The Foreboding Bed

We drove through a tunnel of noise, adding our own tiny tinnitus to the cacophony of tinkling horns, ringing roads, buzzing bells, babbling motorways, looking for egress to ingress in some small motor motel to recess and relax and redress for a new beginning, a new morning, an internal spring, a fresh start. These motels are not hard to find, cities big and small all designed for the convenience of the motorist: the traveller, the travelling salesman on a limited per diem, the tourist on a budget, the trucker desiring a shower nap and cup of coffee, the rodeo rider on tour, the four piece garageband on a trip booked of small venue gigs, the soldier sailor or airman on leave on weekend pass or perhaps just Absent Without Official Leave, the family of four on vacation, the adulterous couple, the relocator, the lost, the looking, the hiding. The first place we pulled into because Sylvie liked the name: Motel In Vino Veritas. But the beds had coin operated boxes on the nightstands – for 50 cents you could make the bed vibrate for a couple of minutes – and Sylvie refused to stay in such a place, said such a bed forebode bad dreams.

“The Foreboding Bed” is episode 70 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.


Down in the basement storage room of Hotel Julian, rummaging through some old boxes, having been instructed by Dawn and Eve to conduct an inventory, I discovered a set of blueprints. I unrolled them on a dust covered desk. The old paper crinkled and popped and cracked a bit. The blueprints appeared to be remodeling plans from the late 1940’s, when to the building was added first floor retail space and large apartments leased long term were converted to smaller rooms for hotel use. The war years produced housing shortages around the port, quonset huts sprouted on empty parcels of land, and existing structures in the area were leveraged where possible for additional living space. The blueprints I stumbled across showed that the current Hotel Julian had not changed much since that late 1940’s renovation. The building occupied a small square block, and consisted of six floors (including the basement and rooftop). In the basement were three separate living space rooms with beds. One of these Dawn lived in, and Eve lived in another. The third was used as a day room for work breaks and lunches and housed a sickbed space for employees that fell ill or got hurt on the job. The basement also included a boiler and maintenance room (the upstairs rooms were heated by steam through a plumbing system using cast iron radiators), a laundry room, and the storage room. The first floor was used for retail space (current occupants as described in Episode 20 of this document). The other floors seemed today consistent with what I saw in the blueprints from the 1940’s: office, the bunkroom, and 4 day or hourly rooms on the 2nd floor (totalling 17 beds – 12 cots in the bunkroom, one single bed in each of the day or hour rooms, and one queen bed in the bedroom adjacent the office, where Julian lived); 12 size double bed rooms let weekly on the third floor (where I was still living week to week); and 8 monthly let rooms on the 4th floor, each with a queen size bed. There were no beds on the rooftop. Thus Hotel Julian contained 40 beds requiring daily housekeeping attention.

“Blueprints ”
is episode 29 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Insect Us

The bed cuts in two below
the double hung window
a winged grass summer
recruited fellow enters
follows hollows spends
the sun day in tiered
bell bottom cuffs.

The light suspended night
emerges sounds now audible
flushes waterflow distances
scratched glasses niblings
windowsill paint flakes
scent trail antennae erect.

Crawling to the bed
an 18 wheelerlegger
seen from 8 miles high
climbing the Grapevine
downshifting in the heat.

Slithers up the sheet
the fan worrying wakes
you just in time to see it
climb across the bed
to my side where
you let me sleep.

How to Build a Bed

Readers of “Penina’s Letters” may recall Salty talking about sleep. In the short excerpt below, he would have us believe he can sleep anywhere, anyhow:

But one thing I had learned in the Army was the useful skill of how to sleep. I had written Penina I could now sleep in private or in public, in a bed or on a floor, with blankets, in a bag, fully dressed including boots or naked, amid noise or in silence, in the dark or under a light, stomach full or hungry, head to toe or hanging upside-down from a chandelier. I could sleep under water if ordered to. But what I wanted now was to curl to sleep with Penina. I didn’t know I’d soon be sleeping with Penina head to toe.

We awoke uncombed, our sleep disturbed, disrobed and distraught, un-wombed. We climbed downstairs. All the beds upstairs. Why not a bed in every room? Where the cats make their beds, now here, now there, anywhere.

Joyce’s Bloom’s bed is built with springs, like the spring, in Bloom’s description, used in a ring toss game. When did you last quoit?

No. She [Molly] didn’t want anything. He [Bloom] heard then a warm heavy sigh, softer, as she turned over and the loose brass quoits of the bedstead jingled. Must get those settled really.

Beds can be awfully noisy at times.

We used to make tables, desks, beds using the same, simple, two-by-four construction design. A 2X4 frame supports a slatted or plywood top. Tools needed: hand saw, hammer, and nails. Nails allow for quicker assembly, but screws allow for easier deconstruction – so add a screwdriver. Parts needed: 2X4’s, plywood, or slats, nails, screws. Sandpaper for very rough spots, but this is not cabinetry work, not furniture, but practical and economical and time-efficient. The pieces are made to easily deconstruct, an important feature in our nomadic days.

I made a futon frame bed this weekend. I made the base, or platform, in two parts, so easier to move up or down stairs, around corners, easily strapped to the roof of a car.

The wood used was purchased years ago, having previously been used in the making of an extra long twin bed, and a desk with bookshelves installed against a wall (not so nomadic, that project). I’m not sure what the wood cost new would be today, and it’s possible that you might be able to pick up a frame unit lighter and cheaper at IKEA or some such store. If so, the utility of this bed construction design is already disappearing, like newspapers. But there are several deconstruction and recycling stores in our area where one can pick up used wood materials cheaply – as well as used tools, nails, and screws.

Note that with a futon mattress, no box springs are needed (the lower mattress in the common, two mattress bed set). And the futon itself is much simpler than the standard mattress: it’s made of cotton, can be rolled up, smells delicious, conforms to your body’s sleep design. The futon also can be deconstructed, though it should last a very long time.

The wood may be hand-rubbed with coconut oil to soften, protect and preserve, and add a flavorful scent to the bedroom digs.