Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am inside my sky rise apartment. It is late afternoon, as I stand before my living room window and stare out at the downtown buildings. The sun casts deep shadows upon the Art Deco facades that tells me that the dark blue sky will soon enough descend into the smoldering reddish pink of a winter dusk. I have a brown and black Yorkshire terrier now nudging my lower right leg. He wants me to take him downstairs to the dog park to do his business, but I am reluctant to step away from this view. Instead of taking him down to the dog park, I open the front door, and let him walk on into the carpeted hallway. He rubs his paw on a piece of sandpaper that is in the hallway. He will wait for someone to step into one of the elevators, take the elevator down to the lobby, step out into the dog park, do his business, and then take an elevator ride back upstairs. I expect to hear him scratching at my door within twenty minutes or so. I shall let him back inside when that happens. In the meantime, I shall stare out at the fascinating view.
When I close the door on the Yorkshire terrier he is scratching his right paw on the piece of sandpaper. When after a half hour I do not hear him scratching on my door, I go down to the dog park to look for him. He is nowhere to be found.
I am a Marine in the Vietnam War. I am patrolling with my platoon through a thick, damp jungle. We are on high alert because there is word of Vietcong activity up ahead, and so our rifles are ready to be fired at the slightest pretext. I use my rifle to nudge aside thick foliage, and whenever a branch or a leaf falls to the wayside I expect to see the enemy step out from his hiding place and fire a round into me. The stress of imminent attack is as oppressive as the heat and the humidity. We Marines do not say anything because we do not want to be heard, but also because the stress is too intense for any one of us to be able to articulate words. The most that we can do is to look at one another with the big, soulful eyes of a man about to step into a cauldron.
Suddenly, a platoon of Vietcong fighters fires at us. We fire back at unseen enemies from our own hiding positions, and for a while it is like the jungle is waging a war against itself. Then, paper thin masked fighters bleed out from the jungle. Though we can observe the enemy now in plain sight, we cannot seem to hit them with our rifle fire. Our rounds slice passed them, or ricochet off of tree branches and trunks. I try to aim at their paper thin masked faces. That is when I see the face of my missing Yorkshire terrier imprinted on their masks. No matter how skillfully I fire my rifle my rounds never hit their faces, and those dog faced fighters continue to get closer.
I am with several of my platoon buddies in a Marine helicopter. We are flying over vast stretches of South Vietnam jungle. There are thin roads below that act as borders, and the pilot points out which parts of the jungle belong to which colonial power. He points out the “American” part of the jungle. We land in a small village in the “American” area, and step into a saloon that looks like a set from a Cowboys and Indians movie. All of the “cowboys” saddling up to the bar or playing poker at a round table are small Asians with oversized Stetsons and six shooters. I order my drink at the bar. The pretty Vietnamese barmaid warns me that there are “dog faced snipers” around here. They are looking for me, and I better keep my head down until I get out of this town. I look over my shoulder to see if there are any dog faced snipers pushing through the swivel doors. There are no snipers coming inside that I can see, and so I sigh in relief.