What 33 year-old is too afraid to sleep alone? Someone who thought he had succeeded in life beyond anything he could have dreamed only to realize he was measuring the wrong way. And to realize that his worst nightmare had come true at his own hands, the life he had constructed blown to bits.
For that guy sleep is your enemy because the old life comes back before the apocalypse and every awakening is a duel to the death with the truth.
The Regency Plaza was a large 1970s-era apartment building in the Howard Johnson’s architectural genre. It was three blocks down from my Providence Journal office, overlooking route 95 and the Italian section of town, Federal Hill. The Regency advertised fully furnished week-to-week rentals. When I walked into the rental office, the manager asked what I was interested in. I said awkwardly, “I’m not sure.”
He nodded with a sympathetic smile. After a moment, he came from behind his desk. “It’ll get better, buddy,” he said softly, motioning me out into the hallway.
On the fifth floor, he showed me a furnished studio with a plush beige carpet. I noted more than few stains on it. The furniture was plastic, with Formica counter and table tops. I inspected the pots and pans, the kind you can buy at a discount department store for $99 a set. There was one large, smudged window. Traffic hummed below. I smelled Chinese food, unsure if the odor was next door or imbedded in the dirty drapes. I stared blankly at the bed, queen-sized and tucked in the darkest corner of the one open room. I imagined hiding there, curled up in a ball—a hibernating bear, unaware of the winter outside. And I did just that.
On more than one occasion my I called my friend Tony in despair. He lived in Bristol and had a two bedroom apartment to accommodate visits from his young twins and disabled daughter.
He’d invite me over to watch a movie. I’d end up spending the night.
It was an open invitation by a friend who was surely fighting off his own nightmares.
—Photo A. Pagliaricci ♦/Flickr