Thursday, November 05, 2009

strange dreams and plans


Before I had the dream I had woken in the middle of the night. It was five am and the sky was still black. The only light came from the electric dim of streetlamps, faintly pressed against my windows. My eyes opened in a start, a crushing weight on my chest and heart. There was a confusion of feeling inside me. A sad stress and woe. I got up from the bed trying to figure out what it was that had woken me, and what it was I was feeling. I went to the couch and smoked a cigarette in the dark, a profound loneliness choking at my throat. Then I went to bed again, unsure if I would be able to sleep. I did. Then I had the dream.

I was in San Francisco in a large house. I wasn’t alone, there were five or six others, all my age give or take a few years. And there were two counselors, both with graying beards and smiles that hid a dark menace behind them. One of the counselors was an old English professor I had. The other a man I didn’t recognize.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was not just in a house, but an institution of sorts. And I wasn’t a guess or resident so much as I was an inmate. I figured this out not by asking questions but by observing how the others acted. They had the slow and delicate movements of one who is burdened by policies and regulations. Afraid to move freely for fear of breaking a rule. I don’t know why I was there or how I got there, I only knew that I needed to get out.

The house its self was humongous, a monster of four stories and filled with an uncountable number of rooms. It was surrounded by a large green lawn, at least two football fields length on every side. There were trees as well, and pockets of shrubbery. There was also a pond that had fish in it. I never saw this pond but I knew it was there. Tall white walls concealed us in.

The curious thing was that not only did I recognize my old professor as one of the counselors, but two of my fellow inmates were famous rappers. Ghostface and Method Man. There was another young man I never saw, and a couple more I didn’t know, and there was a girl. From what I gathered the girl had gone to law school and had done some service under the law as a public defender. This I learned from my fellow inmates when I inquired about her. She had not practiced that long before she was sent to the house, against her will of course, and I no one knew just why she was there.

She wore red sweatpants and a ponytail; she had olive skin and a pretty face that was hidden behind a shy quiet and a deathly fear of her surroundings. We never spoke, her and I, and only twice in the dream did I see her. Once as she sat rocking silently in a corner, and once as she was scurrying away like a frightened kitten.

At some point we must have gone on a field trip of sorts, because we wound up at a bar and in that bar I got into a fistfight. The fight itself I don’t recall, only that because of the fight I was arrested, and that at the police station I was let go —into the custody of the house— and given a court date from which to return. That’s when I got my plan.

I cant say how the plan came to me, dreams have blank spaces in them that the woken must fill themselves, but I was confident that it would work. I was going to escape. Here is how I would do it:

At the court date I would use the girl in the red sweatpants as my attorney. In the strange logic of dreams, I was sure she would be able to successfully defend me and I would be found not guilty. As I was exiting the courthouse I would make my getaway. My plan was simple, I would run. And I made a promise to myself to take the girl with me.

My plan was not without its flaws. There was the chance that the girl would not be able to get me off, not to mention the possibility that I would be caught while running away even if she did, but it was the only way I could see breaking free, so I had to give it a shot.

When I explained this plan to Ghostface and Method man, as we sat in small uncomfortable chairs in a recreation room that was large and empty and devoid of any actual recreation, they both breathed deep sighs and wished me the best. Ghostface in particular, was excited for me, and encouraged me to carry it out. He put his arm around my shoulder and led me to one of the many windows and he pointed out further than the lawn and beyond the tall white walls and into the city. He said, You gotta go for it son, you gotta go for your freedom.

Method Man just stared at the floor, stricken with apprehension and fear, and said, be careful man, it might not work.

It’ll work, I said.

The biggest hurdle would be convincing the girl to defend me. I could tell she was afraid to practice law, afraid to speak in front of a judge, afraid to disturb the order from which she was confined. It would take some encouragement. I would have to build up her confidence. But I was sure it could be done.

We had to take mandatory walks around the grounds, chaperoned by the counselors and dreaded by the inmates. We were told we had to appreciate nature, and all of us wanted to, but the circumstances prevented us from really enjoying the walks. We would circle the house, exploring the grass and the trees and the bushes along the wall, whispering to each other our complaints and trials. It was on one of these walks that Ghostface told me I should just run right then. Go for it, he said, now’s your chance. But I didn’t want to, I wanted the girl to defend me. I wanted to escape with her. I thought my plan was the only way.

It was then I woke. My dream never made it to the courthouse. I never figured out why we were all so afraid of the counselors. I never discovered what the punishment would be for breaking the rules. I never got to carry out my plan. And in the morning, as I climbed from bed again, I still felt that dread, that sadness and stress, the profound loneliness I had woken with just hours before. I do not know how to interpret dreams, so I didn’t try. But I remembered this one vividly, so decided to write it down.

1 Comments:

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.