It was 10:45am and I hadn’t been to sleep since the day before. The bed is comfortable, the selection of pillows is of such a variety that I can’t complain about fluffiness, and the room temperature is a steady 72 degress. The room has black-out curtains that shield me from the desert sun. And though I have a room close to the elevator and drink machines, I’m far enough away that neither makes any noise.

I lay on the same side of bed as home, only occasionally stretching out to see how far my legs can cross the king-sized bed, but pull them back in when I admit to myself that the closest I’ll ever get to royalty is RC cola.

Indeed, merry conventioneers were actually thinking about lunch when I finally dozed off. I knew I had to wake up by 1:30pm, but I kept telling myself, “Two hours sleep is better than no sleep at all.” It became a mantra that I spoke over and over again in my head. It started with “Four hours sleep is better than no sleep at all” and worked its way down from there.

I was pleased when my head finally started drifting to the torrent off off dreams that often accompanies half-sleep.

And that’s when it started.

The first morning after I got here, I was sure there was a giant winged prehistoric animal pounding on my floor-to-ceiling windows. It was like a jackhammer outside a city window. I stood and pulled back the curtain, but saw nothing. Perhaps, I thought, another odd dream.

But it happened again the next morning. Refusing to get up, I surmised it was the fast desert wind blowing a loose piece of building facade with such ferocity that only armageddon could comepete. Two hours later it stopped and I was able to go to sleep.

It took a couple of days off and then returned. It’s been here ever since. Late morning, every day, a jackhammer noise right outside my…14th story window. I sleep though thunder, screaming, parties, and bloody murder (that was just one awful night), but this sound is only something though which the dead can sleep.

This morning, as the lunch hour approached, the paranoia set it. I knew what was happening.

It’s the same thing as the hotel kitchen venting into my room. That little trick is designed to make me feel hungry.

The noise is designed to keep me from sleeping.

These people (you know the people) don’t want me to be in my room.

Tonight (this morning, actually), I’m going to thwart the fuckers. Room service just arrived. I can eat it and be asleep within 45 minutes.

No hunger. Enough sleep by 10am that the jackhammer won’t make me cry.

Tonight, I take back the Rio. Tonight (okay, this morning), I take back my sanity.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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