Nocturnal Bellum

The night this all went down was an unremarkable one. The night I mean, not the incident…

I found myself in the spare bedroom once again. Alana and I had been fighting. So, I took my furlough into the sanctuary of the second bedroom and hoped for calmer days in the morrow. A fruitless pruriency as it would turn out.

The causation of our ruction? I had expressed to her my displeasure towards her proclivity for lies, mistruths and intimate knowledge of other men, she felt I was being unfair in my protestation – so, we warred… Late into the night, actually.

Eventually, I would see myself rested uncomfortably atop of the spare and well used bed in the second bedroom, staring at the muted black, shadow coated ceiling above me. I cast angry gapes at it along with forlorn thoughts of armistice and reconciliation. This was the lullaby that would lead me to the land of slumber. I suppose in retrospect it is no wonder that what occurred next transpired as it did…

As it so often did and continues to do through to today, my mind began to bleed droplets of pernicious memory into the clefts of unwitting consciousness. Hijacking both rest and thought with merciless intent. On this night, this arbitrary evening of quarrel, the images, sights and sounds of a dead boy and his mother slithered iniquitously across the backs of my resting eyes.

I could hear the screams and incredulity that accompanied her flurrying fist falls to the hardwood floor above my head. I was knelt beside her dead baby boy, and she was upstairs receiving the news of his utterly final departure. These images grew in potency and vividness. Parts of me must have known that I was dreaming, because I was terrified and without movement. Hell, I was barely breathing. At least, that’s what the dream and my exsanguinating mind told me.

The reality must have been quite the juxtaposition; because I had woken Alana with horrid screams and moans of bereavement and anger. I know this because she would later tell me as much.

Alana said that she came into the room to find the covers discarded from the bed to the floor. She began calling my name, but I didn’t hear anything. Nothing except a distraught mother and her mournful fists hammering to the floor.

Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

“Matt! Matthew! Matty!!!” Try as she might, I heard nothing…

She said that in her failure to wake me with voice, she cantered over to me and clasped onto my shoulders, hoping to gently coax me into reticence. All I knew now, was that it felt as though I was being attacked. It felt as though harm was to befall me and my partner, Ryan. I screamed at him to run and then turned to face whatever was hunting us. To my shock, dismay and hefty obfuscation, all I was confronted by was the repellent sight of a dead boy swinging from a noose… The boy we had just tried to save had hung himself all over again…

I lunged for him while demanding “NO!” my arms raced ahead of my body and tried desperately to alleviate the burden of gravity from this boy. I grabbed hold, tightly and purposefully. I tried to lift but he refused to move. I looked back over my shoulder and could see Ryan still standing where he had been in that basement where the boy had been lain.

“Ryan! Help me!! HELP! RYAN!!!”

Ryan did not move. Ryan ignored me and my cries as if to say that I was not even there. Suddenly I felt a pawing at my shoulders – the boy was now a monster. He was pulling at me and tearing at my skin. I could feel the fire of lacerations etch themselves into my flesh as he tore at me with his fingernails.

Amidst all that, still more confusion; the boy’s voice changed suddenly. Though I had never heard him speak, not in the real nor in slumber, I could tell the voice didn’t match the body. The frantic crooning was of familiar tone and pace – it sounded like… but it couldn’t be, she wasn’t even there that day? …

Before I knew it, the scene of the basement had darkened itself. It was as though night had come within an instant. I was still pulling and lifting, but the imagery had changed. I could no longer see nor feel his blue shirt. Instead, I felt the sliding of silk against skin, the imagery was still unclear, hidden by shadow.

I felt my hands be torn away and thrown to the sides angrily. And then, a voice… her voice… Alana’s…

“Matthew! What the fuck?! What are you doing?!”

As if to be a puzzle, pieces of the world around me started to clasp into focus. The boy was gone, the basement was replaced by the walls of a room that I owned – I was home and in bed, Alana was before me now, somehow…


“What?! What are you doing?!”

“Sorry, I – I don’t… I don’t… What time is it?”

“You were grabbing me, Matthew!”

“What? No, I – “

“You ripped my nighty! What the hell is wrong with you?!”

“I – I – I’m sorry, I didn’t…”

It was of no use, nothing I could say would make sense nor replace the torn fabric of this woman’s silky night wear.

I leaned back in my bad, resting my boiling skin against the cool touch of the wall. My breathing was rapid and shaken. By this time, Alana was no stranger to my nocturnal peculiarities, nightmares were a common bed fellow for me… they remain that way too.

Her anger had diminished slightly. She was now seated next to me on the bed.

“What happened? What were you dreaming about?”

“Noth… The boy, I was trying to save the boy.”

The boy is a kid that I had responded to in real life. He hung himself in his basement. He was fourteen. My partner, Ryan, told the mother while I was still in the basement… her fists came in like artillery…

“Oh, you were moaning, I thought you might be having a sex dream? …”

Taken aback by her query I furrowed my brow and ejected a response, “What?! No! No…”

“Oh… so it wasn’t about me then?”

“I just told you what it was about!”

“Well it got my hopes up, I thought you would want to do it and be okay again – with us, I mean?”

“The fuck are you talkin’ about? Crazy cunt!”

“Matty, we’ve been fighting for like three days, don’t you think it would be nice to be together? Look what I’m wearing – silky, for you!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was so despondent and horribly confused with my surroundings still, that this entire conversation seemed scripted from a failed comedy.


I sat motionless and weighted for a few moments. Alana remained proximal to me, even though she knew I didn’t want her there at all. She accepted my silence as a form of invitation to begin touching me. She placed her hand atop of my thigh and began orating softly to me that everything would be okay. I resisted slightly, but if I am honest, nothing worthy of true contest. I knew what she wanted, she felt as though sex meant that the fight was done and the war won. I dunno, maybe for all those years she was right, sex meant defeat of me and my worth, no matter how valid my argument may have been.

I remember feeling angry. That rage swelled within me. I was either going to punch holes in walls, or fuck this woman to oblivion. I grabbed onto her hips and swivelled her into position. I was now behind her, I threw her hands against the wall and began to give away my convictions in the form of one thrust after the other. Steadily and angrily I pushed against her. Its as though I was trying to fuck chaos out of me… a nugatory undertaking.

I was in no mindset to be making love, having sex, or angrily fucking demons away. As such, the tool required to perform any of the aforementioned began to fail and slip away. I withdrew myself and was now standing with my hands on my hips at the end of the bed, pathetically gazing towards the floor.

“What? Did you? …”

“No, no I didn’t, Alana”

“Well, what’s the matter with you then? How come you stopped? You’re not even …”

“I dunno, ‘lana! I see dead kids! Smell piss, blood and burning bones half the time, I dunno, why don’t you fuckin’ tell me what you think is wrong with me?! You seem good at that! Fuck sakes!”

“It’s not my fault that you couldn’t save him! Don’t yell at me for it!!”

“What about the other dicks; are those your fault? Or am I to blame there too?”

The war was back on. I spent the rest of the night drinking and yelling at a woman who loved to hate me…

The take away from all this? My brain is a cantankerous son of a bitch! Being a paramedic was hard on me. Being in love was harder. Feeling like a failure and second rate man? The worst…

That’s the bleak version. The more realistic and more hopeful version? No one yells at me anymore. Well, other than me, from time to time. Also, dogs are better than people. No, really, they are!

Perhaps the biggest and most sincere takeaway from all this though, is this, I was unable and remain unable to save that boy, no matter how hard I tried. That doesn’t make it my fault, no matter what she said. And these days I am learning to save myself. I am working tirelessly to find the better part of me. And in doing that, maybe one day I can let the boy go, allow him his much needed rest and peace. A mutual separation.

I don’t know when that will be, no one does. But at least I am hopeful and sober enough to believe in that day…

Be well my friends. May you win the war…

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