Posted by: normanlgreen | February 24, 2013

Dream, February 24, 2013 Never Go Back to School


Dream, home, 6:30 am

Earlier (3:20): During the American Civil War, I carry a brown leather portfolio into the Southern city of Vicksburg. Inside the case is a bomb fashioned by my sister.

All of the Confederate armies gather. Foot soldiers entrench the city’s parks and barricade key street with tangles of cut logs. The late spring day is bright, green and warm.

I go to a private home where I am expected. The owner has sent his family away to the country to avoid the battle or the explosion that we wish to set-off. The man’s father arrives. We let him in on the plot. He does not share our motives. I tell him: “But this is Vicksburg.” He nods, acknowledging the inevitability. If we are able to disable all of the armies of the south, the war will come to a quick conclusion. If the Northern armies besiege the city, many more thousands will be killed in the prolonged battle.

The bomb is to explode at midnight.

We wait around a dining table to be killed in the blast. The hour comes. I hear a tiny ping of metal, but there is no explosion. I look into the center cavity in the portfolio. There a pocket watch has stopped at twelve and two clear capsules of liquid have been broken. The pouch is soaked in liquid and there is a strong odor of vinegar. I check the outer pockets and find the concentrated explosives wrapped in paper. The acid intended to ignite the explosive is too weak, or the layers of leather and paper are too thick for it to penetrate. In either case, the bomb is a dud.

We will have to hope that we are struck by a shell strikes us when the Northern artillery barrage commences. If the bomb never explodes, the war will drag on for years to come.

later: Taking part in a multi-discipline conference/ school, held at a university during summer months. I cannot tell if I am young and furthering my regular course of study and therefore feeling out of place. Or I might be an old man returning to complete the education that he gave up and therefore feeling out of place.

While staying at the university campus, I am to share a suite with a woman who is on the teaching staff. She presents a stiff persona as a teacher, but in the dorm room, she has cases of beer delivered. We are to stay only for a week or two, so we live out of our suitcases. Her belongings have gradually drifted all over the room dangling from chairs and covering horizontal surfaces. With all the clutter, I have no idea where my stuff is to be found.

After a day at school I leave one portion of the campus for the dorm tower. The down-hill night walk takes me through sewers and along a creek. To cut the time in travel, I lay in the creek and let the water rush me down. I have been advised where the dangerous stretches can be found, so shift from left to right to avoid rocks at whitewater curves. After a few turns I suspect I have gone past my building. I climb up the creek bank and crest a little hill. The dormitory is still far below me, the only thing lit-up in an area of scrub brush land. I carry a table knife in my right hand. As I step onto the courtyard beside the entrance of the building, I use the knife as a walking stick (it is long or my legs are short) A security guard approaches me.

“That belongs in the cafeteria,” he says with great authority.

At that moment, the rounded tip breaks off of the knife.

I know it belongs to the college, but now I have broken it.

“Then in the morning, you need to present the pieces along with six dollars and fifty cents.”

I promise to do so then duck into the tower. I find I am in an alternate lobby from the one through which I previously entered. There are many youngsters bouncing around the entryway. They are here for another conference. Three elevator doors stand at odd angles to each other – all have kids waiting to ride to the upper stories. I get into one with a group who are in search of a mystery book event. I confess I do not know where it is to be held.

When we leave the elevator, we come into a lounge area where many kids, elementary through college age, are dressed in jazz-age costumes. The sun has risen outside, so white light comes into the windows on two sides. I wish the mystery kids good luck, pass through the crowd then out onto a fire escape cat walk. I can see the fire exit to my dorm room.

Outside the window, standing on the steel grate, I find my suite mate’s, crate of beer bottles. I look inside and see that it is half empty, with broken brown glass collected on a cardboard divider between layers. I have a vague recollection of having drank one – why would I after all these years? Yet, I can taste hops in my mouth.

Inside, I find both her bed and mine are covered in her belongings. I cannot find my own clothes, so opt to sleep a couple of hours in those that I have been wearing – no longer wet from the creek. I try her tall bed, but cannot get comfortable – might cause her confusion. The other bed has a children’s book that emits little beeps. (Books with embedded sound chips were popular when my kids are small. Now I feel certain that I am older.) For a moment there is another man in the room. He tells me that the books is a “Dr, McCoy” book from a Star Trek themed series. He had one as a kid. I pick up the book and try to figure how to disable the beeping. The man is gone so can offer no help.

I put it back in the tangle of covers and turn to a portable phonograph. I open the lid and try to play a 45 rpm record. The needle will not engage until I have installed a pale blue plastic disk that fills the larger spindle hole for a single. The turntable can be moved in a curved slot depending on the size of record to be played. Currently, it is set-up for a ten inch record. I try to get it right, but the plastic space holder cracks and crumbles. I try to close the lid of the phonograph, a micro cassette falls to the floor. I put it back in the case and again try to close the lid. Paper stick out the edges. Nothing fits. She will know that I have been messing with her stuff.

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