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by Rick Hendrix

Warmth. Still unconscious, I'm vaguely aware my sleep-walking leg ventures a short distance until cooler cotton is found, then pulls back slowly into the warmth of my cocoon.

Mindless bliss. That first small movement of my leg causes the cozy, secure veil of my recent dream to lift slightly. Longing to linger, my mind begins to struggle.

Awareness. The first subtle recognition of my surroundings begins: my wifeís gentle breathing beside me; the rhythmic tap-tap-tapping cadence of the fan above our bed, the feel of its gentle breeze on my face; the sound and feel of my own breathing; a pleasant soft rustle as I burrow a little deeper into my pillow.

A critical moment has arrived: If more than a few simple thoughts form, the waking process will begin. Since I do have a life, a nanosecond or two of involuntary concentration cannot be avoided.

Mandatory First Thought. Do I have duties today? No! (This is good. It must be the weekend and Iím cleared for additional sloth.) I relax and revel in the luxury of a warm bed on a cold morning. Bliss will soon return.

Uncalled-for Second Thought. Should I try painting the trim on the house myself this year? As quickly as that, Iím screwed. My brain has totally screwed my body again.

I scream inside: What were you thinking? Where did that come from? Paint the trim? Are you CRAZY?

Desperate to avoid brain activity, I execute an emergency mental maneuver.

OK, OK, calm down, calm down. Letís avoid all rational thought . . . mmm . . . Al Gore! (That should numb you out.) OK, all right, good, Al Gore, Al Gore, Al Gore, Al and Tipper Gore, Al and Tipper, Tipper Gore, Good Ol' Tipper, Senate committees, testimony, warning labels on music CDís, labels on CDís, Frank Zappa, Zappa . . . [music in head begins] 'Moviní to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon . . .'


Open Eyes. Peering through slitted eyes, I realize the room is dark. It's STILL DARK. A quick glance at the bedside alarm confirms my worst fear: It is 4:37 a.m. With eyes now clenched shut, a sudden yawn leaps out. A few moments pass, then another yawn; a long one, complete with an accompanying s-t-r-e-t-c-h thrown in for good measure. This is definitely bad news. Yawns and stretching mean extra oxygen, an accelerated pulse, increased metabolic rate, hunger, a call from Mother Nature.

The train has left the station; Iím awake for the day.

Paint the trim? Thanks for nothing, Al . . .


Raised in the Mississippi Delta, Rick Hendrix attended Cleveland High School, Delta State University and Mississippi State University. He has designed commercial grain systems since college, 1976. He started his own business in 2005 as a consultant / designer in the same field. At present, he calls Arkansas home, where he lives with his wife and two daughters (and one semi-Australian Shepherd named 'Skeeter Ray' and two cats who should but don't answer to 'Willie Belle' and 'Tigger').

Write Rick at llhjr@suddenlink.net.

Read Rick's moving story about his sister: Jan-baby.

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