I don't expect many views/reviews on this one. I just wrote it to mainly keep busy. The characters aren't the only ones with insomnia.
Disclaimer: It's 3 in the morning. I have better things to do than steal shit. The Boondocks isn't mine.
Goodnight and Good Luck
"And we're back. That last song you heard was Take You There by Pete Rock & CL Smooth. And now we're gonna take requests, so make sure to call or shoot us a text."
Sixteen-year-old Huey Freeman looked up as his good friend, Hiro Otomo, gave him a quick thumbs up from the opposite end of the sound booth. "While we're letting those come in, let's play another song. This next one is Fishin 4 Religion by Arrested Development."
"And...you're off." Hiro took off his headphones, letting them hang from around his neck. "That was a good one."
Huey nodded, spinning in his chair and examining a stack of CDs. "Thanks."
Hiro nodded and stifled a yawn, reaching for a cup of coffee and his car keys. "You sure you can handle this?" He asked, rising to his feet and stretching. "Not that I don't trust you. I just don't tend to leave people here by themselves. But staying up through the entire show is a nightmare when you have summer school."
"Nah man, it's cool." Huey waved his hands towards the Asian, who looked as if he were ready to drop on his feet. He didn't know why Hiro was putting up such a fuss. They had this discussion every night Monday through Thursday at around the same time each go round. Every time Huey insisted that he didn't mind being left alone to tend to the studio, and every time Hiro felt guilty about leaving him. It was just one of the many routines he'd managed to get used to.
When Huey was fifteen, Riley had decided to go and paint ball a police car, which had gotten him community service. Not even a week later he'd shot blanks at one of the sheriffs, which resulted in more community service and a warning from one of the court prosecutors. Five offenses later, Riley had been thrown every chance to clean up his act and had suffered every ass whoopin granddad served to him, but it hadn't seemed to be enough. So the judge ordered him to go to a detention home. It wasn't something that Huey had thought would impact him...until he stopped sleeping.
He'd tried everything from taking Ny-Quil to making up such a ridiculous exercise schedule that Kobe Bryant should've passed out afterwards, but nothing seemed to work. Huey would toss and turn from the time his head hit the pillow to when the first colors of dawn were painting the sky through his window. Insomnia wouldn't have been such a problem if there were things to do around Woodcrest, but all he had to look forward to was school, homework, work, and the occasional visit with Caesar. With the "bad ass child" out the house granddad didn't need to worry about coming home to a bunch of crap so he vacationed more and kept to himself most the time. Huey, the introvert, usually wouldn't be bothered by that.
But damn, he didn't want to be alone all the time.
"Just go," Huey went on, sitting up as he read through the CD's. "You know you're tired."
"I am." Hiro yawned again, this one even worse than the last. "I hope I can make it home without falling asleep at the wheel and crashing into a tree."
"I think you'll manage." Huey gave one last wave to his friend before turning away. The door clicked shut behind him and he sighed, leaning back and listening to the song play on, bobbing his head.
When school had let out for the summer, Huey had thought about what he could do to occupy his time. He'd tried to go up to Chicago for the summer but his plans had fallen through when his Aunt Cookie had decided to visit some people in Canada. Cairo, who he had occasional awkward phone conversations with, was spending the summer in California. Caesar was going back to Brooklyn for the first two months of their break and had offered to let Huey come, but he hadn't had enough money. So he'd figured that he'd have to settle on staying home and reading, meditating, playing video games and having short conversations with his neighbor, Jazmine. It wasn't that she was annoying like she'd been when they were ten. He just felt that they didn't have much in common, so why should they bother trying to be friends?
So it had practically been a miracle when his classmate, Hiro Otomo, had come up to him in the hallway the last week before school let out, begging him to fill a spot on his radio show slot for Cindy McPhearson, who had gotten accepted at the last minute to some basketball camp in Florida. When Huey had asked when it was Hiro had paused.
"It's from midnight to three am," He'd admitted, as if the time frame would be an automatic turn off. little did he know that he'd possibly saved Huey Freeman's summer.
The last chords of the song finished and Huey placed his headphones back over his ears, leaning over to the microphone and pressing the "On Air" button. "So it seems like we've got some callers, so let's go to the phone lines." He peeked at the flashing red light underneath the number one and pressed it. "Caller number one, you're on the air."
"Um, hi?" An over-excited voice rang out in the small room. Huey rolled his eyes, grateful that at least he wasn't on camera. "Yeah, I'm Marcella? I want you to play some Lil Wayne and Yo Gotti?"
"Are you...asking me, or telling me?" Huey replied, trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice and failing miserably. He couldn't help it. People who talked in rising inflections was probably one of his worst pet peeves out of the many that he had.
"I was telling you?"
"Well sorry Marcela, but we only play real music on Goodnight and Good luck." Huey pressed the next flashing light. "Next caller?"
"Hey! This is Ashlyn from Bowie. Do you have dat Pharcyde jank She Said?"
"Now that," Huey replied in an appreciative tone, flipping through the music library and finding the song in seconds. "Is what I'm talking about." He pressed the button again, ending the connection and adjusting the volume to his headset. "Now, it's two fifteen and faithful listeners know that means it's free call time. That means for all you confused people out there that you can call for anything. Whether you want to request a song, talk crap about your best friend, give a shout out...even though I don't know who would hear you, being that it's two in the morning. While you're working that out here's The Pharcyde, for Ashlyn in Bowie."
Huey pressed the "On Air" button so that it was no longer lit, sighing as he removed his headphones once again. Working in a music studio wasn't something he'd ever imagined himself doing but he had to admit he liked it. There was something about controlling what the masses heard (even if no one really listened at this time), getting to be in charge of what traveled the airways, that made him feel better about the fact that he couldn't sleep. Or the fact that all his close friends had abandoned him.
Fine, they hadn't abandoned him. Still though...
Huey got up to look out the window while the song played on. The moon was high up in the sky, a cluster of stars scattered across the black sky. It was the same night sky he'd watch from his room, from his roof, from the studio, every night. He was surprised he didn't know it like the back of his hand by now he'd stared at it so much. That was the thing about the night sky; it spread on and on, multiplying and scattering to the point where it was infinite. It looked so big and full when it had all those stars, but really it was all a part of a vacuum. It was just empty space.
He and the sky seemed to have a lot in common.
The thing that Huey hadn't accounted for when he'd made it clear that he didn't want to be bothered was that people would start to listen. During the day when he sun was high in the sky and the world around him was alive it didn't bother him. But at night, with all this time and silence, it left him with too much time to think. That was saying something, since all he ever did was think.
The world being quiet was something he'd often sought as a child. Now it seemed dangerous.
Huey made his way back to the chair when the last chorus came on, plopping down. From two fifteen to three Huey probably disliked the show the most. It wasn't his idea to let people call in and ramble about whatever like he was their damn therapist. It was something that the owners of the time slot before him had done and the idea had stuck so it was what people higher up expected. The routine usually went the same way; some drunks called, a few heiresses would whine about their issues, some person who refused to give their name would dedicate the same song every day to someone with the same initials as him. Huey could care less about most of these people's so called "problems". The only way most callers would know a true problem would be if their moneybags suddenly vanished. They didn't care about anyone but themselves, and Huey didn't have the time or patience to sit there and listen to the whine like they were entitled just because they were white and rich.
Well...he didn't have the patience. Time, unfortunately, was something he had a surplus of.
"Okay." Huey suppressed a sigh. "We're now accepting callers. Caller one, what's your name?"
"Jenny. And I'm from Prince George's County."
Huey shook his head. He could tell just by the way she spoke that she was over confident and probably had a bigger ego on her than Kanye West. "Okay, Jenny. What's on your mind?"
As if he cared.
"My boyfriend is being so...infuriating!" Jenny yelled, sounding as if she wanted to cry. "I told him I wanted a Camaro for my seventeenth birthday and he bought me a Mustang!"
Huey blinked. "So...what's the problem?"
"The problem?" Jenny sounded baffled to why he didn't already understand it. "It's...a Mustang. What the hell am I supposed to do with that?"
"I don't know, maybe try to drive it?" Huey retorted, rolling his eyes. "Next caller."
"Aye." Another voice, much more familiar, filled his ears. "Aye! Come bust a nigga outta hurr!"
"Seriously?" Huey's eyebrows rose until they were practically touching his hairline. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know who it was. "How are you even callingme? You ain't supposed to have no phone! You're in juvie!"
Sadly, this wasn't the first time this had happened.
"I ain't supposed ta." Riley cackled into the line. "But I do! And you betta not do no gay shit like hang up on me or imma-"
Riley was coming home in a week anyways. He'd survive until then.
"Next caller." Huey sighed, rubbing his forehead. There was a pause.
"Um, I'd like a large cheese pizza wit a side of wings-"
"Okay, when I said you could call for anything I didn't exactly mean dinner." Huey clenched his teeth. This was so pointless. What was the point of doing this again? He pressed another flashing light, his tone anything but cheerful. "Next caller."
"Yeah. You're on the air." Huey picked up another CD, examining it. "Thanks for calling Goodnight and Good Luck. What's your name?"
There was a slight pause. "Um, it's Jazmine. I'm from Woodcrest."
Huey looked up. His eyebrows rose again. He temporarily forgot how to speak.
"Hello?" Her voice was hesitant and more quiet than he'd ever remembered it being. Huey sat up, grabbing the mic.
"Aye. Jazmine." He shifted in his seat. "What's got you listening so late at night?"
There was another pause. "I don't sleep."
Huey froze. That sounded familiar. "You've gotta sleep sometime."
"No. I don't." She paused again. "My grandmother died a few months ago. I haven't slept for more than a couple hours each night since, and that's if I'm lucky."
Huey tried to think back. He'd remembered a time when Jazmine had missed a few days from their English class, but that was it. Had someone really died? "I'm sorry to hear that," He said, probably the first time on the show he hadn't used sarcasm with a caller.
"Thanks," Jazmine replied evenly. "But you see, I don't want sympathy. Maybe that's why I quit the swim team and isolated myself for so long. Most people knew how close we were and when she died everyone suddenly felt so sorry for me. I hate it. But now I'm alone and I hate that even more."
Huey drummed his fingers on the desk, his eyes narrowed. "You're not alone."
Jazmine, to his surprise, laughed. "You don't know me," She said in a resentful tone. "I don't have any friends anymore except for one and she's in Florida. My parents are always traveling. There was a guy I like but he stopped dealing with me when he found out he could actually hang out with people better than me." She paused again. "I'm alone. I really am."
Huey rolled his eyes. Leave it to Jazmine to just blurt out her problems on the airwaves. He started to open his mouth to get her off so that he could clear the lines, but she spoke again.
"I know it's not your job to listen to me," She said softly. "But it's 2:30. And I don't know anyone else who would listen to me at all, let alone at 2:30."
He felt a slight pang, one of guilt. He was an insomniac and so was she. The person in the world who was completely different from him had something in common after all, and he'd never bothered finding out for himself.
"There are people willing to listen to you," Huey replied. "You know...people who actually know you. People who aren't on a talk show. I'm not a therapist."
"I didn't ask you to be." She sounded slightly annoyed. "You said we could talk about whatever and that's what I'm doing. But I can stop."
He glanced at the clock; it was 2:32. "You should," He agreed. When she paused he straightened. "I mean, for now. Why don't you go do something productive, like read a book? Or write down your problems instead of whining about them on a radio show?"
"I don't want to write." Jazmine's voice was definitely annoyed. "I want to stop being lonely."
"Loneliness," Huey replied. "Is the human condition. There is no amount of people in the world that can fill it. The best thing you can do is know yourself and know what you want."
"Is that what you really believe?" Jazmine replied. Huey shrugged.
"Yeah. It is."
"Well, I think that's crap." While Huey tried his best to get over his surprise of her directness Jazmine went on. "I don't think anyone should have to be lonely. I think that we should all strive to be happy, whether it's with ourselves or with other people. I think that loneliness is something that will always be lurking, but I don't think that means you have to accept it." She paused. "Just saying."
"Right." Huey sounded bored. "Are you done yet?"
"No." Jazmine sighed. "I wanted to request a song."
"For your sad, tragic life? Anything."
"Fine." Jazmine cleared her throat. "Today. By Tom Scott."
Huey practically fell out of his chair. Not only was that one of his favorite songs of all time, but this wasn't the first time it had been requested. In fact, it was requested every night around this time...and dedicated to an "H.F." He wasn't vain enough to think that someone was dedicating a song to him just because his initials were the same, especially when thousands of people had the same initials.
So all that time...it had been her.
Huey sat back up, fumbling with the mic. "Okay...anything else?" But his question was met by silence. She'd hung up.
"Alright...well, for that H.F. person out there, here's your daily dose of Tom Scott. I hope for this girl's sake that he's listening..." Huey made sure he was off the air before he started spinning in his chair, letting out a steady stream of cuss words.
Jazmine was the caller? She was the one who requested his favorite song and stayed up all night to listen to his radio show? She was an insomniac?
"Yo!" Huey froze as the door opened and two guys from his high school strode in, each of them carrying jumbo sized cups of coffee and skateboards. "We know we hella early but there won't nothin much to do."
"Yeah, man." The other guy, Mike, set down his cup of coffee and looked over to Huey. "How do you do it? I can't even remember how to walk right let alone stay up during a radio show without coffee. Lance, he don't have no coffee!"
"Right." Huey stood up. "Want to start your segment a bit early?"
"Early? Hell yes!" Lance and Mike high fived while Huey handed them his headset, grabbing his jacket. "Where you rushin' off to at nearly three in the morning, Freeman?"
"I've got someone to go see," He replied, heading for the door. "Thanks, guys."
"WOOOO!!! Freeman bout' to go get some!" Lance and Mike started barking like dogs, laughing. "Bow chicka wow wow-"
Huey rolled his eyes, ignoring them. He closed the door behind him, heading down the hallway and busting out the side door into the warm morning air. The sky hadn't changed much, minus the placement of the moon. He retrieved his bike from the bike rack by the door, kicking up the stand and setting off for the direction of his house.
Usually people felt embarrassed if they had to ride bikes, but Huey didn't mind. For one thing it was cheaper than gas and for another, it wasn't emitting harmful gases into the atmosphere. Add that in with the fact that he was getting exercise and he'd be lucky if he got his license before he was twenty. Driving was just one of those things he didn't really care about.
It wasn't one of Jazmine's things, though. Which was what he noticed when passing by the gas station a few blocks from their house as he spotted her dark blue convertible sitting in the parking lot. Other than her car, there was no one else there. He slammed on the brakes so that he wouldn't keep flying downhill and made a sharp turn left, riding into the parking lot. He could see into the store from the windows.
Jazmine was purchasing a slushie and seemed to be trying to engage the cashier in conversation. Judging by the annoyed look on his face along with the way he didn't look up from his magazine, she wasn't succeeding. He handed her back her change and she seemed to deflate like a balloon. Without think about what he was doing Huey let his bike fall to the ground and marched towards the store, grabbing the door by the handle and flinging it open. Jazmine, not to mention the cashier, looked up with surprise. Jazmine let her slushie straw fall away from her mouth.
"Huey?" She wiped her hand on the side of her denim shorts, giving him a confused look. "What are you doing here at three in the morning?"
Huey didn't know what he was doing, so he settled on shrugging. "I couldn't sleep." He admitted. Jazmine looked reluctant.
"Well. Okay." She started to walk past him. "Nice seeing you."
"Hey." Jazmine turned around to look over her shoulder. Huey raised his chin, looking her in the eyes.
"Thanks for the song."
Jazmine didn't say anything. She just looked at Huey, until slowly, a smile spread across her face. It wasn't the smile that got him, however; it was her eyes. They'd lit up with such happiness that Huey hadn't noticed was gone from them that he felt his own mouth curve upwards. It was one of those smiles that someone got when they were really and truly cared about.
He had a feeling that he wouldn't have much trouble sleeping anymore.