Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am an actor alone backstage. There is commotion from the other side of the curtain that suggests a play is being performed, but I am not a part of that show. I am waiting back here for an actress to return from the stage. In the meantime, I investigate what there is to see in this dimly lit space: makeup counters with cosmetics and wigs, props from various shows spread across tables, costumes hung on rolling carts, boxes of old, burnt out lights, and faded posters featuring the names of actors long retired or dead.
While I continue to wander backstage, the space grows until it is the size of an enormous warehouse. The backstage items remain the same as before just a lot more of them. As I walk further away from the curtain, the ceiling is higher, and the space better lit. Though I am in a much bigger space than before, ironically it feels more personal to me. It is as if I am in someone’s private home, but it is decorated to look like the backstage of a grand burlesque show. Besides those old show posters, there are now framed, black and white pictures of a particular actress. Though I recognize her at once as the woman for whom I have been waiting, her headshots look like they were taken in different generations quite far removed in time from one another. In one, she is a turn of the century actress similar in style to a Mabel Normand. In another, she is a sexy siren from the 1940s. In another, she is sporting a Jackie Kennedy bouffant from the early 1960s. In another, she could be a Mary Tyler Moore or a Valerie Harper from the early 1970s. I find her very attractive no matter the look. Though conventionally pretty, what makes her most desirable is not her beauty so much as her comic sensibility, which is captured in each of the headshots. She has an infectious sense of fun about her. Her grin is just mischievous enough to lure the audience into her performance without being the kind of forced humor that so often falls flat. She is a couple decades older than me, but on a dime she can turn on the wide eyed enthusiasm of a young actress sharing a dingy flat in New York City and still learning the ropes of the off-Broadway audition circuit.
Near the back of the warehouse I find a twin bed. The disheveled sheets look like they have not been washed in years, and there is tinsel everywhere. I press down on the old mattress. The springs are noisy. Overall, the look, feel, and smell of the bed suggests a bordello back room from the turn of the century. It could be a prop for a show – perhaps for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – but then I see a cigarette butt on the sheet near the pillow that tells me the bed has been used.
While I am checking out the bed, the actress returns from the stage, and finds me where I am. She comes up from behind me quietly, mischievously, and wraps her arms around my waist before I noticed her coming. I turn and face her. She is the same as when I had performed on stage with her years ago. We had had to share a kiss on stage every night as part of our show, and backstage we had become fond of “practicing” our stage kiss to the mild disgust of the other actors. She had given me then the green light to pursue her, but I had demurred. I regretted that afterwards, and that is why I am here now.
We kiss, we talk, we undress, and we explore her many backstage knickknacks while in our birthday suits or while dressed in costumes. We could be children in an attic waving aside the cobwebs to explore the contents of an old chest, except that we are not really children. I am middle aged, and she is older than middle aged. Moreover, there is a very clear sexual chemistry here that the children up in the attic would not experience. When the chemistry bubbles over, we descend onto the bed, and roll about each other’s flesh.
While we are exploring what makes the other one tick, the back wall opens up, and the bed rolls onto a platform outside. It is a warm summer night all around us, but we are oblivious at first. Off in the distance is a stadium. There is a game or a concert occurring way out there as evidenced by the stadium lights and the recurring cheer from a crowd. People are walking from the stadium to a parking lot on a dark, concrete path beneath our platform. There are brightly lit shops and concessions along their path that together constitute an outdoor mall. The people are happy and energetic. For the most part, they pay no attention to the lovebirds on the twin bed above them.
At one point, I look over the edge of the bed, and I see a coin on the dark path below. It stands out as shiny and new in the light cast by an overhanging, red, Chinese lamp. I see that the coin is “tails,” and I call out to the crowd that it is “tails.” A young man begins to run back to the stadium to let them know that the coin is “tails.” Others in the crowd are grateful that I called it. My lover sees that I have been distracted momentarily, and with a devilish glint in her eyes she pulls my face back to her bosom.
I am seated in the passenger seat of a Winnebago. The driver is a middle aged man in a green Leisure suit. He looks like Alex Jones. He keeps glancing at the rearview mirror as if he is avoiding a pursuer, while sipping from a plastic cup full of Vodka he keeps in the cupholder beside him. There is twangy country western music playing on the radio, and a topless Hula girl statuette shaking side to side on the dashboard. We are driving down a dirt road in a remote desert part of Mexico. The driver thinks we can get to the Pemex station before we run out of gas, but I am not so sure. As it turns out, I am right, and we stall on the side of the road. “Alex Jones” walks down the road with a gas can in hand to find the next Pemex on foot. I step outside, lean up against the hood, and look out over the endless miles of dried sagebrush. When “Alex Jones” is no longer in sight, I remove the folded picture I keep in my pocket. It is the actress whom I last saw when she had pulled my face into her bosom. It all seems so long ago and far away.