The bottle blond is making out with this old guy and I’m next to them on the couch wondering what the hell is going on in my hallucination, this lucid dream state where I know that I’m sleeping yet don’t want to awaken because somehow, strange as this is, it’s better, more compelling, more involving, than the waking world.
Slender and curvaceous, hard-edged but oh-so-sexy, the blonde—I don’t know her name—is attired for marketing, her catalog of womanly wares displayed for browsing or close inspection. She’s swapping spit with the old dude, letting him rub and stroke her hither, thither and yon—and then she reaches out and takes my hand.
While she’s still making out with the other dude.
He’s wrinkled but tall and raw-boned, a Ben Gurion fringe of white hair crowning his bald dome. I’m not my young, supple, Army-strong, buzz-cut self as I usually am in dreams. No, I’m my present, porcine, white-haired, creaky-jointed self. When she takes my hand and inflates my libido with a stare from one robin’s-egg-blue eye—the other one is jammed against the old guy’s face—I realize that I’m auditioning to understudy him.
It’s creepy weird, but that’s a dream for you. A little reality—over a long life I’ve now and then foolishly allowed myself to be used in demeaning ways—and a whole lot of freakish nonsense.
Now the other guy is gone and it’s just me and her standing on a giant macadam apron behind a row of high-rise apartments and I see that her home is a one-room shack forlornly slumped against a corner of a forbiddingly high fence that borders the complex.
“He’s my hero,” she says, I guess referring to the wrinkled fringe dome guy.
“He rescued me,” she adds, and then a giant wrecking ball flattens her shack and a bulldozer appears from out of nowhere—that’s another thing about my dreams, time is as warped as an Escher drawing—and with one pass of its blade scoops up the wreckage and disappears around a corner that wasn’t there a second ago.
“My goddamn landlord,” she says, spreading her arms wide and frowning till I worry that her mascara will crack, sighing and blinking like this explains everything.
Maybe, in her dream, it actually does.
Then I hear a rattling, high-pitched whine like the bogey wheels on an Abrams tank and here’s this massive tracked vehicle, treads higher than a point guard’s head, and Main-Street wide. Behind it rolls a giant crane. In two shakes the crane is pulling pre-fab boxes off the back of the behemoth mover and stacking one atop another into a rambling ziggurat that turns out to be a multi-story, wedding-cake of a house.
We go inside and mirabile dictu, it’s completely furnished, lights on, music playing. I see now that I’m not even auditioning for understudy. I’m only the backup.
I’m her Plan B.
And I think about this for a minute, which in a dream might be an hour or a second of actual REM time, and as I cogitate and concentrate and worry over the details I conclude that libido be damned, I am never, no-how, nobody’s sugar daddy, not possible.
“You need to find some way to support yourself,” I tell the bottle blonde and zip zap zoom! we’re meandering through an endless hardware store, like some lunatic Mandelbrot fractal of B&B Hardware, floor-to-ceiling bins and shelves and drawers crammed with every sort of nut and bolt and screw and nail and knob and chain and tool and gizmo, a store so big that you’re always deep in its twisting, curvilinear middle.
I grab some tiny screwdrivers and squish five into an irregular lineup.
“Look, these could be earrings. Maybe even a belt buckle.”
I pull a length of chain off a roll, bite off a link and circle her waist with it.
“See, they could go with this as a belt.”
She grunts, very softly, moving against me, calculatingly making body contact. I take anodized carbon-steel lug nuts from a bin and arrange them in her manicured hand, grooving on their shape and texture, arranging them this way and that.
“Do mechanics even wear earrings?” she mumbles.
“Think about how cool they’d look plated with silver. Or brass. Maybe copper, and then an acid bath for a nice patina. Even an anodized finish,” I add
“I don’t know about all this stuff. I just need someone to rescue me.”
“Wait, look at these,” I say, grabbing some hacksaw blades and arranging the edges so they’re irregularly staggered. I pull out my camera and zoom it to take a close-up of the geometric pattern, then hold the Nikon’s back up for her to look at.
“Very pretty. I’ve got a lot of overhead, you know.”
In the distance, thunder rattles the store.
Distracted, I turn my head to paw through tiny, round-head stainless steel hex nuts, arranging them in my hand, peering closely at them, grooving on the reflections of nearby bins and shelves. Then I see a stack of needle files, and marvel over their surface patterns. Could these be bent round, plated and made into bracelets?
There’s the thunder again, louder. There was nothing in the forecast—Oh, there’s those cool chromed nails. Their heads are tiny ellipses--
So much to look at. I spy bronze concrete nails with grooved, twisted shanks--
I open one eye. My daughter has cracked my bedroom door and is looking at me. “Can I use your car? Samson needs to go to the doggie park and my brakes won’t be ready until this afternoon?”
Brakes? I bet the shoes will have an interesting texture. Carborundum is way cool stuff. I should go over and look at that.
Annoyed, I open both eyes. “Sure, take the car.”
I drift back to sleep, vaguely wondering about the blonde but getting more and more worried, obsessing, really, because I want to look at the emery cloth, it’s got really nifty teeny-tiny, jagged-edge grains and naturally folds into different patterns but I can’t find the hardware store and now I can’t find my car—it isn’t where I parked it.
Peering every which way, panic rising in me, I walk streets somehow simultaneously familiar and strange. Could they be Frankfurt, Seoul, London, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Saigon, Chicago—places I haven’t visited in decades? I’m stressed, anxious to get back to the store but disoriented and this morphs into my familiar standby dream, where I’m wandering, lost, trying to find my way home. I always end up home in bed in these, mildly exasperated, a little disappointed.
I open both eyes and sit up.
Bottle blondes are always on sale somewhere. But I really wish that I could find that hardware store again.
© 2011 Marvin J. Wolf
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FROM Marvin J. Wolf
On this page are true stories, magazine articles, excerpts from books and unpublished works, short fiction, and photographs, each offering a glimpse of my life, work and times. Your comments welcome. © Marvin J. Wolf. All rights reserved.