ISSN 1545-2859




               KYLE KILLEN

The Taste of Tuesday

For as long as anyone could remember, Davis had suffered from an abnormally severe case of sleepwalking. With clockwork regularity he’d rise from bed about a half-hour after lying down, and then off he’d go.

What separated Davis from other sleepwalkers was how productive he tended to be. Rather than just mindlessly wandering, he often took up chores like sleep vacuuming, or sleep wall-painting, or sleep furniture-rearranging, all of which made it hard for him to keep a roommate. At first they enjoyed the spotless floors and they oohed and aahed at the way the walls turned from cream to yellow to midnight blue as if by magic. And there was certainly something to be said for the surprise of coming downstairs to discover the couch was now by the window and the table was near the lamp. For a while it seemed like Christmas every day. But eventually the sound of Santa doing his manual labor at night wore thin. The vacuuming at three a.m., or furniture grinding across the floor at four, it just got to be too much. Sorry, they’d all say, you’re a nice guy, but they needed their rest, and so off they’d go.

Davis felt worse each time his affliction drove another roommate away. And yet each time he had little choice but to go out and find a new one. As productive as Davis tended to be in his sleep, he was less so when he was awake. For several years he’d worked doggedly as a cashier at the grocery store where, despite his best efforts, he simply couldn’t seem to move fast enough to earn a coveted promotion to the express line. In truth, his own line was one of the slowest, and shoppers in the know would avoid it, even if it was shorter. Occasionally the manager threatened to send him back to stocking shelves, but somehow he always did just enough to hang on. Still, the express line and the raise that would come with it continued to elude him, so to make ends meet Davis was forced to keep taking on roommate after roommate. And just when it seemed this parade of faces might never end, Davis discovered Roy.

Roy had a bit of a sleepy look to begin with, but when Davis warned him about his nighttime activities Roy just shrugged and said, won’t bother me.

And at first he was exactly right. Not only did Roy not mention the sleep vacuuming or sleep furniture-rearranging, he never seemed to notice the changes. Wherever the couch ended up, he’d simply take a bowl of cereal and have a seat, as if it had been there all along.

But as with everyone else, the time came when Roy could not ignore Davis’ nighttime handiwork. Davis began adding sleep building to his unconscious agenda, making birdhouses, cabinets, and even a set of nifty TV trays. The quality of these items was never in question, but a large part of sleep building centered around sleep hammering, and that proved too much for even Roy.

But rather than apologize, give up, and move on, Roy did something ingenious, something none of the others had even thought to do. He’d grown up around dogs and he knew that when the dogs were driving you crazy, the best thing to do was just let them out. So one night when the sound was too much for him, Roy groggily went downstairs and opened the front door, and sure enough Davis dropped his hammer and mindlessly wandered right out. Roy happily went back to bed.

It worked so well, Roy decided to make the practice standard. He simply left the front door wide open each night as he went to bed, and Davis would rise shortly thereafter and walk right out. No more sleep vacuuming, no more sleep hammering, just the brief patter of Davis’ feet clomping down the stairs, and then silence as he disappeared into the night.

But even with the whole city to roam, Davis still seemed unsatisfied with simply walking in his sleep. So one night, two blocks over and three houses down, he wandered into an unlocked tool shed, stumbled upon a set of clubs, and sleep golfing was born.
He’d cross the street to the local course and sleepwalk his way through eighteen and occasionally thirty-six holes of driving, chipping, and putting, then return the clubs and head home. All seemed right with the world.

Mr. Watson, however, found himself troubled by the strange sensation that his clubs were never exactly where he remembered them being the day before. A retired detective with a naturally suspicious eye, he had a habit of turning casual oddities into full-blown cases, which he then named in order to keep track. There was ‘The Case of Who Took My Goddamn Car Keys’, or the ‘The Case of Who Left The Remote In The Refrigerator’, and so on. In this, which he dubbed ‘The Case of Who Keeps Slightly Moving My Golf Clubs In An Effort To Drive Me Mad,’ he suspected his wife, who sometimes played tricks in quiet retaliation for all the football he insisted on watching. But after grilling her extensively, he conceded that she was in fact innocent. He decided a stakeout was in order and made himself three jelly sandwiches and trained his eyes on the shed.

It was about eleven-thirty when Davis came marching into the backyard and put the golf bag over his shoulder. Gotcha, said Mr. Watson, pumping his fist at the idea of another case closed. But rather than tackle his suspect, or call the police, Mr. Watson sensed another mystery worthy of investigation, one he titled, ‘The Case of Why Some Guy Steals My Clubs Every Night And Then Just Puts Them Away.’ He dropped his jelly sandwich and quietly trailed after Davis.

When Davis simply walked to the golf course across the street and set up shop on the first tee, Mr. Watson was disappointed. Using golf clubs to play golf wasn’t very mysterious at all. Unsatisfied and suddenly tired, he was about to yell something like Halt! or The Jig Is Up!, when Davis hit his shot.

Mr. Watson stopped cold.

In addition to being big on mysteries and football, Mr. Watson had seen more than enough golf to recognize a good swing when he saw one. Amazing, he said, as the ball sailed perfectly down the middle of the fairway and rolled gently toward the moonlit green.

Davis picked up the bag and marched silently after his ball, and instead of calling out, Mr. Watson quietly followed and witnessed the best round of golf he’d ever seen with his own two eyes.

As long as the apartment was nice and quiet, it never occurred to Roy to wonder where Davis went or what he did. Then Mr. Watson showed up and excitedly explained that Davis had been borrowing his clubs to play golf every night, and not only that, he was incredibly talented.

Is that so, Roy asked while eating a bowl of cereal. That’s interesting, he mumbled with a disinterested tone. He closed the door, then took a seat on the couch, which had stayed by the window for some time now, and began to think.

It was a few mornings later, as Davis was ironing his apron for work, that Roy sleepily came in and handed him a small stack of bills.

Here’s your cut.

Excuse me?

Your cut of the winnings.

What winnings?

You’ve been golfing in your sleep. Some guy from the neighborhood and a few of his pals have been following you. I started taking bets. This is half of what I made.
Sleep golfing? Really?


But I don’t know anything about golf.

Me either.

But it’s not keeping you up at night?

Doesn’t bother me at all.

Well, okay then.

For the rest of the day as Davis tried and failed to quickly scan his customer’s items, he found himself thinking about golf. On his way home he stopped by a driving range and got a bucket of balls and a club. He was anxious to see this new talent for himself. But for twenty minutes all he did was miss balls, hit them into the ground, to the right, the left, even letting go of the club a few times. It was never straight, it was never long, and after an errant shot dented the nearby water fountain, the manager asked him to leave. Davis was thoroughly confused.

Soon the small crowd got tired of simply betting on whether or not Davis would make a particular shot, and Roy started to arrange midnight matches with club pros and the like. After Davis soundly defeated all of them, Roy set his sights a little higher and entered Davis in a tournament.

I need you to stay up all night tonight, Roy said one Friday evening.


You’re in a golf tournament tomorrow.

Davis considered protesting, but he looked at Roy and that sleepy smile on his face, and reminded himself how lucky he was to have found such a tolerant roommate.

Okay, he said, and then stayed up all night drinking coffee and watching reruns. Davis crawled into bed about a half-hour before tee time, and then beat the field by fifteen strokes.

Soon, every time he had a weekend off from the grocery store, he and Roy would head out to a tournament somewhere. As the purses grew, so did the crowds, and it seemed that everyone just had to see Davis. Though the galleries swelled, etiquette was usually sufficient to keep them quiet, but one Saturday in Omaha, Davis made a hole-in- one from nearly two hundred yards away, and the people erupted. Davis was a heavy sleeper to be sure, but the sound was enough to startle him awake.

Where am I, he said to Roy, who was carrying his bag.

Omaha. Golf tournament. Go back to sleep.

I can’t. I’m wide awake now.

Hmm, Roy said as they walked to the next tee.

Not knowing what else to do, he handed Davis a driver and stepped away.

Davis took aim, swung, and nearly drove it into the crowd. Worried he might hurt someone, he withdrew from the field. Shocked, the fans who’d paid good money to see him booed as he and Roy headed for the car.

But just when Davis’ career seemed ready to come undone, Dr. Huff stepped in and offered to help. A long-time physician and part-time inventor, Dr. Huff had been playing golf every Wednesday and Friday for the last twenty years, and he’d never laid eyes on anyone who could swing like Davis. So when he heard about the trouble in Omaha, he took it upon himself to design a special set of earplugs.

You could sleep through a war with these, he said happily, and Davis’ career was right back on track.

He quit the grocery store to focus on golf full time. It looked like the express line was never going to happen, and the tournaments were earning him more than enough to pay the rent. In fact, Davis could finally afford the place by himself, but he decided Roy had been so supportive, he’d let him stay as long as he liked.

Each day he woke to more news of the life he was leading in his sleep. He’d won another tournament, he’d made the PGA tour, he was going to be on television. Suddenly he understood what his roommates must have felt all the times they’d come downstairs to discover the walls painted green and the loveseat where the bookcase used to be.

On the course he was unstoppable. Where other golfers would fade and buckle under pressure, Davis would dreamily swing away. Tournament after tournament, he crushed his competition by historic margins.

After one of his first victories on the PGA tour, Davis was right in the middle of sleep autographing when he was approached by a savvy young agent named Marty. Marty pushed through the crowd of waiting children, held out a contract, and asked Davis to sign. Davis mindlessly autographed away and his career entered the next phase.

Soon he was everywhere. TV, magazines, buses, billboards, even on the front of Roy’s cereal boxes. All the while he continued to pile up the trophies. He had something no other athlete could claim. Not just greatness, perfection. Marty turned him into the most sought after name in advertising. His unbeaten streak stretched on, his legend grew, and some began to wonder if he might be the greatest athlete of all time. He’s so good, the headlines read, he does it in his sleep.

Suddenly Davis was waking up to millions of dollars and mountains of offers. Every time he’d wander downstairs Roy would greet him with more fabulous news. You won a major, you’re having a shoe named after you, you’re dating a supermodel. It seemed like a dream.

Eventually they moved out of the apartment and into a colossal mansion overlooking a golf course. Davis knew Roy would never be able to handle his half of the rent, so he made him the butler and let him stay for free. And though Roy never really seemed to get around to any cleaning or straightening, he answered the door if he heard it, and did his best to make sure Davis was ready for all his appointments.

Is Davis ready, the supermodel would say when she came to the door.

He’s just lying down, give him about half an hour, Roy would say. Then he’d get himself another bowl of cereal and retire to the couch.

As good as it sounded, Davis couldn’t help feeling like he was missing the fun. Whenever he was awake, everyone just seemed to be waiting for him to go to sleep. Consequently, despite being wildly popular and having legions of fans, the only people he ever really saw were Roy and Marty; his butler and his agent. The rest of the world was waiting for the lights to go out and the show to begin.

Once, Marty convinced the supermodel to have dinner with Davis while he was conscious, but it seemed they were incompatible. She didn’t care for questions, or answers, or talking in general. She’d grown fond of his brooding silences and was flattered by his unblinking stare. She seemed so pretty and kind, Davis couldn’t stand to disappoint her. He promised to sleep through the rest of their relationship.

Between the tournaments and photo shoots, the dates and endorsements, Davis had become a very busy man. He had so many things on his plate he was sleeping almost twenty hours a day and resorting to sleeping pills in order to keep pace.

But as busy and beloved as he was, Davis found himself increasingly bored and lonely. Eventually, he got a job working the night shift back at the grocery store just so he’d have something to do. But not many people came in, and the ones who did were disappointed to find out that the greatest athlete of all time, the guy who was dating the supermodel and staring at them from the magazine rack, was just some average grocery store clerk who wasn’t even fast enough to work in the express line.

I want to see it, he said to Roy one day after hearing the news of his latest exploits.

What do you mean?

I mean I want to be there. I want to see the crowds and the cameras, the handshakes and the kisses. I want to know what it all really looks like.

Hmm, Roy said. I could take pictures.

And he did. For the next week Roy followed Davis everywhere he went and took roll after roll of photographs. On Saturday night when Davis awoke Roy handed him a stack of one-hour photo envelopes and said, one week. It’s all there.

Sure enough, it was. There he was winning a tournament. There he was doing a commercial. There he was kissing his fabulous girlfriend. It certainly looked like he was having fun. But for all he could see, there was nothing he could feel. The pictures were flat and had no insides.

What’s wrong, asked his butler.
Nothing. These are great. I was just hoping if I saw them I might be able to remember some of it. But I don’t.


Nothing. Just bits and pieces of some dreams.

Are the dreams like the pictures?

No. They’re mostly about Tom Cruise eating people with secret teeth and a bunch of pregnant women riding a talking bus. Nothing like the pictures.

He flipped through the stacks again with great sadness.

Hmm, Roy said, and then he grabbed some cereal and retired to the couch, which had stayed by the window for far too long.

His star was so bright, his face so bankable, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling. Marty landed Davis a part as a deaf mute in a heartbreaking drama about love on a farm in the 1950’s, and just as he had with golf, Davis stumbled into another of his previously untapped talents, sleep acting.

The film opened to rave reviews and thunderous crowds. His performance was so real, they all said, so selfless and devoid of ego. Had ever an actor said more without actually saying a thing? He ruled the box office for nearly two months and when spring rolled around he was considered a shoo-in for the Oscar.

So when Marty and the supermodel arrived in the limo on Oscar night, they expected to find Davis heading off to sleep. Instead, he was waiting by the door in his best tuxedo, wide-awake and ready to go.

What are you doing, Marty asked.

I want to go, he said.

You are going. We’re here to pick you up. Now get to sleep or we’ll be late.

I want to go like this.

You can’t.

Why not?

You just can’t.

Well, I am.

And he walked out to the limo. The whole way there they warned him, begged and pleaded with him to reconsider. You’ll wreck your career, you’ll ruin your image, Marty told him. You can’t let them see you this way.

But Davis was firm. I want see it, he said, see it with my own eyes. When they clap, I want to hear it with my own ears. When I get the trophy, I want to feel it with my own hands. And I want to remember all of it.

The limo pulled up to the red carpet and Marty and the supermodel made their final pleas.

Just a nap, Marty begged, we’ll bring you home early.

Sorry, Davis said, and opened the door.

When he stepped out and waved with a smile, a stunned hush fell over the crowd.

Is that supposed to be Davis? What the hell is he doing, someone asked.

Who’s that plain guy, someone else wondered.

He works at the grocery store, said someone, and he’s slow.

The supermodel made it only a few steps before diving back into the limo and leaving Davis utterly alone. The red carpet parted like the Red Sea and he walked slowly through the silence. All the reporters and fans leered at him like he was drunk, like he was crazy.

It’s over, they whispered.

Inside things only got worse. None of the celebrities would talk to him and the host teased him from the stage. When the time came to announce his award, the presenter was so distraught she briefly considered reading the wrong name because she’d heard that had been done before. But she lost her nerve and announced that Davis had won. As he rose, no one applauded, no one cheered. No one leapt to their feet, or hugged him, or wept tears of joy for him. Silence enveloped the auditorium and only his echoing footsteps tried to beat it back. He stepped to the podium where he turned and stared out at the sea of black ties and angry faces. He placed his hand on the little statue and hoped it would infuse him with joy, but it was just cold and lifeless, like all the other trophies he’d collected in his sleep. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat.

I’d like to thank, he began, but the orchestra swelled and large men moved in to usher him off stage. He walked behind the curtain, out the back, found his limo, and disappeared.

The coverage was so unkind, the reports so brutal and scathing that Davis couldn’t bear to turn on the TV or look at a paper. He just hid in his cavernous mansion, and prayed it would all go away. He longed for the days in the apartment, the days when he cleaned and painted and rearranged in his sleep, before he’d become an amazing athlete and an incredible actor.

He tried going back to the grocery store, but even they wouldn’t have him anymore, saying his presence was now distracting, and that a replacement had been found who was faster anyway. The tournaments refused him, the sponsors dropped him, and if he as much as stepped outside, someone was waiting to remind him what a disappointment he’d been. With nowhere else to go, Davis returned to his house, which his butler had allowed to grow dirty and stale, and for a while it seemed he might never leave again.

Then one day Marty and Dr. Huff arrived, big smiles on their faces.

Your troubles are over, said Marty.

We’ve got it all figured out, smiled Dr. Huff.

We can make it permanent.

You can sleep through ten wars, back to back.

What are you talking about, Davis said.

It’s a patch, you see. It administers a mild sedative, just enough to keep you unconscious. And as long as we swap the patch every week or so, there’s no limit to how long you could sleep.

And the best part is you’d already be sleeping so you’d never need to rest. You could work twenty-four hours a day! You’ll be printing money! Marty roared.

But no one likes me anymore. They’re saying terrible things.

If you’re permanently asleep, I can assure them you won’t pull another stunt like you did at the Oscars. Someone will let you play. It’s a forgiving country. You win a couple tournaments, I guarantee people will get back on the bandwagon, and the endorsements and movie deals will be quick to follow. You’ll be back on top in no time.

I don’t know.

Davis, you’re a very special individual. There are records to be broken, awards to be won. This is a chance for you to scratch your name on the face of history, to change the world. Surely you don’t want to waste that.

But when would I wake up again? I mean, when would I see you and Roy and the supermodel?

I suppose we could wake you when it’s over, when your golf game goes and you’ve broken all the records and won all the awards. Why, it’ll be great. By the time you wake up you’ll probably be married, have wonderful kids, and be a living legend. Who wouldn’t want that?

But I’d miss so much.

Marty let out a sigh. It’s up to you, Davis. You can go to sleep and live the life of your dreams, or you can stay awake and go back to being lonely and plain.

Davis sat down and thought about what it would be like to take a really long nap. How much things would change, how much he would change. He wondered if he’d even recognize himself when he woke up. It seemed like a crazy thing to do, but then he thought about destiny and about wasting his talent and for some reason it just seemed wrong to say no. He looked into the hopeful faces of his agent and the doctor, then around at his cluttered and dirty home.

Okay, he said, but on one condition. Once a week I want you to lock up the house and leave me inside to sleep vacuum and paint and rearrange. At the very least, I want to know I’ll have a clean home when I come back.

Don’t you have a butler for that sort of thing?

He’s not really that kind of butler.

Fine. No problem.

Davis took a deep breath and then nodded. Just give me a few hours.

He took a walk and tried to remember everything just the way it was. The smell of the air, the feel of the heat, the taste of a Tuesday. He hoped some of it would stay with him, find its way into the years of dreaming that lay ahead. He watched the sun go to bed and under the blanket of night, he wandered home to do the same.

He found Roy sitting on the couch, eating from a cereal box that no longer bore his face.

I’m going to sleep now.

Okay, Roy said between bites.

I don’t know when I’ll wake up again.

Do you mind if I borrow your car?

You can have it.


Someone will drive me.


Davis started out of the room and then paused at the stairs. Roy?


Would you do something for me?

Sure. What is it?

Take lots of pictures.

Copyright © 2004 Kyle Killen. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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