Princess and the 21st Century Space-Age Mattress

By on Sep 25, 2016 in Fiction, Humor

Space foam mattress with pea overlay

Pete, my roommate, is a strikingly handsome guy; he’s tall, blonde, strong, jovial, and he’s equipped with what a girlfriend of mine once described as, “A face to die for.”  My girlfriend.  She said that about Pete, to me.  Thanks, honey.

Pete’s got this problem, though.  Pete only dates crazy people.  I know what you’re thinking: “Women, am I right?”  No, you’re wrong.  I mean, wait, Pete dates women, yes, but not in the “all women are crazy” sense.  The women Pete finds are straight-up straightjacket insane.  Like “throw lobster carcasses at people” crazy.  At a wedding reception, this girl is taking hollowed lobster exoskeletons out of the garbage and throwing them at people screaming, ‘Lobster zombies!’  Classy.  One girl worked for the Jerry Springer show, but she was crazier than the people Jerry interviewed.  She threw wine in my face.  In real life.  Not on a scripted sitcom, in real life.  One girl left her shoes at my dad’s house.  She walked out barefoot.  She must have realized she forgot her shoes as soon as she stepped outside.  Did she turn around and get them?  No, she just left.  Then she yells at me for not bringing her her shoes.  These women are borderline disastrous, but Pete falls hard for them.  Real hard.  So when Pete starts dating this girl, Kristin, I’m understandably wary. 

Kristin is a tall, blonde, beautiful, smart, educated woman.  She is a nurse.  She seems fantastic for Pete.  She seems too good to be true.  Pete is smitten, but that’s nothing new.  If anything, that makes my skepticism more acute.  She’s funny, articulate, energetic, and caring.  It seems like she actually cares about what Pete thinks and feels.  I’m onto you, crazy!  I’m not letting my guard down that easy.  You can’t fool me.  We’ve been down this road before.  I’ll figure out your deal.  Don’t think I’ll let you slowly suck Pete’s soul whilst I sit idly by.  Just because you’re sleeping with Pete, don’t think I’m not watching you.  Wait.  Not like that.  You know what I mean.

She’s not sleeping with Pete.  Pete tells me she’s been hurt before and doesn’t want to jump into anything.  Pete’s been hurt before, but he’ll jump into anything, so this is probably good for him.  I’ll allow it.  For now.  Months pass, and she still doesn’t spend the night.  I decide it’s time to tell Pete that he’s been friend-zoned.  Kristin probably thinks Pete is her gay best friend.  Pete’s been mistaken for gay before.  Jigs up, woman!  Over some Scotch, I tell Pete the bad news.

She has been sleeping with Pete.  Apparently, that development came to pass with no one asking my permission.  Fine.  I just didn’t notice, because she doesn’t sleep with Pete.  She does not spend the night.  This must be it.  She must be a vampire lady!  She must stalk the night, attacking people on the street under cover of darkness instead of under Pete’s covers.  Pete explains that she simply isn’t comfortable sleeping over.  I don’t mind.  Let her sleep over.  But apparently, nobody was waiting on my permission for this, either. 

No, it’s not the propriety of the situation,”  Pete clarifies. “She’s not comfortable.  Like, my bed sucks.”

This makes sense.  Pete’s bed is old.  It has stains on it.  It has an uneven landscape.  Like the moon,  it’s covered in overlapping craters.  It was probably in this house before Pete was.  It was probably Pete’s dad’s bed growing up.  Well, I’m not losing sleep chasing her through the night to prove her insanity.  I can use this to my advantage.  I’ll let her come to me.  I formulate a devious plan to reveal her nocturnal psychosis.  I initiate my espionage with a casual, “You should get a more comfortable bed.” Now, with my plan fully in motion, I wait for the trap to spring.

Pete gets a new bed.  An expensive new bed.  A fancy futuristic bed.  Space foam!  A mattress with its own memory!  Like a computer!  A slab of NASA-engineered sleep induction.  I felt drawn to it.  I wanted to feel its power.  I lay down on this twenty-first century incubation system just to feel the capabilities of such a mattress and, without realizing it, the bed transported me several hours into the future.  Let’s see this pretty little sorceress get out of this one.

That night I was working downtown.  I work late, and by the time I bicycle home, it’s three in the morning.  Her car is in the driveway.  It’s quiet.  Too quiet.  Hmmm.  Is she sleeping?  Is she sane?  Am I wrong about her being an evil succubus that terrorizes the night?

I eat dinner when I come home from work.  That’s normal for me.  I make soup.  I always make soup.  Soup is easy on the tummy, which is crucial when you eat so late.  I open and close a bunch of cupboards, I listen to music, I flip through the selection of cauldrons with which to bubble my toil and trouble.  The stove click-click-clicks­ before coming to life.  The microwave beep-beep-beeps tolling the defrosting of the chicken.  I hum to the music as the beans clink-clink-clink into the pot.

I’m stirring my boiling soup when I hear a new sound.  A creaking of the floorboards.  I glance into the living room.  A figure is approaching me!  “AAAHHHHH!”  I composedly respond as my arms flail out and my footing forsakes me.

“AAHHH!”  Responds the apparition, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,  oh jeez!  Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.  Are you okay?”

Kristin lunges into the kitchen to strike me down in the night!  The crazy lady has lain her own trap!  I’m the victim of another folly of Pete’s love life!  Or, rather, she’s reaching to help me to my feet.  We grasp hands.  She lifts me.  Cannellini and quinoa cascade off my bathrobe as I stand.

“Sorry,”  she says, “I just couldn’t sleep, I think I’m gonna go home.”

“It’s late,”  I say, “why don’t you stay?”

Suddenly, in my mind’s ear, I rehear the clicks, beeps, and clinks.  I relive the clanging of cookware and the clapping of cupboards; noises that Pete, being a deathlike sleeper, has never heard or brought to my attention.

“Did I wake you?”  I ask.

“No, it’s your house, you’re fine.”  She lies.  “Let me help you clean up this mess.”

“No, it’s my house, you’re fine.”  I say.  “Go get some sleep.”

I clean my dinner off the floor thinking on this revelation.  She’s not leaving in order to torment the souls of the living in the night.  The only banshee haunting this house is me.  I look up and picture the layout of the house.  Pete’s bedroom is directly above me.  I’m ashamed.  I feel about as small as one of the peas in my soup pot.  The twentieth-century-space-age mattress is directly above, and what keeps her awake is this one little pea. 

That’s how you test for a princess, right?

They’re getting married in July.


Mat Labotka was raised in a quaint small town just outside of Chicago. Having lived in Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Chicago, and now Brooklyn, small-town suburbia seems like another lifetime. Mat studied performance and theatre at Marquette University. Since then he has worked in every type of performance he could get his hands on: musical theatre, drama, children's storyteller, commercial, film, and voice-over. He studied comedy at Chicago's Second City and the iO (formerly improv Olympic) and thereafter wrote and performed comedy, whether sketch, stand-up, improv, comic books or literature. Mat is currently working on a comic book, 'Riled Up!' and a series of comedic stories based on Life in the Suburbs.