To dream magnificently is not a gift given to all men, and even for those who possess it, it runs a strong risk of being progressively diminished by the ever-growing dissipation of modern life and by the restlessness engendered by material progress. The ability to dream is a divine and mysterious ability; because it is through dreams that man communicates with the shadowy world which surrounds him. But this power needs solitude to develop freely; the more one concentrates, the more one is likely to dream fully, deeply.
- Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), French poet, critic.
I am late back to work. I am always late back to work in my dreams, and I am in some earlier environment; my dreams follow me like a waterskier's empty towline behind the Evinrude of my consciousness. I dream about the office, and when I was in the office I dreamed of the Factory, and of the Army (the Army follows me everywhere, it seems). When I was in the Army and the Factory, I dreamed of high school.
I work in a large mall. There is a room, or shop, within one wing of it. And out of a room across the hall from where I am late, a smiling darkeyed lady approaches and we begin rituals which would be considered inappropriate in most malls, or offices either.
She is sitting with me on a bench just outside my workplace, which I note is entirely different from when I had left it for lunch, and another pretty one smiles and speaks to me in her progression down the corridor. My seatmate leans close to me, whispers, "I would be careful of those Hispanic girls."
I am present but not a part of a huge industrial indoor parkway. I am there visiting my pal Jim, who isn't really a pal neither. I will leave, but there is something about the leaving which requires stealth. I don't want to just walk away, maybe fearing I will not be able to prove I am not enrolled in the class. So I maneuver along a continuing obstacle course.
It resembles a railway yard, if anything; I am progressing along what would be a string of railroad cars, if it were a railroad, but it isn't, so it's just a long ravine structure. I am moseying, and down below are workers moving indecipherable tools to indeterminate purpose. I proceed.
This recalls two events in my past.
I had some sort of emotional or social stroke my junior year in high school - my first junior year of high school. Basically, as near as I am to know, what I had been no longer applied to me. I quit much of what I had identified me to that point. I was no longer a boxer or a football player by pure-dee and painful empirical evidence and thus in our southern community not much of a player of any sort. I dropped out in place. Nothing had any meaning anymore. I took classes and had no idea what they meant. I did nothing, no homework, no work of any sort. The failure was of will and not of competence, of which such limited store as I had been blessed with remained.
In the afternoons came Plane Geometry, and I would take off. I just walked away from school after noon. Went home to work on my first auto, a 1937 Chevy coupe wreck. Tried to create a metaphor of my existence by attempting to jimmy the frozen bolts on the drive shaft to try and work an incompatible transmission in place. The Chevy never ran again.
Nearly a decade later. I'm in the Reception Center, Ft Polk, LA. It is 1969. I was here in 1965. I can't stay here. I pick a time when the day begins and light is not yet up yet the guards on the gate of the center are gone. I walk the trail towards the center of the post, and the main gate outside. A jeep pulls off to the right. I continue walking towards it. I have my duffelbag with my civilian gear on my back. The MP stands down, and crosses the road, right in my path. I continue walking, unconcerned. (At that point, it meant little to me whether I went out one gate or through another into the stockade.)
"You all right?" asked the MP on his way to check a motor pool gate. It was simply a form of address.
In ten minutes, I was over the fence and outside the premises of Ft Polk.
3:15 PM 11/30/2003