Overnight Involvement (1994)


It’s three a.m., the hardest time not to concentrate.  Most of the broadcast TV stations are off the air and the ones still on are full of infomercials hawking one nonsense product or another.  In any case, I’ve seen them all several times.  So many times, in fact, that I know them by heart.  And without anything new, it’s so hard not to vary, not to let the mind wander, not to let it wander to thoughts it should go towards.

I flip through the channels yet again.  An old movie catches my eye and for three quarters of an hour, I sink into the action of the original “King Kong”.  The movie is a classic; it shines on, even in a poor quality copy, scratched and edited the way it is for local television.  The movie was able to keep me going through the commercials.  The ending was most satisfying; lasting a few minutes after the fact.  The overnight news is next, two lesser anchors trading off on each others’ witticisms and occasionally news.  I try to lose myself in it, but it is difficult.  So difficult to concentrate on the news of the day when it is so trivial, so empty.  I flip in desperation.  There’s a blank in my mind; a dark spot which I dare not enter.  A black, growing area.  M-TV comes to the rescue for three more minutes.  It’s now four fifteen.

If I can only make it until I get tired.  I’ve slept so much in the past few days.  I don’t think I can force sleep on myself yet again.  Dawn is still hours away.  Too many hours.  I flip on the radio and turn it up as loud as I can.  This is a quiet neighborhood.  I listen to oldies, not because I like oldies per se, but I do know all of the words and I can sing along and concentrate on who recorded them and when and where I first heard them.  The commercials slow me down though, terribly produced readers that have no humor nor interesting voices nor even interesting products.  Gold Bond medicated powder?  I don’t know.  Another blank is growing, another place where I cannot go.

I must not, I must not, I must not.

I think of paper.  Blank white paper; the brightest, whitest blank paper in a sheet the size of the earth.  The paper the color opposite of what I feel: the blank, the black, the darkness.  I feel myself slipping.  I cannot help it.  Lord, please forgive me.

It’s dawn and I’m watching the national anthem.  There’s blood on my hands.  Soon, I believe, I will be able to flip on the local news.  My hands are shaking.  I have become involved again.

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