Unable to sleep due to the unrelenting heat, Mel lay sprawled on his bed, the sheets a sodden, twisted mass beneath his naked body. He forced himself not to move, as the slightest exertion was seemingly a signal for his rebellious pores to once again drench him in a clammy, sticky sweat.
This was without a doubt the hottest, most uncomfortable summer he could remember suffering through. Mel admittedly did not function overly well when it was severely hot and this continuing, oppressive heat wave was telling on him, physically as well as mentally. Nearly four weeks of day time temperatures ranging from the high 90s to low hundreds, combined with high humidity, were making him physically ill and most certainly mentally drained.
His uncomfortable position was not helped by the fact that the only air conditioner in their small apartment ran nearly nonstop in the living room to cool off the downstairs, which in turn tended to push all of the hot air directly up the stairwell. As a result, the bedroom, which was upstairs, was always at least ten degrees hotter than the rooms downstairs. He had tried to solve the problem of his sleepless, sweltering nights by sleeping on the living room couch with the air conditioner running all night. By doing that, he had finally managed to sleep through the night, but awakened the next morning with a furious head cold that had made him miserable for the next few days.
Apparently, as the old saying goes, he couldn't win for losing.
It has been stated that prolonged exposure to heat over and above the normal comfort range tends to cause some people to become overly irritable, especially people like Mel, who didn't always have a handle on their emotions, anyway. Lately, what little rein he had on his temper was nearly nonexistent and he was flying into violent rages with increasing regularity, occasionally with destructive results.
Lacking the luxury of an air conditioner in the bedroom, in desperation Mel had dug an old oscillating table fan out of the garage. It now sat on the dresser where it blew a torrid blast of air across his body every 12 seconds as it made its 180 degree sweep of the room. The fan, however, presented its own set of problems for Mel.
It was an old machine which hadn't been used in years and it made its age apparent every second that it was running. The metal cage that protected curious fingers from the whirling blades was loose and rattled constantly, while the small set of gears that controlled the oscillating action of the fan produced an irritating squeak to herald each new sweep of the room. To round out this calliope, the whirring of the, large metal blades sounded not unlike some huge, angry insect.
Mel had listened to the maddening noises the fan made for so many hours while lying awake the past few nights, he now had the routine timed perfectly. The tinny rattle of the blade cage and the mad buzzing of the blades themselves were a constant underscoring to the other noises. The thin, metal squeak lasted just over a second as the fan began each new sweep of the room. Then, after a second or two, he would feel the blast of hot air hit his feet and travel slowly up his body, past his head. After an agonizing three second wait, he would hear the familiar screech of metal on metal and the process was repeated, the hot air now blowing from his head, down past his feet.
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