Was it crawling or standing still? Was I imagining it? There it was on the ceiling over my bed. Even in bad light I could see it. Then when a pattern of light from a passing car crossed the ceiling, it was gone. Then it came back.

I’m thinking, this is like Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend,” when he was totally stoned and thought he saw a mouse crawling into the wall.

But I was sober as a subway conductor. I peered at my wall clock, it was 4 in the morning, and it still felt like the 85 degrees that it was when I went to bed. As you all know, it had been hanging around 100 degrees for three days, and I suspect the heat was causing hallucinations.

This particular weekend, when the needle got stuck around 97 degrees, it had been stressful for me, which is no surprise to she who floats around me like smoke when I’m like this, being careful not to be in the same room with me for more than two minutes.

I’m a stressful person. Card tricks stress me out. I get stressed when I check the obituaries each morning and see people my age and younger “going home to be with their savior.”

I kept my eye on the bug. Why doesn’t it move? Is it just a gnat or maybe it’s one of those ticks that give you Lyme disease that brings on arthritis? Maybe it’s a spider. I hate spiders. The tiniest spider can bite you and paralyze you. I saw that in a movie.

I lay in bed, clothed only in shorts and Johnson’s Baby Powder, my three windows wide open, but there was no breeze. They said there would be rain, thunderstorms they said. That brought with it the promise of a cooling breeze.

The thunderstorms came, but they were like Malaysian showers. I learned that in a Joan Crawford movie when I was 8. She had been bitten by a mosquito and was dying, and she was covered with sweat and kept begging for water.

At 4:30 the bug had not moved, and I was covered with sweat like Joan Crawford and I was thirsty. I would have begged for water, but she who sleeps with three fans blowing on her would not have heard me or worse, she would have just said, “There’s a clean glass in the bathroom.”

A Malaysian woman in a sarong brought Joan her water in a clean glass and a palm fan to cool her. There would be no Malaysian woman or palm fan in my future.

I read on Huffington Post that age weakens us. I grew up in St. Louis where 95 and 100 degree summers are average. They have lightning storms so severe that the entire student body of seminaries lights candles to make them stop. I went to school in Louisiana and spent a month in Mississippi, where it’s so hot and humid that in the morning your shoes have a green coating on them.

I took my basic training in Texas in July, marching in 118 degrees. When we fell out in the morning at 3 a.m., it was 90. The sun came up like that ball of light Robert Oppenheimer saw at Los Alamos in 1945. My bunkmates from Maine and Minnesota fell flat on their faces at roll call. One was hospitalized. True story. It meant nothing to me. St. Louis is Africa hot in the summer.

But as we grow older, we lose some of our ability to handle heat. That was on Dr. Phil. I finally passed out from the heat and lack of sleep.

When I awoke at 7 a.m. the bug was gone. I was relieved for about one second until I realized that it was probably in bed with me. Talk about stress.

I’m in the bathtub now soaking in cold water. Call me on Labor Day, unless you are Malaysian and have a fan.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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