Posted by: normanlgreen | May 27, 2013

Dream, May 26, 2013 Fast Food Prison & Cabaret

Home, 4:22am

Walking through a neighborhood of little houses, like those to the southeast of Baylor campus. It feels like a college town. Mary’s oldest grandson and I are to carry some papers, keeping them safe while we find him some dinner.

On our right, four young women sit on the lawn of their house. Their yard is separated from the one to the west by an over-grown privet hedge. They practice music on wind instruments. I pause to talk with them, the young man impatient but silent. I notice that all of the instruments are electronic variations on familiar horns. They are made of metal and silver-colored plastic, so they feel very light in the hand. I lift the electronic variation on the soprano sax. The keys are light to the touch and arranged in two parallel rows. I ask the women if these are still referred to as EVI, Electronic Valve Instruments. They look at me unsure and without answering.

I say: “I have a friend who had an early EVI trumpet, but she always tampered with the sound, rather than having it sound like a traditional trumpet.”

The flautist answers that they only use them for practice. I ask if that does not effect their touch when they return to their traditional instruments. I explain that I play guitar and prefer heavy gauge strings – I hold up a circle of thumb to forefinger to suggest an outrageous diameter – so when I bend notes on other peoples’ guitars, the intonation goes off wildly.

“Stings that thick?” asks the saxophonist.

“Hyperbole – exaggeration with the intention of humor.”

“You’ve said that before.”

“Have I been here before?”

She and the flautist exchange smiling glances. I feel a slight remembrance and then get embarrassed, thinking that I have been bothering these girls. When was I here before?

The young man and I leave, taking the papers we guard.

We join a line to enter a stadium-sized fast food restaurant. We move through the queue, approaching the order windows from the west. The sun is strong on the faces in the thick crowd. We squint in the light and sweat in the heat.

When at last it is our turn to order, the grandson does not know what he wants. I feel frustrated, knowing that he had so much time to decide and that we had come here by his choice. He wants some kind of breakfast, which they serve all day, but will not speak. He shifts away from the window, leaving me there. I kill time by ordering two large cheeseburgers and two large orders of fries – thinking that someone will want them.  The shy boy has disappeared, so I order toast. The woman behind the window tells me that I must order toast as part of a meal. She points to a little card taped to the glass. I tell her that I will have the oatmeal breakfast.

“Will that be the thirty-five pound sack or the fifty pounder?”

I do not want so much so cancel the order. I move into the stadium seating area, from which there is no escape. The seats face toward an oily brown river, the stadium drops off at the river’s edge where a playing field should be. I remember having been trapped here before, and that I had to be forceful to escape the first time.

I move down the steps of the grandstand. I open a little iron gate and lower some folding steps to get to the next lower level, unoccupied by the compliant customers munching on their fast food within their designated area. Some kids tell me not to go down, but I answer that I have special permission. A woman, representative of the stadium, follows me down the steps, telling me to go no further. A cameraman appears behind her. He is my accomplice in the escape. He tells her with confidence that we have a shooting permit.

I step out onto a rust-colored steel platform that juts out over the river, while the cameraman shines-on the official. I walk to the far edge and look down into the slow and dirty water. On the surface, rainbow swirls of oil show the movement. I want to drop in, but my feet cling to the steel like magnets. I dangle for a few moments, head down, before dropping ten feet into the water. I find it is less than four feet deep, so stand up and wade to the shore, clear of the prison restaurant.

I join a group of men to make a pilgrimage to a little old theatre. The building still has the feel of a 20s cabaret: a fan of three rounded steps leading to the entrance, a cut-glass ticket booth, black and gray paint, but the place has been remodeled as an apartment house.

No one is at home, so we let ourselves in through the glass doors and step into the lobby. To our left, the swinging doors to the auditorium stand locked, some of us try and fail to see through the black glass. One of the men talks about the night he saw Klaus Nomi perform here. All of us are in awe that this is the place were Nomi created his cabaret. We move further into the building to the apartments.

In the back right corner, a door opens into a one-room apartment. An iron-framed bed fills most of the space, while a bureau-vanity stands at its foot. On the bedspread, clothes sit neatly folded. Two small, square doilies have been laid out near the edge of the bed. One of the men sprinkles a few drops of urine onto each. Shocked laughter from the rest of us as he explains: “No man should own a doily.”

I remember that I have been to the yard, to the stadium, and to the cabaret, in that order, and that it has happened in the near past.


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