I suppose I should know better by now. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I should know that the rules of the universe have been temporarily waived. Things that normally can’t happen within the realm of possibility often do in that nether region between those late night to early morning hours. Strange things happen in the wee hours.
Some things are best left untold. As to the state of my mind, you are free to draw your own conclusions. But these are the facts.
The last thing I recall that night was working away at my laptop in my study. It was late, already after twelve. I remember thinking I should be in bed. My friend, Cletus waited impatiently for me to finish. Finally in an expression of impatience he laid his huge head on the desk beside the laptop and looked up at me with those sad eyes, as if he knew what I refused to admit to myself. He does this easily with all four paws on the floor while looking pathetically depressed. Cletus is a Great Dane. He says so much without saying a word. I was groggily trudging along at my project and occasionally dozed at the keyboard. I got a loud sigh from my impatient friend but I pressed on wearily groping for that some particular thing I wanted to say, as if sheer determination may bridge the impasse I found myself at. Finally in exhaustion, I gave up, shut down the laptop, turned out the light, and trudged wearily to bed where my friend has already gone on to occupy the best spot. He took up almost the whole bed as usual and once again I had barely a corner left to curl up in.
Sleep; a deep trance-like state of narcoleptic respite descends upon me as my mind struggles to resist. Overwhelming sleep wafts me away on a journey into nothingness, drifting along on a current of unconscious bliss. And somehow, in my semi-catatonic state, I become aware that something is amiss. The harder I try to ignore the sensation, the more prevailing it became. The ebb & flow of unconsciousness begins to recede as the tide, once again leaving me somewhere between awake and asleep.
I feel this sense of something amiss, a general state of foreboding yet lacking a specific, discrete cause for it.
I should just roll over and go back to sleep. I should but I don’t. I am awake, I’m not sleep-walking. If this were a dream, maybe I would once again find myself wandering along some nameless interstate in just my boxers to face an endless cavalcade of preposterous incongruities. I feel sure I’m not dreaming. “What this time,” I groan?
Once again, I drag my weary self from a comfortable bed and stagger off with trepidation to investigate. I grope along the wall toward a room which I had left darkened but instead a sliver of light glimmers beneath the door. It’s coming from under the door to my study. Odd, I remember thinking to myself. I turned off the light in there before I retired to bed.
It’s happening again.
For a moment I pause to brace myself for the unexpected, and give the reluctant door a shove.
Perhaps I’m too weary to be shocked but this is the wee hours of the morning. I find Cletus in my chair, sitting upright at my desk, typing at my laptop. My wife is sprawled out across the floor. She looks up at me, silent. I stumble in the room, take in the bizarre scene in disbelief, pause, then take another look. When I am satisfied I see what I’m seeing, I step over her to slump into the recliner beside my desk. Silent.
“You look awful,” he says to me. “Go back to bed”
Ok. So my dog is typing at my laptop, why shouldn’t he talk as well? And why should I hesitate to reply?
My mind gropes for an explanation, it must be playing tricks on me., weariness has caused a temporary departure from reality. May as well go along with the joke, “Something seems…odd.” I reply. What are you doing?”
He turns to me and pulls his glasses down at the bridge of his nose. “What’s it look like I’m doing?” “You know,” he pauses looking directly at me, “you know this is all kind of strange, don’t you?”
I yawn. “Yes it is. I never knew you could type, let alone read.” On the surface I appear nonchalant but beneath the facade my mind desperately tries to reconcile the irreconcilable disparities I’m confronted with.
“No, I was talking about your story. It doesn’t transition well, and the plot seems a little too…contrived.”
“Contrived? I’m having a discussion with a dog while my wife lies on the floor. That is contrived. Besides,” pointing toward the laptop, “it’s a work in progress,” I protest.
“Just offering some constructive criticism.”
Cletus holds a treat over her head. “Sit,” he demands. She sits upright on her haunches for a moment for her treat, then scratches behind her ear with her foot before collapsing back onto the floor. “Good girl,” he praises her with a pat on her head. Then adds, “I think she needs out.”
Without thinking, I put her collar around her neck, lead her to the door and put her outside on a leash. And that’s when I thought I heard the voice from inside the pizza box. “It’s time to get up.” I peek inside the carton to see one lone anchovy on a slice of stale pizza lecturing me in a raspy voice. “Get up!”
“I am up,” I argue.
The next morning I wake up back in my corner of the bed and suspiciously cast an eye toward the reticent canine sprawled across the bed. “You never told me you can talk,” I taunted him. Cletus shifts his eyes toward me in a gesture of presumed innocence.
A twinge of guilt takes me. “I’m sorry if I was a little testy last night, Any time you want to give me your insight, I will listen.”
From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of my incredulous wife as she walks by, cup of coffee in hand, house shoes scuffing across the carpet. She gives me her patented look of disdain before moving on.
“What got into her,” I wonder? No more pizza with anchovies before bed for me, I tell myself.