Sunday, March 15, 2015

West of Neptune, East of Nightmare

"There's a little restaurant I used to go to. Chinese joint. A tiny lady ran it. Her name was Fannie, or maybe Frannie, I don't remember. It wasn't her born name, of course. She was so small that it looked like a strong wind would carry her away, like a leaf in fall, you know? I don't know why, but I think about her often. She's probably dead now."

Dr. Zielinski waited. The patient wanted to talk, and saying anything would have interrupted the performance.

"They used to serve alcohol to minors. My friends and I would crowd in there sometimes on Friday or Saturday night when we were in high school. I didn't drink then; that came later. They eventually got busted and lost their liquor license. For a foreign-run business to lose its liquor license for selling alcohol to minors, and with all the bullshit rumors of Chinese restaurants serving cat meat, it's amazing that they stayed alive. It's still there: a take-out place smaller than a two-story house garage. That place is immortal."

"It seems that mortality is something you think about often, Mr. Dauplaise,"  Dr. Zielinski finally interjected. Why do you think that is?"

"Well, everyone does, right? Honestly, I just want to talk. That's what I'm paying you for. The psychiatry is a bonus, I suppose. I was on a bus the other day -- my car was in the shop -- and some guy started whistling. It was the theme song from some movie that I recognized but couldn't remember. And he was whistling well. But it bugged the shit out of me, that this guy was just basically performing, unasked, in public. If a bird starts singing, it's pretty, but when a 200-pound man does it on a bus it's ugly, even if the melody is sweet. I guess we're just predisposed to hate ourselves. Anyway, that's why I'm here. I want to talk, and I figure that if I'm paying for the hour, I can say what I want without annoying anybody."

"I appreciate the honesty," Dr. Zielinski said. "Please, go on."

"I've been having weird dreams. In one, I was approaching a gray building that was a shelter for stray dogs. But the closer I got the more I realized it was a prison for unimaginably huge wolves, like Fenrir from the Norse legends. So I got up to the building, and I see all these incredibly menacing beasts, and I'm as scared as I've ever been, awake or asleep, but these monsters didn't even acknowledge me. I woke up, and I was relieved that it was just a dream, but I was also annoyed that I was ignored in my own dream."

I also dream about space travel, and I think about the planets. Like, what if 3,000 years in the future travel agencies are booking trips to Mars instead of Aruba?

I think I'd like to see Saturn."

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