“Whatever you decide to do, be cautious. Some things can’t be undone.” JSM
-Another Day in Paradise-
I’ve come to believe and understand that my stint on the island was a version of limbo. I was stuck in that place between places. My consciousness was trapped. My sleeping patterns were broken and the dreams were brutal. I couldn’t think straight.
During my waking hours, while tapping my fingertips on the keyboard doing my jobby job work, my mind asked itself questions and never provided any answers. Only “what if” inquiries projected into empty space. Some made up place in my mind to give me something else to focus on.
Why do we dream? Imagine if we didn’t have to sleep or eat. No eating means no cooking, no preparation, no money spent. Think about how much more time we’d have! That would be awesome! How about this, Jere…
What if REM sleep and realistic dreaming, was a release of the subconscious into another realm, where other individual’s sub consciousnesses congregate and mingle. What if lucid dreaming is nothing more than interactions with other lucid dreamers. Experiencing what their day was like and they with you. Shifting, morphing and phasing into nearby realms to join other groups and encountering a whole new realistic experience. That’s why we don’t recognize people, or their faces are blurry. That’s why the location seems foreign and confusing and why we can’t describe it to others. We’re with someone else, experiencing a glimpse of their reality.
The sensation of falling and flying is merely the consciousness leaving those realms, and returning to the sleeping body. Or… or… when the dream goes bad and darkness swirls around, and the nightmare kicks into gear, that’s why we wake with a jolt. The consciousness was kicked out and forced back to the body with a violent shove. We were trespassing on something we weren’t supposed to see.
It’s always a house we’ve never been in, or an unfamiliar building, basement, attic… dark, menacing, long winding passages. We never know where we are, or why it’s happening… but the next thing you know, you’re lurching out of bed like it’s on fire. Sweating, scared, sometimes in tears.
Wow. What the hell is wrong with you?
During my time on the Island I kept a calendar book on my desk. Each day I was there was marked with a blue X. On the night of the fifty seventh day, I experienced a brief dream.
Standing among some co-workers, I saw a woman wearing a gray tee shirt with the number 75 on the front. It just so happens to be the year of my birth. I don’t remember what she looked like, but the number stood out.
I awoke, sat up, and the dream was over. I made a short notation of it in my journal and carried on.
It was mentioned before that I spent a great deal of my time sleeping at high noon and working at night. I was in control of my schedule and those hours were preferential for my new lifestyle. The daylight hours had too many people. Too many drivers. Stores were congested and the lines were long. Hectic. Chaotic. Too busy busy for my liking.
Everything can be done at night if needed.
The one evening I decided to go to bed at a “reasonable hour” is the one night I sleep well. Go figure. Maybe my subconscious was hinting at a new routine. I believe it was in the area of 11:30pm and other than the dog, I was alone in the home.
I fluffed up my pillow, turned on my side with a favorite show on in the background, and closed my eyes.
Once drifting away to that mysterious realm, and the noises of the nearby TV had drowned out to the point of becoming muted, Shelby slathered her drool covered jowls down my arm. I ripped open my eyes and she moved from the bed to the front door.
“You need to go out?” She sat at the exit and wagged her tail while I removed slobber from my skin with a paper towel, and rubbed away the sleep from my face.
Then she whined and whimpered. That’s odd. She never acts like that.
My dog moves like a cheetah. Her legs are a blur when she’s at full speed and regardless of how long I’ve had her, she’s still leashed. She’s an impulsive animal who acts on instinct and only instinct. Everyone around me is a threat, she’s in full control of determining who enters my home, the yard, and who’s OK to be around. She’s lady friendly and has issues with men wearing hats and facial hair. Her bark is so much worse than her bite, and all lawn critters from neighborhood cats, to squirrels and birds, must be destroyed.
She’s a big dog at one hundred and forty pounds and doesn’t have the best coordination when in the back seat of a car, yet she rushed straight for the vehicle and nosed the framework as though she desperately wanted to go for a ride. I opened the door and she leaped onto the fabric and sat on her haunches waiting for the window to lower. I smiled and returned to the house for my keys, wallet and a pair of pants.
We navigated some back roads, listening to Pink Floyd just loud enough to sing along to, passed through a couple of quiet neighborhoods and returned to the main street to head towards the capitol.
I feel safe with Shelby. Her company has gotten me through some scrapes. So when I decided to do something I’ve never done before, since acquiring a drivers license, I felt as though having the dog nearby was decent protection.
I picked up my first hitchhiker.
In this day and age, we’re seeing old trends returning, sometimes with unique and interesting twists and what would seem quite possibly out of the ordinary for everyday wear, has become quite common.
Someone wearing a cowboy hat, wide brim hat, or a Stetson is now common place. Flashy gold belt buckles or suspenders. Shoulder bags of various sizes and material. So when I saw the drifter for the first time in the light of the high beams, the way he was dressed didn’t surprise me. Dark brown Stetson hat, turned around, a loose fitting white tee shirt and brown suspenders. I couldn’t see his style of shoes, but the cuff of his dark blue jeans appeared to be covering boots of a deep brown color; but I couldn’t be sure, and I never asked.
One hand stuffed in a pocket he walked facing forward, while beckoning with the opposite hand. He switched from a gentle wave to holding his palm flat and never stuck out a thumb, and before I flicked off the lights to a lower setting he covered his face to shield his eyes from the blinding glare. Hanging from his shoulder was a brown satchel and I could smell a faint aroma of leather when he opened the door and sat down.
I didn’t hesitate. The moment he was in full view inside the lights I decelerated and pulled to the shoulder. I had nothing to worry about. Shelby has my back.
I looked over my shoulder, flicked on the blinker and returned to the road. The stranger stuck his hand out, “Joe.”
I returned the gesture and grasped his cold fingers, “Jere.”
Shelby sniffed the man up and down his cheek, nuzzled his hat off his head and turned her attention to the bag. Joe laughed and readjusted the hat, “What’s the dog’s name?”
“Shelby.” She perked up and stuck her head out the window.
“Shelby. I had a great aunt named Shelby. How’d you come up with the name?”
“Star Trek the Next Generation. When Captain Picard turns into Borg, Commander Shelby fights with Commander Riker to get him back. I liked her character. The name just stuck with me. Where you heading? Where can I take ya?”
“No where special. I’ll get out where ever you’re going. I appreciate the lift. Thanks.”
“No problem. My good deed for the day.”
He stuffed his hand back in the pocket,”I don’t have a lot, but I can give you three…”
“Nah. Think nothing of it. I got nowhere special to be either. Just me and the mutt getting out for a bit. Getting some air. Roaming around.”
We drove and listened to the music and for a few minutes neither of us spoke. I decided to break the comfortable silence. “You from around here?”
“No. Just moved to Maine with my wife Karen and the in laws.”
“Your parents still around?”
He paused and looked out the side window, “No. They’re both dead.”
“Oh, shit, I’m sorry.”
“Think nothing of it.” He looked to me and grinned. “How the hell would you know? Dad was a heavy smoker.”
Hesitant to offend a total stranger, I reconsidered my response, “… Cancer?”
Joe chuckled and turned in his seat, “No, listen to this. Dad loved his cigars. He and mom were driving home from church, he dropped a lit stogie in his lap and while the sparks were flying around and charring up the seat between his legs he drove them both right off the road into the woods. Killed instantly.” He snapped his fingers and my grip on the wheel tightened, “Mom always said smoking would kill him someday. Didn’t think it would get both of them. He was a real son of a bitch.”
“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t need to say anything.”
“How long you been married?”
“Almost two years. Karen’s dad, Gill, said he had a calling to leave the city behind and move to the country. We packed it all up and came to Maine. He was right. Can’t get more country than here.”
It was my turn to laugh, “Yeah. Maine isn’t exciting, but I like it. You working?”
The car was silent as a wide open parking lot came into view. Joe kept his stare out the front of the car and spoke outright, “Karen’s going to die in three days.”
I whipped my head to the side, “What? Karen as in wife Karen?”
“Alright, Joe. Our trip ends here.” I pulled into the brightly lit, empty parking lot and drove into a space illuminated from a post above. Pushing the stick into park and looking him in the eye I finished, “It was nice meeting you and take it easy. This is where you get out and we part ways.”
“That’s fine. This is my new beginning. I’ll start here.” He exited the car and walked through the empty spaces, away from the door, and almost vanished from view. I kept my focus on his back, slapped the car into reverse then pulled up beside him. I rolled down the window and veered away to give myself some distance, “What do you mean by Karen’s gonna die in three days.”
He looked to his right, locked eyes with me and smiled, “Just what I said. She dies in three days, and the best part is, you get to decide how it happens.”
The feeling in my stomach from the words spoken by the stranger lurched me from my bed as if it was on fire. I was sweating, shaking and lost in the moment. Shelby barked once at my sudden and unexpected action and the instant I realized it was all a dream, I shot my eyes to the alarm clock.
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