chapter 13 now I lay me down to sleep

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They wanted me dead and now that there was a hundred thousand down on the deal they redoubled their efforts.  The screaming the honking people trying my door, the traveling thing under the floor, it never stopped never paused, never let up.  I was wearing down.  I am a stubborn woman which is fortunate stubborn was all I had left to keep me going.  I was operating in pure zombie mode.

Day after day after day.

It was Sunday.  My last Sunday.  I knew it like you know when a thunder storm is coming.  You feel it over every nerve in your skin.  They were so certain so certain, like hungry animals gathered around the prey run to ground. Waiting, hungry.  Sunday, my last Sunday.  Today I would die.

I sewed the last bead onto my coat and snipped off the thread.  It was beautiful, the big cheerful yellow submarine, the blue meanies, glovey a rainbow across the back.  I put it on and admired it.  No matter what, despite it all, I had made something beautiful and that was a victory. I hung the coat up on a hook on the wall with a smile of satisfaction.

Nightfall, death was coming for me.

I lit some candles and drew a steaming hot bath pouring into the water bathoils of sweet grass and jasmine.  I turned off the lights, in the candle light and in the flashing red neon of the Emprie Massage sign I began to strip.

I hear them, my screaming hooting fan club and ohh my aren’t they enjoying the striptease.  Much to the growing displeasure of angry girl friends.

“Stop watching her.”   Shrill angry voices in both English and Spanish.  (Again I wonder about the dating habits of urban gang members. )

I sank under the warm water.  It was so nice, so quiet, I could still hear them, but muffled, like a world away.  Quiet, peaceful, but I had to breathe so I sat up and started washing my hair.

I rose from the bath and towled dry.  I take my bath oils and sitting on my bed I massage the oil over my skin.  I am enjoying the feel of my foot in my hand.  The scent of sweet grass and jasmine, the feel of my foot in my hand, soft candle light and the flashing red neon of the Empire Massage sign that somehow inside my apartment by some weird alchemy of light, is transformed from garish red neon to a muted warm rose glow.

I put on a long black silk night gown, it settles over my skin like a dark enchantment.

Tired, I was so tired, so ready for sleep, or death.  I didn’t care anymore.  At least dead I would get some rest.

Mind you, I do believe in some sort of after life.  On the premise that either there is an ‘after life’, or there isn’t, if there isn’t then I won’t be around to listen to anyone say I told you so.  So I figure I might as well go with believing in an ‘after life.’  That being said, one thing is for dang sure.  If they did kill me I wasn’t’ going on to the ‘happy hunting grounds’ ohh no. I would be using my ‘afterlife’ to plan one hell of a reception party for when my killers eventually ‘cross over.’  And maybe I’ll check out that whole poltergeist thing, that sounded like a career with the potential for a few laughs.

I lay down.  A childhood prayer ran through my mind. ‘now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’  I pulled my blankets up and lay there waiting for sleep or death which ever, what ever, I didn’t care any more.  Too tired to care.

My demented fan club screaming up at me,  the car horns honking.  No don’t care.  Won’t care.  Sleep need sleep.

Upstairs, the computer geek the fish wife and Allen begin yet another loud argument about the timing of my death.    The fish wife as always urging them to ‘shoot her now, now god dame it!”

I sighed. (Honestly, just fucking do it.  It seemed to me that having to listen to them argue about killing me was just unreasonable)

Oh great, the thing under the floor was moving again.  One more irritation.  No, no, I don’t care, scream honk your horns, argue, the thing under the floor, I was just going to ignore it all.  I was going to sleep.

“Now, now, God dame it shoot her now! The fish wife screamed.

The thing under the floor was now right beneath me.  I could feel it vibrating the spot right between my shoulder blades.

“Now!”

My eyes flew open and I snapped out of bed falling to the floor in a tangle of flailing limbs and blankets snarling like a feral cat.

“GodDameMotherFuckerSonofacamelhumpingbitch!!!”

It was a gun.  The thing under the floor.  I could see it in my mind some radio shack remote control atv packing heat.  That’s what the computer geek was here for.  Murder by video game.

God dame I was so stupid, so fucking dumb.  Why didn’t I figure it out before?  Fuck!

I tried not to be too mad at myself, after all lack of sleep and stress will slow anyone’s brain down. ( And really who kills people like this? This, this, Rube Goldberg, Mission Impossible bullshit. Fuck.  Who did these people think they were the fucking Mossad?)

I untangled myself from my blankets and stood hands on hips glaring up at the ceiling.

“ You know. “ I yelled up at them. “I am quite sure that there are in fact more cowardly acts in the world then shooting an unarmed woman in the back while she sleeps.  But I would be hard pressed to name even three.”

“You want me dead?  Well come on then, quit the dumb shit.  You come on down here and Fucking Kill Me!  And since I know not one of you has the stones to take me on your own,  Well, go ahead, make a party of it!  Open Fucking House.  Surely two dozen to one odds are high enough for you!  Come on and Fucking get me!”

For once there was silence from them.

“Well now an’t that just something.  The whore is the only one here who isn’t a fucking pussy?”

Still raging, using all my ‘for special occasion words’, I set to work tearing my bed apart.  The bedding hit the floor in a pile, then I threw the mattress off and tore apart the pine board slats.  Still cursing a blue streak I began to rebuild my bed.

I took the hard bound books from my shelves, my books of art, history, philosophy, all big heavy books and I lay them out on the floor under my bed.  I went to my kitchen and took my cast iron skillets, steel wok, other assorted pots and pans and I piled them under the bed.  I replaced the pine board slats adding on top another layer of hard bound books, then replaced my mattress and remade my bed.

I smoothed out the sheets and blankets fluffed my pillow and went to bed.

I am drifting off.  All the shouting, honking, all the calls for my death.  Sweet sweet lullaby.

Upstairs Allen says something, for once his actors voice fails to carry, a soft rumble without meaning.

“You’re in love with the bitch.” Shouts the fish wife.

(Yeh it’s a warped old world some times)

Just before the soft welcoming darkness took me to a place not even dreams are allowed to intrude on, I thought of my least favorite fairy tale.  The Princess and the pea.  Stupid whiney princess whinging on about how poor her couldn’t sleep on top of a hundred feather beds because of one dried pea at the bottom of all those mattresses.

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