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Rant #165
(published February 5, 2004)
Bad Dreams
by Fritz Swanson

The cat thing isn't really the issue of the dream. Yeah, Sara and I had babies, and the cats died, and the cats ate the babies.

That's not the issue.

I knew on the top of the hill, in the ruins, John Kerry was waiting. But in order to get there I had to go through the tall grass. And in order to cross the tall grass I had to hold my breath and walk carefully, because if I held my chest up high enough I might just make it up there. Deep in the grass there were prickers, like when I was a kid, but cross-bred with these fleshy, fingery cactus-looking things. And I wasn't wearing any shoes. So, in order to scale the hill I had to tup-toe, for real tip-toe, just up on my toes, my chest up so that I could almost float.

This all reminded me (in my dream mind you) of a dream I had had a few nights before of having to hang out at the CNN sky box at the Democratic National Convention. Jeff Greenfield brought me along. He and I knew each other pretty well. None of the lights were on because everything was focused on the lights and the balloons and the glitter that showered the stage. In the CNN sky box, Jeff Greenfield kept avoiding my eyes and I noticed that I was slowly disrobing. But that wasn't entirely the issue. It was that Jeff had a blanket and he didn't want to give it to me. But I needed it.

I really needed that blanket. I was trying to engage Dee Dee Myers on the specific reasons that she should support Howard Dean and she was really getting interested in my plan, but if I lost my pants and didn't have a blanket handy, the deal my go sour. Greenfield wasn't giving an inch, though, and eventually I was down to just a pair of socks. It was dark enough that I could play it off, but the room was getting damp and cold and I had to pee. Dee Dee was slipping away. She nodded a lot, but her eyes had glazed over.

That sense of exposure was what I remembered while I was on the hill approaching the ruins at the crest of the hill where John Kerry waited. I held my chest up and it was like a balloon. My toes balanced on the tips of the needles of the prickers, but I was buoyant enough to avoid the worst of the pain.

There was a little girl and she held a jar shaped like and abstract kind of shoe thing. It had a domed lid. It was a crazed old porcelain jar, and in my dream I decided that it was of Chinese origin, but imagine classic deep blue inscribed on white China porcelain from the late Middle Ages, but invert the blue so that it is an orange-yellow exactly opposite on the color wheel. That was the color of the patterns on the porcelain of the jar. And the lines of the glazed patterns glowed from within the worn surface of the jar. The little girl held the jar up to my as I balanced on one toe atop the tip of one spine of one finger of one pricker growing down in the dirt deep in the tall grass of the hill with the ruins on top.

I took the jar and the little girl and I climbed the hill. The hill was a buttery green, the sky open and clear and blue, the sun bright. When we entered the ruins, the walls were pale gray and there was light everywhere.

But, barefoot, I still thought of Jeff Greenfield in the dark, almost swamp-like confines of the CNN sky box at the DNC.

John Kerry was there in pinstripe gray wool slacks held up by black suspenders. He wore an 80's stripe broadcloth shirt with the sleeves rolled up and he bore a frying pan in one hand and a fork in the other. I held in my breath so that I flipped up into the air, upside down, my head matched against Kerry's, my bare feet dangling up into the sky. I held a heavy black frying pan in my hand. The girl sat in a corner of the stone foundation of the ruin. She had the jar again, and I saw there was light coming from the jar.

I kept hitting Kerry in the head with the frying pan, and he seemed to be stuck in slow motion, his lantern jaw snapping back and forth like the rudder of a ship in a powerful storm, but he was unaffected, and all I could do was watch as the fork inched closer and closer to my floating belly. Though he was slow, Kerry moved like an exaggerating dancer, his legs prancing and arching through the air.

If Abe Lincoln were a Spider God (which i suspect he was) and if he were dressed like Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy, and if he were fighting in slow motion with a floating upside down man wielding a fork, then that would be what John Kerry looked like to me as I struck him again and again and again with my frying pan.

The fork inched closer and closer. I tried to bat it away with my pan.

The girl held up the orange and white jar. The lid rattled and little flickers of fire escaped.

"It's full of sunshine," she said.

I took the jar, and suddenly I was standing on the floor of the ruins and John Kerry was moving at full speed, coming down on me fast with his fork. I pulled off the lid of the jar. The sunlight streamed out. Kerry turned into egg drop soup, which I caught in the jar. I returned the lid and handed the jar to the girl.

I knew that if the lid came off, or if we spilled John Kerry The Soup, Kerry would re-corporealize.

But the girl held the jar tight to herself, clutching down on the lid.

So, like I said, BAD DREAMS. Don't ever eat a cheese sandwich right before hitting the hay.

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