Monday, January 18, 2021

Dream Theater: An Understandable Choice

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Greta Thunberg had started smoking. 

Everywhere she went. Each time she appeared. It didn't matter if it was allowed or not.

This was her new protest against continued inaction on climate change.

And a way of saying she no longer had a future.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Dream Theater: Let's Play Soap Opera

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I moved to St. Louis with nothing but my bicycle. Because I'd been in Chicago far too long. Because I wanted an adventure. Because I thought I could handle it.

I found a room in a house with a bunch of other people. A single mother in her twenties. A bored gay couple close to my age. An older woman. And two mean cats.

They liked to drink and play a game called Soap Opera, which consisted of them saying the most cruel and hateful things to each other. Some were true, others weren't. Sometimes their angry fights were genuine, sometimes they were just pretending. I was never quite sure when they were playing the game.

St. Louis was lonely, even for a staunch introvert like me. These were the only people I knew in the entire city, so I did my best to fit in.

One evening, just a few weeks after I moved in, the outrage and shouting drove me out of the house. Everyone thought this was hilarious. I got on my bike and left.

But of course I didn't know my way around. I passed a grocery store, a series of small office buildings, and a shopping center with fast-food restaurants I didn't recognize. Eventually I found myself at the riverfront, wondering what I was going to do.

I could go back to the house and stay in my room as much as possible. I could find some sort of a job and save my money. I could find a new place to live and start over yet again.

Or I could go back to Chicago.

So I started to pedal, knowing only that I needed to head north. I'd been in St. Louis long enough. It would be an adventure. I thought I could handle it.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dream Theater: Visiting the S____ Family

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I rode my bike to to the S____'s. They'd moved since the last time I'd seen them, and were living in a big bungalow-style home on a corner lot with a big tree in the front yard.

Their daughter J____ was there, looking down onto the street from a treehouse high above. She was so much older than the last time I'd seen her.

G____ was sitting on the porch, reading a book and drinking coffee. She saw me as I rolled into view, and greeted me with a look that said there was no point in walking up the stairs and saying hello.

M____ was nearby, sitting with a group of their new neighbors, so engaged in conversation with them that he didn't even notice me.

I wondered why I'd made the trip, and what I'd hoped to accomplish with such a sudden appearance. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dream Theater: Temporary Exterminator

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I went back to my hometown of Knoxville, Iowa for a short while, to work as an exterminator. I had a list of homes to inspect and, if necessary, place poison and traps.

The first was on the far east side of town, an apartment in one of several run-down buildings. The tenants were home and turned out to be a surprisingly young and attractive man and woman. They didn't seem like the type to be living in that kind of an apartment in a town like Knoxville. I was tempted to ask if they were happy there and if they had plans to eventually leave.

They lead me around a warren of small rooms, each with a different color and kind of linoleum on the floor that gave the place a jumbled, disorganized feel. What little furniture I saw was worn and obviously second-hand. The walls were bare and in need of fresh paint. There was no TV or other electronics. It occurred to me they were probably just starting out, and this was their first place together.

We ended up in the living room. A mattress occupied the middle of the floor, and on it a second couple was having vigorous sex, oblivious to our presence.

The first couple acted as though this sort of thing happened all the time, and stood there waiting to explain who I was and why I was there. I waited, too, watching the action before me and feeling a bit perverted, but also admiring the energy with which young people--particularly young men--can fuck.

And then I was examining the perimeter of the room, looking for the telltale signs of insect and rodent infestations.

But there was nothing. No holes or gaps in the walls or floorboards, no mouse droppings scattered like black grains of rice.

There was nothing I could do for them. I thanked them for their time, apologized for the interruption, and went on to my second stop.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Dream Theater: Library Makeup

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You could check out makeup from the public library.

This is something I discovered purely by accident, when I wandered into the back.

There were shelves and shelves of it in baskets and bins, organized by type. Concealers in one group, eye shadows in another, lipsticks of every possible shade, endless tubes of mascara. Foundations and powders, brow pencils and contour sticks.

The majority of it was in pretty bad shape.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Dream Theater: A Body in the Tub

Photo from
Photo from

I was back in the house where I grew up, in the middle of the night.

I woke up in my bedroom and had to go to the bathroom, so I walked down the hall in the dark, knowing exactly where the door was.

When I turned on the light, there was a body floating in several inches of water. Not a complete body, but one that appeared to be in the midst of being formed.

Where the head should have been there was only a fleshy stem, much longer and thinner than a neck. Similar half-formed growths took the place of the arms and legs. The torso itself was smooth, and a raw-looking pink as though several layers of skin still needed to be added.

As in so many other dreams, I tried to shout, to wake up everyone else in the house so they could see what I'd found.

But my mouth wouldn't open, and no sound came out. And as I continued trying to make some kind of noise, the body began to stir, sloshing around, trying to pull itself out of the tub.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Dream Theater: A Night at the Trumps'


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How I was invited to dinner and a sleepover at one of the Trump estates is a mystery. 

But there I was, greeting them at the front door of a '70s-era split-level, decorated in blue and green and gold filigree, badly in need of an update and some TLC.

It would just be Donald and Melania and me that night.  Ivanka and Jared couldn't join us. Donald, Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle were busy with work of their own. As were Eric and Lara. Barron was in his room. 

That modest split-level turned out to be a deception. It actually stood guard in front of a surprisingly large estate, with a number of cabins tucked into thick woods, connected by a winding path. 

The accommodations were fine. Far from luxurious (the decor here smacked of the eighties' worst) but  comfortable enough for one night. I did notice that the Trumps had used all available storage for their own purposes. The bedroom closet was crammed with Donald's and the kids' old winter coats and vests; their cast-off shirts and sweaters filled the chest of drawers nearby. Naturally, they were only the best brands.

It occurred to me that if I found something I liked and it fit, I could take it with no one being the wiser.

A knock at the door interrupted me. It was Donald, stopping by to ask if everything was okay. Without being asked, he came right in and sat down, and I sat across from him. This was the first time I'd actually seen him up close. I couldn't help but notice a line around his face, one that might have indicated the presence of a mask, and behind that a thick clear fluid, like some kind of adhesive, quickly and sloppily applied.

I told Donald Trump everything was fine and that I looked forward to dinner with him and Melania. I complimented him on the estate, its size and style. I had the distinct impression he somehow knew I was not a Trump supporter and did not wish him well.

He started talking, about what I can't even remember. Because his mouth was leaking more of that clear liquid. It was spilling out, dropping of it hanging from strings and ropes of the stuff, pooling on the table in front of him. If he noticed, he didn't give any indication.

That's when I knew I wouldn't be staying the night, or for dinner, or any longer at all. I grabbed my phone, excused myself, and left the cabin. 

The cell phone reception was terrible. Sometimes I could get a bar, sometimes not.

And somehow I had to get out of there without anyone noticing.