I’m staggeringly tired. I’ve worked eight days of a ten day run of being scheduled for work. Last night was thirteen hours. I have been home for two hours, asleep for one hour and fifty two minutes. It’s ten am. There is a stale beer teetering over the edge of my desk, threatening to fall down and spill on me, a fly circles lazily looking for the way out a window. I almost never remember my dreams, but this one was something mildly pleasant. Maybe a dream about sleeping. I am so very tired. I lay there, in the sweltering heat. The swamp cooler is broken again, and I just didn’t have the energy to get up there and fix it this morning. The pump doesn’t wet the pads. The bearings are shot. All it’s really good for is a light squealing sound and an arrhythmic tattoo to hide the sound of the nearby freeway.
Knocking. Why is there knocking? No packages should be coming. There shouldn’t be any reason for someone to be at the door. This isn’t the sort of neighborhood that Mormons head into to recruit. I haven’t seen a Jehovah’s Witness here in … ever. But there’s a knocking, persistent. Fast. Panicky. Sleep destroying. I look out the window, nobody there. Knocking is gone. Maybe it was the mailman. Fuck, I couldn’t really care less at this point if it’s the Publisher’s God-Damned Clearinghouse Prize Patrol, all I really want is some sleep. I stagger out into the living room to grab a glass of water.
If this happened less often, I guess I would be surprised. He is positively vibrating. It is payday, after all. I can practically see the crystal dancing behind his over-shiny eyes. He is holding two tall cans of bud light in small paper bags.
“Were you sleeping Macaroni?”
Yes, Thomas. I was sleeping. But now I’m wishing you were dead. I take the beer that is offered. He keeps the other, opening it and taking a long slurping sip, He won’t actually finish this beer. When he’s tweaked, it’s more of a prop than anything else. It’ll end up like it’s brother, teetering, hot and flat, on the edge of my desk.
“What were you dreaming about, Macaroni?”
I take a long pull of the ice cold beer and watch him fidget for a while. I idly wonder how he got the door open, but I realize I probably don’t want to know. He might have a key and that sends chills down my back.
“I was headed over to the Heard and I figured you could use a cold drink.”
He doesn’t even mention the temperature. It’s gotta be 90 in here, I’ve got sweat running down my ass crack, and he looks like he wants to go run a marathon. There are days when I wish I shared his addiction. I feel so torn down, all the time now. If I told him this, he’d laugh at me, in that fake stage laugh he puts on. Ho ho ho. He preens his thick moustache, wiping the suds out, smoothing the sides. Next to the door is the rest of his shopping, or more likely, shop-lifting – a package of Pampers. Just out taking care of some errands. In a bag on the right are three kachina dolls, each in various stages of completion.
He stands up and starts to vogue, repeating half-remembered words from Shakespeare. I notice my beer is empty. I notice that it is now noon. He hasn’t taken a second sip of his beer, but it is now the skull of Yorick. The paper bag has long since soaked through with condensation, and is now torn in half a dozen places because of his mugging, the shiny silver of the can poking through. I’ll not get another minute of sleep until his initial high has worn off. He is too polite to do a rail in my house, not because I disapprove, but because he’s unwilling to share, and therefore pretends he’s out.
“You live next to a lot of mexicans, Macaroni.”
I turn the conversation to the kachinas. Always proud of them, he brings them out for me to see. He explains who each is, and what ceremonies they’re present at. He always brings four or five to the Heard to see if they’ll buy them. The manager will only ever buy one or two, and always sends the others back for “rework”. Make the paint nicer, work on this, work on that. Thomas knows that it’s just because they can’t sell as many as he can carve, so he just takes them back home, lets them sit for a month and takes them back again. He also shows me a book, showing pictures of his family, and the beautiful native crafts they created on the pueblo. He shows me the witch kachina, who I cannot remember the name of, who will steal you if you are bad, and put you in her sack.
“She is a nightmare. You can see it on the face, the big eyes, the sharp teeth. She will beat you with her cane.”
He gesticulates wildly with the delicately carved cottonwood root, occasionally knocking off some tiny carved feather, or spilling beer on the base. But the storm is already over. I can tell that the buzz is gone, the white powder in his pocket is calling to him, schedules to keep. He’s ready to leave, knees bouncing with unexpressed energy, but as always, needs my permission to do so. I tell him I need to get to sleep, I have to work tonight. He says he’ll see me there. He leaves his beer on the floor and gathers his detritus, putting tiny carved rattles and carefully painted accessories into his pockets, pulling the cigarette from behind his ear and putting it into his mouth. He walks out the door into the noonday sun, puts his sunglasses down and starts off into the heat haze with his head held high.
“It’s a beautiful day, Macaroni. It would be a shame to miss it.”
I shut the door and lock it. I carry the now lukewarm beer into my bedroom, and set it on my desk next to the others. A fly circles lazily looking for a way out the window. I lay down on my mat and am asleep instantly, the beer and heat making my eyelids so very heavy.