Blue light on the nightstand woke me up again. Like a hole I’ve been filling keeps turning up empty. Eagle and the liver guy, that guy’s me. Can’t remember his name, but I get him big time.
Four-thirty in the morning. Loud when it’s quiet like this.
I could make someone be awake. Whatever I want I can do.
Usually there’s someone in the kitchen. I’ve checked. This time of night it’s one guy. He sits in the corner, I don’t know what else he does, probably nothing. He gives me pizza when I tell him I want some. But he doesn’t look at me. Got some problem with me, maybe, doesn’t want to talk to me. I don’t know why—there’s people, a lot of people out there, and what they’re saying is, I’m a very likable guy. A very likable guy.
So I think I won’t go down there tonight. Anyway I’ve got other options, got a million of them. I put on a robe. It shines in the light on my nightstand. Little flash of gold. Looks good on me.
I turn on the TV and stand in front of it, let my jaw hang loose. Doctor says I have too much tension, on account of I’m a tremendously busy guy. So I let my jaw hang very loose. The people on the screen are talking fast, always up. I know all about what they’re saying. My head starts to feel not so good, so I turn them off. How do they like that.
I’m gonna go somewhere. Shake things up.
I sneak out the door quiet. No shoes, I realize, once I’ve already gotten started. But I can do it. It’s all up to me, so I can do it.
Walk soft down the hall, scratchy carpet under my feet. Don’t know who decorated this house but tell you what, the guy’s a little out of touch. I go by a picture on the wall. I don’t look at the picture but I know what it is of. It’s a man with a horse and they’re both important.
I walk outside. Feel the night come into my robe. Little cold, and the hair on my skin, it lifts up hard. Makes me wish I had socks now, so I walk fast past the garden and the big white columns. There’s a door up ahead that’s got a window made of funny glass. I stop, want to check me out. But I forgot it’s nighttime so I can’t see. Well I know I’m good-looking, don’t have to see to know.
I go into the building. Take rights and then lefts. It’s fine if I don’t one hundred percent remember the way right now, I’ll remember it soon.
I’m starting to wonder where is everybody. Hallways too empty. I left the blue light in my bedroom. Should’ve brought it with me so things wouldn’t be so quiet, but I didn’t. My stomach feels it first. Realize I don’t know where I am. Why I’m.
Maybe I’ve been going down.
Now there’s something, I can hear it. I want to leave all of a sudden, but before I can do that a man comes around the corner up ahead. He’s got gray hair and a suit and looks mad at me. I’ve seen this guy before, definitely. He puts a hand on my shoulder. Steers me back.
Have you done it, he says. Have you done what I told you.
No, I tell him, no, I forgot. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on.
Dammit, he shakes his head saying dammit a few more times. Then he walks fast, me with him, my robe starting to come loose, but I don’t care. So what if people see, I’m a good-looking guy.
I’m just tired, is what it is, I need a break. I try to tell him. He doesn’t answer. I feel his hand grip hard on my shoulder and I start to think he won’t let go ever. I wonder if I ran would he try to catch me. I could try it. But I’m not wearing any shoes.
When we finally stop it’s at the room, that one. I tell him can’t I just do it in the morning. I’ll be terrific in the morning.
It is morning, he says. You have to do it now.
I don’t want to go in there, I say.
He opens the door. It’ll be quick, he says.
It’s dark when I go in. He turns on the light. The walls round in on my head. He points to the desk where there are some papers and a phone.
He points to the phone. Make the call, he says. Then you can go to bed. Then you can go home.
I want to tell him where he’s talking about isn’t home. Real home’s where there’s a phone but it’s only for calling a woman who brings me pizza if I want her to and never pushes me around the hall unless I tell her to. I have a robe there that’s way shinier than the one I’ve got now. I know all the rooms in it even though there’s a lot, and I decorated it myself basically. Home’s where I never wake up in the night to the blue light glowing on my nightstand, to things growing back huge and worse in the morning.
Make the call, the man says again, holding up a piece of paper with numbers on it.
I pick up the phone and press the numbers. He watches me the whole time I dial. This guy, I’ll tell you what he is, and you know it’s true—unbelievable. I’ll get him back for this.
A voice on the other end of the line says something to me. Why they had to answer. I’ll get them back too.
The man in front of me points to the nameplate on my desk. I guess he wants me to say something. Okay, I can say something. I was going to anyway. I know how things work.
This is Donald, I say.
Nell Ovitt is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where she focused on English and Religious Studies. She is an artist and a sometime traveler, and is currently working at a university in Japan. This is her first published story.