Last night I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am walking down a whitewashed sidewalk alongside “Main Street” in a quintessentially “Norman Rockwell” inspired, small, American town. The storefronts on both sides of the street feature 1950s, family friend advertisements for “June Cleaver’s Vacuums” and for “Doris Day’s Petticoats.” I stop at an intersection, and almost cross the street to buy one or two scoops of “Rock Hudson’s Ice Cream.” The temptation passes when a little boy in a propeller beanie and overalls turns his bicycle down an alleyway further down. He has several baseball cards in his bicycle spokes, and as a result he sounds like he is driving a motor scooter. I cross “Main Street,” which is unoccupied by other people or vehicles so far as I can see, and peek down the alleyway. The little boy on the bicycle is nowhere to be seen. Instead, I see what looks like an old fashioned, white church with a steeple and a bell at the end of the narrow passage. There are a few old people gathered around the three steps that lead up to the open door, and they seem to be engaged in an animated conversation. I tuck my hands into my pockets and stroll up to them. I whistle a tune like a pleasant chap might do when walking his favorite path through an idyllic countryside.
By the time I arrive at the church the old men have stepped inside. I see that the church is packed with geezers in white shirts, white pants, and cherry red suspenders. They are either shouting at one another, or holding an ear horn up to their ears, because no one in there can hear very well. It is like a madhouse of miscommunication. I view a tall, bulky, middle aged man much closer to my age waving toward me from inside. I recognize him as an amateur wrestler friend of mine from the past. His twisted nose, and the long scars on his hairy, beefy arms, tell me that he fought too many bottle nosed scrappers half his age before finally giving up the sport. He smiles at me with the childlike glee of a boy in a mall trying to catch Santa Claus’s attention. Before I step inside the church, the wrestler reaches out and grabs me, in case I might have second thoughts. He tells me that there is about to be a presentation of a latest pills from the front office. Apparently, “pills from the front office” have been the hottest items in the vitamin and supplement industry for a while, but the next generation product about to be unveiled is going to put all the other pills, protein powders, and fruit smoothies to shame.
I watch from the back of the church beside my friend, while the geezers settle down in the pews. A sickly, thin man in a white jacket steps forward. He has the long, tired face, shoulder stoop, and wiry frame of “Mr. Burns” from “The Simpsons.” With a shaky hand indicative of Parkinson’s Disease, he holds up a white pill bottle for all to see. From the back of the church I can see the black boldface lettering on the bottle: Dimension Four Pills. The words are centered inside of a black rectangle that stretches around the pill bottle. I cannot see anything else on the label that would indicate the ingredients used nor the instructions for proper use. With the bottle remaining so opaque, I listen to the pitchman to see if he will provide any more substantive details. His pitch is broken up with wheezing coughs that seem intent on knocking his small frame to the white floor, but I put that drama aside to focus in on what he actually says. Apparently, these pills contain “the substance that can be found only in the fourth dimension.” Never before have those “award winning scientists” working nonstop in the front office been able to localize and to bring into our three-dimensional reality the “substance” of any higher dimensions. Soon, there will be pills on the market from dimensions five to eleven of String Theory, but right now we can “start our journey into eleven dimensional health” with these Dimension Four Pills.
I am incredulous. I walk down the center aisle. In my mind, this pitchman is no better than a snake oil salesman, and I intend to point that out. The geezers in the pews must sense my disbelief, because they stare me down like cultists would an unwanted truth teller. The pitchman holds out the pill bottle and shakes it in my direction. He resembles a man with a string of garlic trying to keep a vampire from getting too close to him. With all eyes on me, I explain that the fourth dimension is time, and it is not possible for man to encapsulate time in a pill. The pitchman grins. He clearly believes he has a superior counterargument. After a dramatic pause, he concedes that the pill is nothing but time; but, he continues, that is the genius of this product. For the longer it is in your stomach, the more time it is in there, so that means the more time the pill has to give back to the user. It is a kind of forever machine: The longer it lasts, the more time is has to give. All the geezers nod in agreement. I step back toward my friend, but he is now looking at me with total disgust. I am not wanted here anymore, and so I slip out the front door as fast as my feet will take me.
I am seated in a luxury charter bus beside a window. We are driving on a coastal road by a breathtaking ocean. The sun is setting, and long shadows from palm trees spread out like dark purple fans across the balmy island village on the other side of the road. Dying red light from the half hidden sun dances for the advancing night, and the result is a vast world comprised of impressionist strokes of mixed light and many textures. In essence, our charter bus is driving into a Blue Hawaiian dream somewhere between the high end homes in Diamond Head and the tourist traps in Waikiki. The other passengers are either asleep or subdued. The subtle beauty just outside the window does not seem enough to stir them from their stupor, and so I take it all in like the world out there is a private show meant for me. I am contented still from all this beauty when the bus stops in front of the courthouse at the end of the road. The passengers stir from their stupor, and march out in single file like prisoners going back to their cells. I join with them, but for me this is no prison march. This is an opportunity, and I have to hold myself back from adding a skip to my step while walking with the others towards that columned, tree lined courthouse.
Inside is a busy buzz of people like ourselves spread out over a space that looks like the New York Stock Exchange. They are trading criminal verdicts: A guilty for murder for this guy, if we can get an acquittal on involuntary manslaughter for that guy. Once a verdict is successfully negotiated and sold, then the folks trade sentences: A lifetime with parole for this guy will cost you ten years less on that other guy’s sentence, and if you insist on lifetime without parole, then that other guy has to get out today with time served. I am as aghast as I was contented outside. There are no trials in here, let alone dispassionate jury deliberations. Instead, we judges and jurors are thrown together like ingredients in a tossed salad and urged to cook up some “justice” as fast as a late day stock trading call. High above this scene a gold rimmed wall clock with Roman numerals watches over the floor like the penetrating eye of the Cyclops. The wall clock ticks like chirping crickets. I try not to look at the clock. Instead, I comment to the man standing beside me that this is not at all right, but he is not interested in what I have to say. No one here want to heed the cry of a self-righteous moralizer calling for “higher justice,” and so I do not even try.