It is winter, in the country. I am the driver of a horse-drawn carriage. The cart passengers are a Man (played by actor Matthew Mercer) and a Woman (played by actress Marisha Ray).
Embed from Getty Images Matthew Mercer and Marisha Ray
The Man and Woman are not kind, but they are very charming.
The Man and Woman are keeping a hostage, and I must follow them around and do their bidding (such as driving the carriage) or they will kill the hostage. At the same time they are also trying to get me to foul things up by throwing obstacles in my path, while also trying to one-up each other. It is all a twisted psychological game to them, while I am taking everything with earnest seriousness.
Behind me in the carriage, the Woman is talking about how her scheme with the cow might have slowed us down, but it did not work based on how the cow “underperformed.” The man chides her for her efforts with good humor. He goes on to say that he thinks he has a better plan, something regarding a baby’s crib, and the fact that he stole a foot from the crib (he pulls it from his pocket with much fanfare. The foot is an elongated pyramid shape with a spherical bottom. The woman’s eyes glitter, and she gives a gleeful squeak and claps her hands together, she wants to play with it.
As I continue to drive the horses on through the wintery country road, I have a sour feeling growing in my stomach.
There is a shift in the dream’s perspective, as if a remote camera is capturing the cart from above. The camera rises and the cart grows smaller and smaller. The road takes on a surreal quality, no longer covered in snow, but rather a black squirming shape surrounded by fields of white, with gold dots along the center. Like a reimagined Pac-Man screen. The cart and the horses disappear, replaced with a large frog, who swallows gold dots in its path as it moves forward.
I wake up briefly, then fall back asleep.
I am in the city. It is winter, and the streets are covered in a recent snowfall, giving the world a magical white, virginal and clean appearance.
My job has dried up, so I am going to a commercial frame shop to learn a new skill in a classroom setting.
On the way to the store where the class is being held, I find before me a perfect scenario to capture with photography. A ray of sunlight on the otherwise cloudy day, capturing a grocery store in a kind of magical, fairytale type light.
I climb up an embankment that is next to an elevated highway, turn and take the shot.
A familiar voice says “you’ve got something there.” I turn and see my old photography college professor and friend Mark P. – who is also coming to the store for the class. We marvel at the view for another moment together, then head inside the store.
Inside the store there is a long line of people, including actor Clark Middleton.
Embed from Getty Images Clark Middleton
As the line moves slowly through the store to get to the back classroom, the movement is mirrored in a large televised wall display of children, drawn in animated form in the style of Charles Shultz. These stylized children figures are all in line, moving gradually forward. The cartoon image is a bit scratched, and flickers on occasion – like this was an old film transferred to VHS and then played a lot. Despite its age, it manages to reflect the actual character of the people waiting in line. I spot my cartoon doppelganger, with the doppelganger of Clark Middleton before me and the doppelganger of my friend Mark behind me. The line goes for quite a ways, through the entire length of the store and around an aisle corner.
I feel compelled to go down into the basement, even though I know this will lose me my spot in line.
I am growing something in the basement and I want to check in on how it is proceeding.
Downstairs is dark and dank and moist. No electrical lights, just a dim cool light from small, widely spaced windows set in the concrete foundation.
There is some kind of game being played down here – large frogs are on rusty steel scaffolding that is full of holes. The goal of the game is for the frogs to leap over the holes and gaps in the scaffolding to catch gold pellets in their mouths. I watch a frog miss his jump and go tumbling down into the darkness below. The scaffolding exists next to a miniaturized train carriage. I can see from where I stand (at the base of the stairs that I followed to get here) another frog fall, and a man and his son, watching from the train car window. These two figures both look puzzled, but entertained.
Another frog tries for a pellet and knocks the pellet out of the air. The golden pellet falls down, bouncing between scaffolding holes until it lands by the two frogs already on the ground, illuminating them with honeyed light tones until one of the frogs consumes it.
Turning away from the frogs, I completely fail to locate the things I had growing in the basement.
In due course I move to the other project that I have down here, which is boxes and boxes of bras made out of old t-shirt material. I feel compelled to keep these small bras, even if they are too small to fit my wife.
My dog wakes me up.
I scribble notes on all of the above, then drift back to sleep again.
I am living in an apartment in New York City.
It is complicated because the space has been double booked. The original tenants were still living there after I moved in.
Up to now the original tenants and I have made the living situation kind of work by scheduling bed times and kitchen times and bathroom times so there is a degree of planned coordination between tenants.
As an odd, trivial aside – in this apartment Jane Birkin (English actress and singer) keeps coming up in conversation,
“Have you met Jane Birkin?”
“Oh, it turns out she was just another Jane Birkin.”
“Jane Birkin never would have fallen for that.”
Stuff like that.
We receive notice that there is a third wave of tenants who are scheduled to move in at any moment now.
I am trying to take a shower. I am exhausted with (oddly) voluminous hair. Muttering to myself. The sleeping arrangements are not working out and I am not getting enough sleep. It is at least partially due to this that I make a dyslexic maneuver and use hand soap, instead of shampoo, on my hair. The hand soap gets in my eyes, stinging, making things blurry.
The third wave of tenants climb in through the bathroom window from the fire escape, two men and a woman. They carry silver handguns and are dressed head to toe in black paramilitary gear.
The third wave is yelling at me repeatedly “DID YOU KNOW!? THAT WE WERE COMING?! THAT YOU HAD TO BE OUT OF HERE BY YESTERDAY!?” and I am answering “No.” each and every time. Squinting at the muzzles of these huge silver handguns.
I know that these silver guns shoot ice pellets, in slow motion. If struck by the ice pellets, you do not only have the force of the pellet to contend with (painful) but sub-zero freezing temperatures upon the area struck (extremely painful).
From here it is a mad scramble to get out of the shower, still wet and soapy, grabbing clothes that are hopefully mine (and not the original tenants).
As I pass through the kitchen I am grabbing handfuls of cooked spaghetti from the kitchen stove and shoving fistful after fistful of noodles down my throat as I do not want the third wave tenants to eat my food. I am also singing an impromptu musical number “ooooo –eeeeee living in New York City” is the chorus, alternating with sobs and belches as I am shoved out the apartment door.
I grab the newspaper on the front stoop. It is the Sunday edition. I am still dripping water and soap from the shower. Through the soapy tears I manage to read an article about an official film adaption of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. As I finish reading the article it is rendered illegible from all the water and soap.
I think “I wanted to share it with Patrick K. and Beth K.” as I wake up for the last time that morning.