Thursday, July 7, 2022

“A Dream of a Fair Woman”

Gerry (“The Brain”) Goldsmith woke up from a dream that took place in a dream dreamed by his much younger self, who had awoken from yet another dream in which he wandered streets filled with people who pretended not to notice that he was naked, and now, staring up at the dark ceiling as the Third Avenue El roared by outside his window, he thought, “I’ve learned my lesson now.”

Yes, he had learned his lesson at long last.

But what lesson was that?

The lesson.

Was he only to learn the lesson at the moment of death?

The roaring of the train faded away, and now there was only the sound of sleet rattling against the glass of his window, and Gerry fell back, into yet another dream.

When he awoke again it was still dark, and in this latest dream he had to urinate but couldn’t find a bathroom, but now he realized he was in his own tiny flat, and all he had to do was get out of bed and walk across the room to his own bathroom.

He pushed off the covers, and saw his naked body. So at least he had managed to get undressed, despite having been so feverish. How long had he been ill? A night and a day, and then another night? Longer? But he felt okay now. Weak, and hollow, and thirsty, and, yes, he had to urinate, but he felt okay, he felt as though he wasn’t going to die. 

He got his legs off the bed and sat there for a minute, his bare feet on the cold floor, the palms of his hands on the edge of the mattress, the sound of rain spattering against the window glass.

Another dream, a dream dreamt before the one about searching for a bathroom. A dream of a beautiful woman with dark hair. The woman had touched his forehead, and he had tried to touch her, but he had been unable to lift his hand…

And something about a lesson. While he had been so feverish and ill, he had learned something, something very important, more important than anything else. But what was it? If it was really that important he could put it into his book, his work-in-progress, twenty years or more in progress, current title: Pensées for a Rainy Day. 

If he could only remember, but maybe it would come back to him when he sat down at the typewriter again, after he got some more rest and was fully recovered, or at least as fully recovered as he was ever likely to get.

Finally, after a few tries, he stood up, and he didn’t fall down. No, he wasn’t dead yet, and Gerry didn’t think he was going to die, not quite yet anyway. Maybe he would live long enough to finish his book.

He took a barefoot step on the cold wooden floor towards his bathroom, and then another step, and then near the foot of his bed, on the old oval throw-rug of faded colors, lay a person curled up under a quilt. It was a woman, with dark hair, and her head lay on a pillow, and the woman was his young friend Araminta. She lay on her side with her knees drawn up and her hands folded under her cheek. She had her black beret on her head.

Very quietly, so as not to awaken her, so that she shouldn’t see his naked middle-aged body (although she already had seen it, because now he remembered her undressing him as he lay sweating and delirious), very quietly he stepped around her and crossed to the bathroom.

There was nothing to be done but to flush the toilet when he was finished, and he only hoped she was a sound sleeper. 

Fortunately his old grey corduroy bathrobe was hanging on the bathroom door, and so he wouldn’t have to cross the room naked again.

What had he learned?

Something, he was sure of it, and maybe it would come to him again before he left this earth for good…

{Kindly go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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