In the Dark of Night

-Image by Mathew McQuarrie on Unsplash-

In the Dark of Night

Sleep eludes me on a nightly basis, the tossing and turning a much too familiar motif, the lyrics seemingly a ritual that has haunted me for so many years, I can almost hear the imagined violin’s soft, undulating rhythm.

This malady stretches long into the night. Hours pass, and my body seems to be rejecting me, near an imploding crescendo, until, in a mad tossing of bed covering, I rise and take a long shower.

I allow the harsh shower stream to pound my body as I sit curled on the tiled seating shelf assessing for the millionth time my life, my brief brush with some modicum of fame and glory, but, more self-indulgingly, my southern heritage and the early bucolic years of my existence.

This midnight maudlinism, this mushiness of a grown man, is captured by a wry grin of acknowledgement and a mere nod of the head in the darkness.

It is a large 8’x8’ steam shower, but I only use the shower’s sharp thrusting streams to quell my mawkish musing, and, to some small extent, it is quelled.

I open the glass shower door, turn the light off, and sit for some moments in the humid enclosure. My manic mind is still active as I consider once again the chance for sleep.

It is in those ultra-quiet moments that an epiphany comes…write…write about your feelings, your thoughts. Let that be your saving coup.

I’m about to rise when the sound reaches me – a sound that resembles a weak roar of a power drill. No, not a drill. Just a metronomic sound like an energy of some sort being applied to a part of the house…OMG, like, someone trying to break open a door.

Still wet and dripping, I almost slip on the tiled shower floor getting out of the enclosure. I don my pajama bottoms and stand at the large opening into my master bedroom.

The sound comes again, a bit louder this time…

It’s difficult to isolate the area of the house from which the noise is coming. Is it the cellar? The back door? The front door?

There is an abatement to the noise.

I sit on the edge of the bed, lost in listening.

Tippie won’t be home until Sunday. She flew to Arizona for a family wedding. I begged off going and stayed home. My body cannot withstand the hustle and cacophony of crowds of people in an airport, some rushing, bouncing into others to catch a flight they’re late for ‘check-in’. Arthur and I cannot abide too well crowds of people…another issue of my manic mind.

I sit on the edge of the bed for several minutes, take some deep breaths of the cool air. The sound does not come…has it simply been an anomaly of sounds in the night?

I return to my ‘undercover’ sanctuary for sleep but more often ‘for distressful thoughts’, turn on my right side to try again for Sandman’s visit , adjust my head to the pillow, and try to direct my thoughts to Paradise Island in Nassau – a memorable trip for Tippie and me early on in our marriage. Atlantis has become one of our favorite memories – along with an NCL cruise with our kids.

Finally, there comes that roar-sound, this time much more prominent than before in the shower. It sounds like it’s coming from the upstairs guest bedrooms…not the basement.

Again, I leave my bed, grab a flashlight from the bedside table and slowly move to the hallway, into the front foyer, and softly climb the winding steps of the ancient and beautiful staircase…circa 1800’s.

The sound stops upon my rising from the bed. Certainly, my quiet movements cannot  be overheard by a potential burglar.

My gosh! Do we have ghosts who can discern our moves?

Okay, not rational, but with age comes the return to childhood where realities are not always so real.

I make my way quietly up the stairs…no squeaking of the stair steps. At the top of the stairs I turn on the flashlight. We have five bedrooms for family and guests on our large home’s second floor.

No sound.

I go quietly on bare feet down the hallways and shine my flashlight into every room, bath, closet, and there is nothing. No sounds. No evil of any kind awaits me.

Downstairs again, I inspect the den, the parlor, the sunroom, the dining room, the kitchen, and every inch of our master bedroom, closets, and bath. I also check all our back and front doors…locked, secured.

I am stymied.

The sound has not returned.

Just a dumb oddity? It must be. The house is thoroughly inspected in my own Detective Clouseau way.

Back in my King-size bed, my sanctuary, I again reach that point of drowsiness where sleep comes.

The damned roar-sound comes again, like feet stomping down the upstairs hallway.

“What the hell is going on?” I mutter to myself.

I take a few more deep breaths.

The roar-sound stops.

I wait…

The sound returns.

I take a few more deep breaths.

The sound stops.

As I sit on the edge of the bed, the thought comes to me: It’s your own heartbeat you are hearing.

Okay, I have MES, the acronym for Musical Ear Syndrome. My ear doctor informs me that little is known about MES, but I am not to worry… His diagnosis failed to report that a loud roaring of one’s heart is heard quite often in the wee hours.

It begins to make some sense to me. When my music isn’t playing in my ear, my heartbeat can entertain me.

Well, it was some sort of relief. Thankfully, there were no thieves in the night…

Then, again, it’s kind of scary to hear your very own heart roaring loud and clear like hoof-beats in the dark of night!

What a great life! All these wonderful little anomalies I’m learning about.

BR Chitwood – November 14, 2019

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16 comments

  1. My goodness, I never heard of Musical Ear Syndrome before reading this. I’m often awake at night, but usually because I’m entertained by characters in my WIP or I’m solving the world’s problems. 😀 I’ve often concluded my sleeplessness to advancing age! You’ve enlightened me, Billy Ray. BTW I love your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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