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1 ½ Dreams by Ray Printer Friendly


I’ve spent the better part of the day sitting in front of a computer. Honestly, I’m pretty tired of it. If I had anything better to do right now, I’d probably be doing that instead of writing. You know what? That’s not true.

The truth is, I probably have better things to do. I could haul out my school books and do some Algebra. I could dig through my notebook and do some extra credit assignments for my Photoshop class. I could clean the house or do some laundry. I could go to bed.

There are better things to do with my time, I suppose. But none of them would make me feel any better than this does. Sitting in front of my computer, writing a pointless post about who knows what. Watching the glass of cold water gradually warm as I stare at the screen, occasionally logging on to the internet before remembering that there’s nothing there I care to see right now.

I drew a toothbrush on my desk calendar. It’s a very crude drawing—the bristles almost look like a tiny cityscape. I don’t have anything to say.

I sat here today, reading from text books, typing out HTML and CSS and filling out forms for student aid and drawing mock-ups. None of it was fun. I feel like I should write something, reclaim my computer, restore it to its friendship status.

I drank coffee today; a lot of it. I’m jittery and things around me smell funny. Too much caffeine, is what that means. I could probably write a short story about monsters right now, but all the monsters in my mind are staying hidden. Bashful little guys.

There is no inspiration.

Maybe there is, and I just don’t care to see it.

I had a dream last night where I got a job working on computers, but after I got hired, they told me I got paid in hand-jobs. I told them that I needed money, and they told me not to worry—I wouldn’t be earning my pay, anyway. They were right: every computer had a virus, so when I tried to log on, it instantly took me to a website advertising cheap real estate. I was unable to do my work, and was laid off before I ever even got a chance to show my skills.

I woke up and then fell back asleep.

I had another dream: There was a party. A small party with an old friend. Him and I, sitting out behind his trailer house, sipping ice-cold beer from a plastic cooler and looking out as the sun set into the ragged hills of the Texas Panhandle. Someone else showed up, and someone else. We all sat around and laughed and told stories. I went in to get another cassette tape (we were listening to an old, duo-deck cassette stereo).

When I came back out, the party was huge—my friend had grown rich, and there was now a swimming pool, and mobs of people yelling, laughing, being fake. There was a mansion where there had been only hills before. I realized I didn’t have my shirt on—my enormous belly was exposed, pale and jiggly and humiliating.

There were young women around the pool, and young men, and they were all advertisement beautiful. They looked at me and quickly looked away, embarrassed. I was wearing only denim shorts, and there was a mustard stain on the right leg that looked like crusty pee.

I asked someone where my friend had gone, and he pointed to the mansion, and he said, “He has made it big now—you probably shouldn’t try to follow him.”

I saw through a window of the mansion: a line of people following my friend up a staircase. They were not carrying beer bottles, but fancy cocktail glasses filled with expensive liquid. They were laughing with a ferociousness that made me afraid.

“He has new friends now,” the someone said. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“They just like him because of his success,” I said.

“Of course they do.” The someone, he tipped his beer bottle at me, and said, “But that’s okay.”

“How can that be okay?”

“That’s the part you wouldn’t understand.”

I walked away, and above the giggles and shouts of the fake friends, I heard the rumblings of huge machines. I made my way into the mansion, and inside was a large hall, filled with extravagantly-dressed people. Some of them had the heads of vultures, and some had jagged claws that they used to scratch each other in between jokes and anecdotes. They all stopped talking when I walked through the room, and they stared at my fat belly and my shoeless feet and my unkempt hair.

I blushed until I thought my face would burst into flame, but I kept walking. I walked up the spiral staircase, circling and circling and circling.

When I reached the top, the door was locked. I knocked, but no one answered. I heard laughter inside, I heard the voice of my friend as he told some story or another—a story much more civilized than the ones he used to tell, I think.

“Oh,” a voice said from behind me, “Does it hurt your feelings?” It was a chiding voice, and when I turned, I saw that it was one of the well-dressed vultures, smirking. It looked fake and hideous. “Are you going to cry?”

I left, because I thought that I might cry. My belly bounced with each downward step.

When I got back outside, I saw that the entire property was overrun with the young and beautiful. Out of the mob of beauty came the someone, and he nodded to me and said, “Let’s go back to our lives.”

I followed him through the people, and they weren’t looking at me any longer—I was beneath them, nonexistent. The rumbling of machines grew louder, and I soon recognized the transfer station in the distance—the place I worked so long ago, where all the garbage from the town was dumped, compacted, and transferred.

“Did you ever get rid of the baler?” I asked, remembering the old machine that compacted the trash and then bound it together with wire. Remembering how often it used to break down, and how often I would find myself crawling inside to try to clean it or unscrew a part.

“We did. Now we just use the front-end loader to push it into the truck.”

I had clothes on, now, and although I was glad to be covered, it hurt my heart to realize what I was wearing. My old clothes, the ones that always smelled of garbage and frustration and failure.

The someone, he walked ahead of me, calling, “The trash man cometh! The trash man cometh!”

And I saw people from my past, the people I thought I had left behind, waiting for me. I realized that I had never left them behind—I had only fallen so far that I could no longer see them.

“I thought I would do more,” I whispered, and they all heard me and they all laughed.

posted 4/22/08


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