I've been having some trouble sleeping. A few weeks ago, I fell quite ill. Ever since I got better, I've been staying up all night, only sleeping at dawn. So last night, I decided to try a little experiment. I decided to drink myself unconscious. Not a very good plan, in hindsight, but that's hindsight for you. (Funny word, hindsight, brings to mind a vivid image of being confronted by your own arse, having just pulled your head out of it.) Seven in the evening, and I'm loading my liver with Jager shots. By eight, I've tossed the shot glass out the window, and I'm hitting the bottle straight up. Ten o'clock and I've polished off what was left of the six pack of Guinness I bought last weekend from Safeway (that club card gets you some great deals!). At this point, I'm well loaded, but still not sleepy. So I bust out the thinking pipe, and read a few research papers. The tedium wears on into the watches of the night, but the gates to the realm of Morpheus are yet fastened tight against me.
I pop a couple Vicodin, and settle down to watch the season premiere of House. Ironically enough, House is in rehab, and though the opiates makes everything nice and fuzzy, its somehow still not enough to get me sleepy. Its time to bully my mind into submission. I settle down into bed, close my eyes and pretend to sleep, but you cant bullshit a bullshitter. I'm wide awake. And relaxing my body is just making things worse, my mind is running rings around itself, like an overexcited puppy on a mixture of coke and meth, digging up ideas and memories long buried and humping every tree in sight.
(No, I couldn't think of an analogy for the trees. I'm not a genius aight, or I'd be getting published in seven different bloody languages and have my own personal coterie of bitches instead of posting on a blog that nobody reads and lying awake in bed at 5 in the morning and wondering why I'm alone and where my life went horribly wrong.)
This is ridiculous, I think to myself, grab my jacket and cigarettes, and head out the front door. Then I head back in, put on some pants, and head out again. The night air is cool and refreshing, and my head clears up a little bit. My mind begins to slow down, and I'm beginning to feel pretty good. I feel even better after I accost a passing dumpster and introduce it to what I had for dinner.
When I turn around, there's a huge cockroach on the pavement blocking my way. Its as big as my thumb, cross my heart. My first thought, catapulted right out of my limbic brain, is to kill it. But then I'm a higher mammal, see, I can think twice before I do stupid things. (I said I CAN think twice. Sometimes I do stupid things even though I know they're stupid in advance. Told you I'm no genius. Though I DO share a birthday with Isaac Asimov. My claim to fame!) So I decide to let the poor bastard be, and step over him very carefully. My heads spinning just a little bit, and the stars are making alarming patterns in the sky, so I decide to have a bit of a sit. Good call too, 'cos this is the point at which my legs refuse to obey me or carry me any further. So I float along back to my stoop, and light up a cigarette on the way. When I get there, there's someone waiting for me. A gigantic cockroach called Phil. I know he's called Phil 'cos hes got one of those white tags (with blue borders) pinned to his thorax, "Hello, I'm PHIL". This is a rather disturbing turn of events. Phil is, well, gigantic. He's sitting on my stoop, a cigarette dangling from his lower mandible, and scratching his abdomen distractedly with three of his five claws. And then he turns his comically tiny head, and fixes me with his beady (I know they're technically 'compound eyes' but his head was so damn tiny they looked beady to me, k?) little eyes.
"Well, look who decided to show up" Phil says to me. "Who, me?" "Yes YOU, ya ninny, who else is hallucinating at three in the bloody morning around here?" "Oh, yeah, ha ha" I manage a weak laugh. "Siddown man, you look like you're gonna fall down. Remember survival tip number 15? Works for epic drunks too." So I pulled myself upto the stairs and sat down next to Phil, a peculiar feeling of unreality washing over me. A few awkward moments passed. "So.." I attempted feebly. Phil eyed me askance, with some disdain. (Or so I think. Its very hard to interpret the emotions off a cockroach.) "Yeah?" "So... how's it going?" "Oh well, you know how it is. Just the usual. Surviving, y'know?" I nod in agreement. "Yeah, I hear you." Another few awkward moments pass. "So.. you're some kind of figment of my imagination huh?" Phil shrugged. "I dunno, I'm just here cos they said you had some questions for me." "I do?" Huh. This is news to me. And who are 'they'? "Yessir. Apparently you do, so ask away, and I'll do my best to give you answers, and we can both go to bed, yeah?" "Oh, well, sure."
"Um. I cant really think of any questions right now." Damn. "Oh that's okay. I'm a figment of YOUR imagination remember? I probably already know what you're gonna ask." "You do?" "Yup, just gimme a second" Phil takes a long drag on his cigarette, and blows the smoke out through every single trachea. (It looked very impressive, and I think he just did it to show off) "Oh wow. That one again?" he shakes his head in amusement, and looks at me with what seems an awful lot like condescension. "er..i guess.." I have no idea what he's talking about. "Dont worry mate, the answer's a resounding yes. Just hang in there." says Phil, and slaps me on the back. He's pretty strong for a six foot chitin based insect, 'cos I almost lose my balance, barely managing not to fall. "Er, yeah, good to know..I guess" I still haven't the faintest clue what he's talking about. "See, the thing is, you already know what you have to do, you just need to go ahead and do it y'know? We're quite a lot alike, you and I." "We ARE?" What could I possibly have in common with a gigantic cockroach? "Mmhmm..we're both survivors, in our own way, and thats just the beginning. Don't even get me started on the metafictional possibilities this represents..hehe", Phil chirruped, pleased with his wit. "Wow, I guess I never really saw it that way", I said, even though I didn't quite see it yet. "Anytime, man, that's what I'm here for, in a way. To help you see the world from a different angle. Geddit?", he said, wiggling his antennae. I nodded weakly, trying very hard to follow. Phil nodded to himself, and stubbed out his cigarette with a flourish. "Well, guess that's that. I'll be on my way then. Be seeing you", his voice sounding like he was fading further away with each word. "Oh, um, okay sure, yeah" I managed, surprised at the abrupt exit. I mean, I was just getting used to this whole being-granted-wisdom-at-3-in-the-morning-by-a-gigantic-cockroach thing. "Oh and by the by, that other thing, I wouldn't worry about it too much if I was you." he said and actually winked, no mean feat for a creature with no eyelids, and then just sort of.. disappeared.
I sat on the stoop for a while after that, just getting my bearings. What just happened? It was pretty clear I'd just had a very vivid and disconcerting hallucination, but what did it mean? Am I a cockroach who's dreaming he's a man or is all that Kafka I read back in school coming back to haunt me? Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something. Or maybe I should just lay off the alcohol and the hallucinogenics for a while. Bleh.
I stand up, finish my cigarette, and look to the East. There's just the slightest hint of dawn. The most ineffable feeling of inner peace and well-being bathes me, like a warm glow, and just like that, I know its all going to be just fine. Sometimes all the answers you need are what you already know.
I'm off to bed. It looks like its going to be a beautiful day :)