I need something else, something other than the hum of silence that carries through my wide-awake bedroom.

The heating thermostat clicks on, the temperature dropping to a bitter six below. Relief, some sound. And then my stomach churns after the refried beans at Pedro’s this evening, just before day became night. But mainly it’s that gentle hum of nothing that keeps me awake. God, this cabin, this fever overwhelming.

In 1976, my mother told me to put a shell to my ear.

“Can you hear the sea?”

Just the stillness and the nothingness now. My room has become that shell, this God awful place, the boredom of no sleep and the pain in my back, worse from my cycling accident on Tuesday, a car running a red light, the frame of my bicycle, buckled and smashed. I need a woman to rub cream into the muscles I cannot reach.

I get out of bed, and smoke in the cold, just so I can hear something other than the stillness, the outer reaches of my front door, the snow settling, a soothing sound. Back in bed with nicotine breath on clean sheets, I wait again for the click of the heater.

But wait, something new, maybe little feet, a pittering patter across the ceiling.

Fucking mice?

It can’t be a rat, the pattering pitter is too close, maybe a bird in the ceiling. I look up at the light, a paper shade from Chinatown, the silence broken, the pitter-patter.

sleep will come quickly,
no cheap wine for the morning,
payday tomorrow.