On One Hand

March 30, 2007

I’m Dying

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:53 pm

Uhh…. What kind of person decides it’s so necessary to drink that eigth cup of jungle-juice before crashing on the couch? I guess I do, when I’m stupid after drinking seven.

Most people at the party were extremely attractive. Someone from my high school was there, but I didn’t know his name. It would catalyze a thought process that came to haunt me later in the night. Another guy at the party looked like an Italian New Yorker out of a sit-com from the 80’s, with a wavy shock of longish hair combed across his forhead and a Brooklyn swagger. Actually, he looked a lot from that guy from Scream who turns out to be the mastermind behind the murders.

Then I was bursting into one of the bedrooms to find a guy and a girl there, urging the girl to “think” before she “does anything,” then retracting the statement and spending the next half hour insisting to the guy and to everyone that I am not, in fact, a cock-block. The guy was from Florida and I noted this because he had the same name as a kid from my Kindergarten class who moved to Florida halfway through that school year when his mother died. The next thing I knew I was laying back on a couch, and a girl who lived in the apartment was putting blankets around me and taking off my shoes to make me comfortable. How sweet.

The nice thing about going to bed still drunk (which I would argue is a waste of alcohol) is that I have the most interesting dreams, though they are disturbing. Last night it started when I somehow kept running into people I went to high school with, and eerily, they were all still friends with each other, as if they were trapped in some post-adolescent limbo that maintained all the drama and absurdidty of high school, years into adulthood. I think we were in our late 20s. I’ve only maintained a few high school friends (since I’ve changed so much since then), but one of them was there with me, and we were making fun of people like we always have. Another one of the girls from my high school needed directions to get home to some Denver suburb I had never heard of and I told her to start from the closest place I actually knew and I’d be able to give her directions from there. A thought entered my mind and I remembered her saying, way back in third grade, which was the first time I was in a class with this girl, that her favorite state is Florida and Colorado is only her second-favorite. I remembered the way I thought it was absurd that any other state besides Colorado could be anyone’s favorite. Then another guy from my high school was screaming something about the goth kids, and how they had some information he needed, and I told him “look, dude – there were no goth kids at our high school.” I explained, “A couple might have worn dark eyeliner and black clothes but none of them were really goth.”

Then I was in some kind of candy shop holding a cake that kept melting, even though it was not really an ice-cream cake. I was singing to myself and one of the employees of the candy shop – a short-haired girl in uniform red apron and baseball-cap, asked if I thought I was really good at singing. I said no, I’m just messing around, but she challenged me, leaning over the marbled pink countertop, saying, “if you aren’t serious about singing, why do you have your business card out.” I looked in my hand and one was there; I tried to explain that I do writing and my card is to get jobs in writing. She didn’t beleive me, so then I said “I don’t even really know how this business card got into my hand, to be honest.” She said she didn’t know what I was talking about, and when I looked again, saw that it was actually a guitar pick. An orange one. That’s where I put it.

Then I was interviewing some guy on death row for a newspaper article. He was tall and had red hair and a well-trimmed beard on his chin and cheeks. The interview was far beyond an ordinary death row interview, because the guy was already strapped into the electric chair and would be executed as soon as I was done questioning him. His ex-wife was there, a short, Hispanic woman who was very attractive and had three kids with the condemned man. She had mixed feelings toward him because she onced loved him but then he tried to kill her and their children. She said her ex-husband also had a bunch of kids with other women, and I understood that each of them together had hundreds of children.

In a flashback-type vision I saw the woman standing on a back porch in a dense urban setting, in a 15 X 15 foot yard surrounded by a 3-foot brick wall and by the red brick surface of the row-home, picturesque behind a garden of giant hostas, blooming delphiniums and a small tree with shocks of pale-pink flowers that hung like bunches of grapes from the branches. Her dark, long curly hair was puled back with a white ribbon. The woman was waving a sheet gracefully and in slow-motion in the breeze, ready to hang it on the clothes line draped across the yard. An older, slightly heavy woman – a relative – was standing beside her. A small child was clinging to her ankles. Another young girl was peeking out through the doorway from inside the sun-lit home.

I asked the man on death row why he had done it. The prison guard looked up anxiously as I asked the heavy question. The man strapped to the chair said he didn’t know; he didn’t feel like the imperative to kill came from him – he just couldn’t control himself. He said he didn’t feel completely responsible for his actions but he was immensely releived to be on Death Row now, where he won’t be able to hurt anyone else. He said he is simultaneously guilty and innocent, since he did indeed commit the murders but said that killing came from a part of him that he didn’t see as who he really was: that being, a helpless man held hostage to gruesome urges. He said he was ready to die but also afraid. I scribbled it all on a glossy piece of paper. It was fabulously conflicted, as all good literature is. I would put it all together later in an article that flowed.

Suddenly the man on death row whipped out a small handgun. He seemed a little lost for a moment, as if its presence shocked him as much as it did the rest of us, but he was the one with power now and moments later he was standing un-strapped from the chair and had taken our whole group hostage. Then we were being forced out onto the street, running past boutiques and bakeries. The gun was pointed at me several times. I half-knew that I was dreaming, and wondered what would happen if I were to be shot; I’ve been shot in dreams before and it felt like being shocked with an electric fence, except in a single pinpoint of pain in my chest. There were moments when I had to reach up and wrestle it’s carrier’s arm away from me in case the gun were to fire. The condemned man told me he would write the newspaper article himself based on the quotes he gave me, so it didn’t matter if I was dead or alive since he had the transcript of the entire interview. He seemed to think he had the right to kill me since he had finally found Jesus in prison and I had never found Jesus at all. We were out in the city – we may have passed the very garden with the white sheets flowing gracefully across the yard. No one outside our group of hostages seemed to notice that the former-prisoner, running madly, had a gun, and no one seemed to notice when, moments later, he was shooting bystanders. One by one they collapsed dead onto the street. I noted that guns are not as loud in person as they are in the movies. I heard the gun go off several times and wondered how many bullets it could hold. In the chaos I managed to slip away away and started running in the opposite direction, passt glass-fronted shops and clean sidewalks adorned with clay planters overflowing with short, hanging vines and standing flowers.

I half-knew I was dreaming, again, and though I could not make the man stop shooting – who was in hot pursuit of me now, deeply angered at my escape – I could zoom back from my perspective on the downtown streets and place myself in the suburbs, some twenty miles away, where I knew I was somewhat safe because the man with the gun would take several minutes to run that far. I knew that, since I was dreaming, he would disappear as soon as I forgot about him, so couldn’t be caught off-guard if I was distracted by a new story in my new location. I entertained the possiblity of starting a new dream there. But I realized the setting was helplessly boring, since each of the white-gray single-family homes was identical to every other, with their gray-brown roofs and green lawns and gray six-foot fences separating each residence into its own tiny fortress, alone among the multiplicity of home-islands sprawling endless in every direction. My dream was only under my control inasmuch as I kept it to things that were entertaining, and this wasn’t. Either I would inevitably drift back to the horrifying – but stimulating – flight from the death-row convict trying to kill me, or I would wake up. I made my choice. Seconds later, I was awake.



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