Posted by: normanlgreen | September 30, 2012

Dream, September 30, 2012 responsibility

Dream, home, 5:48 am

Return to the urban landscape that mixes Vancouver with Houston, Little Rock and Bellingham. This time there are many people I know from the waking world.

I have moved my printing operation from one section of town into another. Equipment is not yet organized, so I have difficulty when a woman shows up needing me to work with a terrible piece of paste-up art – torn irregular shapes scotch-taped to a piece of light card stock. Somehow I am expected to duplicated and have all of the finished pieces in the exact jagged patterns presented in the art. She warns me that we have done it before, and she expects the same results. She needs them for a big street party event that will occur this night. When she leaves, I take her art apart to make something more executable. I end up losing the torn bits, and then I lose interest.

By now, nightfall, everyone in the town is in a frenzy preparing for the big event. I get dragooned into helping some caterers prepare carts full of art food: hors d’oeuvre shaped like little creatures. As we send out each cart, another returns with dirty dishes that I must clean in order that we might re-fill them with more food. The process slows down as the event, on the south side of the city, winds to a close.

Ray comes in to tell us to shut down for the night, that he has arranged for us to stay in a house on the edge of downtown.

One of the women with whom I have been working needs to use the ladies room, but there is none in this building. I remember that there is one my old shop, which is across the street from our kitchen. I still have the keys so offer to escort her through the crowds that I might unlock the glass door and let her in. We make our way through the night street and all of the street party people.

When we get to the corner where my former shop had stood, we cross under a police cordon tape. When we reach the front door of the building, which has been turned into a record store my old friend Gene, we find that the glass doors have been smashed. The woman I have accompanied crunches across the cubes of shattered glass and through the darkened shop to the back corner where she will find the ladies room.

I stand guard at the entrance when two police officers, who wear dark blue uniforms from the 1950s, approach me to question my presence. I tell them that I have a key to the premises, and that I know the new owner of the shop. I show them the key, though there seems to be no door in which to test it. The woman reappears and we are allowed to leave without incident.

Many old friends, visitors from out-of-town, have gathered at a bungalow, the house that Ray has borrowed for the night. All of the rooms are arranged off of a central corridor. The bedrooms all feel as though they were recently occupied. About a dozen of us will stay the night. I open a drawer in one of the dim back bedrooms – reminds me of our third from last home in Little Rock – and borrow a red t-shirt that I might use it as sleep-wear. In the main room, people have rolled out sleeping bags. Voices are low as people catch up with each other’s lives at this short reunion.

Morning comes and the place is in disarray, clothes and blankets piled on the floors. People grab cups of coffee in the back kitchen.

Ray returns with some distressing news: “This is house number 1028 – we were supposed to stay at 2810.”

“Then whose house is this?” I ask.

Ray shrugs, “I don’t know, but they just pulled into the driveway.”

“Isn’t this a movie plot?”

Ray mugs an I’m-a-gettin-out-of-here grimace and disappears out the front door.

I rush around the house and return things to their drawers. I take off the red t-shirt and add it to a laundry pile in one of the children’s rooms. No one should notice one more shirt. My plan is to leave in hopes that our visit goes undetected. But when I go outside, I have second thoughts.

Many neighbors have turned-out to welcome the returning family. The man and the woman are the patriarch and matriarch of the black community. To the north side of the house is the driveway. This side of the house has the hill dropping off sharply, so as I look over to see the home owners, there is a full-grown tree below me. The tree’s wide smooth branches are filled with the neighborhood children. One girl looks up at me with alarm on her face. I decide to stay and face the music, to make my apologies, and to explain the confusion of my friends.

I cannot approach the man and woman as they have many friends celebrating their return. One of the family’s old and dear friends walks on a paved path with a younger man. They discuss the upcoming mayoral election. The man wears a beautifully tailored suit of ivory with burn orange pin-stripes and matching hat. His sun glasses have wide lens and thick gold frames. He speaks confidently of his likely election. I walk up and ask him to introduce me to the owners of the house, that I need to make my apology. He comforts me with a gravelled voice and a hand on my shoulder.

Inside, the house is again filled with people, but now they speak in full voice, not out-of-town guests but extended family to the owners. Some heads turn to see the only white man in the building, but most smile and nod as I pass them on my way back through the house to a great room where the couple receives their visitors.

The man who will be the next mayor introduces me to the matriarch, a woman in her middle sixties with a proud round face and coffee-with-cream complexion. She wears a salmon toned crepe dress and a green scarf. I tell her that I would like to make an apology to her and to her husband. She calls him over. He is a handsome man of great dignity – I fully understand the respect that these two are given by the community – he asks that we take three seats that face each other. His voice has impossibly rich resonance. In a choking voice, I explain that I and my friends have accidentally invaded their home, believing that it belonged to out-of-town friends. The woman lays a gentle hand on my knee while he places one on my shoulder.

“It’s all right.” he says. “I too have made my mistakes – I remember being told ‘Victor, Victor, Victor.’” He repeats, “Victor, Victor, Victor.” Still choking, but less violently, I am anxious to hear what advice he was given and am reminded of the torn pieces of paper from the first woman’s paste-up.



  1. Stunning. This reads like a gripping short story…I was anxious to reach the end. I always find it interesting (and enjoyable) how some of my dreams maintain a somewhat traditional narrative arc whereas others serve up chaotic surrealism.

    • i am touched by your compliment — your writing, meditative, dreamy.
      plot dreams take me by surprise, yet when i look at any of them — part of my rationale for recording them — most display motifs that rear up wearing new masks. when the end ties with the beginning, i wonder if i haven’t made up the story and pretended that it was a dream. thank you for taking the time to read and to write. nlg

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