Author Note: Featuring Rob Buckley submitted by InfraGreen.
Entry No. 4 How To Cure Insomnia
Sleep. It’s not something that comes easily to me. I tend to keep odd hours, mostly because in college, I did my best work in the middle of the night. Procrastination and too much caffeine pretty much set me up to be best friends with insomnia.
When I would try to sleep, I would meet the more positive twin of insomnia – inspiration. This is when the stories would come alive, the characters would take form, the plots would develop, and the dialogue would dance around in my head like microwave popcorn. I would toss and turn, shift positions, stare at the ceiling and wonder why my brain disliked rest at normal hours.
Sometimes I would stare at the picture above my bed, a lush green meadow surrounded by fence posts. My great aunt was the artist in the family, and when we moved to the Springs, she gave this painting to me. I always admired my great aunt, and wished I was more of a visual artist, but my skills lay with writing prose. Even so, sometimes I would visualize sheep in the field. Counting sheep is supposed to help sleep, right? Not for me. Counting just made me annoyed because it reminded me of my dislike for math.
When I was a kid, I was confined to the house if I wanted to get up because I couldn’t sleep. Now as an adult, I have way more freedom. I thought about jotting down plot ideas on my computer, but then realized maybe it would be better to do something that would actually make me sleepy instead of wired. Exercise is supposed to help you sleep, right?
Thankfully, Burners and Builders, the only gym in town, was open 24-7. Located downtown, B&B was only a few blocks from my house. I decided to walk instead of borrowing my parents car. They might wonder where it went anyhow. When I arrived, the gym was a ghost town, but the stereo was blasting some fun beats. Never a fan of exercise equipment, I decided a dance workout was just what I needed to feel better… and possibly sleepy.
After thirty minutes of dancing, I was interrupted by a fellow late-night patron, a man by the name of J Huntington the III. J and I went to high school and he was always quite pretentious. Did the ‘Huntington the III‘ give it away? I never did learn if his first name actual was a singular letter or if the ‘J’ stood for something. Irregardless, I didn’t particularly want to speak to the guy, and he seemed all too obsessed with his own muscles in the mirror to notice me.
Stepping outside, the cool desert air did little to make me feel sleepy. If anything, the night winds made me feel more alert. I didn’t particularly feel like heading home yet so I wandered to the only late-night restaurant in town – The Rattlesnake Juice Bar. As I slid onto a barstool, my stomach growled. I must’ve been hungry after my workout.
My grandmother always said milk helped cure insomnia, but I couldn’t exactly order the frothy white liquid at a bar. Since the kitchen was limited this late at night… or early in the morning… depending upon how you looked at it… I ordered a bowl of breakfast potatoes, a favorite dish of mine. Unfortunately, the bar was out of clean silverware so I had to eat them with my fingers. I didn’t particularly mind. The bartender was an old high school classmate of mine, Zoe Patel, and it turns out, she is roomies with J. Well, him, and Mitchell Kalani, the guy sitting next to me nursing a tang and zing.
You can’t very well be in a bar without ordering a drink. After all, that’s how bartenders make the most of their tips. Alcohol can help make a person sleepy, right? I ordered a… while Mitchell chattered about his money troubles. You and me both, pal, I was thinking. If I hadn’t racked up so much credit card debt in college, I probably wouldn’t be living with his parents.
“But when life gives you limes, make margaritas,” Mitchell smirked as we clinked our glasses in a toast.
Mitchell also claimed soaking your feet in a lemon-lime bath would help promote deep sleep because it relaxes the nerves in the feet. I wasn’t so sure about that, but he claimed he’d picked up a secret or two in the culinary field traveling the world as a dishwasher on cruise ships. He landed back in Oasis Springs when he blew all his money on entertainment. Plus he really disliked paying bills so staying with roommates helped shoulder the costs of an apartment.
Zoe’s shift ended around two a.m. She recommended a cold bath because lowering the body temperature was supposed to be conducive to helping a person fall asleep. I shivered at the thought.
“That doesn’t sound like fun,” I remarked.
“What doesn’t sound like fun?”
The replacement bartender for Zoe appeared at our side. He had near-shoulder length dark hair and a full beard. I’d always found facial hair to be sexy, and found myself blushing at my own ridiculous thoughts. Zoe introduced her colleague as Rob Buckley, a musician/bartender. Upon hearing about my predicament, he suggested blowing bubbles.
“Excuse me?” I blinked rapidly.
“Bubbles… it works every time with my kid. It has a hypnotic effect.”
“Bubbles?” I repeated.
So he had a kid? I figured that probably meant a wife or girlfriend in the picture.
“Yeah, bubbles… if blowing bubbles seems silly, you could always try a bubble bath with honeysuckle and vanilla. It’s supposed to be soothing.”
“Right, thanks…” I replied.
“Or you could hang out here and keep me company if you’re not ready to sleep yet,” he offered. “It’s pretty dead in here now so if you like stale jokes and random bursts of songs, you might stay.”
I couldn’t tell if this was Rob’s way of flirting or not. Zoe gave me an encouraging smile over her shoulder.
“I make a mean cocktail, and an even better grilled cheese,” he said, proudly.
“I like grilled cheese,” I shrugged. “I could hang out… for a little while.”
Rob refreshed my drink, and pan-fried a grilled cheese sandwich, which I gobbled down quickly, much to his amazement.
“I like a woman who can eat,” he said.
“Ah…” I didn’t know what to say, so I decided to be honest. “I was severely underweight during some of my college years and I would rather enjoy my food any day and be healthy than eat like a bird again.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be. I just went through a phase where I didn’t like myself very much.”
“I think we all do. I went through a similar phase when my wife left me.”
So he’s been married before?
“You had a kid together?” I asked.
Rob dropped his head, almost sadly.
“Oh,” I threw up my hands. “I didn’t mean to pry. You just mentioned bubbles and a kid earlier.”
“Yeah, I have a daughter, Carrie. She’s two.”
“The terrible twos?”
“Naw… actually, she’s okay most days. Her pops keeps her in line,” he pointed to himself proudly.
“Carrie is a pretty name.”
“Yep, her mother named her after her idol, Carrie Fischer.”
“From the Star Wars franchise? Wow… I love Star Wars… and Trek… and well, most sci-fi. Oh I’m totally geeking out here.”
Rob chuckled. “It’s cool. I’ve been catching up on ‘To Boldly Go Discover Things’ on Simflix.”
“Great show! I am really looking forward to when they reveal the new alien race that has been terrorizing the galaxy.”
“Me too. I wonder if Captain Ackrol will discover they have a traitor in their midst.”
“We don’t know that Lieutenant Leandry is a traitor.”
“Sure seems that way by her recent behavior and clandestine meetings with the Franchise.”
I smiled broadly. “I’m really happy to meet someone else who likes sci fi shows like I do.”
“I’ll talk ‘To Boldy Go’ stats any day. And don’t even get me started on the musical score.”
“Hated it?” I bit my lip.
“No,” he shook his head. “Loved it. Most people despise it, but I like the classic sound.”
“Me too,” I exclaimed. “I played flute back in the day. Wasn’t any good, but I still love the sound.”
“Really? I played clarinet. Now it’s mostly piano and I doodle on the guitar.”
“I’ll have to hear you sometime.”
Rob suddenly frowned at the sound of breaking glass. “Guess I better go check on that shipment.”
“It was nice to meet you, Rob.”
“I’ll see you around, Lizzie,” he waved, distracted, as he wandered into the kitchen out of view.
I was a bit disappointed he didn’t respond to my offer, but then again, he was at work. Leaving a generous tip, I slipped off my barstool and wandered to the front door. I needed to get home to sleep. It was almost morning, and by that, I meant sunrise. Who knows what my parents would say if they knew I was out all night?
Just then Rob poked his head back through the doorway. “Bubbles, Lizzie.”
“Try bubbles… for sleep,” he smirked before pushing back on the kitchen door.
I would be stopping at the grocery store on the way home… for a jar of bubble bath… preferably honeysuckle.
Reader Poll: Best tips to cure insomnia and fall asleep?
Author Note: Thanks for reading. Lizzie really did have trouble sleeping. She would only lay down for cat naps. So I had her start to explore the town. Rob, the bartender, engaged in four autonomous “deep conversations” with Lizzie throughout the night, much to my surprise. Lizzie rolled for a ‘deep conversation’ whim once during the night also. Rob apparently really wanted to talk to Lizzie. ‘To Boldly Go Discover Things’ is a play on Star Trek… sort of… an inside joke with a friend of mine. Hope you enjoyed. 😉