The first time the nightmare hit, Bonnie burst into my room holding a baseball bat. I was sitting in the middle of the bed, the covers wrapped around me, by the time she figured out there wasn’t some assailant here who’d broken in to attack me.
“You just took a year off my life, I swear,” she said. “Nightmare?”
I just nodded, trying to calm my shaking. She sat down beside me and attempted to put her arm around me but I pulled away. Right then I didn’t want to be touched. She got that, just patting my blanket-covered shoulder.
“Want to tell me what it was about? Sometimes that helps to keep it from coming back again.”
I knew she wouldn’t leave it alone until I told her something. She’s that kind of woman, very caring and concerned. So I came up with a story about some dude in a mask coming after me with a chainsaw.
She shook her head, amused. “Honey, you have to stop watching my horror flicks before going to bed. That’s right out of a hack-and-slash one I have.”
I knew that, which is why I made it the supposed focus of my nightmare. No way was I going to tell her the real one. I gave her a sheepish look and admitted that was probably the truth. After she decided that I was calmed down enough to go back to sleep, she picked up the bat and left, wishing me pleasanter dreams before closing the door behind her.
I was too wired to go back to sleep. A glance at the clock on my bedside table told me it was just after midnight, not too late to go out and walk off the fear that the nightmare had left behind. After dressing quickly, I ran a wet comb through my hair to tame it, put on a touch of make-up, and slipped out of the apartment.
The night was chilly but the air was bracing, clearing my head of the last bits of the nightmare by the time I saw the club a few blocks from the apartment. The only way I knew that’s what it was, was the bouncer sitting on a stool in the doorway checking a couple’s ID. I was still wide awake so I decided to see what was what. He let me in with no problems although he did look me over with a knowing eye. I guessed that anyone who came there unescorted was looking to hook up and he probably thought he should have first dibs.
It was a noisy place, the jukebox blaring while people tried to talk loudly enough to be heard over the music. It took me a while to find someplace to settle, not that I didn’t have offers. This joint was a real meat market I decided after the third guy in a row made an offer I was quite willing to refuse. I finally found a seat at the end of the bar and ordered a glass of ice water with a slice of lemon. The bartender gave me a funny look but fixed it for me, charging me a dollar. Creep.