Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.
Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.
I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.
But something I did for years was most troubling. Not to me, because I was sleeping, but mainly to my mother. It got so bad they tried to tuck me into bed like a pork sausage. I’d just squirm out and go on my nocturnal rampages. Being asleep everything you’re going to read after this is from the words of others. But I was given too much evidence to ignore any of it.
There are tales of me walking up to the TV, changing channels then sitting down. Seeing that there were adults there being there alone was odd behavior. But for me to turn the channel, trust me, that wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t sleepwalking. I’m told sometimes I would sit there quietly but then other times I’d be carrying on a conversation. My sister once punched me in the face to make me stop annoying here but even that didn’t wake me. I know it happened because I had a new bruise on my head when I woke the next day.
I’d stand in the doorway and not say anything. Thinking about that that’s some creepy ass, kid in a horror movie kinda shit. I’d make short visits but then other times I’d be told to go to bed. Never once did I refuse that request. Showing, at least to me, I was a polite walker of the dead.
They were always afraid to wake me because they’d heard if you wake a sleepwalker they’d die or go into a coma or go into seizures or never fall asleep again. But as my sister rightfully pointed out, if a punch in the face wasn’t going to wake me a gentle shake had no shot.
The times it was most frightening (for others. Remember, for me it was just my chance to get some extra shit done in my day) is when I’d try to escape. That’s how they’d put it, escape. Like this was a supermax and I was making a break for it. I just had some shit to do and it happened to be outside.
My mother once followed me as I walked down the stairs of our second floor apartment, down all the stairs, outside and walked to where we played baseball. She said I stood in the middle, took a whopping cut and ran, as she said, in circles. Then I picked up a rock and went home. The next morning she showed me the rock so even I thought this was weird.
It was a while after that they started using deadbolts on the doors. I know, ‘a while’. I guess they didn’t mind a little escaping from me. But they would barricade the door with simple items that, for whatever reason, I could never penetrate. Fuck you supermax! You won’t hold me forever!
When we did get deadbolts it was again made perfectly clear by my sister that it would be totally all my fault if we all died in a fire. Which is true, I guess. But, beside the fact that I was the only one in the house who didn’t smoke, it’s also true my sister would never put the deadbolt into place so she was planning for her survival. And my potential wander off into death. Fair trade from her standpoint I can see.
I was told the most frightening time (which, looking back again, being awake when this shit was happening could all potentially be considered frightening. I’m not sure if I was a parent of a sleepwalker I’d be able to stay up to stop the little bastard) was when I got up happily, as always (I may have been a psycho but I was a happy one), and went to the knife drawer.
My mother, sitting at the table talking to someone (I was sleeping so cut me some slack on the details) when she saw me open the drawer, take out the knife, close the drawer (very considerate if I do say so myself) and start walking away.
“Chris, what are you doing.”
“Nothing.” Proving even when your kid is sleeping that’s the go to answer.
“What do you have in your hand?”
“I have to cut something.”
“What are you cutting?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Put the knife away.”
“After I cut something.”
“No, right now and go back to bed.”
She says I started to go to bed still holding the knife. Instead of engaging in my witty verbiage this time she walked up and took the knife from me. For years she’d bring that up because she said she was never sure exactly what I said. If it was ‘something’ or ‘someone’. I could never give her the correct answer, of course, but, thinking back, my sister was a pretty big dick.
I don’t know when I stopped. I lived on my own for a number of years so there’s no telling if I kept it up because I never went to bed fine and woke up with wolverine jerky and pelts surrounding my bed. I’ve lived with other people and none of them have ever said they awoke to find me standing over them with a knife.
But, no matter what, sleep and I are close but wary of one another.