Writing

THE ALARM

Posted by Paul McCall on December 6, 2012 at 12:55 AM

THE ALARM


Paul J. McCall

 

 

Two forty-five past midnight, a light sleeper, Paul is awakened by the distant, and increasingly stronger, rushing sound of the late night freight train. Just as the rumbling of the train reaches its loudest, it rudely interrupts the slumbering population as it boldly sounds its blaring horns with three consecutive long, wailing blasts. The rumbling of its wheels upon the steel tracks then begins to fade off into the distance. The whole process lasting for two to three minutes but seems more like twenty. Now having been rousted out of a dream, that he wishes he could resume, he struggles to return to sleep, his worn-out body assists him, and soon he is soundly sleeping once again.

 

The alarm snaps his head from the pillow. In the darkness he franticly tries to reach toward the bed stand, feeling around in the darkness for the snooze button on the alarm, but his arm won’t respond. It is paralyzed from sleeping upon it and the alarm keeps hammering away as he desperately tries to force his numb lifeless limb to obey his wishes. Slowly as the blood return to his arm he manages to maneuver his lumbering club of a limb over the clock and finally hits the snooze button. As suddenly as the hammering noise began, there is silence. Exhaling in relief he fall back down on his side In the dark trying to focus his still sleeping eyes on the red blur that slowly comes into focus, five fifteen a.m. then he realizes it’s his day off but due to force of habit he set the alarm last night. Rolling over to the right and onto his back, his eyes focus on the dancing shadows cast against the ceiling from the streetlight outside and below his bedroom window. “Must be a little breezy outside,” he thinks to himself.

 

His little dog (a Welch Corgi named Angel) that was also alerted by the alarm rushes into the room and jumps up on to the  foot of bed. Making her way up to his face she delver’s a sloppy good morning lapping dog kiss. Snapping his head to the side, "woo, you need a tic-tac little girl”. Angel was an unwanted refuge from his daughter, who promised that when she moved out she would take her dog with her. When she found an apartment it was where no dogs were allowed. At first he resented the dog but now he loves the little brat and he genteelly pats her on the head, "hey you little shit, how you doing"? Angel uses her nose to lift the covers and slips under and heads for the warm under covers settling by his feet beneath the blankets. Paul lifts the covers and looked to his feet, "hey, how can you breath under there”? Dropping his head back to the pillow and bringing the covers back down to his chest, he looks back up at the reflections on the ceiling, a rush of thoughts begin flooding his mind. What’s on today’s to-do list? What’s the most critical procrastination that needs attention first?

 

 Like a bomb going off he is jolted from his thoughts as Angel suddenly bark’s loud enough to wake the dead she struggles with all her might to free herself from under the blankets. Breaking free she quickly dives from the bed to the floor and thunders out of the room and down the stairs toward the sounds that alerted her. Paul recognized his son's voice, his footsteps heavy on the stairs. His head peeks in the open door, "morning Dad", Morning Kev, you just going to bed?” “Yeah, I was playing my game all night, I just got back from getting some butts”. “Dam Kev you got to adjust your sleeping habits, lm beginning to think you might be a descendant of Vampires”. A light laugh comes from the young man, "ya, I know, well good night Dad". “Yeah, ok, good morning Kev”. Kevin lets out another small laugh and disappears into his room. Turning his attention back to his “to-do list” he begins trying to sort the priorities. As he lays there he becomes more and more overwhelmed by how many things there are to accomplish. “I’ll never get all that done in one-day” (he thinks to himself).

 

He starts drifting of back to sleep when bang! he is rudely jolted from his fog as the alarm goes off once again, this time he makes sure that he shuts the dam thing off. Surrendering to fate he throws the covers off and swings his legs off the bed and sits up planting his feet on the carpet. “Well, that’s step one” he quietly says to himself. Reaching over to his right he feels around for the string that turns on the light. After fumbling around in the dark for a few seconds he finally feels the string and yanks on it, suddenly blinded by the light he peeks out between squinted eyes one eye at a time and slowly open them a little at a time until he is able to see. There right at his feet, as always, is the little dog he reluctantly inherited from his daughter. “I know what you want you little shit; you want to go outside to do your business.” Angel startles him as she lets out a confirming, and very loud bark, as though she understood. She jumps up and heads for the bedroom door then sits down and waits. “O.k. come on I’ll take you out.” He pulls on his sweat pants, slide into his slippers, gets to his feet and heads for the stairs Angel is right under foot. Though Paul spoils her rotten she must be very insecure; she seems to feel that she must be close and touching him all the time. “What are you trying to do kill me? You know you’re not on the insurance policy.” When they get to the foot of the stairs Angel runs straight for the front door sits and waits. He looks at Angle, “me first dog” he says as he walks into the bathroom.

 

When he comes out Angel starts jumping up and down continuously, anxious for Paul to open the door. “O.K., O.K. I’m coming”, flicking on the outside light and opening the door and then the screen door Angel runs out and begins her ritual of sniffing every inch of the front yard. Paul goes to the side chain link gate Angel sees him and dashes to the gate. Swinging the gate open the squeaking hinges tell him that they are in desperate need of lubrication. Angel runs out and begins a new routine of sniffing around and doing her business. He walks out to the middle of the driveway. Looking around and up into the darkened sky. “Stars hmm”. The air seems fresher in the morning before traffic of the morning commuters starts pumping their exhaust into the morning air, “Hey look at that Moon looks like it may be another good day”. Angel starts wandering too far down the sidewalk, “Angel get over here” the dog ignores him. “Angel get over here right now”! The little dog takes her time obeying but then returns. “Come on in the house, let’s go”. Angel scurries past his feet to the front door. Pausing Paul takes one last look at the Moon before stepping back into the house. As though the dog can understand Paul thinks out loud, “I don’t know why but I get a sense of awe knowing that, the moon we all see up there is the same moon that Galileo, Deviancy and the pharaohs of enchant Egypt looked upon”. He shakes his head and enters the house and closes the door. Flicking off the outside lights, “feel better?” he says addressing Angel.

 

 Looking at the clock, “five forty five, I might as well stay up now. Maybe I can get some writing done while there’s peace and quite?” He makes his way to the coffee maker and reach for the coffee pot that still contains yesterday’s coffee, grabbing the pot he walks over to the kitchen sink which is full of dishes, cups, silverware, pots and pans. He pours the old coffee in the sink and rinse out the pot. After starting the coffee maker, he walks into the den and cranks up his ancient computer. The first thing he does is check in on the mornings news, as the desktop comes up he thinks to himself, “o.k. Let’s see who is killing who in this crazy world today” he grabs the trackball and begins to scan the headlines. “Looks like the Middle East is still in the front of the line of, killing because there’s nothing else to do, dam… that place is mad and terminally ill. Welcome to world war three”, ” OK weather time, heat wave across the US, hot and humid, you call that news, I think everybody in the US is aware of that one! He hears the coffee maker gurgling “ah! Coffees done” he gets up and head to the kitchen, he gets his favorite cup his large stainless steel and blue plastic Dunkin Donuts cup with a black plastic handle and pours. The smell of fresh brewed coffee starts his wakeup process. He ads some coffee mate no sugar and carefully takes that first molten lava sip. He heads back into the den and sit back down at the computer. He clicks on Microsoft Word and gets into one of his projects. Angel snuggles close to his feet, as always she has to be touching him so she lays against his right foot. It’s quite except for the whine of the internal fan of the old desktop computer. He loves it when it’s like this he can think clearly and with out distractions.

 

After some time working he decides he needs a break and heads to the bathroom to freshen up. Adjusting the water to Luke warm he bends down and splashes his face with the warm refreshing water. With his face wet and eyes tightly closed he feels for the towel and then wipes his face. Looking in the mirror he decides he needs a shave. As he stares at his reflection he realizes the old man that he has become. Talking to his reflection he jokingly says, “what are you looking at” the reflection looking back mimicking his every move, leaning forward reciprocally studying his face as he study his. Suddenly, and aberrantly for no reason tears well up in his eyes and he begins to choked up, as he thinks back on his life. Especially to the time long ago, when the little boy, still in his pajamas, once stared back at him, his face covered in shaving cream, leaning forward while he studied himself as he shaved for the first time on Christmas day 1953; using his new red plastic toy safety-razor that came complete with cardboard razorblades; and how he gazed in the mirror making funny faces as he imitated his father; carefully scraped the shaving cream off his small face. He recalls his lost youth as though it were a child who had passed away. An innocent child who he knows he will never see staring back at him ever again through the mirror. It is a painful genuine remorse, a genuine sorrow, a genuine feeling of loss. As he morns, a voice calls through the bathroom door, “dad! Are you almost done?” He snaps out of it, “yeah, I’ll be right out” he finishes shaving and carries on with life.

Categories: Writer

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