Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details.
I am standing on the grounds of a college campus which resembles an outdoor mall. Instead of traditional classroom buildings there are storefronts with painted signs on the windows: Physics, American History, Victorian English Literature, etc. The paths are wide enough to be city streets, and on these streets are food trucks, popcorn or cotton candy stands, a juggling clown, police officers in pink uniforms with oversized jockstraps worn on the outside, and cheerleaders with excessive makeup and huge bouffants. There are a lot of college students walking around with backpacks and textbooks, but there seem to be just as many older adults walking around in Summer shorts and sandals. I casually stroll over to a popcorn stand under a yellow umbrella. I see a friend of mine trying hard to get the attention of the vendor. The friend is a college aged, overly thin, white, male in a disheveled T-shirt and loose jeans. He has a long, angular face that had been attractive before he lost so much weight. Now, the lines in his face are too deep, and his eyes look like they could burst out from their sockets at any moment. His brown hair is a mess. He may have slept all night on a grassy knoll somewhere given the leaves and grass stains stuck to his unkempt hair. My friend is trying to tell the vendor that he will be committing suicide next Tuesday. The vendor either does not hear him, or does not care, for he only focuses on the cute sorority girls ordering popcorn. I walk away from this stand, but as I stroll up and down the mall I see my loopy friend out of the corner of my eye walking up to small groups of coeds and letting them know that Tuesday will be his last day alive. So far as I can tell no one seems to care. They either act like they do not hear him at all, or they acknowledge him with a condescending nod before turning back to their gossip. As my friend walks away from these encounters he clutches his loose belt buckle in order to keep his jeans from falling to his ankles.
I am a cashier inside one of the college campus storefronts. The items for sale inside of the glass counters range from cheap watches to perfume to bags of nachos. The decor is similar to a See’s Candy Shop: Bright, white paint with barbershop swirls here and there to give it a 1900’s look. Beyond the storefront window a group of police officers dressed in traditional, blue, police uniforms are speaking with coeds. I poke my head outside so as to hear the conversation. The police officers are aware that my friend wants to end his life next Tuesday, and they are eliciting advice from people who know him well as to how best to respond to him. One of the cops – a stocky, white man with a buzzcut – asks if my friend has any religious preference. I chime in that he is a Catholic but does not regularly go to Church. The stocky cop nods toward me, but he and the other cops focus mostly on the coeds standing before them.
I am seated front row center in a small classroom. My desk is the kind that is used within elementary schools. It is a bit too small for me. I am squeezed under the table and take up all the surface with my notepad and pen. The small classroom is full of other students like me seated in elementary school desks. At the front of the room is a blackboard with unreadable chalk scribble. The teacher is front and center in front of me. She is a pretty woman in her thirties: white, dark haired, strait-laced with oversized owl glasses and a curvy body hidden beneath a white, cashmere sweater and pants. Several of us will be going to law school next term, and she is urging us to double major in the discipline she teaches. She steps forward so that she is inches in front of me. I lean forward and wrap my left arm around her lower back. I slowly drop my hand and pat her butt. She looks at me as if to say, “this is not the time or place.” I raise my hand so that it is resting instead on her back. No one else in the classroom seems to notice or to care. I remove my hand, and she continues to lecture like nothing happened.
I am walking on the outskirts of the college campus with my wife (not the same woman as the teacher I touched earlier). It is night. There are few people walking outside then; and the only light guiding our way is from old-fashioned lamp posts, several storefronts, here and there, that remain open this late, and the twinkling stars in the sky. We walk up to a steep hill. On the right half of the hill is wet grass. On the left half is an asphalt street that ends at a high wall. Above the high wall is a pedestrian bridge that leads down into the main part of the campus. There are steps beside the high wall that circle up to that pedestrian bridge. My wife is getting tired, so I lift her up and hold her like a child on my right arm. I walk up the side of the grass toward the pedestrian bridge. I hear a vehicle driving up the asphalt road to my left. The vehicle screeches to a stop before hitting the high wall and then starts to turn back down. I see the wavy blond hair of my prior wife driving that vehicle. She is so preoccupied with making her three-point turn that she is unaware of me. Nevertheless, just to be on the safe side I turn my wife on my arm so that she is not facing toward the street. When my ex-wife drives back down the road, I hope that she will neither notice me nor my exhausted wife on my arm.
I reach the staircase that leads up to the pedestrian bridge. My wife is too tired to take those steps herself, so I hold her while walking up the steps. I look down the road. My ex-wife is gone. Once I am on the pedestrian bridge, I look down and perceive that the college campus mall in that direction is quickly turning off its lights for the night. When we leave the bridge, my wife sees an elderly female friend of hers seated on a bench all by herself. My wife’s friend looks like an older Betsy Palmer in a granny dress. I agree to carry both of them, one on each arm, down to the campus. As I walk with the two ladies in my arms I see that the storefronts now are totally closed for the night. The only light down here is the occasional lamp post and moonlight sifting in and out of thickening fog.
Later, my wife, my wife’s friend, and I are inside one of the storefronts writing out “thank you” notes. The class is focused on etiquette and penmanship. Instead of sitting in little desks, we are seated on a yellow, shag, carpeted floor writing on our laps and thighs. On the other side of the room is a patio sliding glass door. There is a water fountain outside with carved mermaids and sea dragons. I look over my right shoulder and perceive that my wife’s friend is writing a personal note for me. She is thanking me for giving her that “ride” back into the campus on my arm. She is about to hand it to me, but then she has an epiphany that will result in a postscript. She writes that she will soon be crossing the plane into “Nigger Heaven.” She will be joined there by her husband, and then the two of them will wait patiently for my wife and I to join them in their heavenly festivities.
I have left the college campus. I am now employed for Michael Corleone, the infamous Mafia leader from “The Godfather” movies. I am one of his security guards. Michael is in appearance and demeanor more like his persona in “The Godfather Part II,” except his face is a little more wrinkled and his hair more salt and pepper. He remains very much in active control of his crime family. I am part of his security detail on an old ship that has left harbor for the high seas. This is going to be a prolonged “vacation” similar to what L. Ron Hubbard did with his Sea Org. Like with L. Ron Hubbard’s ships, ours needs a lot of repairs and a new coat of paint. I am not even sure that our ship is seaworthy, but I keep my concerns to myself. Michael does not want to hear from one of his security guards on this or any other topic. Before long, the ship turns around and heads back to shore. Are the Feds calling us back? Or is there a mechanical problem already with the ship? I have no idea. All I know is that we need to whisk Michael away as soon as possible so that the people on shore do not know where he is.
I am on a deserted isle with Michael. Off in the distance we both can see the ship as it is coming to a stop in the harbor. There is another isle in between the ship and us. The day is incredibly bright and warm. Michael unexpectedly is wearing shorts with little anchors on them and a white T-shirt. He sits on the beach and stares blankly out at the ship. For the first time ever I see him relaxing. He feels totally safe out here. I note a large police helicopter flying out from the harbor. It is flying low over the isle in front of us. Michael is unfazed, and soon the police helicopter is gone. Without turning his face from the scene before him, Michael informs me that that is not a police helicopter. It is one of ours, and the pilot is looking for him. Michael does not want to be found just yet. He likes it on this beach and just wants to be alone with his thoughts for a while.
It is night. Michael has decided to be the tactical commander of a hit, which is far below his position in the organization. I say nothing, as I watch him standing on top of a flatbed truck parked in an inner city junkyard. The truck is idling, and the headlights cast light on a handful of henchmen with rifles ready to inflict pain. Michael orders them to go into the warehouse and to shoot up the place. The owners have stopped paying for protection, so it is time to get even. Michael tells them to bring out some of the illegal alien workers on the promise that they will not hurt them. I stand my post near the flatbed truck without moving, but I can hear the carnage inside the warehouse. The henchmen are shooting up the place. An alarm has gone off, but no one seems worried. Perhaps, the police are paid off. That is often the case with Michael’s hits. Soon, there is a line of scared shitless Mexican walking out to the flatbed truck with their hands in the air. Michael gestures for them to stand facing the headlights, so the Mexicans cannot see anything. Then, with a subtle nod, he orders his men to shoot them to pieces. I see a little Mexican boy take a round to his face. I look down at my shoes, but in the corner of my eye I can see the rest of the carnage. There is no escaping the mass murder. One of the Mexicans is spared to be a witness. The word on the street is going to spread like wildfire. The alarm continues to ring as I take a seat in the back of the flatbed, but the police are nowhere to be found.
Later that same night I am with Michael in his cramped, downtown apartment. From all the books spread around the living room, one would think that a professor instead of an organized crime leader lives here. The decor is from the 1920s, including a phonograph playing a scratchy jazz orchestra record from that period. The table in the center is not much bigger than a card table, and I suspect a lot of hits have been planned here over poker and cocktails. Michael does not seem the type to indulge those kinds of games, so maybe his caporegime use the table while he hides away in his bedroom with his books. Tonight, the caporegime are not here. I suspect they are out there cleaning up what little is left of that warehouse business. There is a knock at the door. Michael gestures for me to answer. He seems to be expecting visitors. Two Roman Catholic Bishops step inside. They are old, overweight, jowly Prelates from the Vatican. They pay their respects to the host and sit at the card table. Michael gestures for me to take a seat, and then Michael sits down as well. I feel awkward, since I have never sit in on any of Michael’s meetings. Nevertheless, he clearly wants me to be where I am. Michael snaps his fingers for the cook in the adjoining kitchen to provide me a plate of food as well as plates for everyone else. Michael does not eat, though. I have never seen him eat nor drink anything at all. Michael and the Bishops speak in Italian. I do not know the language well enough to be able to follow their conversation, which is just as well. Instead, I look out the window across from me at the beautiful city skyline. I think about my suicidal friend. I have no idea if he actually committed suicide. I never heard one way or another. I look out over the skyline, and I wonder: Is he dead? Or is he alive still somewhere in that rat race?