Hi everybody. It’s my birthday today. I’ve been working on a novel, and below, hidden with the spoiler tool, I have posted a few hundred words of a scene from that novel. It’s still very much a work in progress, and I’m not doing any editing or rewrites until I get a complete first draft, but if you want to take a look, well, there it is. Don’t feel any obligation to check it out, but do try to have a good day today.
George Lambrakis Learns That the Beneficence and the Munificence of the City Has Been Denied Him
I knew it was a dream, at least the first time it happened to me, because the voice that told me that the beneficence of the city had been denied me also said, at the same time but with that dream logic that allowed me to hear and understand it, that the munificence of the city had been denied me. That first time I did not know which city the voice spoke of, or rather, for, but I had a suspicion, or at least I came to believe, once I began to suspect which city it was, that I had always held that belief.
The voice speaking to me was the first thing I remembered, and for a moment it was the only thing I could experience. That moment passed, and that’s when the flood of sensation crashed over me, and I became aware all at once of the terrible pain in my face, my neck, and my knees, and the terrible cold that had already numbed my hands and my left foot. I also saw the red light, moving, pulsing, in a pattern I came to recognize and anticipate.
It was the spinning red light at the end of the main runway of Bradley International Airport (and here I remembered scoffing at the idea of Bradley calling itself an international airport because it served flights to Canada and the Caribbean, but I had been a callow youth and a thoughtless adult), the one marked with a giant 24; the runway I was lying prone upon, with the right side of my head pressed against the freezing tarmac and my left shoe lost somewhere between where the rental car left the road, spinning and then flipping when it hit the berm beyond the chain link fence, and where I found myself. Had I crawled out of the car, which sat crumpled and dying somewhere behind me and out of sight? The torn knees of the brown wool pants I bought at the Nordstrom at Westfield Century City in anticipation of a winter visit to Flagstaff, Arizona, 29 years after having this dream and a year before the events of the dream happened in real life said yes, that I had dragged myself away from the metallic gray Dodge Dart (what cheap irony!). Probably how I lost that shoe, too.
I could feel myself freezing in the dream, and later in real life. I knew I had to call for help, but I couldn’t work out how to coordinate my hands, my torso, and my hips to allow myself to pull what I knew the second time was my phone out of my left pants pocket. Maybe it was a last act of mercy by the city, maybe it was muscle memory, but I managed to get the phone out, and that’s when I discovered that I could no longer see out of my left eye. I knew my nose was broken, probably from the airbag deploying, and I hoped that my eye was simply swollen shut and not crushed or pierced or dangling by the nerve like a frozen white teardrop on my left cheek.
This is the point where I woke up on June 27, 1989. On February 19, 2019, it played out from there.
Later that morning in 1989, I stood at the window of the bedroom of the woman I was seeing at the time, Laura McKenna, looking out across East Mountain Road at the gravel parking lot of the golf course. A big tan Cadillac, ponderous as a man in a rubber monster suit, bobbed its way across the lot and into a parking space.
“George, what’s up?” Laura asked.
“Hm? No, nothing. Had a bad dream. I dreamed I got hurt in a car accident.” I unsettled myself with how sad I sounded. Just a dream.
I turned to look at her. She was sitting up in the double bed, her hair falling over her shoulders. She was wearing a purple Williams College t-shirt and she squinted up at me, the bright summer sky behind me making me a dark shape, a hole in the world in her view.
“Do you want some coffee? I need some coffee,” she said.
“Yeah.” I paused. “Shit, I feel weird. Weird dream.”
“Come on, let’s go downstairs.”