We went through sandmen by the score when our daughter got old enough to sleep through the night. She hated to go to sleep, and fought and screamed and did anything she could to stay awake. Some of the sandmen physically couldn’t take it. She slapped them around until they hurt too much to continue trying to put her to sleep. Quite a few of these retired after failing with the Furdette. Some suffered nervous breakdowns. They seemed fine, but would break out in tears if you said goodnight to them. Mentioning Furdette’s name would cause them to go catatonic and curl up on the floor in a foetal position for hours. Several ran screaming into the night, shedding their sandman uniforms and pulling out their hair. None of those was ever heard from again. There were a very few who suicided right before our eyes. They sprang out the window, and dashed themselves to bits on the cold, hard, ground two stories below. Sandman HQ sent a crew around to collect the remains and clean up the mess, but they just couldn’t get all of the bloodstains off of the wall where it splashed. It looks terrible. Painting over didn’t help, either. It just bled through. Dozens of sandmen quit, and went to take less dangerous jobs - one told me he intended to get a job as shark bait. There were numerous sandmen who became drunks and/or drug addicts. They couldn’t handle the stress on the job, and their way of fighting the stress ruined their lives entirely. Finally, in desperation, Sandman HQ sent us Billy Joe.
This is not your ordinary sandman. He is an ex-construction worker who rides with the Hell’s Angels in his time off. He has lots of time off. He gets suspended quite regularly for conduct unbecoming a sandman. He wears a leather jacket, wornout blue jeans, scruffy boots, and a bandana on his head instead of his sandman uniform. He parties all day, and does the sandman bit by night. He drinks a lot, but it doesn’t bother him. He is so acclimated he can still function even when his blood alcohol level is so high that he doesn’t dare smoke for fear of going off like a bomb. He smokes reefers that make the biggest cigar you ever saw look like a cigarette butt. When he takes off his jacket, you can see the skull tattooed on his left shoulder and the dagger tattoed on his right forearm. He keeps a pair of brass knuckles in his back pocket and big lockback knife in a sheath on his hip. The other sandmen carry a little bag of magical sandmand sand and sprinkle sand in the little kids’ eyes to make them go to sleep. Billy Joe drives a dump truck loaded with magical sandman sand, and carries a big shovel to dump sand in the kids’ eyes. In extreme situations, I have seen him back the truck up to the bedroom window and dump a couple of cubic yards in through the window, muttering all the while about “punk assed little kids, don’t wanna sleep, show that little sucker who’s the boss, heh, heh.” For all these reasons, Billy Joe is nearly always on the shitlist at Sandman HQ. He doesn’t care. He loves dealing with the kids - he tells really cool stories to them, none of this fairy tale crap, but real stories that start out “Me and my buddies went down to Tijauna one day last week. I’m not gonna tell YOU what was in the floorshow at the bar, but getting there was real fun.” The kids love him - he looks like a great big smelly teddy bear and talks like what you’d imagine a real bear would talk like if it could. If he’s on the shitlist, he doesn’t worry. He just goes and has a good time with his buddies in the Hell’s Angels (and gathers more stories.) When he is not on the shitlist, though, he always gets the really tough cases.
As a matter of fact, the first time he came to us, they pulled him in off of suspension just to handle Furdette. He took care of her, and she learned to go to sleep quick and easy when you put her to bed. Yes, life was good,thanks to Billy Joe. Until Microfurd hit the scene. Furdette got jealous, and wanted Mommy to stay with her all night to make up for the attention she wasn’t getting during the day. She would wake up every few minutes to see if Mommy was still there, and would throw a screaming fit if she wasn’t. Microfurd was no better: He would wake up many times during the night, drink an ounce or two from his bottle, then sleep for a half an hour and want to be fed again.
We applied to Sandman HQ to have them start sending a sandman by each night again. They checked the records, and found that we were one of the hard cases, so they sent only sandmen with tough nerves. None of them has hurt himself, or quit, or been injured by the small Furds, but several have refused orders to come back and taken rank reduction and pay cuts as a result. Now, Sandman HQ has wised up. They called in Billy Joe and sent him to us last night. Both kids slept well. Furdette slept the whole night through, and behaved herself today as well. Microfurd woke up only twice during the night, and drank his bottle right down and zonked out immediately thereafter. Wonderful. Billy Joe was here again tonight, and both kids are already
asleep. No fuss, no screaming, just peaceful sleeping kids.
Welcome back, Billy Joe! Wipe yer freaking feet ya old dirt bag, come on in and have a beer!
Yer my best friend!