Friday, December 2, 2011
THE LOVE TAP
Thanks again to the ever-entertaining editices Liz & Laura at The Toucan
The Love Tap
by MaryAnne Kolton
As she took the marble-sized ball of green Play-Doh from the plastic sandwich bag and rolled it into a soft cone shape, she muttered, “What kind of crazy woman puts Play-Doh in her ears every night.”
online. After three months of
increasingly affectionate correspondence, they had arranged to meet. Davis, a writer, had been living in the Davis desert for
several years and had grown to hate leathered skin, Armani slip dresses and
turquoise. He was planning to visit his
daughter in Arizona
and then head east to look for a spot with an ocean breeze in which to write. They would meet in between the daughter and
the ocean. Texas
That was six months ago.
Lena had not
had a decent night’s sleep since he moved in.
This torment perpetuated on a woman whose idea of heaven was a sumptuous
bedroom. Draperies drawn against
whatever celestial light existed, a top of the line king-size bed swathed in
expensive Egyptian cotton linens, cool to the touch.
“Sleep until you are no longer tired, my daughter,” God would intone, basso profundo. “When you wake there will be fine food, excellent wine and intelligent conversation. Return to your sleeping chamber whenever you wish, stay there as long as you like.” That’s how much sleeping well meant to
Of course, she learned right away that
Her previous husband had also been a vociferous nighttime noisemaker. She grew used to poking him into silence
without waking. However, she was not
aware, until Davis
settled in, that his nights were a continual calliope of snorts, wheezes, gasps,
grunts and whistles -- in several different keys, no less. He also kicked his feet, carried on
unintelligible, obstreperous arguments with the unseen and stopped breathing on
“Will this bother you”?
asked with genuine concerned. Davis
“We’ll work it out,”
replied. This was the man she had been
waiting for all her life. He was intelligent,
gentle, and she adored him. She would
During the past six months
had read every online article in existence about earplugs. Many opened boxes of foam, silicon and soft
plastic plugs filled her nightstand drawer.
If they can send a man to the
moon, for God’s sake, why couldn’t they invent a total sound-deafening earplug?
“Grandmother wants you to take that out of your ears right now! Peter, do as I say. Peter? Do you hear me”?
Why not? She thought. The Play-Doh ended up in the nightstand drawer.
“It makes me look like Hannibal Lecter and feel like I’m in an airplane that’s going down,” he grumbled. “I’d never get to sleep with that damned contraption on.”
“Did you actually try it?”
“For about thirty minutes. That was all I could take.”
She wondered how much she could take.
In what seemed a most bizarre response to his nights of cacophony,
woke each morning, before his alarm went off at five, claiming to feel refreshed
and ready for the day. Davis Lena
rolled over and prayed for death.
All her dogged research yielded no new miracle cure. She tried various sleeping pills, but they made her feel like she spent her daylight hours slogging through sand. She was never quite crisp.
to long intensely for her luxurious nights of effortless sleep.
With the loss of those nights came a small kernel of resentment that sewed itself somewhere not so deep in
In the beginning, their days together had been blissful.
would rise early, write for several
hours, and then wake her for breakfast and a walk through one of the area
parks. They would spend the afternoons
reading or taking in a movie. After a
leisurely dinner, Davis
“Early to bed, early to rise etc.,” he said as he climbed the stairs to their sleeping loft. Their condo had a master bedroom loft, which overlooked the lower level containing the living room, dining area and kitchen. When
Lena first moved in, she though of
her bedroom as a lovely, over-sized nest.
Now she desired only a room with a door that might be closed against and his nighttime
circus act. Not likely, since the only
other space on the first floor was a small storage room that Davis had appropriated for his office. Davis
As she slept less and less at night she began to sleep longer in the mornings. This meant she stayed up later each night.
was not displeased, only somewhat forlorn. Davis
“It’s just that I treasure our time together,” he said.
slept until noon.
Then she heard from a friend about a sleep study being done at a nearby hospital.
please. I’m sure they would appreciate
your participation. You are, after all,
a perfect candidate. And who knows, they
might be able to select an alternative to the mask. Perhaps a medication is being studied.” Davis
He looked hurt. “As much as I love you,
Lena, and appreciate the
degree to which my inability to sleep quietly inconveniences you, I cannot and
will not take part in some experiment. In case you haven’t noticed, I am neither a
guinea pig nor a lab rat.”
The next afternoon when she couldn’t stop yawning,
Lena decided to sort though some of the boxes still stored
in the basement. Anything to stay
awake. She unpacked several cartons and
was creating throw away, donate and repack zones when she came upon the box
that contained the ancient tools given to her by her Grandfather so many years
ago. A master carpenter, he had made
many of the tools himself. He had
explained the purpose of each one and made sure she became skilled in its use. Here was a ball-peen hammer, metal head and
wooden handle actually crafted by the old man.
Did they still make ball-peen hammers? She wondered aloud. The balance and heft of the old tool was
As she marveled at the weight of it in her hand, a bud on the fast growing stalk of resentment began to unfurl.
sat in the living room in his favorite chair, feet up, reading a book of short
stories, Brahms playing low in the background. Davis Lena perched
on the sofa working on a sweater for him, her knitting needles clicking away
the hours until bedtime. His bedtime at
any rate. When she looked up, he seemed
to be drifting off. Poor thing. The long walk he had taken during the
afternoon must have really done him in. That
combined with the three sleeping tablets she had stirred into his after dinner
began to burble and snort she slipped the old hammer from between the sofa
cushions. Once again, she admired the
perfection and care that had gone into the crafting of such a thing. Then she stood, her knitting falling from her
lap, and walked to the chair where Davis
whistled and wheezed. She touched the
ball of the hammer, and then gently touched a spot on the left side of her
husband’s head. A spot right between the
end of his eyebrow and his ear. Not
exactly a strike, she thought as she lifted the tool upward. More of a firm, quick tap. Just a
little love tap, she smiled and said to herself as she propelled the hammer