The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep (2)
'Yes, all right, I promise,' Wendy answered.
Wendy was a good person and a good wife, but she liked money and she liked a lot of it. She loved spending money! So when she saw beautiful clothes in the shops, she was often angry because she couldn't buy them. Max didn't get a lot of money as a bank clerk. So Wendy began to think.
She thought, 'I'm going to have a child soon. If Max dies before he is forty, what will happen to us? I must think about the future.'
One day she decided to speak to Max about it. At first he was angry because she knew his secret; then he smiled.
'Wendy, my love, don't think about the future. We love each other and we are happy. That's very important! You see, nothing is certain. Perhaps I won't die young. But I promise that when I die, you will have enough money.'
But Wendy had a different idea. She thought about it for a few days and then she went to the office of a big national newspaper and said that she wanted to tell them an incredible story. Of course, she got thousands of pounds for the story. And when the world heard about Max, the world wanted him. America, Japan, Australia, Europe... interviews, articles, talk shows, documentaries... The public and the media were fascinated. In a few days Max became world- famous - and Wendy became very rich. He tried to hide, he tried to escape from all the noise and attention. He ran away, but the media always found him.
Samantha knew that this was a very bad thing for Max and she was furious with Wendy. But it was too late. The TV journalists and personalities, the newspapers and magazines followed him everywhere. Film directors offered him millions of dollars to appear in their films. Big film stars and rock singers wanted to meet him.
Max became unhappy; he became ill. He didn't eat and he got very thin. He lost his concentration and he stopped working hard. He also lost his interest in the world, in people, in life. He didn't want to learn new things. He locked himself in his room and sat alone night and day. And Wendy continued to spend the money.
One day Samantha visited him and she was shocked because he had changed a lot. He looked grey and tired. He looked old. His eyes were heavy and there were dark shadows under them. Then, while Samantha was talking to him, the impossible happened: he yawned. She couldn't believe her eyes.
'Are you sleepy, Max?' she asked.
'Yes. I want to sleep.'
And in a few moments he was asleep. He slept for a few hours. But when he woke up, he was still tired. A few days later he slept again. And then little by little he began to sleep like a normal person.
'You sleep eight hours a day now, Max,' Samantha said, frightened. 'What's happening to you?'
'I don't know,' he replied. 'I feel tired. I need to sleep.'
'Because I don't want to stay awake now. The world is boring; people are boring. It's better to sleep.'
When he fell asleep quickly, Samantha went home. She was very anxious and very unhappy. Now Max was beginning to sleep more than a normal person! He had no more bright energy, no more interest in life. He just seemed very tired.
Now the public and the media were completely obsessed with Max. Photographers stood outside his house all day and night and took photos of Max when he yawned and when he was asleep. Every day Wendy told reporters what Max was doing - for a fee, of course. All round the world people knew what Max was doing every minute of the day.
They tried to telephone him, they sent letters, telegrams and presents.
Samantha said to herself, 'If this continues, Max will die. It must stop.'
She thought about it day and night. And then one day she decided to appear on a TV chat show.
'He's very ill,' she said in the studio. 'You must all leave him alone.'
'Why is he ill?' the interviewer asked. 'Is the drug killing him?'
'No, he doesn't take any drugs!' said Samantha angrily. 'It's you - the newspaper and TV people - and you - the public! You have destroyed his peace and his world with all your noise and gossip. You won't let him live quietly. He always lived in the light with his eyes open but you have pulled him down into your darkness and he has closed his eyes. You - the media and the public - are killing Max with your stupidity. Leave him alone!'
The media and the public were very angry. Next day there was a lot of anger about it on TV and in the newspapers.
'Us?' one newspaper article began. 'Is Max Price's mother accusing us? Yes, she is saying that we - the people and the press - are destroying her son. But isn't he rich now? And isn't he famous? Hasn't Mrs Price asked herself who made him rich and famous? We are innocent, Mrs Price. We have helped your son. You told us to leave him alone. But we live in a democracy. We have a right to know about Max Price. We demand to know about him!...'
When Samantha left the TV studio, she went to Max's house. Wendy told her that he was sleeping so she went home. Next day Wendy phoned Samantha.
'I'm frightened,' she said. 'Max is still sleeping. Please come!'
When Samantha arrived, there were reporters and photographers and two TV cameras outside the house. She pushed her way to the door and went in. Wendy was sitting on the sofa. She looked terrified.
'Why doesn't he wake up?' she cried.
The women went upstairs to Max's room. He was in bed. His eyes were closed; his face was very pale. Samantha touched him.
'He's very cold,' she said. 'Call Dr Somaz.'
Dr Somaz came and began to examine Max. Just then Derek arrived.
'There's a very big crowd outside,' he said.
Then he saw that the women were crying. He looked at Dr Somaz, who said to him:
'Tell the people to go away. Max is dead.'
Next day Max's death was big news all over the world.
The newspapers, the magazines, and the TV news all had the same opinion.
'The boy who couldn't sleep has finally found eternal rest. As the doctors always said, he died before he was forty. This shows that the people and the media are not responsible.'
- THE END -