Three o’clock in the morning, I woke from a dream in which I was the only person wearing clothes in a room with about a dozen naked people. It turned out to be more uncomfortable than the dream where I’m the only naked person. I didn’t know where to look. I didn’t feel like I could look at anybody, but whoever I talked to acted as though I was being stupid if I averted my eyes.

Awake, I blundered through the darkness to the bathroom to relieve myself. I had a bad case of gas but couldn’t fart it away no matter how long I lingered on the throne after I peed. When I started to doze off, I got up and stumbled back to the bedroom.

But with my head on a pillow again, I fell back into sleep and the naked people returned. It was so startling that I snapped awake. I rolled over and settled into another position because, you know, that chases the dreams away, right? Wrong. More naked people, and again I snapped awake. Reposition, doze, naked people, awake! Once, it was a room full of naked robots that looked like people, walking past me without saying anything. Between that and my grumbling tummy, I didn’t doze off again.

By the time the clock chimed the half-hour I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get any more shut-eye before sunrise, but I wouldn’t admit it to myself until after four, when I finally got out of bed and grabbed a book off my bedside stand. I read three chapters of The Cat From Hue, John Laurence’s memoir of reporting for CBS news during the Vietnam war, before I got up again at five and started the ritual of making the morning pot o’ java.

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