Noble X — Episode 15: Dress Rehearsal
THE FIRST RAYS OF THE NEW DAY SUN pour in the front window, reminding John of the time. Standing for the first time in hours, he stretches high to the ceiling, then to his toes. Standing straight again, remembering the concerned looks from the day before, John decides to call in sick. He is sick after all. Through this whole experience, he has remained oddly self aware of his declining mental health. He knows he is teetering on a dangerous ledge.
“Today perhaps I should try to sleep.” Having made this decision, he musters all of his bravery to call Principal Hall. She answers and he tells her nearly everything. The breakup. Insomnia. “The lack of sleep is affecting my judgment. I need to take a mental health day.” And incredibly, she understands. She tells him to take as long as he needs. She’s kind to his surprise and relief. As he hangs up the phone he thinks, “Maybe I’ll take the rest of the week. Really focus on the Noble Experiment.” John drops to the ground and quickly does twenty pushups, then tries to hold a plank as long as he can.
On a mission to sleep, even if only a few winks, he shifts his focus, queuing up some guided meditation on his laptop to assist him. John wills himself to lie down, fighting the urge to get up and do other things. There he lays, battling on his back, knowing that he is becoming progressively unwell, trying not to give up all control. He manages a trance like state akin to sleep. Thirty minutes later his eyes pop open again and he is wired. Thoroughly satisfied, he gets up to resume compulsive multi-tasking.
His friends start to arrive in the late afternoon, surprised that John hasn't gone to work. Colin and Anthony ask about all the new writing on the walls. “Is that permanent marker, dude? What does it mean?” and his brother Thomas, while mostly silent, is visibly disturbed. He sees that John is becoming increasingly emaciated and disheveled. John gives dismissive explanations and excuses and assures them he is fine. That he’s better than fine. “This is how I’m working through my shit and it’s going to be amazing.” John goes right into leading and planning. Colin sets up his projector in the kitchen, showing off what he has made. Through his creative use of light he has created an illusion of the cabinets opening and closing. John is delighted, squealing with laughter and verbal praise.
Thomas and Anthony move the furniture and set up a backdrop for the performance area using a big black sheet safety-pinned to the curtains on the front windows. John applauds their execution. Thomas and John make plans to pick up lights from his office downtown tomorrow afternoon as a finishing touch.
With the stage set, John invites his neighbors over to experience the Noble Experiment rehearsal. He cranks up the music, talking incessantly and boisterously to his guests. Most of the neighbors know him pretty well and they assume this exaggerated version of the usual John must mean he’s high on cocaine, humoring his non-stop ranting. John has been thrust into overdrive, believing that everything he is saying is rhyming without having to even think about it. He perceives himself to have unlocked a door inside his mind allowing him to access the skills of conscious rappers out there capable of incredibly sophisticated rhymes. To his friends and neighbors, they are experiencing a whole other reality. A twisted, jacked-up Dr. Seuss on acid, free-associating in an endless stream of consciousness. Entertained with a slight edge of concern, they listen to his rants.
“We’ve got to put pluses in the bucket. Every positive erases a negative. All of our biology, our polarity, it’s electro-magnetivity! We have to purify the mixture, spreading love, kindness, and understanding. Take our filters off, releasing judgment."
Room to room, John continues and some of it’s even good. Most concerning is that it seems John quite literally can’t stop talking. Much of what he is talking about is coherent, beautiful even, filled with positivity, but the intensity in which he’s saying it, the repetition, the never-ending spew grows more alarming the longer it lasts. And eventually they are all exhausted by it. His neighbors leave and the remaining group of Anthony, Colin, and Thomas consider doing a talking-stick type situation so that John won’t interrupt and dominate. Anthony takes over and starts to direct the conversations, calling out John’s tangents and interjections, as they watch him put forth a visible physical effort to contain his verbal outbursts. This progresses for a few more hours, incorporating little hourglass sand-timers John had set out earlier, evolving into some kind of discussion game. The group rides together on John’s manic wave.
John surprisingly suggests calling it a night. “Let’s all rest up for tomorrow.” They all nod in agreement, suiting up. There’s snow in the air. John walks out to stand in the startlingly fresh cold, flurries, so pronounced in the street lights. “And I bid you good night…” he sings to his friends as they head home. Alone in the quiet night, he watches his winter’s breath, transfixed by it. Standing there without his coat, a cold shiver breaks his trance and he heads inside.
Pulling his clipboard from its hiding spot, he begins to write on a new page, addressing himself in erratic script. “You’ve been sleep deprived for nearly a full week. This is technically the seventh night of sleeplessness. Can you make it the full ten?”
Somewhere along the line, John’s delusion had morphed. His exercises in free-association and stream of consciousness writing marathons had created a vast disorganization of tangential thoughts. On top of that, he was manifesting a near obsession with numbers, deriving meaning from the minutia. John now believed that a ten-day sleep study was important as it would more properly pay tribute to the binary system, in his mind, the most pure representation of absence and presence, nothing and something. There was no longer a clearly defined purpose for his sleep study. One focus had blossomed into too many to keep track of. And on this night, John dove deeply into the number pi, the golden ratio, the Fibonacci sequence, passing the night hours as he spiraled madly downward.
Stay tuned for Episode 16.
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