Vivid Dreams on a Park Bench: Flash Fiction by cam
Brad Pitt as Johnny Suede
There it is. My bed. Not a wrinkle in the bedspread, not even where it's neatly tucked under the edges of my extra fluffy pillows and swoops way up over the top. That always makes me think of Brad "What-were-you-thinking" Pitt's hairstyle in the flick, Johnny Suede. Whose idea was that, anyway? Wouldn't the pillows be just as comfortable lying on top of the bedspread? But I make it that way just because. Just because if I didn't, I'd be thinking about it all morning at work and would come home at lunch time just to tuck the damn pillows in like I should have done that morning.
It doesn't matter. I haven't gotten in that bed since –– when was it? Six weeks? Two months? I just stopped bothering. What's the point? I roll one way, then the other. I stare at the ceiling, at the walls, at my feet where they make two little tents under the blanket. I finally just made the bed one morning and never got back in it.
Sometimes I go for walks around the city. Daytime streets are owned by business people, panhandlers, buskers, street preachers. But at night, it's a whole different world. The first thing I learned is nobody talks.
That's how I found a way to actually catch a few winks. It's not much, but at least I can still function. I walk down to the city park at about three in the morning. It won't work before that, don't ask me why. I forgot to mention that on the way to the park, I have to either buy a newspaper, if there's one left in the machine, or I scrounge one out of a trash can on the way.
I lie down on this particular bench and cover my face with the newspaper. I'm out like a light. Believe me, I've given serious thought to dragging that old bench back to my apartment and putting the bed out on the curb for the vagrants. But I just stretch out and sleep for a solid two hours. It doesn't sound like much, but it's two hours of an absolute blackout. I've never slept that deeply in my life. The downside is the dreams. Vivid dreams. Usually, they involve the sound of something being dragged along the ground. A drag-and-stop, drag-and-stop sound. But still, I'm sleeping. I'll take the tradeoff.
The chief of police is telling people not to go out at night. For the last couple of months, some wacko has been wacking people and leaving the bodies in dumpsters. There's no rhyme or reason, but there is an M.O. The wackjob always leaves a newspaper covering the vic's face. How does that work? Does he stop off at an all-night diner for coffee and a paper on the way to find somebody to kill? If I keep going to that park, I might not wake up in a dumpster some morning, if you catch my meaning.
So I've just finished my walk to the park. I'm looking down at my bench, even though I've got a perfectly good bed a few blocks away in an apartment with two deadbolts on the door. I lie down and cover my face with the paper. Sleep is coming on like a stampede of uncounted sheep.
I wake up to ten cops surrounding me with their heat unpacked. I don't move a muscle. "I've been sleeping for hours," I tell them.
"Tell that to him," says one of the cops, pointing next to me on the ground.
I look down to see a man, lying on his back with a newspaper on his face. "Maybe he's sleeping like me."
"You'd better hope so." The cop reaches for the newspaper.