Four AM, first that loud and terrible whine as The Lone Ranger tears down Route 638 on his crimson Kawasaki racing bike, hell-bent, suicidal, hysterical at waking everybody up. Some fun. Then the garbage truck's hydraulic serenade, back behind the general store where the over-stuffed dumpsters sit with their mouths open. Four AM, rudely wakened, and all these effin negative emotions come burbling up inside you like green bile, fear, resentment, anger, the feeling of being crushed, under water, under the weather, breathless, stupid, listless, filled with jealousy, envy, mostly fear, it all comes back to fear, doesn't it? Fear of poverty, fear of losing what little you have, fear of death so strong it seizes you and stops you breathing in the middle of the choking night, the effin wolf at your throat. Whispering in your burning ear, "You pathetic nobody. Look at you, wheezing, panic-stricken, palpitating, unable to lift your arms to defend your measly pale-faced self." Effin oblivion staring you in the eye. Fear of losing everything, consciousness, memory, friendships, sanity. "Sometimes I fear for your sanity," she used to say. Right. Fear of disappearing forever, a handful of dirt and ash. Thrown away, like garbage. You think it won't happen? It happens all the time, you little smirking shite.
Tell me, poot, with what hope can you drive away these thoughts of death, erasure, finality? What hope is there on this planet, in these days, at this hour, to oppose our extinction? Where do I look for hope - at the altar? Whose effin altar? You think listening to the aged priests with their blood-soaked vestments is gonna do the trick? Where then? In the woods, with the rot, and the thorns, and the drooling beasts licking their filthy forepaws? In the library, amid the reek of mold, gagging on dust, row upon row of books lined up like tombstones in perfect order on unattainable shelves? Where do I look for hope? In drugs, in the sex trade, in video games, on the effin internet? Politics? You must be joking.
You're wide awake. In the confusing darkness, you slip out of the house through the sliding glass doors, and tiptoe across the yard, trying to avoid the worms at work in the wet upturned soil, the slugs in the empty flower beds, all that unkillable life between you and the lake. Smell the wet leaves. The maples are starting to turn inward and you can feel the approach of another hard season closing in. Summer is over, color is bleeding out of the earth. You arrive at the edge of the water. Here it is, nature's comforting indifference to the madness of humans, our motorcycles and garbage trucks. Something will be here when you're gone. It's cloudy, the lake is black, and the fish are sleeping. Across the way a handful of house-lights twinkle, where others dream of Mandalay, Lotus Land, Carcassonne. Disney World. You start to breathe again as a breeze comes up and raises the hairs on your neck. Time to piss into the bushes, to empty one's self, to let everything go. Here comes the animal satisfaction of urinating with the wind, out in the open, into the night. And when you're done shaking the last of the poison out, an immense fatigue settles on your back like a velvet cape. It's true, there are still three hours until daylight. Let the world wait, it's time to go back to sleep.
In the hush that envelops you back in the house comes the realization that sleep is a blessing. Someone said that before. That sleep itself is a blessing. You try to remember who but get stuck there and then you fall off.