It’s Saturday night. I know I’ve forgotten something, but what it is escapes me. I watch Comedy.TV and about 1:05 I’m locking up and shutting off things in preperation for sleep. I crawl into bed and turn on the radio. It’s timer is set for 2 hours and is playing a local AM station WMRD.  When Radio Was is on. I’m listening to a 1951 episode of The Life of Riley with William Bendix. It’s a simple sitcom about a $59 a week riveter and his family. Chester A. Riley gets into an arguement with his daughter Babs and she leaves home. Hilarity ensues. It’s a simple comedy for simpler times. Usually by the time the second half hour starts up, I’m asleep. But I’m not. I switch over to WAQY FM in Mass. It’s an oldies station that has a pretty good playlist. I listen and can see the tires are stuck in a musical rut I don’t want to follow. I switch to WDRC FM, Hartford. Oldies again but a lot lighter than WAQY. Late 60’s and early 70’s music that eases me into sleep, but not tonight. My brain is flashing on an idea for a story. It’s fragmented but I can do it.

It’s 3:30 and I’m not asleep. I turn on the nightstand lamp and look around for something that will knock me out. A quick trip into the kitchen to get a drink of water solves the problem of why I’m not sleeping. A check of my meds dispenser tells me that I forgot to take my night meds. They’re mostly to slow my brain down and let me sleep. I know if I take them at 3:30 I’ll sleep until at least one in the afternoon. On my way back to bed I pick up four Cds to ease me down. I pick Tom Waits’ Nighthawks at the Diner,  Bruce Sprigsteen’s The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Bonnie Rait’s Road Tested and The Best of The Band. I know, real fans don’t buy “Best of” CDs. They listen to every track on every CD. Sometimes I need a condensed version of the discography. Bruce hits the window sill, to active; Bonnie will get me listening to Slipstream her new effort; Tom’s music makes you listen because of all the in jokes and California references. So I’m listening to The Band. As soon as I put it in the player, I know what I’m waiting for, the last song and the voice.

The songs play out. Up On Cripple Creek, a song that tells a story of a man wanring his woman. The Shape I’m In talks about living in the city and reconciling that with a country heart. The Weight is a classic that everybody’s heard at least once in their life. It Makes No Difference is a love song that lets a man’s heart pour out. I’m still waiting for the song. Life Is A Carnival, life on the streets, and Twilight pass. Don’t Do It another man and another woman breaking his heart. Tears Of Rage goes by. Stage Fright brings up my own fears of standing in front of people and having them hear what I’ve written. Ophelia, another man, another broken heart. It’s next. Levon Helm’s death has haunted me all week. He did what he loved right up until the end. The sound came. “Virgil Caine is my name and I served on the Danville train.” The lone American among Canadians who brought his Tennessee roots to the music. They sang songs that were American, hill country American. Levon Helm’s voice is what drives The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. He puts life into a story that’s misunderstood by those whose lives it effects. I listen to the song and my mind wanders back to 1961. Catholic school and the Civil War centinery. Drawing cannons and posting articles from Life magazine on the bulletin board. I sympathized with the South. I did’t know the real reasons or ignored them. The South was more romantic. Fighting against invaders for their lifestyle the North didn’t understand. My views are still conflicted. Government guidance or individual rights. Slavery was the flashpoint. We still have the same issues today but they’re hidden behind idealogue jargon and ideas that whoever wins will bring the people just what they need.

It’s four a.m. I’m watching weather on WVIT. I’m getting tired of the weatherman popping up every ten minutes to tell me about what it’s going to be like today. They’re showing pictures of the sunrise over Rhode Island. It hasn’t got here yet. I’ve given up on sleep. I move out to the couch and channel surf until I wind up back at WVIT. My stomach is rumbling. I need breakfast. I wait until 7:30. The alarm clock goes off followed by the radio alarm. I crawl back into the bedroom to shut them off. The bed calls me back. Ignore it. You had your chance and you blew it. Pancakes and sausage with an ill-advised glass of iced tea. Back on the couch I watch the box and resolve to tough it out until eleven tonight.

It’s 2:30 and I missing a ballgame. I fell asleep. It’s going to really screw up trying to sleep tonight.  But I’ve still got the meds.