Just now, when I look into your eyes, my initial inclination is to urge you closer by saying something like, ‘welcome to my home.’ If I think that you have a lovely pair of Spanish Eyes, then I may purr out ‘bienvenidos a mi casa’ in one of those sultry sophisticated voices. Regardless of the affectation, the greeting will suggest heart and home. There is only one problem: I am not really inviting you into my home. Oh, don’t get me wrong. This is definitely my place. All day, in preparation for your arrival, I have been setting aside my food and my drinks (okay, supervising the help is more honest, but why quibble?), even climbing up to my attic to flip through my huge record collection to find the Lawrence Welk you’re now hearing in the background. Everything about this place is mine; and I have the papers to prove it (though the papers are not the kind to be found in a recorder’s office, but rather in the locked file cabinet of an asylum). Just see for yourself in the pages to follow: This place is mine, and you are my guest for a time. The fact that you may feel like a prisoner makes you no less of a guest.
Still, the problem remains. This is not my home. This is a black, creepy, spider web and rat infested corner of my imagination. I have dressed it up well enough. If you do not look too closely, you’ll think that this is a fashionable and clean den. The shrimp and dip on the silver fish over there will taste real (once you get a dose of food poisoning, you’ll agree that they taste a bit too real for human consumption). The drinks will be big on the bourbon (truly better to see you with, my dear), so that you’ll already be far enough along after just one of them. But, no, if I must tell the truth, then I must admit that this is a cough, or a silly laugh, inside of my imagination. Even more so, this place, if you will, is a surreal, high definition, stereo sound dream. I guess that makes you part of my dream, as I am now part of your reality. Truly queer and offsetting how all that ‘you’re in my dream, and I’m in your reality’ stuff works. Sort of a mindbender even before we start to pour the bourbon, and, really, those are the scariest of mindbenders because we cannot blame the odd experience on too much liquor.
Therefore, if I am going to be honest up front, I really must not open my lips into an overly wide smile, nod, and say, ‘welcome to my home.’ Nor should I say the ‘bienvenidos’ version, either. Instead, with a bit of a nervous tremble in my voice, and a pair of shifty eyes beneath my sweaty brow, I should audibly clear my throat and say something like, ‘welcome to my dream time.’ That has the ring of truth to it, doesn’t it? I mean Lawrence Welk in the background, and shrimp and dip on a silver fish, and those iced cubes that look a lot like waking eyeballs swimming in bourbon, they all look sort of dreamlike, don’t they? That is how I see them, anyway. I would suggest that, as you peruse the many pages to follow (dabble in some, actually read others), you too choose to see them all as dreamlike. It will improve your experience; haunt you more, perhaps; but at the same time, remind you in the back of your head that this is all just a dream in the end. None of the disturbing images are real. There is no actual monster, maybe inside your mind, but certainly not in your bedroom closet. Tell yourself that over and over again, like it is some sort of mantra, and then you will see…
One other note, before I take your coat, and escort you to the silver fish over there. While everything that follows is an extended dream (perhaps drawn out is more honest, given the sheer number of pages involved), there is enough realism that, at times, it can be downright stomach churning. By realism, I am referring to the racist, sexist, homophobic, downright deranged things some of the dream characters say and do. In part, this has to do with setting a time and a place. After all, if you are dreaming about the KKK circa 1950, you will not be dreaming that they refer to ‘African Americans’ in their speech. Or perhaps you will dream them up that way (get rid of the salty flavor of their speech pattern and turn them into politically correct KKK goons); but if so, then yours will not be a dream that has been seasoned by realism. And that is because, in the real world, and in a certain time and place, the KKK goons do not use the politically correct jargon with which we are and should be more comfortable. So my word to the wise: The dreams that follow can be surreal at times. Certainly, they all descend into nightmare status (after all, this is a horror book, isn’t it?). But, on the whole, there is also enough realism to make the horror stick in your guts in the clear-headed awake hours; while let’s face it, the pure fantasy dreams, for the most part, slip off and away on the wings of daylight. You should admit this is so, before you sample the shrimp and dip, and gesture for your first bourbon.