Night Voting

In my dream I am a member of a political campaign staff, working for a candidate in a county-wide election.

Our man is the best candidate. We believe this because we are partisans, but somehow we also know it to be true. But the primary was held recently, and he didn’t get enough votes to avoid a runoff. As we prepare for the runoff, government data regarding the exact vote count by precinct falls into our hands. We are not supposed to have this information. In my dream world, it is legal to know the vote totals, but this kind of granular tally is a crime for a campaign to possess.

Our team is aware of this, but we ignore it and begin to analyze the data. Gradually it becomes clear that there is one town in the north that has voted unanimously — one hundred percent — for our opponent, and it is because of this anomaly that we are in a runoff. If this town had split the way the rest of the precincts in the county did, we would have won the election in the primary.

We have a meeting about this, and here is what we decide:Â Our candidate is an eminently qualified black man, and his opponent is a white buffoon with little to recommend him. The voters in this town, then, are all racists who would rather be governed by a nincompoop than a black man. It’s the only explanation that makes sense to us.

So we focus our campaign on this one town, working day and night, knocking on doors, putting out press releases, holding meet-and-greets at local coffee shops, buying radio spots, all making the point that our candidate is smarter, more experienced and more purely motivated than our opponent. If we can turn this town around, even a little, we will win.

On the eve of the general, after a meeting at the home of a citizen, I am approached by a couple of the locals who tell me they are excited about the upcoming election and looking forward to voting for my candidate again. I thank them earnestly for their support before starting back to headquarters.

It’s late at night and the election is tomorrow. I’ve done all I can, haven’t I? But what is it that’s bothering me? There is something wrong. I’m alone in the car on a two-lane country blacktop, slicing the night between fields of corn, going back over everything again.

And there it is: Again. Those two people want to vote for my guy again. They voted for him before, in the primary, and now they want to vote for him again. But the election tally showed one hundred percent of them voted against my man. We had assumed it was a racial thing

My foot has slipped off the accelerator and I am coasting to a stop, pounding on the steering wheel over and over. The primary vote totals for this town had to have been rigged, and we — I — hadn’t even considered the possibility, hadn’t done anything to expose the crime, and now it was too late, and we were going to lose again, this time for real!

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A Price On My Head

Last night in my dream I put out a murder contract on myself.

The “broker” and I conducted the transaction in his office, a storefront with thrift store furnishings. I told him I wanted someone to kill me, and I gave him the money. Then, since it was early evening and I was at loose ends, I went by myself to a movie.

I have no memory at all of the movie, but by the time I left the theater it was full nighttime and I no longer wanted to die. I couldn’t find the storefront, so I headed home, keeping a close eye in the rear view mirror. After a while I decided I was being followed, and I was gripped with fear. Whoever it was, I thought, it would be a pro, and I wouldn’t have a chance.

Home turned out to be a second floor apartment that in real life I haven’t lived in for more than ten years. When I got to my door at the top of the stairs I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t fit the key in the slot. While I was fumbling, the outside door opened at the foot of the staircase. Terrified, I fell on my back near the top few steps. A broad-shouldered guy with handsome features stepped into the entryway. He was not the guy I had contracted with. He was the killer.

I could barely get out the words “I changed my mind — I really did…” He smiled in a friendly way and gestured for me to wait for him, then he went back out the door. Before I could recover enough to run, he came back in. This time he came up a few steps and snapped open a long, efficient-looking knife, no nonsense, with a simple bronze-colored metal handle, slightly corroded.

He said it was OK, he didn’t have to kill me if I didn’t want him to, but he had to cut something off me, a body part to show the broker that he had done the job. Otherwise he wouldn’t get paid. I asked what he wanted, and he said he usually cuts off the victim’s hand. Left or right, either would be fine.

I thought of not ever being able to play guitar again. I suggested an ear, but he said that wouldn’t be good enough because he needed a fingerprint. I tried for the little finger on my right hand, but he wanted an index finger if he couldn’t have the whole hand. Which one could I do without?

While I was trying to decide, the first big jet of the day took off from the nearby airport and woke me up.

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The Pleasures That May Await

In my dream I am reading a newspaper article by David Brooks.

David is talking about his lover, and how they have grown apart. His lover’s bright eyes, Brooks writes, have gone dim, and David is sad to admit that it is because their relationship has grown stale. David is losing interest, and this is reflected in his lover’s dimming eyes and loss of power.

The boyfriend is a force, a mentor to Brooks. They have made a life together, and the boyfriend’s calm assurance has influenced David’s life and made it better, but he needs to be nurtured to maintain his strength, and Brooks has found someone else, a handsome boy he barely knows and with whom he has become obsessed. He doesn’t know what it will be like to be with this new boy, but it’s all he can think about, and his needy lover makes him uncomfortable, guilty, and finally resentful.

Brooks pretends to nurture his old lover, and this brings him back to life, but it is a zombie life. The light in his eyes returns, only now it is not a confident guiding light, but a harsh, cold artificial light. It is too bright, and as his eyes gleam ever brighter, others notice and react with revulsion and fear. All he wants is for David to love him like he used to, and he is trying to act as if that is what’s happening, but he knows that what he has is unreal.

Meanwhile Brooks aches to see this boy and hold him, but there are so many obstacles: his work, his chores around their apartment and their busy social life. He can’t find time for a seduction.

He dreams of soft caresses that actually bring tears to his eyes, and of wanton, sweaty fucking. In his fantasy, there is a big hole in the middle, and that hole is all the things he doesn’t know about this boy: his education, his background, his political positions, his religion, his friends. But he is not interested in that, and he looks away from that empty place and toward the pleasures that may await.

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A Dream of Falling, Part 2

[This post refers to the previous post.]
My dream has several possible meanings.

I don’t believe dreams are “sent” to us. I don’t think they are visions, and I don’t believe they allow us to see the future or know things we couldn’t otherwise know, like the exact moment our twin brother drove his car over the side of that mountain road in Tibet, or who was the last person Lacey Peterson saw.

Still, it is our own minds that put on these shows for us while we are sleeping. In essence it is one part of ourself telling stories to another part. If, during waking hours, I thought I was scaling the side of a ten-story building, or floating down from the top of it, you’d all think I was crazy, and you’d be right. But if it happens in a dream, it’s OK. It’s a window into my subconscious. It is me explaining what I think, what I fear, how I feel. To me.

I have had dreams in which I was terribly afraid. There was something that was going to “get” me. When I was very young it was often something known, like whales. I had a recurring dream when I was a child that I was being chased by a huge whale, and if I got out of the water it could come right up on land and continue the pursuit. Later my sleep was disturbed over and over by having “seen” The Flash. I grew up during The Cold War, when nuclear holocaust seemed inevitable. I would wake in horror, sit up in bed and wait for the shock wave, which would be a few seconds behind the flash and would vaporize everything. Never mind the bad science: This was scary.

These days I am too sophisticated for such foolishness, instead dreaming about vague, disquieting dread. I believe consciously that I can handle anything knowable that might come at me, so my mind can’t show me a picture of what it is that I must fear. It’s nothing that has a form, nothing I have seen in my waking life. On mornings after these dark, moody dreams I am jumpy and blue.

All of this stuff can show me something, I’m sure. I’m just not sure exactly what. What can I learn about myself from this dream? Maybe that I believe…

  • It’s the journey – the climb – that is important. I scale the wall, and I am among the few who have a chance to reach the end, but it was the climb that held my interest, and so I delcine to bring it to an end.
  • There is always another way. The limited options imposed by our society can be transcended, and the consequences of not doing what is expected – making a try for the roof, in this case – are not so bad.
  • I am weak. I can’t close. I do all the work, and I do it well, but I don’t make the final leap. I don’t have the faith in myself to go all the way to the top. I am afraid to compete for the highest position. I don’t deserve to see the roof, or whatever is over that ledge.

This last is troubling. I could have tried to climb up to the roof, to reach the pinnacle. Who knows what rewards I might have found? And if I had tried and not made it, the results would have been exactly the same as if I had not tried at all, but merely gave up.

So why don’t I try?

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A Dream of Falling, Part 1

It begins in a phone booth.

I am inside, the door closed, talking to someone, or listening to someone, I don’t know which and I don’t know who. In the dream, the phone booth feels like a normal phone booth, but it isn’t, really: It’s all glass, on all four sides and the roof. It’s in an alley between two tall buildings, on one side a modern blue and silver and gray skyscraper, on the other an imposing old structure of rough red brick, a relic, perhaps, of the golden days before the Great Depression. The phone booth sits incongruously in the middle of the alley, where it would block traffic if there were any traffic.

I become aware of objects hitting my phone booth, falling from above. When I look up at the glass roof, I see that living things, animals – maybe pigeons – are falling from a great height and splattering on the phone booth and on the pavement around it. I look again and I see that it is not only birds, but people who are falling to their deaths.

But there is no garish, bloody carnage, no screams of terror or pain. Instead there is silence, and as each falling body meets its fate it merely splatters into a translucent fluid, which flows down the sides of my glass phone booth and puddles in the alley.

Then I am out of the booth, and I am scaling the side of the red brick building. I have no safety line. I am pulling myself up hand over hand, using the jutting bricks and various ledges and windowsills as handholds and footholds, slowly working my way up. I am surrounded by other climbers, each laboring silently except for an occasional groan of effort. The other climbers are not with me or against me. We are all just trying to make it to the top, ten stories above.

In time I arrive just below the roof, where a large ledge juts out above me. Exhausted, I hang there for a while. I can’t figure out a way to get past this ledge and up onto the roof. It sticks out too far. It seems like I would have to climb upside down for a few feet in order to get into a position to haul myself up to safety. As I think about this, I am holding on to a rail or a rain gutter with both hands, and I am suspended there, a couple hundred feet above the alley. Looking down I can see that people – other climbers – are still falling off the building from various heights.

I see a man in roughly the same situation as me, and to my astonishment he lets go of the rail we are hanging from and somehow manages to leap up and away from the wall of the building, gets a grip on the very top of the ledge and drags himself up to the rooftop and out of my sight.

I realize that he has done it the only way it can be done. A leap of faith. He could have missed the ledge. If he had he would have fallen for sure, as there was no retreating from the move he’d made. My grip is weakening, my hands are sweaty, and my options are limited: I can try for the roof, or I can hang there until my strength gives out and I fall to my death.

I hang there pondering this, I don’t know how long. Then I realize I am dreaming, and there is a third option. I close my eyes and let go. The descent is not like a fall. I float, and awaken.

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Dream Lover

Last night Linda came to me in a dream.

I was at a race track, watching the ponies. There were people around, but no big crowd. It was broad daylight, hazy sun streaming through a stand of cypress. It felt like early morning, not racing time. The horses were warming up, training. In my waking life, I don’t go to race tracks.

I turned to the woman standing with me at the chain link fence. She looked at me and it was Linda. She gave me her sweet smile, the one that always melts my heart, her dark eyes downcast shyly. She pressed her side against my side, so the only place for my arm was around her shoulder. It felt OK there.

We made small talk, but I knew she was dead. I wanted to ask her why she left. I wanted to know if anything hurt. I wanted her to forgive me for…what? I wasn’t sure, but I needed forgiveness. I wanted to hold her, take her face in my hands, kiss her eyes.

She turned her head. I heard someone say You know she can’t be here.

A pack of horses thundered by. I rode one, and saw Linda, standing at the edge of the track. She was waving and calling to me, something I couldn’t hear. I’m sure she would forgive me, if I knew how to ask, if I knew my crime, if I could talk to her again.

But I rode away, around the turn.

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