(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Louis is reflecting on how cold it is outside his bed and how he does not want to get up. His wife has awakened him on this night, as she does every night, telling him that she hears noises downstairs, that he must investigate to make sure no one else is in the house, to ensure all is safe and sound. He pretends to be asleep for as long as he can, hoping that his wife will give up on trying to wake him. He knows she will not give up, that she does not sleep at nights. She sleeps only in short naps during the daytime, and even then she moans, twists, and shakes her head no. These nightmares and the nightly vigils have been in play for many years before the night in which this story takes place.

Louis has his flashlight on the nightstand. When his wife begins cursing him and the cursing becomes so severe that his ears hurt from it, he finally jolts out of bed, takes the flashlight, and goes downstairs to look for the nothing that he knows is there.

In the midst of his trying to sleep and then his getting up and going downstairs, he thinks frequently of the food that he would like to eat for breakfast. He names eggs and bacon, a leftover steak, coffee and orange juice, pancakes, and so forth. When he peers into the kitchen, he considers again the possibility of making himself coffee and sitting up with it and smoking a few cigarettes, but he knows that it is the wrong time of night for doing that.

He thinks on and off about places he has been where...

(The entire section is 606 words.)