Dream of: 05 April 1982 "The Whipping"

Someone from Baylor Law School sent me a note which said I had been laid off from school. The reason for the lay-off wasn't entirely clear. I was uncertain exactly what the note signified, but I thought it meant I wouldn't have to go to school the following quarter if I didn't want to. I immediately decided I would simply take a quarter off.

Since I was sure I wouldn't be in school the following quarter I decided to return to Portsmouth. I went to the Grandview Avenue House, walked into the middle room of the downstairs of the house and stood there nude. My mother was in the room.

When I saw my step-grandfather Clarence and my grandmother Mabel, pull up in a car in front of the House, I told my mother to give me something to wear. She hurried about trying to find something, but she couldn't locate anything. So I just put on an old pair of cut-off blue jeans.

Clarence and Mabel walked in and sat down in some chairs on the right side of the room. My father was also with them and he sat near them. After I had sat down on a couch at the rear of the room, Clarence said, "Well, Steve, just how long is it going to take you to finish school anyway?"

When I told him I didn't know, my father asked me the same question. Clearly he was driving at the subject of my having been laid off. I knew my father thought the lay-off was mandatory. I didn't want him to know it was actually voluntary and that I simply didn't feel like going to school next quarter. I preferred for him to think I couldn't go to school.

His meddling in my affairs angered me, however; the thought of his trying to control me riled me. I rose from the couch and blurted out, "Well it doesn't make any difference. I've decided I'm not going and nobody can change that."

My father replied, "Yea, that's right. Nobody can change that but you."

He likewise was obviously becoming angry. I screamed that I was 29 years old and that he could no longer control my life. He asked me if I thought the money being used to put me through school had been coming from some kind of bottomless well. Although I knew what he was getting at, I asked, "Do you mean the kind of well that you draw water out of?"

"No. I don't mean that," he replied.

"Well what exactly do you mean?" I asked rather cuttingly.

I knew he was obviously talking about money coming from him. I told him I was sure I wouldn't be receiving another scholarship. That was evident. I thought about my grades of the previous quarter a B+ and two C's but I didn't mention them to him. I didn't want him to know I had made the C's. I wondered if my grades might have had something to do with the lay-off.

He continued talking. I wanted to explain to him that I was just planning to stay out of school for the one quarter that I had been laid off, and that I would return to school the following quarter. I realized that I was going to need some money from him when I did return to school and that he was therefore indeed going to have some say-so in the matter.

The more we talked, the more I began to wonder exactly what it did mean that I had been laid off for a quarter. And the more I thought about it, the more unsure I became. I began to wonder if the lay-off might not indeed have been mandatory rather than voluntary.

Having decided to find out what the lay-off meant, I returned to the school. When I arrived I found myself involved in some kind of hearing being conducted in an open field. I was sitting amongst some people gathered together in several rows of chairs. Apparently I was on trial and they were my judges. Several professors were there, but professor Dohoney was the only one I recognized.

Obviously the faculty was taking the whole matter quite seriously. I now realized my being laid off wasn't voluntary as I had previously thought; the lay-off was indeed mandatory. I had been laid off and I wouldn't be able to attend school even if I wanted to.

By now I had decided I did indeed want to return. I began thinking that somehow I hadn't received proper notice and that I had been denied due process of law. I wasn't even sure why I had been laid off.

Papers were being passed around amongst the faculty concerning me. Quite a few interested students were also nearby. They obviously thought it would be interesting to see if I could challenge the administration and win.

The people sitting in the same row of chairs as me pulled their chairs around to form a circle. They were mostly professors, but there were also a few students. About 15 people were in the circle, which was completely closed except for one space directly opposite me. No chair was in that space.

I anticipated I was going to be questioned. Duesler (a fellow law student) was sitting directly to my right. I began to think about the type of questions they might ask me. Duesler was talking and interrupting my thoughts. I thought they would probably ask me about drugs and about my having been in prison in Iran. Duesler continued talking; I felt a certain heartening strength emanating from him. I was trying to remember how long before I had gone to Iran I had started taking drugs. I also thought that since Duesler was a Christian and I wasn't, that he might not really be on my side. I finally concluded I had been 21 or 22 years old when I had gone to Iran and that I had started taking drugs five years before that.

Duesler began singing. I tried to prepare my story in my mind. I had once before been through this type of questioning and I had to be certain my story now was the same as the story I had told before. Some other students were also singing.

A couple people in the circle stood up from their chairs and motioned me to stand up. I realized I was going to have to start answering questions. They led me to the part of the circle opposite from where I was, and there I saw a gigantic mirror, perhaps three meters tall, directly in front of me. Looking into the mirror I could see the people behind me. Two women stood on either side of me, and both reached up and grabbed the top of my shirt. I realized they were going to tear my shirt open right down the back. They proceeded to tear my shirt open from the collar to the bottom, so that it just hung on my back. I stood there immobilized, looking at myself in the mirror.

The two of them quickly stepped to the side; another figure was standing behind them. The person appeared to be a man, dressed up in what looked like a costume. He wore some kind of black cap and a black mask. His outfit likewise was mostly black.

He was slender and reminded me somewhat of an actor or a clown. His movements were extremely graceful and smooth. He had a whip in his hand, but it looked more like a toy whip than a real whip. I realized I wasn't going to be laid off from school and that instead, my punishment would be to be whipped. That was a great relief. The idea of being whipped didn't bother me so much because I reflected that I had been whipped once before in Iran.

He suddenly brought the whip down and it cracked loudly. I thought it had struck me but I felt no pain. When I looked at myself in the mirror, however, I winced so hard that I almost bent over double. He brought the whip down on me again. Every time the whip made a powerful crack, but it didn't seem to be actually hitting me. The first three times he cracked the whip I saw in the mirror that I was cringing in abject fear, but then I stood up straight and tall, and I simply watched my face and eyes in the mirror. I was impressed with my stalwart attitude and the tranquil expression on my face. My face seemed strong and intriguing as I looked at it. I was amazed at how good I looked.

The fellow with the whip jumped around and up and down. Finally he finished and walked up to me. When he did so I floated up into the air a few centimeters and came back down.

He touched me on the shoulder and I again floated up into the air a few centimeters. I watched myself in the mirror floating up and coming back down.

The fellow seemed concerned that he might have hurt me with the whip. Apparently he also was a student. I turned around to him, told him that he hadn't harmed me and we embraced. A crowd of students was sitting in bleachers nearby. A cheer went up from them when it was all over and it was clear I wasn't being laid off from school.

The circle that had been around me then disappeared. Some festivity seemed to be taking place and the whole place had a carnival-like atmosphere. As I began walking around, I passed some of the professors who had been my judges. A couple of them had gray hair. I wanted to go up and say thanks to them. I stepped toward three or four of them and said, "I want to thank you one and all."

But no one paid any attention to me. They just looked in the other direction and walked on by. I saw professor Dohoney among them. I was uncertain whether she looked back at me. It became apparent that not all of the judges had voted for me. Some had probably voted against me and I didn't know which were which.

As I continued walking around, I ran into some older people who were eating something. I wanted to talk to them. I thought they had something to do with Baylor Law School. I thought they perhaps were patrons. They had bright red and white make-up all over their hair and faces. They were all dressed up. I inferred that it was their custom to dress up and wear the peculiar paint.

A festive air was still about. I was unsure what the occasion was and I didn't know if it had something to do with my trial. I refrained from talking to the older people and just observed their talking to each other. The more I looked at the make-up, the more it intrigued me. It almost looked like chalk.

I walked around more and came to a place which resembled a shopping mall. As I walked through the aisles of the mall between the stores I saw that in the middle of the aisles were some large trays sitting on the floor with cakes on them. Someone had already eaten much of the cake but several pieces were still left. At first I thought the cake was probably free, but then I noticed a little cup with a top in it and holes for inserting money. The price marked on the cup was 69 cents. I thought perhaps I could just put a few coins in the cup and take a piece without paying the entire 69 cents, but I decided I didn't want to do that.

I walked on down the mall and came to a table standing in the middle of the aisle. On it were some big tubs that had what appeared to be some sweet substance with a jelly-like consistency. There were different colors. I stuck my finger into the green tub and pulled it out. Along with the icing-like stuff something hard was mixed in. I stuck it in my mouth and realized it was a large walnut about half the size of a silver dollar. I ate it. A man suddenly appeared beside me. He pulled out a bowl and said something about my eating the stuff. I told him I hadn't known I shouldn't have eaten it. I thought it was just icing. He put another walnut half in the bowl and then put some of the sweet green stuff over top of it. He asked me if I would like to try it. I said, "Yea. Give me one."

I then asked him how much it would cost. He replied, "Well, I'll give you one and a half portions. It'll be $2.69."

I thought that was a ridiculous amount of money and said, "Oh no, no. I don't want one and a half portions. Just give me a regular portion."

I thought he must be charging me extra because I had eaten the one walnut before he had even shown up. I asked him how much a regular portion cost. He handed it to me and said that it was free. I said, "Oh no. I can't take it for just free. I want to pay something."

He said, "No. It's absolutely free. If you only take a regular portion for the first one."

Someone standing to my right poured me a glass of milk. The man then said, "But that'll be a dollar for the glass of milk."

I smiled and said OK. I started to reach in my back pocket for my billfold, but my pocket wasn't only buttoned at the top, it was also sewn together in two places so I couldn't pull out my billfold. As I struggled to pull out my billfold I heard music. Some people were dancing in the aisles of the mall. I saw some girls walking by. The people were doing some kind of two-step. I wanted to dance too. I simply wanted to pay the guy and then ask one of the girls to dance with me, even though I was still eating. I really felt like dancing. It had been so long since I had danced I wasn't even sure that I could remember how. I began shuffling my feet trying to remember the dance.

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