My mistress shows her kissy-face to me. I lean forward, but her lips recede and suddenly she’s a hundred yards away, in the grandstands.
Whack! A bat cracks and a ball soars above me as I hang my head in defeat, on the pitcher’s mound. It sails into the outfield stands as the crowd roars. A distant pipe organ joyfully plays the tune, Take me out to the ballgame, take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don’t care if I ever go back . . .
The stadium fades, but the music lingers. Over and over it plays the same tune, as I emerge from a hypnogogic fog into a dim awakening. I realize I have woken. I crack my eyelids and inspect the red, LCD clock display on my nightstand. It’s 4:06 am. What is that music?! Where is it coming from?
For it’s root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win it’s a shame . . . the pipe organ continues. The notes rise from the mysterious source of this music, but the lyrics rise from my memory.
Something strange is happening. I must investigate. I struggle out of bed and slip on my flip-flops. I crack the bedroom door open and peep into the darkness. The music sounds louder. I venture into the hallway. It seems to be coming from the living room. I cautiously shuffle into the livingroom. Louder again.
I stand in the middle of the dark livingroom, armored with nothing but my sandals and boxer shorts. I try to hone in on the source of the pipe organ.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame . . . The song finishes, then restarts. Take me out to the ballgame . . . It seems to be coming from the couch. I shuffle over. There’s a small dark object on the cushion. I pick it up and fumble around with it until I’m able to lift up a lid.
A glowing display of buttons and caller ID greets me. It’s a flip phone. I catch a flash of what looks like my wife’s name, but it disappears before I can confirm it. Whoever was trying to call has hung up. But at least that infernal ringtone has stopped.
A flip phone! Not my flip phone. And not my wife’s. We haven’t owned flip phones in a long time. We’re smartphone people. So whose flip phone is this, and why in goddamned hell is it going off on my couch at 4:06 am?! The mutherfucker calling at this ungodly hour has disturbed me from a deep, greatly-needed slumber, and also interrupted a beautiful dream.
I’m the only one whose sleep was disturbed. My wife is out of town, attending some sort of women’s softball convention. Or whatever. I don’t keep up with her boring shit.
Maybe this flip phone belongs to her friend, who picked her up to take her to the convention yesterday afternoon. That must be what’s going on, I conclude. Damn wifty woman, anyway. She forgets her phone, and I lose precious REM time.
And what an unusual woman she is. She’s a new friend of my wife’s. I just met her yesterday. She’s built like an athlete. Probably one of her softball teammates. She’s sexy, but distant. Very quiet. But watchful. Almost creepy the way she seemed to watch me. But kind of titillating, too. I sure wouldn’t mind boning that bitch! Maybe next time I see her I’ll make my move.
But enough of her. Now my challenge is to find a way to smother this phone underneath something, in order to muffle any future ringtone, so that maybe, just maybe, if I can fall asleep again, I can stay asleep.
I trudge back to the bedroom, with phone in hand. I scout around the room, in the dim light, searching with my eyes for something large and soft, like a spare pillow or blanket. I contemplate burying it underneath my underwear, in the dresser drawer. Then another call comes in.
But this isn’t a phone call. It is a call of nature. I set the phone down on the nightstand, with the intent to resume this smother-the-ringtone project in a few minutes. I traipse into the bathroom and drain the main vein. I curse in the darkness as I wash my hands, knowing that the cool water will wake me up more, and make it more difficult for me to fall asleep. But my OCD won’t allow me to leave my hands unwashed.
I shuffle back to the bedroom and fumble in the dark for the flip phone on my nightstand. Can’t find it. Goddamnit! Now I’m going to have to turn the light on and wake myself up even more! I’m resigned. I switch the light on. I examine the nightstand in the cool, bare fluorescence of the overhead illumination. But still, no flip phone.
I inspect all around the nightstand. I open up the drawers of the nightstand. I inspect the bed. Am I going nuts?! I could swear I set that phone on this nightstand. Son-of-a-bitch! And then a terrifying thought occurs to me, and my mouth goes dry, and my heartbeat suddenly surges, jolting me wider-awake:
Who is in my house?
At that moment a long knife slides around my neck, and I feel the bite of the blade as it digs into my throat. One jugulating slash, and it is gone. I grasp my throat. I fall to the floor. Light fades to black. Sleep resumes.
Where’s my mistress and her kissy-face?