For want of quiet sleep

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Let’s face it — it doesn’t matter how nice the truck stop is, how well-spaced the lot is, or how many people are there, you’re bound to get woken up at least once a night when trying to sleep in one.

Well I am, anyway.

The only time it’s quiet enough for me to sleep the night through, we’re out by ourselves somewhere, in grave danger of alien abduction or, at the very least, spider bites and government mind control. That’s probably why I sleep so well in the desert: the government is using my brain waves (while I’m out there snoring) to post pictures of cats on the Martian Internet. Holy crap. I may never sleep again.

I’ll admit to sometimes getting a little cranky about people who feel the need to scream at the tops of their lungs during the night in truck stop parking lots while decent people are trying to sleep. I may have screamed, “SHUT THE HELL UP!” back at them through the wing vent once or twice, and on one rare occasion I briefly considered unloading a 10-round 9-mm clip into the engine block of an ancient Pete that whistled and squealed like a scared rabbit all night long, just to put it out of its misery and get some shut-eye. Sometimes, it’s hard to make friends on the road.

Alien invasion?Alien invasion?

We had been in wind and rain for two days, and George was exhausted. He will tell anyone wind is the worst enemy out there. You can’t see it coming, and once you’re in it, there’s no turning back. You just buckle down and fight, or pull over and wait and hope you don’t turn into a sail. I hate riding in the wind. It’s the only time I ever feel even close to seasick. The combined motion of air-ride seats gently bouncing up and down with the cab swaying side to side makes my cochleas freak out, and I get dizzy. (Word of the day: cochlea (kok-lee-uh) – spiral membrane in the inner ear, contains the Organ of Corti, which is fluid-filled and assists with balance. Also fun to say over and over again. And doesn’t “Organ of Corti” sound like an alien brain? What’s this post about again?)

George was sound asleep, and I had just barely rolled off the edge into la-la land when it started.

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We both sat straight up. George was already unwrapping himself from the bunk and heading to pull the curtain to look out.

“Oh. My. God. It’s aliens, isn’t it? They’re just gonna take the whole lot, they don’t care. It’s the honey badgers of aliens, isn’t it? They’re talking about putting nickles in us! They’re not even BB aliens!”

He was exhausted, stumbling around in the dark, and disoriented. Let me paint a better picture. He looked like a huge, crazy Viking in a GetLoaded tee shirt. When he pulled the curtain, I couldn’t see his face, but I’m sure it was all the more terrifying when he fell forward and smashed it against the window.

“Are you OK? I mean, it doesn’t really matter because we’re about to be abducted, but…”

“Please be quiet.”

“Is it aliens?”

“Yes, but not the kind you’re thinking of.”

I immediately scrambled to the window. The kind of alien I was thinking of was the garden variety; big head, tiny body, gray, hairless, you know, the things that haunt my nightmares. I couldn’t imagine another kind of alien lurking outside the window. I had to see.

“Where are they?”

“He jumped back in the truck when I pulled the curtain. I think I scared him. He was trying to help his partner back a flatbed in.”

“The aliens are backing a flatbed in beside us? Ohmigod we’re first on the menu.”

“Babe, it was an Asian guy, not an alien. I don’t think he realized he was standing right beside our heads when he was yelling. They’re pulling out, I’m going back to bed.”

He was in the bunk and asleep in four and a half seconds. As a matter of fact, it was so quick I’m not entirely certain we didn’t experience some time-loss phenomenon. I’m not the only weird thing on the road. Keep your tinfoil hats close and beware the aliens in flatbeds.