Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sleepy Time

That first night in the Pirockate ship was one of the worst I've ever had. There we were, rocketing through space towards the moon, not in water at all, but that boat was still a rockin and a creakin all night. And, on that rocky, creaky boat, I was expected to sleep in a hammock. Sure, a hammock is all well and good if you're a sailor from the 1500s, out to explore new lands if you don't get eaten by a sea monster or thrown of the end of the world to fall, tumbling through the blackness of space, seeing only a stack of turtles for the rest of eternity. But this is the 21st century, or maybe the twentieth century. Wait a minute, let me see here. We're startin with 20 here, so, maybe it's the 20th. But then again, the first would have to start with nothin. So, then, we'd have to go back all the way to the year zero, when dinosaurs fought mammoths all over the Earth, everyone wore tiger skins and all the sexy cavewomen looked like Raquel Welch. Then Jesus came and Satan turned all the dinosaurs into stone to trick the Romans and then Jesus taught everyone English. So that was the first century, I think. Look, I'll be honest here, I ain't much of a historian. Most of what I know about history is stored in this biography of Charles Martel that I read for an eighth grade project, and sometimes I confuse that with that episode of Growing Pains where Alex and Snuffleupagus journeyed to Math Land to play pool. Or maybe I'm mixing that with something else. I guess that doesn't matter, though. The point is that, in these advanced times, you'd think that someone could make a rocket ship shaped like a pirate ship that didn't have to rock back and forth all the time. I mean, there's not even any water, for heck's sake! How does a ship rock without water?

I imagine the hammocks are a great help to others on that ship, but me, I got that weird sleepin habit where I like to wedge myself into a corner, rest the top of my head on the top of my feet, and slowly drift to sleep with my back end stickin in the air like mailbox flag. Except my heiney ain't as square and red as a mailbox flag. It's just square. And because I sleep like that, I spent most of the night bangin into the walls, bangin my head on the floor and fallin over. It wasn't till neigh on three in the mornin that I discovered the secret. I'd been sittin in the corner, refusin to open my eyes because I knew that the moment I did so, my entire night of tryin to get to sleep would be wasted.

Eventually, rounds about three like I say, I gave up tryin to sleep and opened my eyes. What I saw was both brilliant and disturbing. Line after line of Pat was sleepin just like I do, but none of em was bumpin into walls or nothin. In fact, they was standin comfortably in their hammocks, gently rockin with the swell of the ship. The secret, as I shoulda known, was duct tape. Them Pats had made themselves harnesses out of duct tape and taped the ends to the hammocks. They was each held in place by about a roll of tape, but they looked mighty comfortable. I decided that it couldn't make me sleep less that what I'd already slept that night. The worst that could possibly happen would be the duct tape becoming detached, allowin me to slip out of my harness, fallin on the ground and breakin open my head, causin me to think that I was a giant chicken for days, leadin the other Pats to have to corral me everywhere they wanted to go until they got sick of my antics and locked me up in the Bellview Home for insane Pats, where I would spend my golden years scratchin at the ground and tryin to lay eggs. But, like I says, that was a worst-case-scenario and so, with a roll of duct tape and sleepiness (which is when all the best ideas happen, in my opinion), I was ready to take the risk.

I gotta say, tapin yourself to a hammock so you can sleep standin up like an ostrich isn't easy to do. You gotta make sure you got stabilizin points at the waist, knees and ankles if you don't wanna be a crazy chicken man, which I don't. I mean, sure, just like anyone, I think about it now and then; how it would help me get out of all this responsibility I have, how it would give me more time to get into my hobbies of scratchin at the ground with my feet and swallowin small pebbles to help me digest my food, and how it would help me with the one thing I've always wanted to do, give birth. Sure, I know now that I wouldn't really be layin eggs, but if I were crazy chicken man, I wouldn't be able to know that my eggs weren't real. And even if I did only fill my pants with fudge, I'd like to think the joy I took in motherhood would still be real. But I wasn't ready for that yet, so I taped myself up nice and secure and, I have to say, I had the best night's sleep I've had since that time I got the job as a tester in the down pillow and blanket factory.

I don't know if it's the kind of life I lead or what, but I get myself some pretty disturbing dreams. Most nights, I dream that I'm in some big warehouse-like, windowless room with exposed pipes runnin over the ceiling. There's all sorts of other people in this room wearin some weird clothes. For some reason, the men is all wearin these strips of silk around their necks. I don't know what they're called, but they look a little foppish. For the time being, since they're tied around the neck, I'll just call them 'tienecks'. All the people in this warehouse place are sittin in their own little territories that are marked off by these things that look like walls, but are cheaply carpeted and only come up about three feet. In each little cube, there's a desk, a phone and a computer over which each person is hunched, trying to ignore everyone and everything around them. I look down at myself and see I'm dressed just like them, in this weird tie neck thing and wearin shiny black shoes that hurt my feet. When I reach up to my face, I find my beard's gone and my hair's cut short. "In accordance with company policy," I think to myself, not knowin where it comes from. I know that any minute, the "boss" is gonna come and "chew me out" for misplacin a comma on "Form 800" and that it's gonna get me a "writeup". I don't know what any of these words mean when I'm awake, but when I'm dreamin, they all seem to make sense to me. In the dream, I start gettin the shakes. The worst part about it all is that I know I can't leave this place of soul destroying horror.

It's usually then that I wake up screaming.

That morning, I learned that the only thing worse than screaming yourself awake out of a nightmare is doin it while about a hundred copies of you are doin the same thing. Well, that and panickin from all the screamin, forgettin you've taped yourself to a hammock and losin about a yard of leg hair when you stand up. The only thing that can make your day go well at that point is the timeless remedy of two packs of bacon, a cup of coffee and a jelly donut.

When breakfast was over, I went back to Captain Pat to hear more about the fight with the moon spiders.

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