Still, though, I remain one of those awful, awful people who tries to write down those dreams I still remember after getting out of the shower in the morning. I never really do anything with them, rarely share them with anyone?just type them up and leave them there, for what reason I have no idea. Many of my dreams are incredibly banal?wandering bookstores, eating lunch. And quite a few of them are pretty up-front about what they're trying to tell me. I've never flown in a dream. I always dream in color. Twice I've dreamt in cartoon. In fact, the first dream I remember?from around the time I was five or so?was a cartoon, with visual sound effects and everything ("Poof!"). Most of my dreams are what I guess you'd categorize as "nightmares." I have died in dreams more times than I can count. And I have never once?not that I'm aware of, anyway?had a wet dream. For the record.
Mr. Pynchon wrote, in his introduction to Donald Barthelme's The Teachings of Don B., while referring to Mr. Barthelme's Overnight to Many Distant Cities, "...it's only writers, out there at the fringes of the entertainment sector, wretched and despised, who are obliged, more intimately and painfully, actually to sell their dreams." He goes on to write, "...dreams seldom make it through into print with anything like the original production values anyway. Even if you do good recovery, learning to write legibly in the dark and so forth, there's still the matter of getting it down in words that can bring back even a little of the clarity and sweep, the intensity of emotion, the transcendent weirdness of the primary experience."
As per usual, he's right on the money. I can't say that any of these recorded dreams from the past year really captures the reason they stuck with me for so long. Something about each one of these dreams, however, burned them right on home. And I figured it was time to sell them and get on to something else.
5/15/98 (the day Sinatra's death was announced): I was wandering around a city?probably New York, but unrecognizable?carrying an armload of broken, jagged and bloody glass tubes?like fluorescent tubes, only thicker?wrapped loosely in a torn white pillowcase. I kept asking people on the street what I should do with them, where I should put them, but nobody had a clue.
5/27/98: I dreamt I was wearing a baseball cap. Bad news. (I remember nothing more of the dream. This was all I bothered to write down the next morning.)
6/11/98: I was walking down 7th Ave. in Brooklyn with Morgan. It was late at night, but the air was warm. All the shops were closed, but the streets remained well-lit. A man walked up behind us. He was about my height, and seemed to be about my age. White, dark beard, little round glasses. His clothes were on the shabby side. Something about his manner didn't seem quite right. Suddenly he grabbed Morgan's arm and started to drag her away. I jumped on his back and wrapped my arms around his throat in a police chokehold. He fell to the sidewalk but wouldn't release Morgan's arm. I squeezed and twisted until I heard a snap. I figured I'd broken his jaw. He still wouldn't let go. I squeezed and twisted his throat again, until I heard a second, louder crack and crunch. I figured it was his jaw again, broken a second time, the loose bones grinding together. After that, he finally relented, let go of her arm, and she ran to a nearby payphone to call the cops. I stayed with him, my arms still wrapped tight around his neck, the two of us sprawled on the sidewalk, near a lamppost. He was still conscious, but he wasn't moving at all. I only released my grip when the cops showed up. They cuffed him and dragged him into a waiting cruiser. Before they drove off, one of the cops returned my wallet. It turns out the guy had grabbed it in the midst of the squabble.
"I think I broke his jaw," I told the officer, after thanking him for the wallet..
"Oh, you did more than that," he told me, grimly.
"What?he's gonna be okay. I just broke his jaw," I repeated.
"No...he's not gonna be okay. He's not gonna make it." As it turned out, I'd broken his neck and killed him.
I was shocked to hear that, and had a momentary flash of panic?not about what I had done to this guy, but more out of fear of prosecution and imprisonment. That flash passed, though, and I felt much better about everything.
10/24/98: I was wandering uptown on a mission to deliver something?probably the manuscript I was working on at the time?to some large building I'd never been to before. Earlier in the day, someone had given me a copy of Celine's Mea Culpa, so I was in a good mood. It was a sunny, brisk autumn day, and I was thinking to myself, should I take a cab or walk? Trains would take me too far out of the way, cabs seemed like an undue luxury, and it might be too far to walk. I decided to walk in the general direction of the building while I made up my mind.
Maneuvering through some scaffolding somewhere in the low 20s, I noticed the air around me slowly becoming filled with a loose, fleece-like substance?fuzzy, airy, gray particles. Then I realized that the scaffolding was made, not out of metal, but out of wood?specifically a particular kind of wood, which, I knew, at a certain age, rots, disintegrates, turns to a cancer-causing mold and blows away, much as the scaffolding wood was doing right now. I knew that if I kept breathing this shit much longer, I'd end up with cancer, but I just kept walking.
11/20/98: I was in a store of some kind?a tiny rural general store, it seemed?wooden floors, lots of glass jars filled with things behind the counter where an old couple sat?when this enormous, ice-white wolfhound appeared next to me. The old couple told me that it was a seeing-eye dog with no one to lead around.
"He's been waiting here for years for something to do," they told me.
As I left the store, the dog followed. It walked next to me down the street, as I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do. There was no harness, no nothing. It just walked close to my side, occasionally bumping into my leg to nudge me back toward the middle of the sidewalk. When we got to my building, it wouldn't come into the apartment, or even up the stairs. I went inside by the cats, and started making a list of all the things I was going to need to buy?dog food, a bowl, a harness, etc. I started to worry about taking it out for regular walks, but the dog showed no indication of wanting to go out, of wanting to do anything except follow me when I stepped outside. It just sat downstairs in the building's entryway, waiting.
2/13/99: Someone told me that, for some reason, I had to take voice lessons, and gave me a name and address to contact. My first meeting with the voice instructor took place in the downstairs family room of a suburban split-level house. The woman?my apparent instructor?was ancient, with a thick, cigarette-wracked voice. While I was there, we never talked about voice training, or anything remotely related. We sat in comfy chairs, an end table with a lamp between us. There were sliding glass doors leading out to a patio, then a wide green lawn with trees. In one corner of the room, a very thin, swishy-looking fellow sat quietly, solemnly, tunelessly plinking away on what was either a small piano or a harpsichord. The old woman and I talked about pie.
4/19/99: I was wandering through some low-built city. It looked sort of like the Bowery, or Cooper Square, but none of the buildings were more than three or four stories tall. It was a summer afternoon, hot and humid. I was on my way to meet someone, but I forgot who. All I knew was that they were staying at the Royalton Presidential Hotel, which, at first, I thought sounded like a classy joint. I nearly walked past it, as a matter of fact, because I was looking for a classy joint, not a two-story fleabag. But there it said right above the front door "Royalton Presidential."
I went inside. There was an attractive woman behind the front counter. We chatted a second, and she said I could find who I was looking for if I checked out the mailboxes. She pointed across the lobby. Instead of room numbers, each tenant was identified by a 3-D icon of some kind attached to their mailbox. Each icon was supposed to say something about that tenant's personality. Ed Gould's icon was two rotting goat heads. That must be who I'm here to see, I thought. I hadn't seen Ed since high school. I'd heard he went crazy as a loon while he was in college.
I walked up two flights of rickety wooden stairs to visit him. His room was abominably filthy. Piles of shit everywhere?papers, old food, dirty clothes, things I couldn't identify?and there was an overpowering stench of urine and garbage. He seemed oblivious to it all. A neighbor of Ed stopped by with a suitcase. He brought it into the bathroom, inviting us to follow him to see what he had. He popped the suitcase open in the bathtub, releasing thousands of huge, black flesh-eating ants, which quickly swarmed over the edge of the tub, dropping to the floor and attaching themselves to my clothes. I ran screaming from the hotel.
2/15/99: I had a dream in which I was actually able to see. I was standing in an open field, somewhere in Wisconsin. It was the middle of the night, and I saw stars for the first time in my life. It was quite moving, actually, looking up into the dark winter sky, seeing it exploding with billions of stars. I awoke from the dream not feeling happy, exactly, but feeling a kind of contentment.
"Well, that was an okay dream," I thought to myself before falling back asleep.