Sleep the Ferryman by Al McDermid

Sleep views the world at right angles and has never seen a rainbow. He lives by the river where he was once a ferryman, in shack that he built from railroad ties, orange crates, and old typewriters. The shack is not plumb and groans in the wind. When it rains, he sits under its tin roof and listens to the symphony. Sometimes it plays Chopin, other times, Beethoven. He wishes it would play more Mahler, but the roof never plays the same piece twice. He thinks that were he to get a new roof, maybe he could hear some of his favorites one more time.

Sleep once took passengers across the river for a price. He might ask for food, or a fishing fly, or a fool-me-once, but he’d take almost anything as long as the name of that thing began with ‘f’. He traded these for the other letters that he needed. A German tourist once offered his wife, who in turn offered to set fire to the shack. When Sleep declined her offer, she suggested a fusillade. Sleep took them for free; they fought with each other all the way across.

When anyone took Sleep’s ferry, they’d get to the other side, but it could be anywhere on the other side. That was before the rains stopped and river dried up. Sleep now just sits in his shack, waiting to hear Mozart.

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Filed under Al McDermid

11 responses to “Sleep the Ferryman by Al McDermid

  1. Hey Al! I like Mozart at the end! And now I am curious about next week’s story… glad you got inspired!

    • Al McDermid

      Thanks. Thought about something more mournful, but then decided Mozart was the best finish.

      Hope you enjoy what you inspired for next week.

  2. Super, gorgeous story Al. Love the imagery, the musical allusions. Peace…

  3. Kelly Grotke

    very nice – like sleep having a dream of itself

  4. Pingback: Week #15 – Sleep « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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