It was ink black on a very cold night. Inside his apartment, after a night of insomnia, Tom finally fell into a deep peaceful sleep Saturday morning at 5 a.m., Tom had to work that Saturday so he would soon have to awaken and then get ready for his day of work only having had minutes of sleep.
At precisely 5:30 a.m., Tom and his dog Sam both jerked convulsively in the bed in a panic induced by the shrill piercing of the alarm clock going off. Tom reached for the snooze button and in a stupor unknowingly knocked the beeping clock off of the night stand and it fell behind the headboard wedged next to the wall in a very hard to get to place.
The alarm ringer kept perfect beat in a continuous ear-splitting tone. Tom grimaced as he kept reaching for the alarm clock on the nightstand. He could not understand why he could not find the snooze button or the alarm clock for that matter. The high-pitched stabbing “beep, beep, beep” kept tormenting him. Tom put his pillow over his head and rolled over on his side completely miserable.
Soon the dog who could hear about two hundred times better than Tom began to howl. Sam was a huge dog and had a healthy set of lungs to bellow. Tom reached for the nightstand again. Sam kept howling—Sam was getting louder as time went on.
In a flash of irritation, Tom sat up and groped about in the pitch-black room for the alarm clock on the nightstand. He finally realized that it was not on the wooden piece of furniture. But the shrill alarm was so loud he had a very hard time pinpointing where it was coming from. He began to get down on his hands and knees to look on the floor just when Sam jumped off of the bed to escape to the living room.
Sam’s 100-pound body jarred Tom and he tumbled headfirst towards the table stand. Luckily, Tom landed with both hands on the nightstand so he was not hurt.
But as Tom stood up in the pitch-black room, he kicked the wooden base of the stand hard and square with his bare foot and his right big toe began to pound with pain.
Tom thought I broke that toenail– I know I did– and now I will have to rip that nail off to get into my dress shoes for work. Tom shuddered at the idea.
Sam was still howling, only now he was howling in the living room. Sam and the infinite alarm beeping had also awakened Tom’s next-door neighbor early on that Saturday morning. Tom’s neighbor began loudly banging on his wall of the adjoining apartment.
Tom ignored this as he impotently waved a dismissing arm in the direction of the wall as if to say go away. He got down on his hands and knees and began to look for the alarm clock groping about in the dark with his hands. He could not see or feel anything. Beep, beep, beep…
Soon the neighbor was banging on Tom’s front door. Sam ceased his howling and began to boom out barking at the knock on the door. Sam woofed and snarled at the crack near the bottom and then scratched at the metal door.
Tom’s ears where throbbing from the alarm—but then salvation. Tom realized that all he had to do was simply unplug the clock from the wall socket. But this was not exactly straightforward. Tom had plugged the alarm clock cord into a six-plug outlet RadioShack splitter. All six plugs were in use and six ungrounded cords came out of the sockets. He did not know each cord powered. Tom just jerked one cord out of the fixture at random. But it was not the plug to the alarm clock. The beeping continued to pierce the dark.
Beep, beep, beep…this was all driving Tom insane.
Angry now, Tom grabbed all five of the other cords and jerked them all out at once. Tom was terrified to see bright sparks spit out of all five outlets at him; he fell backwards and knocked his head hard against the nightstand. He could cry or say a bad word. He said a bad word.
Luckily, the alarm clock had stopped beeping and soon Sam stopped his booming barking as the neighbor gave up and quit knocking on Tom’s door. Everything was all right now and Tom could finally relax and get ready for work.
Tom stumbled in the dark and went to turn on the bathroom light. Nothing happened. He tried to turn on the bathroom fan. Nothing happened. Tom realized that he had shorted the breaker box when he jerked the sparking cords out of the wall all at once.
The breaker box was outside behind the apartment and Tom was only wearing his boxer shorts. He could not simply go outside in the cold and flip the breaker switches. He had to shower and dress first.
Tom made his way to the chest and drawers and found a pen light in a top drawer; he put it in his mouth. It only came on when he bit it so he had constantly to keep his teeth clenched on it. To make sure the breaker was fully tripped he tried to turn on the living room light and the kitchen light. Nothing happened.
On the way back, by shining the pen light at Sam, Tom saw he was slumbering peacefully on his dog bed and blankets in the living room.
Tom made it back into the bedroom closet. He stripped out of his boxers and threw them in the dirty clothes. He sucked up the saliva running down the pen light. He made his way into the bathroom and started the shower. Then armed with a pen light and a soap bar he showered by the dim incandescent light. The light was getter dimmer all of the time; the batteries were running out of power.
Tom got out of the shower, went to the sink and shaved by pen light illumination. His light went off several times and he had to shake and bite it again and again to get the light to shine.
With the electric heater now off it was already chilly in the apartment. Tom grabbed his hairdryer. Nothing happened when he turned it on by habit.
Getting out of the bathroom with wet hair, Tom looked for the alarm clock to check the time, which he did not see– it was wedged behind the headboard under the bed—not to mention it was also unplugged. Tom knew he had no electricity as soon as he did these things but he kept trying to use electrical components for some irresistible reason.
Then the gray dawn’s light slowly began to stream in from the horizon through the bedroom windows so Tom knew that it must be after 6: 30. This meant he was running late. Tom’s boss was not exactly and understanding man, so Tom had to hurry.
Out of the corner of his eye, Tom saw that Sam was back on the bed looking at Tom curiously with his head tilted to the side as dogs sometimes do.
Looking into the closet with his slobbery pen light between his teeth Tom began to get his suit jacket, pants, shoes, socks and tie out of the closet and laid them on the bed. When he looked for a pair of fresh boxers there were none.
Then the pen light suddenly dimmed and went out again. Tom shook it. He bit it. He tried everything but it did not come back on. So Tom got on his hands and knees and felt through the dirty clothes hamper in dark closet. He found his old pair of drty boxers.
He had one stroke of luck. He realized that if he turned his underwear inside out that he could safely wear them for another day—maybe even two.
Now with more light coming into the room he took his boxers and rolled them inside out. Balancing on his right leg, he inserted his left leg into the left leg hole of his boxers. Then reversing the legs, he balanced on his left leg as he began to put his right leg in the other leg hole of the boxers.
However, his foot with the torn toenail caught the bottom of the leg hole. Tom was hopping about on his left leg trying to get his foot uncaught. But he lost his balance and his right leg came down hard with his foot still stuck in his boxers. Tom heard a loud rip as the boxers split in half all down the back seat. Tom said another bad word. Tom stepped out of the boxers to look at them. They were not pretty but they were wearable.
As Tom held the white cloth boxers in the morning light, Sam bounded off the bed and chomped down on the torn rag of cloth. With iron jowls, Sam pulled and jerked the boxers in his mouth, yanking his head from side to side. Tom pulled back to save his boxers.
Sam was having fun in a full-out tug of war. Tom was irritated, “Sam! No! Bad Dog!” yelled Tom. But Sam was having too much fun. And after bit more pulling Sam won when the boxers ripped completely in two and the dog left gloriously with his spoils to chew on them on his living room bed.
Tom said, “Why me? God hates me. That’s why.” He looked up into the sky and shook his fist. “You’re pushing me.”
Tom had to dress sans boxers. He could see to button his shirt and then he put on his tie. He slid into his suit pants and zipped up his slacks quickly.
Suddenly Tom said two very loud, very bad words. Part of Tom was dangerously stuck in-between the zipper tracks. In terror, Tom backed the zipper in reverse along the tracks in excruciating pain. He stopped in agony. He was going to have to unzip it fast, just like pulling off a Band-Aid, Tom. In anticipation, involuntary tears ran down Tom’s cheeks.
After a very deep breath, Tom yanked the zipper back down the tracks and freed himself. Tom now covered with sweat, exercised great care; he gently pulled the zipper back up along the tracks slowly. The maneuver had been a success.
Tom sat down on the bed to put his socks on in comfort. His left sock went on like a lamb glove. The second sock snagged on his right toe. Remembering kicking the stand with his big toe, he carefully removed the sock and saw the toenail torn off halfway down into the quick. It was much too deep for clippers. Just like a Band-Aid, Tom.
With a rip, he winced and the torn toenail lay clenched in between his thumb and forefinger. Looking down at his toe, the nail was not a problem anymore but bleeding definitely was. Dripping blood spotted the carpet.
Tom hopped on one leg to the toilet, sat down, and jerked about10 sheets of toilet paper off of the roll. Tom folded this in half several times lengthways and then quickly and wrapped the bleeding toe until a large white ball of tissue was sitting on the end of his toe, turning red, looking like a clown’s nose. This would never fit in his sock and shoe.
Then Tom had an idea. He hopped into the bedroom and opened a drawer on the nightstand, dusted off a very old box and he got a condom out. This would be the first practical use Tom had ever had for a condom. He knew they would pay off one day.
He hopped back to the bathroom bleeding. He took the condom and got a tube of Neosporin. He put the whole tube of ointment in the end of the condom and tried to roll it over his big toe. But Tom had the condom on inside out and it would not roll onto his toe. In despair, Tom reversed the condom and tried to remove the Neosporin with his fingers from the wrong end and smear it into the right end.
Finally, it rolled on, but there was a lot left unrolled and the condom would not stay on his big toe. But suddenly Tom had a brilliant insight. Tender toed Tom hopped into the kitchen and found a bag of Wonder Bread with two slices left inside. He removed the twist- tie from the bread package and secured the condom. The toe still bled but the blood stayed inside of the condom. It did not drip blood. The toe condom was an overwhelming success.
Tom very carefully put on his right sock and dress shoe. He stood on it with a scowl. It was painful, but it would work.
Tom sprinted in the kitchen and poured Sam a bowl of kibbles. Tom was running critically late, plus he had not bought any groceries that week. He would have to eat at Jack and the Box and reset the breaker outside when he got home from work.
Tom grabbed his keys, opened, exited his door and then limped down three flights of apartment stairs wincing on each step.
Tom slid into his car and put the key in the ignition. He turned the key and heard “click.” He turned the key several more times and heard nothing. Tom had left his lights on the day before when he got home from work. Tom stared straight ahead at nothing. Then he put both hands on his steering wheel and furiously jerked and shook it with his arms and shoulders while banging on the horn, which made absolutely no sound.
Tom was utterly defeated as he slowly got out of the car and ripped his slacks cuff on the door. He did not even care anymore. There was no way he could make it to work. Tom just decided with an overwhelming sense of peace that he was going to go back upstairs and go back to bed—even if it meant that he got fired.
Tom walked back behind the apartment complex and reset the switches to his breaker box. He looked up and saw his kitchen light illuminate his third floor apartment.
Tom slowly limped back up the three flights of stairs and opened his apartment door. He saw Sam sitting on his dog bed, relaxing and chewing on Tom’s drool covered boxers remains. Shutting the door Tom said, “Hello Sam, we’re taking the day off.” Sam just wagged his tail whacking it against the living room wall with a loud knocking; Tom’s next-door neighbor started banging on the adjoining wall again.
Tom’s stomach grumbled and he mourned not being able to get to Jack in the Box for breakfast. Tom realized that he had nothing to eat in the house. Then Tom remembered the Wonder bread. Two pieces—perfect for toast.
Tom loved toast. It would be the only good part of his morning. Then he would relax for the rest of the day and get back into bed.
Tom went into the kitchen and Sam followed happily. “No Sam, this is for me. Sorry.” Sam just looked up at Tom and panted with big-mouthed smile. Tom reached for the two pieces of white bread. One slice was normal and one was the heel of the loaf. Taking both in hand, Tom turned to go to the toaster.
He lost his grip on one slice and almost caught it twice as it fell down to the floor. Tom reached for the slice only to see Sam snap it up, tilt his head up, and wolf it down in three quick bites. Tom did not even try to say anything to Sam.
Tom jealously guarded his remaining heel slice of bread. It was still enough for a breakfast. He slid it into the slot on the toaster and pushed the spring-activated tray holder down, starting the toaster. Tom’s mouth watered thinking of browned crispy toast.
Instantly the phone began to ring. Tom did not want to answer the call, as he knew it was his boss. Just before the call rolled over to the recording machine, Tom picked up the phone. “Hello?” About 45 seconds of squawking came from his boss on the other side of the receiver. It was the boss telling him he was late, this was the last time, and asking how soon would be in for work.
Tom paused, “I can’t come in today sir due to circumstances beyond my control.” More squawking came from the other end. “It’s a long story sir, I had an alarm clock malfunction, I injured my foot, I had a temporary power outage, my car won’t start, I am bleeding, and I ripped the cuff on my pants…and oh yeah, I am not wearing any underwear.”
Squawking ensued and then suddenly again came the terrible sound. An ear-splitting Beep, Beep, Beep.
“Sir,” Tom shouted over the beeping, “I have to go!” A more concerned tone of squawking came from the phone this time. “Oh no sir,” yelled Tom. “It is not a fire. It is worse. You made me burn the toast!”