Monday, December 20, 2010

Dream State (Part Three)

Okay fiction fans, it's time to blast off with part three. Our hero meets "the Fat Man." And things are changed...and we meet Millar!

My first case: The Fat Man Sings

Bright and shiny of spirit, light hearted at the prospect of making some money and potentially helping people, I pushed any potential dream subjects out of my conscious mind. My first paying customer was a fat man named, Frank Cosh, who lived in the village in a run down four story walk up. He had a toothless grin, thinning hair and soup stains on his tent-size, button down shirt. With an elegant vocabulary, Frank spoke well of all those around him and while he greeted me, held a fat tabby named, “Peanuts.”
“Where do we begin?” He asked gliding his three hundred odd pounds past stacks of boxes holding old newspaper clippings, books and magazines. The boxes swayed and nearly tipped as he walked past. I guessed I was supposed to follow, so I did. We ended up in a far back bedroom which held the largest bed I’d ever seen. Between the boxes stuffed to capacity and tipping perilously toward me, I found myself seated in a small wood chair at the foot of the bed. Peanuts stared at me like I’d done something magical he’d been trying to figure out his whole life. The fat man smiled as he laid his head on his well troughed pillow.
“I don’t usually consult psychics, but I had a feeling when I read your ad, I don’t know, something came over me. I’m worried about my sister, Marion.”
“I see,” I said, nodding confidently. “Well, we’ll see what we can see.”
He smiled again, and then his face got serene and quiet. Laying a hand on his cat’s head, he rubbed its nose with his fat thumb and said, “I think she’s going to die.”
A flush went through me. I had a strong urge to bolt out of his bedroom. What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I can’t dream on demand. I have to be under stress, physical stress. I have to be pushed to my limit, tired, vulnerable, scared, and cold to have any kind of meaningful occurrence. Besides, hadn’t I been guided to these people by some connective force? Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but shit, I couldn’t just go into a trance, I had to be pushed into it.
“Okay,” I said, “but you know how this works?”
He nodded his head yes, but had a blank look that said, no.
“Okay’ let me lay it all out for you. I have to get to know you, see? I find out the facts and desires, your desires, well, maybe not your desires, but I get to know you, your essence.”
“My essence? That’s sounds rather…, don’t you think?”
“Well, what other way do you want me to explain it? Besides, I can’t do anything here. I can’t do a trance. I have to dream it. I have to sleep, and then I tell you what I see.”
“Oh,” he sounded down hearted.
“You did read my ad, right?”
“Yes, but I thought you’d trance sleep or something and I could get the results right away?”
“Sorry, Frank, I know in this age of instant gratification that’s what you want, but that’s not how it works.”
We spent the next two hours chatting. A quiet, intelligent man, I surmised he’d succumbed to his many phobias years before and was basically trapped in his self-made tomb, a living ghost, as it were. His only contact with the outside world was the internet and TV, and the germs his cat tracked in through the window after a night out. His money had come and gone from a telephone answering service he’d managed. Having briefly flourished in the early eighties, it died a quick, silent death in the early nineties when cell phones became readily available. Since then he’d been living off a small inheritance he’d gotten from his uncle. That was enough information for me to try and get a dream. After handing me an old stuffed rabbit, as a sort of memento/guide/talisman, I assumed, I walked home and proceeded to get drunk.
Okay, I lied. This part of the story is where things start to get complicated. I try to tell only the barest essentials, and sometimes I don’t tell the whole story because I just can’t face some things I’ve done. But mostly because there are certain people in this story that I’d rather forget. Now that I said that, I may as well admit it. I really didn’t place an ad in the Village Voice. Well, I did, but I didn’t get Frank as a client that way. Okay, that’s where I lied. Sue me. I was trying to avoid having to mention Millar Milford. I’m ashamed I knew him and that for a long time, he was my only friend, but now I realize how important he was to all this.
Millar and I met at The Lantern, a sleazy little bar that used to be a fairly nice pub. Good burgers, fish and chips. Soccer games showing on the television. Wood shavings covered the floor. The bartender was a freak named Allen, was skinny as a pole because he’d started on a Macrobiotic Diet several months back and thought he looked just peachy with .02 percent body fat. Allen had gotten mean in his skinniness. Thought he was above the lowly swine that haunted his late night establishment. For all I know he was a snooty English Major at the New School. What do I care? He was a prick.
Anyway, one night I’m trying to forget this one recurring dream where a girl named, Francine, I’d tracked to the Bronx gets her head ripped off by a city bus while she’s out for a nice Sunday bike ride. I’d heard of this type of accident before. It almost happened to me once. The bike rider is moving along, extra careful of traffic, studying the insane cabs coming at you, the people darting in and out. Then a bus comes along from behind, cuts you off and takes a right hand turn in front of you. The bus covers part of the curb, your trying desperately to get onto the curb and the next thing you know you have scrambled brains all over the sidewalk. So, I’m sitting in The Lantern trying to get this image out of my head, thinking up ways I can get this girl to understand she’s gonna have her head popped, when this geeky looking guy named, Millar buys me a round. Then he buys me another and another. Pretty soon I was hearing all about his pathetic life, how his wife was gone and he was stuck holding the bill for an extended honeymoon she’d never intended to finish, blah, blah, blah. The guy could talk. And he had money, lots of it. He was a computer geek and made millions selling a few software programs that allowed other programs to talk to each other of some such nonsense. It was all Greek to me. I just felt sorry for him because he was one lonely, shy dude, a bit on the rude side, and had the social skills of a wasp. Every other sentence he’d blurt out something nasty he’d seen or heard or noticed about you.
“Hey, that’s a nice zit you got there,” or “Gee, you got a scar on your nose, you know that?” or “You know how when you jerk off in the tub the sperm sticks to you?”
I don’t even have a big nose. He’s warped. Anyway, I didn’t want to tell you about Millar, because quite frankly, he’s a pain in the ass. But after a while he grows on you. So, one night he comes up with this idea for an ad in the Voice. “Take control of this thing,” he says. “Make some money off it.”
At the time I was an Exhibit Technician at the Natural History Museum, and not making a whole lot of dough. I’d wanted to be a writer, but that’s another story. So, I took him up on the classified ad idea, but before I even processed the idea he gets all excited and says he knows this guy looking for a psychic and he could call him for me. A guy he met in an online group of astronomy enthusiasts. (You should hear the whole “Red Dwarf Star” lecture) So I explained to him about the whole dream thing. About not forcing the dream subject on me, but he was so enthusiastic, a rare thing for this guy, that I took him up on it. More about Millar later, I just wanted, well, had to introduce him before I got too far into the story because he comes back to haunt it. Now I don’t feel so guilty. And besides, he ended up coming through for me.
Anyway, after visiting the fat man and going home and downing a few beers, I took a hot shower, laid out some comfy bed clothes and started to meditate. I wanted to clear my mind and really focus in. I sat on the floor and stared at a candle flame as it danced above the wax. After I relaxed a bit, I put on my bed clothes, took firm grasp of his rabbit, “Peter” I think he said its name was, and lay down on my bed. I put a tee shirt over the lamp to dim the lights and began a humming meditation. That’s where you hum to the point of it blocking out all else but the sound. After a while I felt myself drifting into a slushy, sputtering dream. Images formed from static pulses. The fat man is sitting on his bed, smiling, angles of the room where he sits, boxes toppling over, magazines falling to the floor. I look at one of the magazines; an old Life filled with hazy color photos. One of the photos is moving. I see a girl, no, not a girl but a slender, tall young woman. She’s attractive in a “fifties” kind of way. Her lips are bright red, hair done up like a Jane Mansfield publicity still. She moves in a staccato, frame by frame walk across the page. She leans down to a fat little baby, shakes her finger at it. “Don’t cry,” she seems to be saying. The baby crawls off. I follow it to the next page. It crawls over to another baby, a little girl wearing a pink ribbon in her hair, and pulling at her tiny little booties. Suddenly the fat baby pushes the girl baby off the page. She gets up, crying, and runs off into the shadows of the room. It went black. I woke up. I looked at the stuffed rabbit, encouraged I could even conjure up the fat man at all.
“Peter,” I said, “this is going to be one tough ride. But the fat man is going to get his answers.” I turned over to go to sleep when an idea popped into my head. I’d dreamed in black and white until now, but this was a kind of rich hazy color. Of course, Life Magazine was known for the color photography. There’s something else I didn’t get, something about those boxes of magazines. I had to see them for myself.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm and now the dream. I think the detail makes the dream messages more likely to be unusual and possibly of significance, the scene having nothing of a dream like quality but rather a harsh feel of reality.