The Note

I am the ghost haunting my own house. It started out simply, with run of the mill insomnia and other sleep issues, stuff that’s been percolating since childhood. It slowly festered into something impressively disturbed as I approached 30. I’d always snored and snorted like a beast and gasped for air when sleeping, I used to joke and call myself an anti-social sleeper. These symptoms were signs of later diagnosed sleep apnea, but this was just the start.
Of course there were instances of funny sleep-talk and acting out dreams in bed. The most famous of which was when my girlfriend slid back into bed after a bathroom visit and I turned and asked her, utterly asleep: “What did the towel say?” When she said nothing I asked her again in a conversational tone: “What did the towel say?” This received a little titter but still no response. After a long silence I said incredulously: “HEEELLLLOOO?”  grunted and rolled over.
Sometimes I would wake up sleeping on the floor, with a blanket and maybe wearing a tie and nothing else, or come to in the car wearing swimming trunks and a snorkel, that kind of thing. Humorous to remember but situations with a real hint of danger, of the body on autopilot responding in this physical dimension to commands from the abstract dimension of dreams.
I did sleep studies, had all the electrodes and cold sensors glued to impolite areas of my body, attached to barren patches of skin, spots only moments ago shaved by a 50-year old male attendant in some ritual of sacrifice to the sleep gods. The rooms in these clinics are like little hotel rooms, simulations of comfort. Really they’re thinly disguised laboratories full of willing human guinea pigs. Voluntary test subjects who fork over good money to get poked, prodded, filmed and analyzed while unconscious and drooling.
That guy who’s job it is to shave and attach electrodes to patients and then to sit in the dark and watch the live feed of people restlessly sleeping could no doubt tell some stories of his own. But when I jerked up in bed and thought I was drowning and started pulling the millions of wires from my head and body even this seasoned specialist voyeur was genuinely surprised. Maybe not as surprised as I was, but after it happened and he ran into the room the conversation carried a tenor of anonymous embarrassment via fear.
He said he had enough data, he would send the fully tabulated results to my sleep doctor, and then he sent me home early. Home early to go home and sleep  – because I couldn’t sleep in a sleep study designed to diagnose sleep disorders. Go figure.
I’ve tried different things, some very bizarre, but I have stuck with the CPAP mask, a device not unlike a snorkel in appearance attached to a machine that pumps air down your throat, an uncomfortable but necessary tool to combat my strong sleep apnea.            The device provides fodder for Blue Velvet jokes and either repels or turns on my various bedmates (okay mostly my cat) but it can only do so much. So when I wake up crouched over the fireplace burning a book I’ve adored since childhood, or take a bath in an expensive pair of shoes, I’m shit outta luck. At least that seems to be what I’ve come to after exploring this inexact science that borders on fashion and fetishism.
A few times recently I’ve woken up to find throw pillows impossibly stacked in a wobbly cushion obelisk, or my albums arranged in a mathematical mandala pattern on the wood floors. The most extreme of these night arrangements happened when I woke to realize I’d disassembled and unsuccessfully re-assembled a room unit air conditioner. It had been making noise recently; no doubt it caught the ear of my creative, industrious, ultimately incompetent sleep-self who charged to the task with total confidence and zero ability. That was expensive and uncomfortable to explain to the maintenance man.
Hey, these episodes suck, but they’re manageable. I’m not going to subject myself to taking sleeping pills nightly, maybe developing a cute little dependence. Or to doing crazy stuff like sleeping in a zipped up sleeping bag with mittens on to keep me immobile when “dream me” wants to go rollerblading. I’ve just come to accept it. I am an antisocial, irrational sleeper/sleepwalker. Hey, maybe I should put that on a business card.
I know what’s going on, just missing the chemical switch that turns off the body when you go to sleep. In some people the switch works the opposite way and locks their bodies in an unpleasant sleep paralysis. In my case the body doesn’t understand it’s dreaming and wants to physically respond to the stimulus of dreams. Minor and manageable compared to the host of possibly maladies out there.  I can deal with it, Or I could. Until I found the note.


I’ve always had decent handwriting, a little point of pride. It’s nice to look at, artistic but controlled, still manly mind you, just a nice script, which is not so valued anymore but something I enjoy doing. Maybe slightly fruity of me, but whateve.
Anyway, I got up one night and couldn’t get back to sleep after taking a leak. After flopping around in bed for a while I finally padded out to my little home office and woke up the Mac. I was still very groggy sitting in the dark, realizing as I often do that I was more tired than awake. But my ass was already in the seat so I stayed there in the artificial glow of the LCD. The screen light was startling and unnatural to my too-open apertures; the screen and my surroundings took a moment to resolve into a known space. This is when I noticed a half-crumpled piece of torn paper standing up from the lip of the keyboard. On the paper was a crudely scrawled note in a childish, somehow savage hand I didn’t recognize.
HEEELLLLOOO?”  It read. “WE are YOU.  Who is dreaming   whom?  You are  the ghost  haunting  your  own  house.  I  have  plans  for  us.  Fathom  and a half.  Stand by!” I shot out of the chair, responding physically like I’d just received a death threat. . .from myself. I shivered and ran out of the office alcove into the living room, only to find the wooden floor crunching and crackling under my naked feet. I looked down to see a carpet of red, brown and yellow fall leaves, covering the entire expanse of the floor. As a bonus the couch was entirely wrapped in saran wrap.
Things went wonky. My brain did an unbalanced little flip like a wet load of laundry. I reached for my cell but remembered I was nude. I ran too fast for inside, back to the bedroom to grab the cell and call 911. I dialed the numbers in a panic and heard the operator ask me what my emergency was. I stammered and heard myself say: “ MMM, yeah, uhm, I am dreaming myself to death. Err, I am trying to kill me.” And then after a short pause. “I put leaves in my living room and Saran wrapped the couch.” At this moment, this too late moment, some adrenaline kicked in and my thinking shrugged off the conspiratorial layers of lack of sleep, shock and terror that were fogging my thinking and I commanded myself to hang up the phone.
I hung up and my crazy words echoed in my brain. I was in trouble. I needed to explain, clean up, escape – but from what and to where? I needed activity so I grabbed some huge yard bags and started to pile the leaves inside, using my broom as a makeshift rake. I was not rational, but in an understandable kind of way.
It was too late. My smartphone has emergency GPS and seven minutes after I called there were headlights, flashlights and a loud banging on my door. I could do nothing but wrap a towel around my waist, open the door, broom in hand, surrounded by leaves, a long strand of Saran wrap stuck with static cling to my hair and still mostly wrapped around the couch. I was screwed. After all they had my own words to use against me, and this unnatural indoor scene of plastic wrap and Autumn.
So that’s how I got here, to ward 12 of this lovely state facility. It’s been a week. They really can’t do anything but hold me for a few more days, under observation. As long as I can tolerate the heavy medication they’re making me take and not freak out about this place and my situation, I’m sure they’ll let me go. I mean it’s weird and all but it has its roots in a real condition, and sleep disorders have many odd manifestations. I told them what happened and showed them the note, and since I’ve been here I’ve slept constructively, so they have no reason or right to keep me.
I’m not crazy. I just need to come to terms with my sleep problems and try some new things.  As a matter of fact I think I got this thing licked. I can’t wait to get home, find the note and write that fucker back.


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