Posted by: normanlgreen | July 31, 2011

Dream July 31, 2011


Dream, Home, 6:03 am:

I live in a three-story house from the late 1800’s.  My own room is in the attic space above the top floor. There are a few other men and women who have taken rooms in the old home, the owner having left it in the configuration it had when it was a single family dwelling.  Now, renters come and go and know each other, mostly, by sight.  There are exposed staircases between the floors, with thick carpet runners down their middle and heavy wooden hand rails with Newell posts at turns at the landings between the floors and at the base of each staircase.  Each of the staircases curve to the left when ascending.  Electricity was added to the place in the 1920’s so there are few lights, and those are controlled by two button switches at the top and bottom of each flight of stairs.  The walls are of dark wooden paneling on the ground floor, with an angled wainscoting running parallel to the stairs.  Dim pictures, some behind dusty glass are irregularly spaced on the walls.  Lamps with beaded shades light the corners.  Afternoon light comes across the entry area when I come home to find two of the
residents, both women, discussing the weakness in the banister of the stairs to the second floor.  They are concerned that someone will use it to support themselves when climbing down and that the whole thing will give way and injure the person.  One housemate, with short blond hair, reminding me of Christine, walks to the banister’s supporting post and gives it a wobble– it rocks four or five inches at the top and makes a squeaking sound.  The whole banister shakes all the way out of sight.  We agree that we must call the landlord, but in the mean time, none of us will touch it.  I leave the blond woman and the dark woman, who has long artificial fingernails, and climb the stairs, giving the banister little testing touches along the  way.  It is barely attached to the risers and gives easily.

On the second floor, the woodwork differs from the floor below.  Here it is of lighter stain on white oak wood.  There are pockets in the Newell posts and  in the doors, and the wainscoting is topped with plastered walls painted ocher.   The windows are not as tall, but as they are above some obstruction to the west, the light is stronger.  Doors are closed to various rooms, there is the hallway connecting them,  but no grand area as there was on the ground floor.  I continue up to the third floor.  These stairs have a less grand banister which is also wobbly, the posts are of pine and nail holes are visible.  I pass a switch plate, tarnished brass with two black Bakelite buttons, one above the other.  The painted stairs to the attic are narrow,   enclosed by walls, with sharp rise and tight turns, and the rail is of woven rattan, so it can bend to follow the curved path to my room.

There is a terrible scream from a woman followed a tumbling sound of a body and wood being torn from its moorings, crashes, destruction.  I find myself at the base of the stairs in the grand parlor surrounded by broken wood of the collapsed
wreck of the banisters from both of the floors above.  Two men carry away the wounded dark-haired woman.  The blond woman explains as calmly as she can that our housemate was at the top of the stairs on the third floor and got a huge shock from the switch plate.  She tumbled down all of the stairs bringing the banisters and their posts with her.  A shared telephone with a black, curly cord is in the parlor, so I call the landlord.  He answers with a creaky old voice tinged with emphysema.  I tell him what has happened, and he gets defensive. “I told everyone that they must be sure to  ground themselves – electricity travels in three paths, ya know.”  I suggest that something will need to be done as I survey the wreckage.  People clear away the splintered wood.  I see where the woman’s long purple fingernails have been torn from her hands and lay scattered on the floor.

I leave to clear my head, walking up the hill into which the house is built.  There is an air of unrest in the people I pass.  I know that there is to be general strike, but am unfamiliar with the reason for calling one.  I pass a fountain, an elongated trough built into a wide spot in the sidewalk, both the leveled base (the hill is steep) and the cluster of statuary that tops it are of unpolished white marble, but all has been streaked with tar from some road repair that went wrong uphill of it.  I pass a man holding his chin – he is figuring how to clean up the mess.  I cross the street above the fountain and turn right in front of a church, on the steps of which a crowd gathers.  They prepare to march in protest of something unstated, but their anger is deeply rooted.  This is no lark for them.  I decide it will get ugly and turn back toward home.  Heading down the hill, I see that the chin holding man has made some progress cleaning off the streaks of tar.  Most of the thick stuff near the base of the trough is gone, leaving licorice colored stains.  He looks worried about the mob gathering uphill of him and his fountain.  I decide it will be safer if I fly home, so I lift myself off of the sidewalk, which now shows itself to be Holly Street.  From this higher position, I get a little more of the sunset light.  I wonder if it bothers people that I am able to sail over their heads.  My rooming house is on the corner of the next block, so I glide to a rest on the front porch and enter.

Most of the mess has been cleared up, the broken wood is gone, as are the fingernails.  The stairs have been reconfigured to follow a curved wall on the right side of the room, with a rattan hand rail (like the one leading to my attic) mounted to the wall which is now covered in red paper with a dark velour pattern of stylized leaves arranged in columns.  I touch the hand  rail, but it does not inspire confidence, so I climb with care hugging close to the wall.

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