Dream Asylum

I don't pretend to understand them.


I am dancing in the winter courtyard with all the other teenagers, dressed in upper-caste victorian finery. My friend and I are competing for the attention of one girl, and near the end of the dance we even engage in fisticuffs, demonstrating our bitter love rivalry. Funny, since in other matters, we are good friends.

I am eating a Taqueria Vallarta vegetarian burrito. Occasionally I take a bite out of a head of iceberg lettuce. The lettuce is bland, so I baste it with some tahini sauce. My Dad, also at the dinner table, expresses mild surprise at my choice of toppings.

My companion returns from the war. He is a young adult now, as am I. I am with the rest of the men in the snowy courtyard, line dancing with the women. I am tempted to dash up to the woman we were competing over, grab her, and dance her flambouyantly around the field, to make it really clear to him that, in his five-year absence, I had won over her heart. But I didn't because my good side won out over my mean side.

Now my companion and I are young kids again, around thirteen or fourteen. It is night and we are outside a victorian house, on the front porch. We are talking through the window to a man who is sleepwalking. He is sitting in a chair in the front parlor, listening to our suggestions. We pass items to the man in the room, who follows our instructions in his dazed state.

We tell him to put on some music, then we tell him to switch to the record player. "Here, play this record," I say. He comes up to the window. I move my hand out of his vision and pretend to pick up a record. I'm pretending to have a record so thoroughly that I can almost see it as I pass it through the window. The man is completely fooled. The record is the Beach Boys, and I instruct him to put it near track five, on Surfin' USA.

We walk away for a bit, then come back. In the intervening time, the man has realized he is sleepwalking, gone to the bathroom, and gone upstairs to bed. Hiding in the dark corner of the porch, we observe the housewife receiving a letter through the front door. She opens it, reads it briefly, and then runs upstairs. We hear her shouting to everyone in the house, "Okay everyone; orders!" Then she describes directions and instructions from the official paper.

It is daytime. My friend realizes that the war is on again. He leaps off the porch, onto the swampy, wet ground. On his hands and knees, he crawls along the side of the house. War noises fade in like a symbolic soundtrack. Big black bugs zoom straight at him, making plane noises. He ducks into dirt to avoid getting hit. Funny, I think, because that sort of war device (the bomber) isn't supposed to have been invented yet.

The boy and I scramble around one corner of the brick house, and run to the next corner, where the wall runs next to a chain-link fence, forming a very narrow alley for about five feet. The walls are covered with blackberry vines that we try to break and push aside as we jam ourselves into this alleyway. We are hiding here in order to avoid the recruitment police, who will come for my companion in the form of a huge tank. The tank will come around the side of the building looking for us, but will not be able to see into the alley. We each have some burrito-like packages of food, which we try to guard from the blackberry leaves and the dirt of the brick wall, which we are facing. A narrating voice says that we will hide here for two full years, as the battle rages on.

At the same time we see a mass movement of troops accross a snowy penninsula. A different incarnation of my companion takes off to join the fight, in the form of a very large spider, traveling by spinning electrical cable. I see the spider moving from my Scotts Valley house to the garage, and onward into the woods. An incarnation of me is accompanying my friend. I am a small tiger, about the size of a leopard but thicker. Now he is a large man, decked out for combat like a barbarian. Others are around us.

My companion and I are on the battlefield, and he is running down a rocky slope to trudge through some water. I jump up onto his shoulders and wrap around him to avoid getting wet. At first he is reluctant to hold me, and keeps setting me down, but finally he splashes into the water and holds me up over his head. I am close to inhabiting the body of my companion in this sequence, but not quite. More of a detatched observer of my tiger form and him. I leap off his hands and onto the shore of the creek, just before he loses his balance, stumbles, and splashes completely into a deep area.

I creep down next to a rock and dip my chin in to get a drink (not how tigers drink, but hey, this is a dream, it's not like a tiger should be afraid of getting wet anyway.) and I watch him splash his way out of the current and to the shore. There is more before and more after, but dammit, I can't remember it.