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Dream: Staring at Mrs. Mrs.

Dream February 19, 2015

Staring at Mrs. Mrs.

I was sleeping deeply when a loud sound from my apartment woke me. It was late morning. I rose from bed and went through my bedroom door wearing only a T-shirt and boxers, but I walked not into my living room, but into the kitchen of a mountain cabin I had rented some years ago. Three women in business suits were laughing as they entered the cabin. Stepping around the kitchen island, too aware of the mismatched patches of hair covering my legs, I asked one of the women, “What are you doing in my cabin that used to be my apartment?”
She removed her sunglasses and bit the lens while staring at my crotch. “We have another family who wants to live here.”
“But where will I go?”
“You can keep the place if you come up with 33,000 more funnels.”
“I don’t have that many funnels!” I was starting to worry, and I didn’t know what she was talking about.
The last woman to enter shut the door. She pointed to the bay window in the living area with a finger which was seven feet long. Her nail tapped the glass. “I love the way that hill keeps going,” she said.
“Okay, alright,” said the sunglass woman. “If you can look at Mrs. Mrs. for more than a minute without dying, you can stay.”
“I’ll try, but can I put some pants on first?”
All light was extinguished, and I stood alone in a darkness so complete, I felt my own light dying too. A door opened before me, revealing a brightly lit dentist’s office. Every piece of equipment and furniture was broken, junk littered the floor. Everything but the dentist’s chair. An elderly woman tiptoed around the chair, walked carefully through the garbage toward the door, toward me. Her face was kind, but even in that radiant light, a darkness sheltered in the wrinkles around her eyes.
She joined me in the black room and the door shut. Her face glowed with a pale light.
“I am Mrs. Mrs.,” she said. “Look at me.”
I stared at her eyes, her cheekbones, which were hidden by sagging skin, like high-backed chairs covered by sheets in an abandoned room. The light in her face trembled, then flashed like the circling lens of a lighthouse. The brightness captured an image at my periphery, which left an after-image which floated across my eyes - an eyeless, toothless pig gnawing at a skeleton a cot by my feet. Her face flashed again and the pig was snuffling at my knee. Its breath was hot and wet. It licked me, and its saliva burned.
I shuddered, focusing on Mrs. Mrs..
The flash came again, revealing the woman who had touched the window. She stood by the window, and her long, horrible forefingers pointed at the pig, and at my mouth. I felt the pig clutch at my leg and begin to climb, huffing and spitting.
“I can’t look anymore!” I shouted, and closed my eyes, thinking that this would extinguish the dream as the dream had extinguished the cabin light. But no. The weight of the pig pushed me onto my back, cracking my head against something hard as slate, and the pig collapsed on my chest and wormed forward to cover my mouth in a gnawing, burning kiss.

Dream Over

Dreams: Part Two: Doggatorface

Dream Part Two - Doggatorface

Several meters into the olive dark of the pipe, the sound of the horse’s clopping hooves stopped, leaving splashing water and low, growling.

Horses don’t growl.

Its shadow had shrunk to the size of a small pony in the circle of light at the opposite end of the pipe. Once it reached the bow of light at the other end, I saw the horse had transformed into a large dog. When she stopped at the rim of the pipe, I could see her profile; her fur was gray and she had the heavy, bunched shoulders of a boxer, yet her snout was wolfish. As I hurried to catch up, she looked over her shoulder at me and her face morphed into a cartoonish jumble of asymmetry and squiggling lines. Her mouth rotated with triangle teeth. She huffed at me, then faced forward again, and the normal features returned.

I reached her side at the lip of the pipe and we both peered out from the opening. The water here was a translucent jade, bisected right below the concrete by a strip of raised land that ran all the way to the shore, which curved up into a soft hill at the top of which was an illustration of a small house. The lines of the house were drawn in redbrick crayon, with four-square windows, a crude doorway and purple smoke rising from the chimney. The arc of an orange sun floated just above the right side of the house. The afternoon sun shone bright through the drawings.

The door opened and a real woman stepped out and waved at us. “Come and visit at last. We will have talk.” She went back inside the house, leaving the door open.

The dog and I jumped down onto the land bridge. Immediately gargantuan shapes rose out of the water on both sides, pushing up mounds of water that washed over my feet. The dog hissed as the shapes coalesced into the biggest alligators I had ever seen, some 20 to 30 feet long. They brushed their flanks against the shore of the bridge, then each rested its horrible jaws on either side of the strip. Clearly they could easily scramble up and munch on us, but they remained still, following our passage with their yellowed, oligocenic eyes.

We ran the remaining distance to the base of the hill, climbing our way to the open door and entered.

The space inside the two dimensional drawing was three-dimensional and welcoming. A living room furnished just short of hoarding, each luxurious chair or lamp or table pressed up against each other. A man wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt sat in an easy chair placed before a diamond coffee table. His mouth silently opened and closed.

The woman greeted us just inside the door. She wore a strapless dress that had been made out of eggplant.

“I am so glad you are here!” she said to the dog, bending down and burying her nose in the dog’s neck fur. She pulled a cookie out of an eggplant pocket and gave it to my grateful companion.

“Come over here to sit and listen,” she said, indicating a long couch diametric to the seated man. The dog and I walked around the jumbled artifacts. The woman and I sat on the sofa, and the dog bounded up and lay down, her chin on my knee. Her eyes were placid and focused on the man.

His mouth continued to move as words began to emerge.

“ . . . flies. So many flies. Flies in sauce; flies are the boss. Why do the roots of illness gnarl in the happiness of lovers? Why is the mote in your eye the only boat to the safe shore? SO MANY FUCKING ANGRIES IN THE CHURCH BUTTER! You will never believe that the sun I drew pre-dated the big bang, and that within my semen swims missiles of xenobiology to smush the mush brains of me and all the other elses! SO MANY FUCKING ANGRIES IN THE CHURCH BUTTER! I am the straight man in your tragicomedy, dearest, dearest, dearest . . .”

The dog leapt from the couch into the lap of the now-talking man. Her face shifted into the terrifying visage I had seen before, and she ground her teeth into his forehead down to his chin, growling and digging out chunks of flesh and bones and organs and glands, swallowing and digging for more. The man flailed at her with his hands and knees, but he was now silent.

The woman got up, saying, “Screaming. Screaming. Screaming.” She walked around a wall into another room and returned carrying a plastic grocery bag. Shaking it out, she went to the easy chair and spread it open on the floor in front of the dog and man.

The dog slurped up one last strand of artery, swallowing, then bent over the open bag and vomited her belly’s contents into it. She coughed a few times, then sat down and looked up at the man.

He stood up from the chair and put his hands in the pockets of his jeans. His face was hallowed out like the skin of an avocado. A splinter of bone fell free from a patch of blood on the back of the shell, landing with a clink in the scoop of his chin.

The woman tied the handles of the bag into a square knot and handed it to me. It was heavy and sloshing.

“Feed this to the gators on your way back. They will be grateful,” she said.

I glanced at the dog, motioning her to follow me outside. She ignored me.

The woman said, “She lives here now with us. Go on now. Try to divide the remains of his face evenly.”

I walked out the door down the hill, swinging the bag like a wet and heavy pendulum.

Dream Over

Dreams: Part One: Horsewaterpipe

Dreams August 29, September 1, 2014

Part 1 - Horsewaterpipe

I had these dreams on separate nights, but the mood of each made them brethren, brethren of water.

I was on a hill in a field overlooking a country road with my hand on a horse.

The mare and I stood in the shadow of a great bridge that spanned over the field, the road and beyond. The bridge was much too grand to have been designed for the slender lane; the road’s embankment curved down into deep blankness, and I guessed there was water down there, but it was hidden by the slope.

My left hand rested on the horse’s mane. She didn’t have a saddle, but I understood that I wasn’t supposed to ride the horse, instead my task was to lead her away from the bridge along the road.

I started down the hill, gently gripping the mane, and the horse calmly accompanied me to the road. When we reached the pavement, the traffic on the road increased dramatically. Cars rushed by under the bridge, and the wind from their passing spooked my companion. She snorted, pounded her hooves on the asphalt.

A Mini Cooper stopped under the bridge, the driver waving at me to cross. I shook my head, pointing down the road, indicating we didn’t want to cross. He honked his horn and shouted out the window, “Hurry up and cross, asshole! The pressure is building behind me.”

I ignored him and led the horse along the curb. The guy in the mini drove up beside us and slowed, yelling, “Damn you for wasting my time, horse and man!” Then he sped off, and a surge of violent, noisy traffic followed him. The horse was again startled by the chaos, and she broke away from me and bolted across the road through a narrow gap between the cars.

“Stop, —!” I cried. “—.” She didn’t have a name.

I danced across the two-lane, screaming, “Horse! Horse!”, but the animal just pelted down the grassy embankment toward a muddy and sluggish creek and plunged in. The water eddied around what appeared to be columns of paperback books stacked neatly in groups of four, which were suspended a few centimeters above the surface. Trying to read the title on the volume closest to me, I tripped and crashed down into the water. It smelled like the gator enclosure at a neglected zoo.

The horse swam around the islands of books as if exercising. I called for her to come to me, but she whinnied and doubled around a paperback tower underneath the bridge, then swam in a straight line in front of me to my right, where the creek flowed into an enormous concrete pipe. I pushed through the water to catch her, yet the dirty water rippled before me, revealing the shell of an enormous snapping turtle. The turtle dipped down beneath the surface, its head aimed for my crotch. I squealed, water from its dive splashing into my mouth, and slammed into its carapace with the back of my hand. It retreated for a moment, then sunk back towards my private bits. I grabbed one of the paperbacks from a nearby stack; the pillar didn’t topple, just merely descended one unit from the removal. I cracked the spine of the paperback against the snapper’s outstretched neck, and the creature jolted and swiftly spun in the water, swimming toward the other shore.
Not wanting to get the book too wet, I hurled it onto the nearest bank of the creek and swam after the horse. My errant companion had climbed up into the pipe, where the water was less than a foot deep. I spat out lizardshit water, coughing “Waitwait!”

The horse cantered down through the pipe into a murky green.

I followed.

Dream Part One Over

Dream: Annihilation Invades My Dreams.

Dream: Annihilation Invades My Dreams

I’ve never had a novel take over my dreams in this manner. Up until now, my dreams have been fabrications of my mind. Although the experience was fascinating and strange, I hope I don’t have a lot of these in the future. Who wants to be an unoriginal dreamer?

I was in a mall with a bunch of other writers getting ready to see a horror movie. We were scattered around the food court, chatting. One writer sat at a table, hovering like a frozen dead man over a scale model of a western town. His eyes were whorls of concentration. I slapped him on the back, breaking him from his focus. He looked at me, startled and irritated.

I laughed. “You were in the writer’s trance, right?”

“I WAS,” he said. “I bet you’re in it all the time.”

“Not as much as I’d like to be,” I muttered.

Someone called my name from another table. He had a pilot product of new technology, a mindbookmovie. It was a novel in which the reader literally becomes immersed in the narrative, but locked into the imaginative intent of the author. The book was Annihilation and part of its sequel by Jeff VanderMeer.

“You gotta try this out,” the guy said.

I immediately felt guilty, because I had read only the first book, and this might contain spoilers, but the attraction to delve into something so new was too strong. So I sat down and opened it and immediately I was in . . .

. . . the tunnel (the Tower! the Tower!), walking down the spiral steps. Everything was so incredibly vivid! The air was rich and heavy and hot. I continued down the stairs. I heard quiet sounds from below that were growing louder. I knew what I would encounter, yet I didn’t stop my descent. After several minutes, I came upon the anthropologist. Beside her was this squat cylindrical robot-thing beeping and beeping at her. The anthropologist was reaching around the curve of the stairs, her face reflecting green light. I was fucking horrified, and I turned around and started to run up the stairs. But my running stopped. The stairs began to move themselves, an escalator rising in a spiral. Both sides of the walls were covered in the bristling green words, but out of fear, I avoided trying to read what was written. At one point, the stone of the right wall gave way to a bay window, through which I saw a hand-shaped creature staring out at me from behind a desk. That must be the Manager, I thought. As the escalator carried me to the top, a great, choking fear clutched me, a knowledge that my destination was no less terrifying than what I had left behind . . .

. . . and I was yanked out of the mindbookmovie by my Father.

“What’re you doing? You haven’t read that far, yet. You’ll ruin it for yourself.”

I was relieved. “How do you know that?”

“Jeff VanderMeer told me. He’s outside.”

Dream Over

Dream: Bus to China

Along with dozens of other speculative fiction writers, I was on a bus for a trip to China.

I looked out the bus window at our guide. She was tiny next to the huge fuel dispenser, yelling and banging on its side with her purse. She was crying. “I’ve been planning this for years! And now, and now, I don’t know the fucking code to squeeze the juice from this can!”

Near the front of the bus, a particularly clever science fiction writer said, “I’m surprised I decided to go on this trip. I’m not a stupid person. I mean, we’re in Oklahoma. Somewhere in Oklahoma. The Bering Strait is even wider than it is on the maps. How are we going to get to China on a bus from Oklahoma without drowning?”

Several writers said:

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

“I HATE car racing!” said the fantasy writer sitting behind me. As I turned left to investigate this person, I noticed a flat screen television was mounted on the left side of the bus, playing a stock car race. VROOM, VROOM, VROOM, the cars went. VROOM.

I tried to turn completely around to talk to the writer, but I merely got a peripheral glimpse of her face before she pushed my head away.

“If you want to talk to me, keep looking at the screen.”

“Okay,” I said. “How come you hate this so much?”

“It’s boring and unrealistic.”

Even though I shared her negative opinion, I found myself defending the sport. “But they are so fast, and the wheels don’t last as long as most wheels. It takes concentration, ex domestic lager and lots of diet choke!”

“You’re full of shit, and the back of your head looks like a dead coconut. Damn! I want to get there!”

This hurt my feelings, so I pushed my head against the glass. Our guide was on her hands and knees, scraping her nose against the petroleum-stained cement. A horror writer I didn’t know had exited the bus and was examining the dispenser. A handle emerged from the right side of the dispenser, out of the reach of our small guide. He pulled it and the construct clucked like a chicken. A narrow bar appeared on the front, displaying rolling symbols like those on a slot machine. The rollers stopped on three dying panda bears. Something unlocked.

Our guide stood up, smiling at the writer through tears and blood. Her nose was halfway gone, and I noticed that she kept her nose clean.

“You did it!” she said. “Now we can start our journey!”

I looked at the front of the bus and waited.

Dream Over

No, I'm Not Your Mascot

No, I’m Not Your Mascot

Walking is a vital part of my life. It’s a source of exercise, hope, mental rejuvenation, and the act itself is inextricably entwined with my identity as a person and a writer. I was born with mild Cerebral Palsy and my parents were told by doctors that I would never walk. They were wrong, but I didn’t begin to walk until I was four years old. I was eventually sponsored by a Shriner, and received free operations and treatment at Shriner’s Hospital for Children until I was 21.

The subject of walking appeared in the first piece of writing for which I was paid at age 11. It was for a contest held by the local newspaper on Mother’s Day, titled I Love My Mom Because. I won first place and my letter was a giant print centered among the other entries. I don’t think I won necessarily because of my skill in writing, rather, like a savvy little skid mark, I exploited my problems with CP in the letter, and how my Mother persisted in finding me help until I could walk.

However, I wasn’t being manipulative, but honest. And it was an early lesson on the power of honesty in writing. Still, I think I had an edge that the other children did not, and to the editors who magnified my letter on that full page, I was probably an INSPIRATION. And this type of response to my presence, especially while walking, has occurred in my childhood and adult life often and often (not countless, I’m not a vampire). In the case of the contest, I’m glad I won, and I think it was fair because the letter to my Mother was unusual.

But comments from strangers that sound like Hallmark memes copied so many times the letters are wasting away like frogs in the Sahara have become an annoyance that stirs in me some quiet anger. I understand that most people are just being nice, but it gets old being a repository for banal observations which seem new and fresh within their incandescent bubble. Many people do not have sluice gates between their questionable brains and the yawning expanse of their mouths.

For instance: a few years ago I joined the Cooper River Bridge Run/Walk where I live in Charleston, SC. As I crested the slope of the bridge, a man in his sixties broke away from his wife and walked beside me for a few moments. He said, “You know, you’re an inspiration to all of us.” I think I grunted. I wanted to sound like the lower-level troll he imagined was straining against nature to join the normals in their normal pursuits. He smiled and went back to his wife; they both walked faster than I. Maybe I have a bad attitude, but I don’t want to be his inspiration. If he wants to fly higher than an eagle, then get on an airplane, or ask Bette Midler to switch places.

For instance: one day I was walking along the side road that leads to my apartment. A man in a truck called out to me as he was leaving the driveway of an office building. I went over and spoke with him for a few minutes. It was an odd exchange; I felt like I was being interviewed by a nervous fan. What’s your name? What do you do? Do you walk every day? He told me that everyone in his office sees me walking each day. He said that his eyes were bad and at night when he was leaving work, his colleagues told him, “Watch out and don’t hit the dude with the bad leg.” He said that everyone who worked at his software company thought of me as their mascot.

This guy was friendly and sincere, and I didn’t grunt. He drove away and I continued walking, musing on the encounter. In middle school, since I had always been a hopeless athlete where every sports-related instance of my life was another strata in the compounded mountain of humiliation, I tried to belong by becoming a manager for the football team and later the basketball team. Part of it was pressure from my parents to join a school-related activity. Everyone was nice to me, but I quickly felt a tool. I didn’t do anything, really, but hand out water and watch from the sidelines two sports that cultivated no interest or passion within me. When I “managed” the football team, at home games the announcer would blare my name and position with extra gusto, and I recall feeling embarrassed by this, knowing that it was really just empty horseshit. Perhaps well-meaning to boost my esteem, but I wasn’t a dumbass. I knew I was on the sidelines; I knew that, in that position, I was a marginal who didn’t care about the game and didn’t matter to the process other than to be there to make most everyone feel comfortable that I was not left out. I was a mascot. But I didn’t stay a manager long.

Because despite how my persistent walking within this body that lopes in a limp to the left fills you with an inspiration to do your best and rise and shine with King Kong thumps to the chest and a Willy Wonka twinkle in your eye . . .

I’m not your fucking mascot.

Daddy Poison

Daddy Poison

For a very short season, I had a friend in high school who gave me one of my first real-life glimpses into the bone deep reach of daddy poison.
I had just changed schools, and making friends was (and still is) difficult for me. He was a nice guy who befriended me in English class, funny, both of us shared a love for books, especially works by Stephen King. It was one of those friendships in which the dissolution was so gradual, I don’t remember exactly when we stopped communicating, but I remember some two or three years later seeing him in an arcade and recognizing the fierce dislike of me in his eyes.
About a couple of months after we had become friends, he started saying things that really bothered me. He had an older brother who had recently graduated from the school, and it was obvious that he worshipped him. From his stories and the collective gossip of other students, the brother had an unsavory reputation of being a proud racist. It was in the recollection of these stories that my friend began to say n****r, as if it was an accepted word on which we bonded. I saw something different in this new friend of mine; it was like a layer of cellophane pressing down on a genuinely kind young man, a layer that, when he delved into these brother narratives, dissolved into his skin and altered who he really was. It was mean and unthinking hatred that surprised me, confused me.
One story that will probably never drift away from my brain involved his brother and a teacher whom the brother hated. This teacher was a woman in her sixties whom doctors would describe as morbidly obese. The brother somehow procured keys to the high school and her classroom, and in the middle of the night, broke into her classroom and defiled all her walls with obscene references to her weight problem. My friend finished the story by laughing and telling me how the poor woman, when she entered the next day, broke down and blubbered. He grinned as he told me this, saying, “Isn’t that cool?”
I don’t remember what I said to him. I remember being shocked and silent and thinking HOLY SHIT THAT’S NOT COOL THAT’S FUCKING MEAN YOUR BROTHER IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE AND SO ARE YOU FOR LAUGHING ABOUT IT.
Another story involved his brother’s humiliation of a young black student at the school.The student was a young woman whom I thought was EXCEEDINGLY attractive, and it was through other friends I had made that he found out my attraction to her. He asked me about it; he was visibly pissed. I told him, yes, that I thought she was hot. It was after this that we went our separate ways. Luckily, I didn’t have any more classes with him after that. (My English teacher the following year was the one abused by his evil brother, and she was excellent.)
At some point during our brief friendship, I visited his home one afternoon, and discovered the origin of Evil Brother and gathering clouds forming over the kindness of my friend. Earlier that day, he had found one of those wallets with a long chain that attaches to a belt. His father returned home from work a few minutes after we got there. He introduced me to his Dad; I shook his hand, his Dad glanced at the chain wallet that his son wore and said, “Take that damn thing off. You look like a n****r.”
My friend tried to defend the wallet, and I distinctly remember the look on his face. He loved his Dad, but he was also embarrassed and ashamed. I saw that struggle - a young, shy and good-natured man fighting the daddy poison.
I can’t say if he ultimately lost the struggle, but he was certainly overwhelmed by it during that short season.
One fallacy shining in the loving eyes of sons is that Daddy is Super, Daddy is God.
But Daddy is not God. At best, Daddy is a loving, but flawed man, like everyone else, awash in the uncertainty of life. And at worst, Daddy is an ignorant asshole whose words are poison, poison, poison.