Billy paced the living room, hands clenched. Marie was sitting on the green sofa, her face crushed into her hands. She imagined the ambulance arriving, and large men putting Billy into a straight jacket before driving him away. Then she would sit here, crying, trying to figure out how to explain it to their son Thomas.
“Listen, ok? Just listen.” Billy wiped a large hand across his red face. He was looking down as he paced, and the words struck Marie with their desperation.
“OK. Say it again. Will it suddenly make more sense?”
“Here’s the thing. I didn’t want to tell you. You pushed and pushed, and now you’re hearing it. They come for me at night, they take me right out that god damned window, and up into their ship. They make me still. I can’t move and can’t think. They fill my head with static. I’m frozen. I only remember the panic at the start, and the faces. Then I’m moving towards the window and everything gets confused.”
“It’s a dream. It’s a dream you have because you don’t take care of yourself. Or stress, and alcohol and…”, Marie let that hang in the air for a minute. “I know something is wrong, Billy. But no one is taking you out the window at night. I’d know.” She had slept beside him every night for thirteen years, and if the two hundred pound man floated out her window at night, she would know.
“Then they do something to you, too.” Billy was getting frustrated, but he knew he had to keep going. “Do you dream at night? Do you remember a dream last night? Did you wake up one time last night to pee or to get water and do you remember it?”
Marie swung her feet up onto the sofa setting the stage for the rest of the play. Her, the prone patient on a sofa, while the agitated therapist paced and questioned her. He should be the one lying here, she thought, not her.
“I remember nothing about last night. No dreams, no bathroom trips, just sleep. I slept soundly, and then I woke up. You were laying right there beside me when I opened my eyes. I don’t feel strange at all. You’re going through something, that’s all. You aren’t thinking straight.”
Billy swung around to face her. He stopped pacing, and he stared at her as she looked at him nervously. How did he think she would react, she wondered? It’s ridiculous. And yet he’d told her, and here they were. Billy had wanted to lay none of this on her. He knew it wouldn’t be a simple acceptance. Marie was smart and pragmatic, and even though she loved and respected him, she wouldn’t put aside her understanding of reality. She would look for the reasoning that made sense to her even though he knew what the reality was. His military time made all this even harder. He couldn’t be helpless, it wasn’t in his nature; and it wasn’t in his training. And knowing what was happening, he knew he’d have to make a plan. He wouldn’t let them take him in the night like some drug cartel warlord.
“It doesn’t matter if you believe me. I knew it would go badly when I told you about it. Just know - I will deal with it. I wanted you to know I would deal with this, so you would be ready.”
This made Marie sit back up. The last time Billy determined to go “deal with” something, he wound up in the county jail for punching Lester in the face after church two years ago. Lester had made overtures to Marie that were at first flattering. A comment about her dress, an offhand remark about her hair. But that turned into innuendo that wasn’t very gentlemanly. So she told Billy. She didn’t expect the result she got. Lester spent three days in the hospital, and Billy got a court date.
Billy let his face relax a little. “Listen honey, I’m going down to the cave for a while. I need to go down there for a little while and think.” The cave was what Billy called his workshop; a place where he tinkered with electronics, drank scotch and sometimes smoked a cigar underneath the ventilation fan. He knew the conversation was over. Marie wouldn’t suddenly come around to believing him, and he would not pretend he had changed his mind. “Don’t worry,” he said as he started to the door.
“Don’t worry? After what you told me? I’ll do nothing but worry. You need to go see Doctor James today, or you are sleeping on the couch. Can they take you out the window from the couch? You hear me, Billy?” He was already walking out of the room. Marie stared into the carpet. As the tears kept welling up, she stared through them at the blur of patterns and wondered what would happen next.