The Mattress Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Man tries to become crazy.

Submitted: May 28, 2012

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Submitted: May 28, 2012

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Planet Mattress was the name of a small chain of furniture stores founded by Ted Wilson. They were all owned by him and he made sure that each store had what it needed to be successful. He became known in his town as the mattress man and everyone loved him. What they loved about him was how he treated all of his customers like his best friend. If there ever was a problem, Ted would apologize like a mad man and do everything he could to make things right. His employees respected him greatly and he made them his family. When two of his stores had to shut down, he immediately put the blame on himself. He condemned himself for failing these people and his mind began to shut down. Ted was the hardest working person that these people knew, which is why it came as a shock to see him coming to work later and later until he finally stopped coming completely.

One of Ted’s right hand men, Richard, decided to pay a visit to Ted’s large Victorian style home. He knocked three times and within seconds, a tall figure slouched over with a mug in his hand came to the door. It slowly opened, revealing the face of a defeated man. He had facial hair from a week’s worth of not shaving. Surrounding his mouth were stains from the food he had eaten the previous day.

“Hello Richard.” Ted said softly.

“Ted, how are you doing? We’ve all been terribly worried about you. We thought the worst.”

“Well it’s good that you’ve been thinking that because the worst has come.”

Richard’s eyebrows moved up his forehead.

“What do you mean by that?”

“What I mean is that I’ve gone mad.”

“Now Ted tell me the truth. You know I won’t think any less of you.”

Ted began to take in a deep breath and then spoke.

“The truth, Richard, is that I’m going crazy. Completely insane. Didn’t come as much of a surprise to me either. The Wilson family tree is riddled with nuts—people who’ve completely lost their mind.”

This was not truthful at all. In fact, not a single close relative of Ted’s was ever diagnosed as “losing their mind”. If one were to browse the family albums tucked high up in Ted’s attic, they would see pages filled with people smiling in every picture. Snapshot after snapshot of family man and dedicated housewife, all hard working and honest throughout their lives. Not a single wrinkle of insanity on the charming expressions made by any of these people.

“Well I don’t believe it. But I want you to know that my wife and I, as well as everyone down at the store, will be thinking about you every second. Anytime that you want to come back and resume your position as the man in charge, you’re welcome to.”

“That isn’t likely Richard, but I greatly appreciate your offer.”

Richard backed away uneasily as Ted shut the door. He knew that Ted would come back to them in a matter of time, but still there was an uncertain feeling in him.

Ted walked away from the door and entered his den. He sat back in his recliner and fell deep into thought. Ted knew that he wasn’t crazy, but he desperately wanted to be. He started to think for hours, creating made up delusions and trying to bring them to reality. Something about the schizophrenic life made Ted feel comfortable. The thought of always having the excuse that you’re insane and never having to work again was invigorating. Putting the blame of the recent Planet Mattress closures on his false insanity made Ted rest easier. He began to have regular conversations with himself.

“The weather isn’t too bad is it? No it’s looking quite sunny out there. I don’t really want to leave though.” Ted paused. “How about you?”

He listened carefully, hoping that a voice would soon answer. All he heard, all that he ever heard—was the sound of a fan in his kitchen. He decided that he would join a support group for the insane in order to get more acquainted with the people he was trying to become. 

Ted entered the community center at 7 pm, the time of the meeting. The gathering place was nothing more than a dimly lit gymnasium. Two tables stacked with colorful pamphlets lined the entry way. Ted sat down and looked over all of the other group members. People were looking back and forth at each other, some whispering to themselves in the process. Ted started to feel very out of place and wondered if he should be doing the same. He then remembered that this meeting was to be a study session, and he should just observe others’ behaviors rather than try to reenact them.

The meeting began like this: a tall, normal sounding woman took her position behind a podium. There, she started it off by saying how wonderful it was to see so many of the same faces, along with some new ones.

“I always feel so welcome when I look out into this crowd of people. Now, would anyone like to come up and share something new they’ve experienced?”

Ted looked around and could see how squeamish this made some people. They began whispering to themselves more aggressively and began to twist their bodies around completely to have a full view of their fellow members. A man finally got up and noisily walked to the front, standing to the side of the woman with his face pointed towards the ground.

“Oh hello Mitchell. Yes, would you like to share something?”

She moved out of his way as he gripped the podium with both hands and stared blankly into the audience.

“Yes I just wanted to explain some recent findings with the Martian people. As I have said before, they never give a sign as to when they are about to use the electromulator; but I now have good sense of what the noise it makes sounds like. It’s something like this”

The man began to mimic the noise with an intense bird like shriek. The microphone screeches resonated with the man’s and the whole room began to shake. People around Ted were writhing in their seats, now yelling to themselves. Ted, on the other hand, was in awe. He had no idea what an electromulator was, but that’s what made it so exciting. This was what he was trying to accomplish. The outright genius of it made him wildly jealous. He thought back to his own ideas, created alone in his den. These creations were nothing compared to this man’s genuine thoughts.

After the meeting, Ted approached the man who gave the moving speech.

“You know, I have some bizarre thoughts as well. I sometimes hear the oven timer go off when I never even started it. Sometimes I hear car doors slam and when I look to see who’s there, no one is in sight.”

No response. The man was still bent over slightly, walking with his face towards the floor. He was whispering to himself about sleeping under a bridge so he wouldn’t have to go home and face the Martians. Ted was furious. He walked towards his car, muttering intently to himself.

“These lunatics don’t know the first thing about being insane. I’ll show them a real nutcase. They’re going to make me president of their loony club after they hear the strange thoughts buzzing around my head.”

After arriving home, Ted slammed the door and quickly fled to his den. He sat down sharply in his recliner and began to heavily concentrate. Listening to every noise, he hoped that one may finally be a stranger calling out to him.

“Ted, come to the door. I need to have a quick word if that’s all right.”

Ted jumped, startled by how clear the voice was. He excitedly slid out of his chair and sprinted to the door.

“Don’t leave yet I’m coming!”

He opened the door to see Richard standing under the porch light.

“I’m not going anywhere Ted, don’t worry.”

Ted held onto the door tightly. “What could you possibly need from me now?”

Richard stepped back. “I just wanted to let you know how everything’s going with the store. And how much everyone misses you.”

Ted gripped the door even tighter “They’ve forgotten about me by now so don’t even try to...”

 Richard stopped him. “We really do miss you. Especially me. I’m worried about you Ted. You’ve been spending too much time cooped up in this house. I’d feel a whole lot better if I knew you were out socializing every once and a while.”

Ted’s face turned bright red. “I’ll have you know I’ve been having the best times of my life in this house so I don’t need idiots like you showing up at my door and feeding me nonsense. I’m probably having a better time than you.”

The pain in Richard’s eyes was very clear. His mouth was struggling for words.

“Well I’m glad you’re having a good time.” He said hoarsely. “Take care for me, will you?”

“I will.” grunted Ted as he shut the door forcefully. He scuttled back to his chair and sat down staring at the wall. Thinking about what Richard said made Ted concentrate even harder. He needed a voice now more than ever, because he was starting to feel lonely.


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