Children of an Idle Brain

By Jon Hillenbrand In Dreamscape Series, Stories

It’s sad that in the past five years of blogging, despite my roller coaster love life, I’ve only posted once on Valentine’s Day.  In 2009, I wrote about saving your old emails and how it paid off in a pointless argument in CYA Email Bitch Slap.  Bad form on a day dedicated to Love, or lack thereof.  My sister Anne calls today, “Single’s Awareness Day,” which I think is pretty funny.  And as I am single today, I feel an obligation to write something about love, philosophy, etc.  I originally intended to write an extensive list of everything I (think I) know about Love, capital L, in bullet points.  I imagined fame and fortune would follow as my words of wisdom were translated into 146 languages and read on computers in Internet cafes, iPhones in boring meetings, Androids in bathrooms and eventually on the back page of my unabridged biography to be stolen via Google Books and copied into some 14 year old’s paper on cynicism for which he would receive a well-deserved “B-“.

However, the derailment of that chain of events was not accomplished by my annual dropping of the literary ball, it was derailed by my brain which seems more and more to wish upon me some state of longing.  It’s not enough for my brain to be happy for me that I’ve moved on from shallow breathing and the replaying of a single sad song over and over and over in the car.  No, my brain won’t say, “Good for you, Jon, I’m proud of you for gaining some sort of closure after that one breakup!”  No, my brain says nothing.  It just sits in the corner dangling a cigarette until I go to sleep.  Then, at night, like some sick turtleneck-wearing French Cinéma vérité director, it creates these elaborate dreams and projects them against the soft parts of my mind.  The film grain lies try to obscure the truth in the imagery but once I’m awake and the story is developed in the light of day, the lesson is revealed like a taunt flowered.  Here lies last night’s dream.  Let it rest in peace.

I was a soldier in WW1 or maybe it was WW3, but I was dressed like it was the Great War.  I was in olive wool with no head covering, no body armor and my only defense was a single side arm which looked like a Walther P38, an old Nazi officer weapon.  My face, hair and clothes were completely soaked as gobs of rain were falling from the white sky on me and the 500 other poor souls struggling to pull our tanks through the pancake batter mud.  They were small two-man tanks we called Jennies.  Through a narrow choke point between two fields, we came to a small city.  At the northwest corner of a vast clearing stood a large concrete windowless block which passed for a modern hotel in the Communist era.  The soaked men looked upon it with great longing and heated negotiations began with the single Chinese owner who spoke almost no English but who clearly was refusing our admission.  He stood stoic under the concrete awning with his arms folded as many contemplated the consequences of just pushing past him or worse.  This part of the dream doesn’t make much sense, but here goes.  I pulled my men back and we tried to work with our interpreter who we sat about a hundred feet from the hotel in the mud of the field in a bamboo and metal lawn chair.  He spoke French and I quickly tried to muster as much French as I could from a long sleep somewhere in the back of my brain.  I ignored three years of French class in High School wondering when I would ever use it in real life.  A crowd of men started to assemble around the confusing conversation and everyone started pushing as lawn chairs were redistributed and people began to set up camp in the field.  It was around that time that a civilian man elbowed his way through the crowd.  He was short and dressed in red and yellow robes which contrasted with the muted sea of grays, browns and greens.  Three ladies dressed in black and white followed tall behind him like three mute swans, tall and graceful.  The last looked familiar to me in a desperate way though her hair was different.  It was my ex girlfriend who I’ll lovingly rename Thelma for this story.  I grasped her arm and looked at her rain-battered bangs and makeup.  I asked if it were she.  She looked along the lines of me and past me as though I were created from a fog.  Her haze I imagined was caused by drugs or alcohol taken either by choice or by force.  I demanded to know why she was here in this war and this rain.  She didn’t seem herself.  I asked her to speak to our interpreter since she was fluent in French when I last knew her. So she said something with her graceful air and immediately told us the problem.  She tiredly said that the Chinese army was currently occupying the hotel and that the owner was afraid we would fight in the hallways.  The reality was that with this information, people started to wonder what to do.  We were in no shape to attack anyone as our equipment was slowly foundering in the brown sea of mud and was soon to be concreted at first light.  People began to mobilize and I watched my former love regally collapse deep into the lawn chair like a gowned woman riding side-saddle.  Thelma looked at me as I tore through my bag looking for something.  “Why are you here?,” I asked.  She replied, “We came from Rome.  We went there to visit.  That’s where we fell in love.”  She looked at me with precision as I processed that.  I feigned casual and asked her who she was talking about.  She smiled and I crouched down by her arm, careful where I touched.  “Pope Benedict the Twelfth,” she laughed coyly waiting for my reaction.  She always tested me in this way to see if I still loved her, a small stab to see how I bled for her.  I talked with her about leaving for a desperation was coming over me to escape her to safety.  I envisioned holding onto her hand, the clouds clearing, as we ran through the boxcars of a train yard while holding a brown suitcase in my other hand, hiding from friend and foe, distancing ourselves from the destruction of war.  I snapped back to the rain as she looked past me from the lawn chair with worry in her eyes.  The interpreter was out of his chair and at a full sprint away from me as he ran toward the white concrete hotel.  I pulled my pistol from the leather holster and aimed it at his back.  Others yelled at him to stop.  I wondered what she would think if I killed this man.  I felt the spring action in the trigger resist my finger and I twisted the gun slightly to the right and skyward looking at it.  It was heavier than I imagined.  I dropped the gun into the wet and looked toward her but there was only grass and mud where she once sat.  The sun erupted and everything flowed skyward as I awoke from the dream.

I lay in my bed and just held my face not wanting to declare the conversation with her a figment of my imagination.  Some dreams have a truth about them that cuts to the quick and makes them seem real.  But living in the past is a dalliance and so much wasted time.  There are lessons contained in this dream which I already knew, one of which is that Love is a ghost which haunts our unconsciousness after its untimely death in the world of the roused.

What do you think?