Richard L. Purnell
With insomnia nothing is real. Not the sole of your shoe, or the wallet in the right pocket. Insomnia changes everything you see. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that comes about because of lack of sleep. Insomnia fills your head with nonsense, and poppycock. Why would I know all this? I suffer from this insomnia.
I have not slept in six nights, but thankfully I have yet to see anything strange. My father suffered from Insomnia to. He got the worst of it. Insomnia is the reason he became a psychopath. You see, growing up with my father was not an easy task. He was an alcoholic, and also he loved taking a puff or two every now and then. It was a nightmare living with the man.
Every night when he got home I would be beaten in one way or another. I remember having to lie to the teacher because I didn’t want anyone to know. Ah yes, I would come to school with black eyes, broken arms, and even with a patch of hair missing. There was one night in particular that I will never forget. This night was the start of what I called: The nights of pain. This is when my father started his insomnia trip. This series of unfortunate events lasted for a week.
The first night I remember vividly. My father had stayed up to watch the cricket game on the telly. He had a few drinks, and a few smokes that night. I could not sleep that night either, for I had a short story to write for a class. As I was about to take my sleep, the smell of beer and smoke clouded my bedroom. That smell distracted me from my sleep. The smell was followed up with a creaky noise as if someone were taking baby steps on our week wooden floor.
The creaking stopped, and there was a shadow outside my bedroom door. That smell still filled my bedroom to the point were I could not breathe. I heard three loud bangs echo through my room. That was followed up with my father saying, “Theo get yourself out of your bed now!” I didn’t answer his yelling and screaming. He continued banging on my door with such force. I couldn’t breathe, and my skin turned pale white.
After about an hour of hitting my door he just stopped. Silence filled the air to the top. I felt so relieved, and I placed my head back onto my pillow. Then, with out warning, my father charged the door. He busted the door to splinters. The hinges flew off the wall like they were nothing. My father started to charge at me as if he a bull taking down his red target.
As he approached me he held a blunt instrument in his hand. He was holding his lucky cricket bat from when he was a kid. He loved the sport. My father started attacking me like a madman. His face had a look of insanity on it. His mouth was pouring drool. His eyes were blood shot, and his teeth were grinding.
At the moment I felt I was going to die. At that moment I was going to see God. I feared this to be true in that quick moment. My father didn’t even bother just trying to hit me. He was like a wrecking ball in my bedroom. I felt as if I were in a pitch black room. A spotlight was on me, and I was staring right at the Grim Reaper himself.
Father was a wild man with a cricket bat. After an hour of destruction, my father stopped. I had no idea what father was contemplating next. I looked around my room, and nothing survived. Broken glass covered my bedroom floor. Father looked at me dead in the eye. His face was dripping drop after drop of sweat, his teeth were chipped from the grinding. I would have never would have guessed what Father did next. He walked up to me, and brought his anger with him. He looked at me and said, “its time for bed kid.” I wouldn’t have seen it coming, and he just left. I had never been more frightened in my entire life. The sad thing was that, it was only the beginning.
The next few times weren’t as bad. He would push me down, smack me around. Each time you could see his eyes getting worse. This was from his lack of sleep. every time his eyes got more red and baggy. At some points I was more concerned about him then about myself. The last time he attacked, I was not the only one he attacked.
It was Friday, Sept 14th when he attacked. My Mother was coming home from work. She was the local barber, and she was good. You could ask for one style of a hair cut, and she would one up you. My god, she was great. If she was still alive today, I would have kept going to her for my hair. She had a gift, and a special one at that.
She would always use old tools. For example: instead of using a regular razor when you asked for a shave, she used a straight razor. She loved to use straight razors. She had a collection of straight razors. Mother even had one made just for her. She never let go of it. If anyone ever tried to use her straight razor she would point out her initials were on it.
The sad thing was mum was never home. On that Friday she would never use her straight razor again. When she got home, she would always get herself a glass of milk. When my father got home she would already be in bed. Friday was the only night she was still awake. Father got home and said, “daddy is home darling, come say hello,” after that he vomited. Without thinking he walked up to Mother very angry like.
I could see the fear on my Mothers face. Sweat was trickling down the side of her face. Father grabbed mother by the hair and said, “Darling, may I have a word with you in the bathroom.” father dragged mother upstairs to the restroom. I followed behind very quietly. When I was upstairs I saw that the restroom door was open still. When I looked inside, I could not believe what I saw.
My eyes would never see anything more disturbing then this. Father was holding mother’s head in the bath tub. Mother was swinging her arms. Water was filling the room. Father used al his strength to keep mums head in the water. I stood there, staring, watching, and waiting. Waiting to see what he would do next.
I felt bad because I did not rush in there to help. By the time I thought to help she was dead. Her razor fell out of her pocket. I said, “mum are you okay?” father looked at me. His eyes were worse then they ever were. He looked at me, but said not one word. I ran away scared out of my mind.
I darted into my parents bedroom to find a place to hide. I looked out the window and saw a bobby was outside. I yelled “mister my father is trying to kill me, please help!” the bobby started to run towards my front door. I turned back, and there father was. He was holding my mothers straight razor in his hand. I have never felt more fear then at this moment. He raised the razor at me with the angriest look in his eyes.
He swung the razor right across my face. My father had given me a half of a Glasgow Smile. A Glasgow Smile is what gangs give to their victims. After the smile is given, the victim would be beaten. As the victim speaks in pain, the smile becomes bigger. Thankfully, my father didn’t beat me this time. After my cut was made the bobby busted the door down.
My father and the bobby struggled with each other. Finally the bobby shot father in the head. After all this, I was sent to Aunt Jo-Jo’s old Victorian house. Her house was all white with a red front door. The trees grew some of the reddest apples ever. Her grass was so shiny and well groomed. Her house was so glorious.
My life was great after that. Aunt Jo-Jo taught me everything about magic. Every trick that I perform on stage was either taught to me by her, or it was improved by her. She was a genius at magic. I grew up with her. She was my family now. When I was 23 I told Aunt Jo-Jo that I was leaving to pursue magic. That was the last time I saw my dear Aunt Jo-Jo. The last time I would see her beautiful Victorian house or those red delicious apples. It was just the last time. I went out to start my career as a magician. I feared I would not be so good, but after my first show I got a standing ovation. I got so much confidence that day. I needed it, but I got more as my career went on. Show after show after show, I was praised.
I would get a letter after every show. Each one from Aunt Jo-Jo asking how I was. I would always write her back no matter what. We wrote each other for years. Every letter I got, I was more excited. One letter I got told me she was moving to Alaska with her new husband. His name was Albert, but for some reason I didn’t trust him.
But I knew that Aunt Jo-Jo could take care of herself. Another letter told me how it’s hard for her to get used to the sun time in Alaska. I couldn’t imagine that honestly. It’s sunny for a month, and then its night for a month. It’s just too awkward for me. One day instead of a letter, I got a notice. It said something that was so horrible.
Aunt Jo-Jo, my mentor, my idol, my mum, was dead. The notice said, “Sorry to inform you but your aunt, Josie Eleanor Sampson has passed away.” Aunt Jo-Jo was the only one who ever game me a reason to be alive. She was my only true parent. I had wished she never left England for Albert. I wished I was with her in heaven. I wished I was dead.
I knew I had to be strong for my dear Aunt. She was a strong woman. She was also extremely creative. The notice told me I had to go to Alaska for the will reading. I knew I had to go, but the only problem was my show. How was I going to perform if I was gone? How was I going to please millions of fans? How was I going to stay sharp on my magic?
I didn’t care at all. For once, I didn’t care about my fans. I didn’t care about the millions of dollars I had. I cared about nothing but my sweet Aunt Jo-Jo. But there was one part I didn’t understand. The notice said that Aunt Jo-Jo was in a car accident. I always figured that she would go out with a bang. I guess I was wrong this time.
I wished magic was real so I could bring back Aunt Jo-Jo. Well I got a first class plane ticket to Alaska. I have never flown in a plane before. Whenever I traveled, I would always go by tour bus. First class was amazing, and service was splendid. I said to myself, “why didn’t I fly on a plane before.” It was a very pleasant experience. The film they were playing was Edward Scissorhands.
I had never seen that movie before. If I’m correct, it was made by Tim Burton. He is a great director, and he lives in London currently. It took awhile, but I made it to Alaska. I didn’t know how cold it was. I was freezing my rear off. I felt so much pain from the cold weather. I was so under dressed for this place.
I could not stand it, but I didn’t care. I was here to see my Aunt Jo-Jo. For a week I stayed at the local Holiday Inn. For a week I thought only about Aunt Jo-Jo. For a Week I could not sleep a wink. I was not use to the sun time here in Alaska. It was daylight all the time.
I couldn’t take it at all. I suffered sleepless nights. Thinking about my father, and my mother. Thinking about Aunt Jo-Jo was the most painful. The fact that she was dead was too painful. She was the only support I had in life. She was the only reason I lived.
I loved my Aunt Jo-Jo. I walked to my mirror before the funeral. As I was fixing my tie I looked at my face. The scar on my face was still there. The Glasgow Smile they called it. As I look at my scar, I thought of my parents. Thought of that day my father went insane.
The day his mind crossed paths. The Friday he went totally insane. I will miss my mother to death. Till this day I regret not helping her when I could. I said to myself “ok, get it together Theo, you have to be strong.” Those words spoken by a true insomniac. I always told myself that I would never be like my father.
Turns out I was always lying to myself. My father was a victim to insomnia now I knew my turn was coming. Aunt Jo-Jo’s funeral was packed with sobbing people. I was the first to speak at her funeral. The ride back to my hotel room was brutal. All I could think about was my dead Aunt. Her fingers colder then the Alaskan air.
Her face, so peaceful and pleasant. Her dress was so beautiful. I recognized the jewelry she wore. I had bought her jewelry a month ago. I saw them in the store window. I knew she would love them. Because of who I was, I got jewelry free of charge.
Fame really does help sometimes. Later that day I was to attend the will reading. I knew Aunt Jo-Jo would have a video. She never really liked to write. I sat in the front row next to some women. She wore a tattered, worn out fur coat. I think it was fox.
A man in a black suit walked in with the tape. He placed the tape in the VCR. Aunt Jo-Jo appeared on the screen in her outfit she wore to her grave. She gave out things as I suspected she would. She gave her house to Albert, and she gave her fortune to the women in the tattered fur coat. I was last to receive anything. Everyone else left so I was alone in the room.
Aunt Jo-Jo said to me, “Theo, I give you what you have always wanted. I give you the trick I never taught you. The trick is the fall and transport.” I was so excited to finally learn this trick. She told me detail after detail on how to perform this trick. After she taught me this trick she told me, “Theo in honor of me, I would like you to perform this trick on stage tonight. I had Albert book a show for you.” I could not believe what I heard.
I have had no sleep in days. I was not prepared to perform any trick. I was afraid to perform this trick. But for Aunt Jo-Jo, it was a task I was willing to take. No matter what – I was going to do this for Aunt Jo-Jo. I drove back to the hotel. I needed to prepare for my act.
I was so stressed, but I knew I had to do this. I had to take a nap. I needed to rest up for the show. I paced in my room for hours. Without Aunt Jo-Jo I could not perform. She was my gift, and my confidence. I sat on my bed pondering, remembering the times I had with Aunt Jo-Jo.
The first time she taught me how to disappear. The first trick I learned was called: The Transporting Volunteer. that’s were you place a volunteer in a glass box, and the box is filled with smoke. After that the smoke evaporates, and the volunteer is gone. Then they reappear in a second box to my left. This trick is done with a small trap door. The volunteer will crawl to the second box, and look as if they transported.
I was about to rest when I saw the clock. It was show time, and I need to leave. With all the energy I had left, I ran to the cab I called for. “Driver take me to the Wise Theatre, and step on it,” I said with my breathless voice. The cabby stomped the gas petal. In about an hour and twenty three minutes, we made it to the theatre. I ran backstage, everything was in place.
I was prepared for the show of a lifetime. Something was off, and I knew it was my lack of sleep. Insomnia really does change the way the world looks. I had a hunch that something bad was going to happen. I felt, after Aunt Jo-Jo died, that my demons were released again. I didn’t want to perform, but I had to. “Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Theo Alvin Burton!,” said the announcer.
I stood on stage, nervous and tired. I had no idea what to do first. “This show is dedicated to my Aunt Jo-Jo, God rest her soul,” I said to the crowd. The tricks still worked, and I was still having fun. I could not believe it. I was have a ball, and nothing bad was going to happen. I knew, even though Aunt Jo-Jo was dead, that she was going to be in my heart. She was still here to give me confidence, and I knew it.
I was about to perform my grand finale. The Transporting Volunteer was the grand finale. “For my next feat, I would like a volunteer!,” I said aloud. Hand after hand shot into the air. So many people wanted to be involved in this trick. It was a real hard task to pick the right person. “You there, miss will you please join me on stage?” she ran right to the stage.
She was like a bullet leaving a gun. I told her how the trick worked so she would make it great. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, the Transported Volunteer!” She walked into the first box with ease. Unlike most volunteers, she was fearless. The boxes started to fill with a smoke from below stage. No one could see what was inside; not even me.
The second door opened too early. Smoke escaped into the air filling the theatre. What happened next was real magic to me. My eyes widened, and my jaw dropped to the floor. My greatest fear came to life, again. I never would think this would happen. It was impossible, but he was there.
My father, who died when I was ten, came out of the second box. My heart pumped blood faster then ever. My head was drenched with sweat. I had no words to say at first. “hello son, daddy is home,” my father said. He was covered in blood from head to toe. In his hand he held mums lucky razor.
He had a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. I fell to the ground in terror. I was speechless, and urine trickled down the side of my leg. My sick father was alive again. All the color left the room. All I saw was black and white. I looked to the audience, and they were all laughing skeletons.
Everything in the theatre was misshapen and confusing. Father raised the razor towards me. He said, “I remember giving you that cut. Those were that days. You know, you look uneven with just one scar, let me help you.” Father walked towards me very slowly. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I crawled backwards trying to get away. He stood above me, and placed the razor on my face.
He started to cut my face again. The pain on my face was unbearable. When he was done I didn’t want to scream. If I screamed, my face would rip in half. I looked to the audience again, and they were all back to normal. I could hear them screaming for help. My blood was all over the floor. In the cracks on the floor, and under the feet of my fans was where my blood flowed. I felt in that moment I knew what to do. I took a well deserved nap. Goodnight nightmares, and never come back.
Drawing by Richard Purnell.