FOI LINDA LERNER – An Unlikely Union – Issue 31

It was Tues., Jan. 12th, 9.p.m. The president was about to give his State of the Union address.  I was hovering between sleep and wakefulness for the past six days. My usual insomnia significantly worsened after eye surgery necessitated that I wear an eye shield for two weeks and sleep only on one side. The same side.

 I turned the TV on.  It didn’t matter what channel that night; someone earlier said that the speech would be non-traditional, short, and deal with America’s future. I tapped into the word non traditional. That was the route I need to take to get some relief. The tragic specter of Michael Jackson driven by desperation to get some sleep loomed up in my mind as I fought the urge to take more frequent sleeping pills.

 I watched The President slowly wind his way through the crowd  shaking hands, giving hugs; it didn’t stop. Having just finished reading Murakami’s A wild sheep Chase may have influenced my seeing everyone start to look like sheep. They were corralled tightly, in a large space that kept expanding to include more and more of them. I didn’t even consider counting them.

 I heard the President say, “…my fellow Americans,” and the sheep morphed back to people applauding wildly. His words rose to utopian heights; battles raged; one by one all our enemies were slain. I saw knights suited in armor slaying dragons. It looked like a scene from a medieval tale. The president’s voice broke through…”the most powerful nation on Earth…”

 I must have dozed off.  The knights and dragons were now gone. As though I were attached to an I.V. the president’s wordless voice flowed through me. I leaned back, relaxed, and took a few deep breaths. About 40 minutes had passed. Now every one’s features looked distorted: bigger ears, longer noses, twisted smiles as if reflected in a funny mirror. ZZZ’s slithered like snakes from a woman’s mouth as she dozed. Several men seated up front were dressed in military garb with enormous metals covering their chests, which looked like armor worn by the knights in my previous vision. They stared straight ahead, stone-faced.

 And then BOOM. The president’s voice launched a “moon shot” with the vice president in charge of mission control, headed “where no man has gone before” to cure cancer. If he could do that, I had nothing to worry about. What was insomnia compared to cancer.  I lay back, closed my eyes and let his honeyed voice course through every part of me. I woke to a new, glorious morning.

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