BY GEORGE GILBS
(Interestingly, I dreamt the night before last of having drinks with a female seal -- a very large seal, speckled gray. She was telling me how she is so large that she has nothing to fear in the ocean. I was going to bring up killer whales, but I didn't want to upset her. She gave me a kiss. All whiskers and fish breath, but somehow pleasant. I don't know.)
(This is in chronological order)
I am a kid, about 11 or so, and I'm in my folks' house in the early afternoon. My dad is at work, my mom is perhaps playing bridge or at church. It's a very specific day -- not a generalized childhood day -- I can put my hand in the dusty shaft of light slanting through the window in the den, and feel the heat. So, my dear puppy, Candy, is licking my hand and I grab her by the neck and eviscerate her with a butter knife. I hear the maid coming (what maid? we had no maid) and I hide the dog in the large wicker chest which held a decade of National Geographics, which you aren't supposed to throw out. People start to wonder where the dog is, and soon enough can smell . . .
I find a clutch of baby bunnies. When mother bunnies are expecting, they dig a shaft straight down about six inches into the ground and start lining it with their fur. When they give birth, they are then able to deposit the pups in the warm hole while they are out and about grazing. I come across one of these holes and destroy the bunny pups for no reason.
This is the first dream in which my brain seems to be actually dealing with the new world: I join the line of refugees crossing the Williamsburg Bridge toward Brooklyn. In Williamsburg, we continue east down Broadway (the covered one in Brooklyn) away from the city. People are injured, starving, dying. Old women, especially, seem to be falling down exhausted into the road But there are police (or soldiers) preventing anyone from helping. We are forced to keep pace in this march away from town. I can see that the old women's faces are smashed and deformed like a tank had run over their heads. I decide I don't care to go on at all and go over to comfort a dying woman. She dies in my arms and I am going to be killed too.
My brother and I are soldiers based in our hometown (Pensacola). We are on active duty, and are going into guerrilla battle. Surprisingly, we are allowed to stay at a friend's beach house in Pensacola and commute daily to the war. We patrol a jungle area. The enemy is not specific, not any nation really. All I know is that they are poorly armed, while we have super badass machine guns that afford perfect aim at impossible ranges. So, for two days my brother and I move forward, killing hundreds of enemy soldiers. On the third day my parents and friends are over at the beach, eager to hear my war stories, I thought. Anyway, I am eager to talk about how I've had to kill all these people, about how I could die at any minute, about how I can't take it any more. People seem to be polite, but uncomprehending. I mean, they smile at me and say indulgently "sure, of course." I realize nobody really believes me. I'm furious. I write out my experiences, I demand attention. But I overhear people offering condolence to my parents for having to put up with their now-insane son. A friend convinces me to promise to stop talking about my war experience long enough for a few hours of quiet fishing. It then dawns on me that it is imaginable that I did, in fact, not fight this guerrilla war after all. My parents' psychiatrist friend tells me that it's not my fault and that I must have been drugged. He asks me to think back and I remembered taking some sort of alleged antidepressant a few days earlier. I admit that it is probably true that I had been hallucinating, but don't know how to accommodate what I know I experienced. I give up my will and put myself in the hands of doctors. But the World Trade Center is still gone.
Last night: I am walking through Manhattan. People are hugging and crying and supporting one another. I don't know anyone. I walk into a bar on the Lower East Side. I am watching news with the bartender (a woman). Then the bartender comes around the bar and sits right next to me. She lightly touches my forearm and I'm a little frightened and look up. She is now male. His hand now feels so impossibly comforting to me. I melt. He is angelically beautiful and absolutely understanding. I put my head on his shoulder and am infinitely content. This cannot be described well because the feelings that accompanied the narrative are not related in any normal sense to the narrative. I'm sure you recognize the weird forms of causality and relation in dreams . . .
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