in his face. All I hear in bed is the humming of the refrigerator, which is like, like, some kind of simile... "ZZZZZZZzzzzz...."
I see this sort of raptor, flying over my room, screeching. Then its face morphs into a Colin Mochrie. Hello, Colin I say, lovely day for a fly. Only now he's belching fire, but it seems to be cooling down before it gets to me. I ask him to spell it and he says it's FYRE; that's the safe kind. No problem. Then I hear this sort of moaning. A picture of the grim reaper carrying a walking stick lurches me awake.
Just a dream.
Still the moaning - it's self-flagellation. I wonder who's self-flagellating me at this hour. I walk in circles for a while then find out it's just the cat. But there's something wrong with the clock radio; it's playing show tunes.
"Hey Dolly, Dolly, myZZZZZZZzzzzzzz...."
I get the delusion I'm late for work until I look at the clock. 5:00.
Then I realise in whispering, it's not.
So I look out into the dingy apartment, illuminated by moonlight. No, wait, I spilled the milk.
Then I notice a circular dark patch. It's a black hole in the centre of my living room/dining room/kitchen/sewing room, and judging by the hair on the carpet, it's swallowed my cat. It starts making this kind of low noise like a foghorn. That's never what I expected a vortex to sound like, but then I never read the newspaper.
"Bah, utilities can sort this out."
Just before I fall asleep again, I resolve to tell Stephen Hawking about this. Or maybe Richard Dawkins. I always get those confused.
So I crash to the carpet with a loud bump and wake up. Turns out I fell out of my bed onto the floor a storey below. There's this lady standing over me with a monkey wrench, one of mine it seems; I made it a day ago. #49391, I always remember my numbers.
"Wait, good wench! Please, have stay overZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...."
I wake up to find myself in my own room, brightly lit and colourised. I drag myself out of bed and find a yellow Post-It stuck to my phone. It's from my boss and it says I'm fired. I'd better make other career plans. More importantly, I need to get all that chlorine out of my office.
But everyone has nights like that. Right?