The Radio Flyer (A Dream)

I was at a gathering of some sort, like a family gathering, only it wasn’t my family. There was a woman there that I called “Mom,” but she didn’t look like my mother, she looked like Sally Field with graying hair and spectacles.

The people in the living room and the kitchen were making a terrible mess, getting food all over the place, and I was the only one cleaning up after them. Every time a piece of food fell, I felt like I had to pick it up. I would talk to the people sometimes, but only in disagreeable exchanges.

There was a lot of other weirdness, including a baby in a bag of apples that could talk (the baby, not the apples), but I don’t think that stuff mattered much.

I finally saw this one woman in a black coat. She was tall, red-haired and athletic-looking. She grabbed me and pushed me halfway out of a nearby window. Apparently, she thought I was someone who had committed a horrible crime, I guess she was some kind of cop, and she was trying to prove my guilt.

I called for my mother (or for Sally Field, at any rate), but she didn’t come. I asked the cop if she had done something to her, and the cop replied that she was dead.

The cop was looking at my recent self-made cuts, and she opened my shirt to see the scars on my chest. She said something like, “You do this to get high? You do this to forget about what you did? You cut and do drugs because you feel guilty?”

I tried to tell her I didn’t do drugs, I told her I’d only smoked marijuana once. (Which was true – I only smoked one joint in my life, the time I hooked up with that couple from FetLife at a local motel. But that’s not really part of this story.)

The cop started mentioning the names of all these other drugs, and I kept telling her that I didn’t know what any of them were, that I’d never taken them before. She didn’t mention my drinking, which I thought was odd, but since she wasn’t bringing it up, I didn’t, either. I kept trying to tell her that I didn’t feel guilty about anything, that I hadn’t done what she thought I did, but she wasn’t buying it.

That was when her partners appeared in the hallway. I think there were two of them, a woman and a big guy in a red hoodie.

The guy said something like, “If she’s a witch like her mother, she’ll burn in the sunlight.”

Then I realized – or maybe I’d already known it was there, I’m not sure – that the red-headed cop must have put something on top of my head when she pushed me out the window. She took it off now, and I felt sure that this would prove my innocence. But, much to my surprise, the top of my head began to smoke.

The cop let me fall out the window, I guess she thought that would kill me, but I fell to the ground slowly and hit with hardly any impact. This was the first time I was saved in the dream.

The cops appeared as if by magic. They had come to finish me off. The guy in the red hoodie lifted a scythe to cut off my head, but just at that moment, a huge red wagon (just like a Radio Flyer) appeared in the street, and a voice called for me to jump in. So I did. This was the second save.

The guy in the red hoodie chased the wagon with the scythe, trying to catch me. The wagon crashed into him and threw him off balance, but he got up again and followed after me. The wagon hit him a second time, knocking the scythe out of his hand. Third save.

I looked and saw that the wagon was headed for an opening between trees. It crashed through the trees and into a river. I knew that the cops were following, I think I could hear them yelling.

In the river, the wagon immediately began to sink, but before it did, I came to an overpass. A man who looked just like Christopher Lloyd from the movie Dennis the Menace held his hand out to me and pulled me up onto the overpass. Fourth save.

The man led me to a narrow street nearby. Suddenly I found myself walking a small dog on a leash. The river ran next to the street.

Now it was dark, and I looked at the closed doors on my right-hand side. An outdoor light came on, illuminating the back door of a dilapidated-looking place. The light was the last “sign” (the last save) in the dream. When the light came on, I knew the dream was almost over.

The most significant thing about it all was the rapidity with which the signs took place, like blinks of an eye, even though it takes longer to write them all down. It was like riding a rollercoaster. Well, I guess the Radio Flyer part really was like riding a rollercoaster.

Now, the door under the light opened, and a teenage boy appeared. He told me to come in.

There were plastic containers littering the steps that led down to the door, and the boy began moving them so the dog could get through. I handed the dog to the boy and asked, “Is my mother here?”

The boy said something like, “Yeah, I think so,” and I glanced into the place, trying to catch sight of the woman who looked like Sally Field.

Ever since the wagon appeared in the dream, there was a song playing in my head. It was a song that doesn’t actually exist, as sometimes happens when I’m dreaming. But it had a clear melody, and I can still remember it.

It only had two lines that kept replaying. I’m not sure about the last word of the first line, but I know that it rhymed with the last word of the second line. It was either of these:

This is my blood and this is my bone

This is my blood, I won’t let go.

Or:

This is my blood and this is my soul

This is my blood, I won’t let go.

I guess it doesn’t make much difference, either way.

I don’t usually get many signs from God, I sometimes envy my mother because she has occasional visions, so this was out-of-the-ordinary for me. But I did feel better when I woke up, like the dream had been a genuine message that I wasn’t alone.

 

Elijah: A Very Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a young piglet whose parents had been sent to the slaughterhouse. He was all alone, and he had nothing but the desolate landscape of his thoughts to keep him company.

One day while he was walking through the enchanted forest, he happened upon a mighty panther, so long and sleek and powerful. The piglet was sure that the panther would devour him immediately. And, without doubt, that thought crossed the panther’s mind.

But then . . . a beautiful and delicate fairy drifted down from the White Tree of Magic, and she informed the panther that the piglet was in possession of the purest soul she had ever borne witness to. The panther was a hunter, a merciless killer; and yet, the fairy’s words touched his heart. He spared the piglet, slinking past it on his way to some alternate feast.

The beautiful fairy did three revolutions in the air, waving her ornate oaken wand and sprinkling the dust of her race over the piglet. In less than a moment, he had transformed into a tall and strapping man.

“You are human now,” the fairy said to him. “You shall protect this world from evil and greed. You will live many years, and you will do incredible things. Henceforth, your name shall be Elijah.”

With a flutter of her lace-like wings, she flew down to Elijah and kissed his cheek. Then she disappeared.

Elijah still lives to this day, just as strong and pure of heart as ever he was. He awaits the last battle with steady hands and a patient heart.

Red Cells

I got out of my car and started across the parking lot, making my way towards the hospital entrance. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.

I saw a large woman walking in front of me, and I glanced at my reflection in the shiny black paint of an SUV beside me. I’d once been as large as that woman. I still wasn’t thin, but I prided myself on having lost as much weight as I had. And, though I was slightly ashamed to admit it (even if it was only to myself), I was proud that I looked better than the woman who was walking in front of me.

I went into the hospital and boarded the elevator, riding up to the third floor. I checked in with the secretary at Dr. Moreno’s office, offering my new insurance card. I smiled at the secretary. I’d always liked her.

The small waiting area was full, so I went out to wait in the corridor. After a short while, the people in the waiting area left, and I went to sit down. I turned on my Kindle to read, only to find that the battery was dead. Damn. I’d thought I’d charged it.

I shut off the Kindle and sighed, folding my hands in my lap. I’d always been good at sitting silently. I didn’t really even get bored. My mind turned in slow circles, perhaps pondering the events of recent days, or even incidents ten years passed.

A little more than twenty minutes went by in this way, and then I heard Dr. Moreno’s voice – tinged with a strong Latin accent – calling out my initials. I rose from my seat and went down the corridor, smiling at Dr. Moreno as she ushered me into her office.

“Hello,” Dr. Moreno said, crossing the room to sit down in her chair in front of her computer. “How are you?”

“I’m well, and yourself?” I replied.

“Very good, thank you. How have you been feeling overall?”

“Nothing to complain about, really,” I answered. “There’s just one thing, though. Last time I was in, we discussed discontinuing the Topiramate, but I’ve decided to stay on it.”

“Well, whatever works for you, of course,” Dr. Moreno said. “That particular drug has many benefits, including anxiety and craving reduction. It can help with lowering your alcohol intake, too, which I know is an issue for you.”

I said nothing. Dr. Moreno was aware that I was an alcoholic, but we didn’t always talk about it. She accepted state insurance, which meant that she had a ton of patients, and probably had a lot of difficulty remembering everything about them. I liked her, though. She was a good person.

“Let’s have a look at your most recent bloodwork,” she said, pulling up the file. It was the same bloodwork she’d looked at during my last two visits, but I didn’t want to be rude.

“Everything’s normal,” she said, “except your red blood cells.”

She turned the computer monitor towards me. “You see this number here? It’s a little high, which means your red cell count is a little more than it should be. If you keep drinking heavily, they’ll continue to increase – and we both know that the vessels they pass through can’t get any bigger. That’s what causes strokes and heart attacks.”

“I see,” I said politely. She’d never explained it so concisely before, and though I was mildly concerned, I wasn’t exactly terrified.

“I can help you with your drinking problem, if you’re ready to take that step,” she offered.

“I’m not,” I said simply.

“Can you explain why?” she asked. “What’s your reason for drinking? Do you have anxiety? Problems sleeping? Is it a form of self-medication?”

I smiled thinly. “I just drink,” I replied.

She nodded without comprehension. “And you’re not willing to seek treatment?”

“No,” I returned. “I’m not willing.”

She nodded again. “All right, then.”

“But thank you,” I added. “I appreciate you taking the time to ask.”

“Of course,” she said. “Now – have you had any thoughts of harming yourself or others? Any voices or visions?”

She asked this question every time. My answer was always “no.”

“All right,” she repeated. “I’ll see you in three months.”

“Thank you for your time, Dr. Moreno,” I said.

She smiled, and I got up to leave. I booked an appointment for January with the secretary, then walked out of the office.

I checked my watch. Nearly three o’clock. I had a few errands to run before I went home, and it was supposed to rain. But I had no umbrella.

Road Rage

She sat by the window with a cup of coffee, watching the rain swirl over the glass in inexplicable patterns. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to listen to music or not. She loved music, but sometimes it grated against the edges of her nerves. On quiet mornings she liked a little light classical, or maybe a film score, but sometimes she preferred the silence.

The apartment was empty. The apartment was always empty. She’d lived alone since she left home a few years ago. She didn’t even have any friends, really. The old man in the apartment next door was fond of her, and she chatted with people online, but all day, she sat alone in this room. At night, she slept alone in her bed. The thick darkness of her bedroom suffocated her. Her isolation mocked her. But she was comfortable with it.

She’d lost her temper yesterday while she was driving. She had to slow down for someone pulling into a parking lot, and a young man behind her threw up his hands in anger, shouting and swerving around her, only to pull right in front of her and veer into a restaurant lot.

Sometimes, things like that happened, and she didn’t even bat an eye. But this struck a chord. She laid on her horn and shouted obscenities the guy couldn’t even hear. She knew he heard the horn, but she also knew he didn’t care. He was probably amused that he’d irked her. People like that get a rush from irking you.

Even now, sitting in the stillness and the silence, watching the rain making its strange journey on the windowpane, she was mildly irritated. Mostly because she’d allowed herself to lose her temper. She was the type of person who had very little control over their outbursts (or lack thereof). She was aware of this, but usually it didn’t bother her. Today it did.

She took a sip of her coffee, trying to think of something to put on the stereo. With a sigh of resignation, she rose from her chair. She’d decided on the score from Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Vampire Elf Queen

Her name is Queen Ivory, and I love her because she is different from the one I knew before.

She is the elf queen of the Emerald Palace. She has long golden locks, bright blue eyes, and skin white as milk.

She tells me she loves me. “Human women,” she says, “they are so fickle. One moment they express interest, the next moment they have flitted away – pssh – after some colorful butterfly.”

“Ah, yes,” I say groggily, having become drunk on her darkenberry wine.

“They cannot sate you the way I can,” she goes on to say, locking my eyes with her ice-blue gaze.

“Perhaps not,” I whisper, the world swimming before my eyes. “But still – I loved her.”

“Did you?” she inquires. “You humans cannot even comprehend the meaning of love. ‘I love you, I love you,’ you are always blathering the words – but what the fuck do you think they mean?”

I shake my head, spilling my wine over the front of my shirt. Tears are pouring down my face.

“I suppose I don’t know,” I murmur lifelessly.

She comes forward to take my glass, then dashes it down against the stones. Broken glass skitters everywhere.

“Do you trust me?” she asks.

“Yes,” I whisper, looking dumbly into her ice-blue eyes.

She kisses me, sucking with her lungs, drawing the entirety of my soul from my body. Then she lowers her mouth to my neck, more vampire than elf, and drains the blood from my veins.

“You silly humans,” she whispers, patting my cheek with her warm hand. “You do not know what love is.”

My last sight is of her bright white dress, slithering away from me, as I fall down to the cold, bloody stones.

Transformations

Traffic diverted us round Ludgate Hill, and I watched as St. Paul’s great dome slid past the window.

I thought of it for a moment. A cathedral dedicated to a man who must have had one of the most radical transformations in history – going from someone who persecuted Jesus’s disciples in Jerusalem, to a man struck blind and given back his sight, ever afterwards to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. It was an idea too large to wrap my head around. I couldn’t imagine such a transformation. I couldn’t imagine going from something so low to something so high – and it made me dizzy.

But the church was gone as quickly as it came, and it was never very close, so I quickly forgot about it.

The Second Mrs. Dalloway

This is a story about Marjorie Dalloway, a 46-year-old woman from Surrey, who abhors spotted dick, and who has a minor fit every time her name is spelled M-A-R-G-E-R-I-E. She believes it is an ugly way to spell her name, and claims that it makes her feel unbecoming.

She has lost several friends over this peculiarity.

Mrs. Dalloway was born in the year 1970 – a very tumultuous year, she considers. There were two Prime Ministers, that annum, not to mention the fact that the half-crown ceased to be legal tender. She has since researched the subject on the Internet (a platform with which she is not entirely familiar, but is attempting to manipulate), and has discovered that many horrendous things took place during the year of her birth. But, she considers herself a lady – and though she will often tell guests at her dinner parties that, indeed, horrendous things did occur, she judges that it is unbecoming to go into further detail about it. The subject is hers, she says – and hers alone – to ponder wretchedly in the darkness of her bedroom.

On account of her name, and on account of the fact that she is a writer, Mrs. Dalloway often suffers from the presumption that she is an admirer of Virginia Woolf. She cannot see why the two seemingly unrelated details should inspire this widespread belief – but they have, just the same, and she is left inconsolable. If she must explain, just one more time, that she is no fan of Ms. Woolf (she always pronounces Virginia’s name like that, with a sarcastic emphasis which should be enough, by itself, to demonstrate how little she cares for her), then she feels that she may actually lose her mind, and be driven to some desperate action.

Perhaps she will leap from some high precipice. Or perhaps she will stab herself. Yes, that would be the better way – for, if she were to skewer herself, probably she would not die, and then she would be left with the chance of seeing how her persecutors regretted having tormented her.

“Do you see?” she would ask them. “Do you see what’s become of me? I told you what would happen, if I heard her name once more! But no – just one too many hot toddies, and your lips were loose as the hookers in the East End. Now I have impaled myself, just like dear Juliet – and I’m sure my fate shall be the same. But no – no! I beg you, don’t resort to self-pity. The blame is not yours alone.”

And that, for all intents and purposes, is Ms. Marjorie Dalloway.

(To be continued.)