Sleep Kills

by Vicente Hernandez

I sleep a lot. I wait for the rest of my life to pass by in between empty spaces of dreamless sleep. I never wonder if Im missing anything. I spend most of my waking intervals standing over the chess set, the only decoration on the kitchen table, in boxers that smell like pee, pouring the milk from the bottom of the cereal bowl down my throat.

            This is the condition the suited stranger finds me in. Milk spills down the curved head of the shiny black bishop. I dont usually get guests, even considering the door is always unlocked and often swings open.

            Hello friend. His voice is dangerously inviting. His smile is so impenetrable it doesnt even seem to move in the slightest as words come from it, like it all comes from a tape cassette playing inside of his throat.

            Hey there, friend. My words come out like bodies dug up from the ground, wormy and molded, death coated in little hideous bits of life.

            Are you busy? he asks.

            I gesture to the milky chess pieces. Im trying to play chess here. It takes all the concentration I can muster at this time.

            He ignores the sarcasm like it wasnt even spoken. If you have a moment, Ill tell you what Jehovah has done for me. And of what he can do for you.

            I dont answer. Im not paying attention to him anymore. Im thinking about the unused gun in the shoebox above the closet. It was my fathers for most of his overlong life. Im thinking about the shape of my fingers sliding around and in the trigger and the smoothness of the motion of my hand and the gun locking together.

            Sir? Are you alright? Is there a preferable time I might return and speak with you?

            I snap back to reality and shift my stare to this sick, sad formally dressed fuck in his plain black tie. Black as the empty part of my mind that whispers me out of this stupid consciousness. His eyes are trembling in their sockets.

            Wait here, I tell him.

            I half expect him to have bolted when I return from the closet. He still doesnt notice it. Then Ive lined my sight up right down the center of his forehead and hes screaming inaudible words, or ones Im not listening to. Hes not moving out of the way though. In fact nothing on him moves other than his mouth. I stand there and drink his fear.

            Then I pull the trigger.

            A chess piece falls on the floor. I lock the door for the first time in ten years and decide to go back to sleep.

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