The tap in his bathroom won't stop dripping. It goes on endlessly, repeatedly, drop after drop, mindless as a metronome, relentless as a clock. He lies awake for an hour listening to it drip, trying to out think it somehow, knowing that if he can manage to ignore it once, just once, he will stop noticing it altogether. But the sound of every drop reaches him clear as a bell, like the voice of some clerk running down an endless list, ticking things off. In vain he gropes in his head for some thin thread of sleep that will unravel his consciousness, blank out his mind. But all he finds is the regular, unnegotiable 'tip......tip' of the tap.
He storms into the bathroom, wrestles, for the third time this evening, with the faucet. Straining at it with every ounce of strength his 30 year old arms can muster, teeth clenched with effort. No use. The tap does not give at all, it is shut as tightly as possible, and still the water keeps leaking. He goes back into the bedroom and looks at the clock. 1 am. No chance of getting a plumber at this hour. He opens the cabinet under the washbasin, hoping to find a valve he can turn off to cut the flow of water to the tap. It'll mean bending down and reopening it every time he needs to use the sink, but it's worth it. He finds the valve, but it's rusted solid, won't budge an inch. Probably never been used since the damn thing was installed, way back when.
He emerges from under the basin, turns on the tap, washes his hands. Then tries shutting it again, thinking maybe this time it will close properly. He waits for the leftover drops to clear. No, it's still dripping. He tries forcing it again. Nothing. In frustration, he slaps his hand against the faucet assembly, hoping that will shake something loose. He feels like screaming at the basin, yelling "stop! stop!" at the top of his voice. But the walls are thin and the neighbors might hear.
The faucet continues to drip, insolent, uncaring.
He goes back to bed, puts a pillow over his head like a character in a cartoon. He feels suffocated by this but he needs to block out the sound. It doesn't help though. He can still hear it. He realizes that he's listening for it now. He realizes it's in his head, a steady tum-tum beat, insistent as a pulse.
Another hour passes. He's sitting up in bed now, listening to the drip. Every new drop feels like a weight added to his helplessness, a further weakening, a small infinity of waste. It makes him want to tear something, protest in some way. But he knows the drip cannot be answered.
At 3 am he thinks, to hell with the neighbors, rummages around in his CD case, puts a disc on the stereo. The sound of AC/DC singing 'You Shook Me All Night Long' fills the room. It drowns out the dripping tap. He draws a deep breath, sinks back into bed in relief. Three minutes later, with the song still screeching from his speakers, he falls asleep.