Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shooting From the Roof In A Too Vivid Dream

We had a good plan. We thought we had a good plan. And then the Christians began to march through the city. It was getting dark and their candles appeared first slowly like fireflies at dusk. But soon it was night and the streets were weaving rivers of wax and light and our plan no longer looked so good. We had not expected them, the Christians not the soldiers. I think they fired first, the soldiers not the Christians. Or maybe we did. My world was atop a thin and rusty apartment building on a broad avenue to the southeast. We did not have a plan. The soldiers could not see me through the darkness, and I could not hit them on account of my innocence. The Christian candles started to go out like neighborhoods on a failing electrical grid. I started to aim my shots away from the soldiers so that they might forget me. They did not. Their rockets were getting closer. One came so close he could look at me, the fire from his back illuminating my face. "I wish I could turn around and tell the others where you are," he said as he shattered apartment 1013 below me and to the west. Near the soldiers, glass shattered and a dam broke. I do not think I was responsible for this. The torrent cooled their guns and quieted their bodies. I walked away from the roof of the thin rusty apartment building and into a store. My friend was there, and although I do not know his name, we chatted like children and relived our newly intoxicating personal histories as the store clerk listened, tired and unimpressed. Then the lights went out. All over, pitch black and a silence like swimming in ink. I bit my tongue and made my way to the broad avenue without my nameless friend. In an orange cone of light, where the drowned soldiers once stood, a flare went off next to my foot. My perch atop the thin rusty apartment building was no longer mine. Someone else was there and he was better than me. Dust danced by my feet to the music of the inky silence and I ran from it like a drunkard. I slithered through the grass of the park trying to make my way to where the drowned soldiers' guns might be. First forward, now listening. I made too much noise to not have been noticed. There was no one there, but I imagined a thousand eyes from just beyond the darkness laughing at my loneliness waiting for me to be almost too close to shoot. I thought at any moment the darkness would errupt in fire and drums all around me. I was teetering on a moment in silence. An elephant walked by. Then a giraffe and two rhinos. Zoo escapees who looked to know where they were going. Another elephant appeared through the trees and I laid motionless and stiff on my stomach hoping not to be stepped on. The elephant passed by and then turned as though he just realized he had missed me. Facing away from him, I resumed my stiff, motionless pose. Headlights warmed my back and melted the dark spaces around my face. I pressed myself further into the mud of a slight embankment. Stiff and still. The soldiers walked by once then twice. I tried to imagine what a finishing shot in the small of my back might feel like. They walked by a third time. How could they not see me? I peaked at their faces, tired and pale, limp and sweaty. I moved more and saw further to my right. Three giant pills, full of blood and bodies, strapped atop another truck. Now they saw me. I was gathered like a sack and dumped with the others. But I am alive, am I not? "Two doctors will cut off our hands to ID us and then we will be dumped in one of the three pills," said the dead face to my left. I sit up amongst the shattered and the drowned, but I am not noticed. It is my turn to face the doctors. I am carried, although I can walk. I wear a black suit and a human face and I hold my hands out to the doctors. The doctor on my left hand scrapes a trail around my wrist with a dull blade. "Excuse me," I say, "I am not dead, as you can clearly see, and I would very much appreciate it if you did not cut off my hands. Your blade looks dull and small and I am quite sure that the pain would be too much. And anyway, since you're doing it to ID me, and I'm alive, you could just ask me who I am." They stare back in silence, unsurprised. Tired and pale, limp and sweaty.

I am not sure if they proceed because I wake up.


Rachel said...

You know, with a clearer sense of place and movement, this could be really fucking interesting. Not that it's not-- it is, very much so-- it's just that a few details (the store and the friend, the pills) could be excised and give us a clearer sense of continuity of movement. The weirdness should remain, though, especially the zoo animals and the twisted logic of the conversation with the doctor. LOVE the wax river metaphor, the swimming in ink, the finishing shot in the back, the line about making too much noise not to have been noticed, the zoo animals, and the first two sentences-- good start. Do more.

Pancho said...

Yeah, I'd like to flesh it out more too, but the dream was a just sort of wind up in new places in a dream with no real sense of how you got there. Plus, what the hell? Who has dreams like this?