My Horrible, Horrible Dream
by B. Russell
On Saturday night, right before I fell asleep, I ate some greasy fish
and french fries I had bought from a corner store in Spanish Harlem.
It gave me a slight stomachache.
That night I had a dream -- not a Martin Luther King, Jr. type of dream where people
of all races are holding hands singing Kumbaya -- more like a nightmare
in the form of a unusually cohesive and detailed story that sprang fully-formed
from my subconscious like Athena from Zeus's cracked skull.
- - -
In this dream I am a meek, hard-working bank teller at an unidentifiable branch
office remotely resembling the bank I used to pour my allowance
money into back in Indiana, before they were bought out by a larger bank in Ohio.
is an odd creature: fat, balding, shorter than me, about mid-forties, with glasses that
always seems to be slipping off his nose. He hates his job and I do too, but
unlike me he doesn't even try to make the company happy. He grudgingly does the
bare minimum required of his job, gives dirty looks to our manager and spends the rest
of the time feeding his
disturbing fascination with murder. He likes to carry
around a knife that he says is an exact replica of the knife that killed
JFK. (Not all of this dream made sense.) He is always bringing
in books about Jack the Ripper or the Columbine shootings, and on this particular
day he's reading a paperback biography about Charles Manson. He shows me
the cover; "Now there was a REAL man," he said. "Charlie wasn't afraid of
Now on this particular day the manager has had it with this man. The manager asks
to talk with him outside, and after staring at him for a couple of seconds he complies.
I go up to the glass door to watch the encounter, and I can tell that he's getting
fired. Something seems to snap in the man's mind; after an uncomfortable pause
kicks the manager hard in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Then he whips out
that knife of his and pins him down and starts stabbing him, over and over.
Blood is being splattered everywhere as the helpless mid-level management executive
flails under this abnormally ferocious assault. It's the middle of the day and there's
people everywhere, including two police officers chatting down the street, and
he's killing this man out in the open, screaming madly as he enthusiastically
and maniacally pistons his knife into the manager's torso.
People don't seem bothered by it at all; rather, they're
intrigued by it. It's like the event is so strange in its open brutality that it's
a public spectacle, and a crowd starts to form around the ongoing scene. I walk out
of the building and join the men, women, children, police officers and construction
workers who are staring in horror and fascination as the man continues with
complete abandon to thrust angrily into the straddled, now-silent corpse.
When he finally collapses onto his bloody pincushion, utterly exhausted from his efforts,
the police politely lead him away and the crowd slowly disperses, talking
amongst themselves. "Wow, that was
really something," one woman says. "I've seen better," says another. Something inside my
brain is hurting and I don't know what to do.
And that's when I start running. I run and run and I can feel
my sides start to hurt but I keep running because there's nothing else I can do,
and soon the pain in my body begins to equal the pain in my mind.
And then the adrenaline and endorphlns finally kick in and I feel it all fade away.
I start to feel really good about the whole thlng, and I see that my moral dilemma
was not really a dilemma at all, just a momentary awkwardness in time.
I realize that all the problems of the world -- right and wrong, good and evil,
guilt and innocence -- are simply matters of hormonal imbalance. And I keep running
and running and feel the cool air against my face and the rush and exhilaration of life,
and know that everything is as it should be.
- - -
Then I awoke. Terrified and exhausted.
I really shouldn't have eaten the fish.
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