Danny Pricopio couldn’t sleep. After a long, hard day at work, his temperament ran thin like overstretched pizza dough. By the time he’d gotten home, he’d missed dinner, his daughter, Gina, was in bed, and he was too late to watch the late news. Now he’d gone four hours without a wink.
He’d tried dozens of things to help, such as camomile tea, a double shot of Dickel, and Dr. Phil reruns. Nothing worked.
“There must be something on my mind,” he said. His wife, Cora, replied with a snore. “Did I forget to do something? Is there something on my conscience?” What would strike enough fear in his subconscious to keep him awake?
“Did I lock the door to the store?” Once he asked the question, it wouldn’t go away, so he got out of bed and dressed for the freezing night air. His Hobby store was a four-minute drive away. When he arrived the door was locked, but he went inside to check on everything. Train kits, model airplanes, drones, camera gear—everything was in place.
He returned home to bed, only to be scolded for his cold feet. He took an extra blanket to the couch and curled up with a pillow. Still no sleep. “Did I piss anyone off today?” He thought back and remembered telling his neighbor Howie that his teeth looked like asparagus spears.
Danny rolled off the couch, threw on his jeans, and went next door. After the third ring on the doorbell, he heard steps, heavy, like coming down stairs.
“Who the hell is it?” said Howie from inside.
“It’s me. Danny.”
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Howie.
“I need to talk to you. It can’t wait.”
The door chain rattled and a deadbolt clacked. The door opened. “Jeez, Danny. It’s almost four o’clock in the morning. What is it?”
“I was very rude to you today, and I wanted you to know I’m sorry.”
“Rude… What the hell are you talking about?”
“I said your teeth look like asparagus.”
“Oh, well, yeah. I can see how something like that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Yellow wax beans, maybe, but not asparagus!”
“I’m serious,” said Danny. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Danny, I don’t care. Go home and go to sleep.”
Danny cracked a grin. “Thanks.” The order was given, and the burden of insult lifted. He should get good sleep now.
Back home, he warmed his feet in a tub of water and crawled in bed. He lay awake and felt ridiculous as he counted sheep. Instead of calming him, it frustrated him because he kept losing count. Before ten minutes passed, he was up and pacing.
“I’m missing something important,” he said. He checked everything. He had clothes for the morning shift, the uninsulated pipes were turned off from the inside, and all the bills were paid. His car was properly parked with plenty of gas. His tiddlywinks were perfectly organized.
With a heavy sigh, Danny gave up and trudged back to bed.
On the way by Gina’s room, he slipped in and kissed her on the cheek, then lay down on the floor and fell into a sound sleep.