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October 11th, 2008

Dream. . .

Another dream I had just now.  I want to say it’s another odd one, but to tell the truth this is pretty typical.  Not so much because it was unpleasent…most of my dreams are actually quite nice…but because it was so vivid, and yet so damn weird in places.  I’ve had dreams like this all my life. 

It starts with me mowing the lawn…something I was doing late yesterday because I’d let my tiny back yard go to seed again.  So getting it back under control was a lot of work for a back yard so tiny.  In this dream, I’m living in some suburb somewhere, in a somewhat larger detached house with a nice lawn all around it.  There’s a bug infestation that’s killing my grass, and I go get some lawn and garden pesticide to put down.

The next thing I know is I’m under arrest.  They tell me that a cloud of gas rose up from my lawn after I laid down the pesticide, and drifted over to a neighbor’s house and killed him while He was mowing His lawn.

I don’t remember the trial at all.  Just…next thing I know I’ve been convicted and given a sentance of death, and I’m being led to the death chamber.

Here’s where the dream takes on a Twilight Zone-ish quality.  They sit me down in a comfortable, somewhat overstuffed chair in what looks more like a doctor’s waiting room then an execution chamber.  I’m given a single shot of poison.  Then I’m free to go.  Somehow I know that the way execution works in this particular dream world, is the condemned are given a shot of some sort of slow acting poison that takes something more then a day to kill you, and when it does it happens all at once, not slowly and painfully.  You’re then allowed to leave the prison, go settle your affairs, and basically spend your one last day however you wish.

Next thing I know I’m in the parking lot of some large, but not mega-large, Baptist church with mom and a few other people I don’t recognize.  This was not how I wanted to spend my last moments on earth, being emotionally suffocated among people who couldn’t care less about me, so much as using my life as their own stepping stone to heaven.

Mom, as always, excepted.  She’s the only person there I know.  Everyone else is a complete stranger, which is odd in retrospect because the dream could have easily populated that church parking lot with people I knew from my church days, or other family members on mom’s side who go to church…er…religiously.  Instead they’re all stereotypical Southern Baptist church droids, and I feel oddly, like a missionary surrounded by cannibals.  They’re all giving me, the condemned man, these sickly sweet fundamentalist smiles that barely hide the emotional hunger behind them.

Mom’s the only person there who I know loves me, and I’m distraught at having to put her through all this.  That’s the other wierd thing about how executions are done in this dream world.  The trials are secret and nobody knows when you’ve been released from prison that you’ve been given The Shot unless you tell them.  I figure that’s so you can go on about your last day as close to normal as you might want.  Somehow I’ve ended up here in this church parking lot with mom and she’s making another attempt to get me back in church again.  She doesn’t seem very upset though.  In fact, she’s her usual cheerful self.  So I figure, releaved, that she doesn’t know I’ve just been executed.  But she’s the only one there who doesn’t know.  All the church droids know, and they’re all giving me that concern troll look I came to know and despise when I was a kid.

Like everyone else there except me, mom’s in her Sunday best.  I’m dressed as I always am, in blue jeans and sneakers and a light short sleeved shirt.  And as is typical in my dreams whenever I’m self-aware I seem to be, at various points during the dream, the age I am now and a teenager again.  When I tell her I’m not interested in going inside the church she smiles and says that’s okay, and gives me a little hug.  Once I got old enough to make my own decisions, she never tried to force me into going to church.  She walks inside, leaving me out in the parking lot.  The church droids follow her in.  Irritatingly though, not all of them.

One church droid stays behind with me…some middle age man I’ve never met before, wearing a dazzlingly tacky polyester suit, is looking at me with that expression I know all too well as a prelude, not to making a pass at me, but worse, to a proselytize.  Incoming…!

I sit down and lean up against a car in the parking lot.  I have my laptop with me and I open it up and decide to blog.  Somehow when I open up the laptop I have an internet connection and I can post to my blog.  Maybe there’s a wireless portal somewhere nearby…I don’t know.  But I can sign into my blog.  I want to write one last post.  I want to apologize for killing someone…whoever that someone was.  I want to write some last essay about how I found life to be, now that I know how it ends.  But I can’t write.  This is a dream and deciphering written words has always been a major struggle for me in dreams.  It’s like the part of my brain that decodes words on a page just isn’t online when I’m asleep.

So instead I decide to draw something.  Somehow, my blog software has a Photoshop plug-in and I can start drawing right into the blog.  And here the dream gets a tad science-fictioney.  My laptop all of a sudden has a drawer in it that I can pull out, and in it I have my drawing tools…the traditional one’s I’ve always used: technical pencil, ink pens, kneeded rubber eraser, charcoal sticks…  I don’t need the Wacom tablet…a thing I’ve never really mastered the knack of drawing with anyway…I can draw with all my traditional art tools right on the screen of my laptop, and it all just goes into Photoshop as though I was doing it on art paper.

(Can I get a patent on this idea?  Probably not…)

So I start drawing something.  I start drawing a landscape.  It’s the field behind one of the apartment complexes I grew up in.  There was a place there where I used to watch the sunsets when I was a kid.  That’s what I start drawing.  The church droid starts asking me the usual leading questions about what I’m drawing.  I say nothing to him.  After a while, he just shuts up.  Good!  Leave me alone!

I really start getting into my drawing.  It feels good…real good…because I haven’t been able to draw now for so long in real life.  I’ve been so heartached I can’t even go near my drawing table.  Now here, in the dream, I can draw again.  It feels wonderful.  The drawing trance is so much better then the coding trance, when I can get it.

I’ve almost got my drawing finished when suddenly I start feeling the poison begin to work.  My hands and the rest of my body start going numb.  I loose fine control of my fingers and it’s hard to manipulate the keyboard.  It feels like a really severe fevor is sweeping through my veins.  I realize I don’t have much longer and I need to tell everyone this is the last message.  I try to find a clear spot on the artwork where I can write something out but I can’t.  The view is magnified and I can’t scale it back.  All I can do is drag the viewport around and try to find some open spot on the artwork where I can enter some text.  But it’s all varying textures of charcoal and ink everywhere I look.  For a moment I’m afraid I won’t be able to get my last words out there.  But then I find a spot, and…somehow…I manage to enter a few brief final words to…well…to everybody:

I am about to be executed.  This is my last post.  Goodbye.

I hit "Publish" and close the laptop.  Then I get up and start walking out of the parking lot.  I’m feeling feverish, very feverish.  Suddenly I’m not in the parking lot of the church, but of Congressional Plaza…a large strip shopping center near where I grew up way back when.  It’s odd…once again I’m a teenager, yet I’m carrying my silver Mac PowerBook and I’m walking to a spot behind the little Hot Shoppes Cafateria that stood by itself in the front of the Plaza parking lot.  And I’m going there because I know that’s where I’ve parked my car.  The Mercedes.  Yet in my dream I’m a kid again and I sure didn’t have the kind of money back then for the laptop, let alone the Mercedes.  But when I get to the Hot Shoppes, I decide instead of getting into my car I would go sit by the small green dumpster out back and die there.  Somehow I find that fitting.

As I walk back to the corner where the dumpster is, I meet a homeless man heading for the same place.  He grins at me and asks me if I’m looking for a place to rest for the night too, and I tell him he might not want to spend it with me because I’ve been given The Shot and I’m about to die.  Well don’t die in front of me, he tells me, but not unkindly; more like he’s sharing a friendly joke with me.  But he knows I’m serious.  He’s a middle age black man, with a touch of grey in his hair and beard.  But for a homeless man he’s dressed pretty well…casually, clean slacks…pressed no less…sneakers and a sport shirt.  His hair is neatly trimmed and he looks clean as a whistle.  Yet, somehow, I know he’s homeless.  I notice then that he’s with a young teenaged white girl, who looks more the part of a homeless person.  Her clothes are worn and dirty and she looks like she’s slept for the past several days in them.  She has long stringy blond hair and looks like she hasn’t bathed in weeks.  They don’t seem to be companions though…more like two people who just happened to be in the same place at the same time with me, looking for a spot to spend the night.  The man seems decent and very friendly.  The girl lonely, tired and very sad.

The three of us walk together toward the dumpster, looking for a place to rest.  They for the night.  Me for…well…for forever.  

The two of them sit down on one side of the dumpster and I go around to the other side and rest with my back to it.  I am miserable, and I want to be alone.  The sun is getting low in the sky now, but it’s not near twilight yet.  It’s still bright out, but the angle of light is low and the shadows are getting long.  My body is getting really, really numb now.  I start bawling.  I’m really, really sorry I killed that guy…whoever he was.  I just start crying my heart out over it…

…and then, I wake up.

As always when I wake up from a crying dream, I’m a bit surprised to find my face is perfectly dry.  But I’m not fully awake either.  It’s still early in the night and I can tell I haven’t had a good deep sleep yet because of the way my body feels.  Whenever I wake up before I’ve had a deep sleep my body feels a tad like it’s in a fever.  So I just lay there for a while and think about trying to get back to sleep. 

The dream is lingering oddly…I can still hear the other two people by the dumpster talking softly, distantly.  I can’t make out the words.  Then I distinctly hear the sound of the dumpster’s hinged lid being opened.  Then I hear something, like a sigh.  I’m still half asleep in this lingering dream and I know what I just heard was the sound of my last breath.  I just died.

I lay in bed turning it all over.  I think I’ve died about a zillion times in my dreams over the course of my life.  But now I feel like the fates have given me a gift of some sort.  You never know when your last breath is, it just happens and you’re dead so you never know that was the last one.  But I heard it.  I heard my last breath.

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