Dream of: 21 December 1995 "Cruel Laws"
I was planning to move into a small frame house which I had recently bought for only around $10,000. Before I could move in, however, I bought a second, much nicer house, and I decided to move into the second house instead. I went over to look at the first house, still uncertain exactly what I would do with it; I thought I might rent it to a woman I knew, a woman who reminded me of one of my bankruptcy clients. I would be able to get more than $300 a month in rent from the house, and if the woman didn't pay, I would simply evict her.
As I walked through the house, I saw that it was in disrepair and that it needed quite a bit of work; I was glad I wasn't going to live there. I already had people working on repairing the house, and when I walked upstairs, I found most of them working up there. I also found a matronly woman walking around with an air of authority. The part of the house where we were was in terrible condition, and even appeared to be charred from a fire, but the woman said there was a better section of the house downstairs where a fellow was still living. Apparently he even had an indoor tennis court in his section.
As the woman continued walking around, picking up some things which apparently had been left in the house, I quickly figured out that she was planning to sell the things by holding an auction. I kept my eye on what the woman was picking up, and I saw some plates which I thought I might be interested in having. Then a second set of plates was found, and one was handed to me to look at. I was definitely interested in these plates, which were very strange indeed. On the top of each plate were nine or ten small figurines which were part of the plate. The plates were obviously ornamental since eating food from plates with figurines on them would be quite difficult.
I looked closely at the figurines on the plate in my hand. They all looked like figures from Halloween, and one in particular drew my attention. The figure looked like a man, only he had a pumpkin where his head should be, and he seemed to be standing on stilts. He looked like a character from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas.
There were four plates and I wanted them all. The problem was a small black girl (perhaps 10 years old) who was scrambling around the house: I could tell she also wanted the plates. I thought she would be bidding against me, but I was determined that I would get the plates, and I began thinking about my strategy. When the bidding at the auction started, I would let the little girl bid first. She would probably bid something like a quarter, and probably no one else would bid against her. Just at the instant when the bidding was about to be closed and the little girl thought she had bought the plates, I would bid a dollar. The little girl would be so surprised and dumbfounded, she wouldn't know what to do, and I would have the winning bid. I felt a little ashamed of what I would be doing, especially since I thought the matronly woman might think my buying these things was beneath my dignity, but I really wanted the plates, and I was going to do it.
Before any auction took place, however, the woman and I climbed out a window onto the roof of part of the house. From where we were, we could see down into the back yard, where perhaps a dozen people were busily cleaning up the yard and working on the house. They were making rapid progress. I recalled that my mother had told me that she would come and help me work on the house if I needed her. I was grateful for her offer, but I knew that it would take her an awfully long time to do what these people were doing so quickly.
Suddenly as we stood there on the roof, I could feel the roof beginning to move. Obviously the structure was so weak that this part of the house was giving in under our weight. The roof fell so slowly, I wasn't afraid. More than anything I was marveling at the way the roof was falling. The roof was staying level, but was moving in a downward direction, something like a Ferris wheel. And what was most strange, when we got close to the bottom, the roof came back around, as if it were coming back under itself, so I ended up in a room – a room which seemed to be the same room whose roof I had just been standing on.
What I found in the room was both strange and alarming. Seven or eight black men were in the room, talking to each other. They were saying that the rock and roll singer, Prince, had just been in another part of the house, in the next room over. That sounded exciting to me; but it sounded as if Prince had already left, so I didn't think I was going to get to see him.
I sat down on the floor and quietly looked around. Although I didn't see any furniture, I did see one white boy (about 15 years old) also sitting on the floor on the other side of the room. What most surprised me was the realization that the boy was Stevens (a former schoolmate from junior high). But it was beginning to make sense also that Stevens would be there.
I had met Stevens around 1966 when we had both been in the ninth grade. I had admired Stevens, who ran with a much rougher crowd than I was accustomed to. I had had my first drink of beer with Stevens, and he had shown me how to shoplift for the first time.
Now I could see how he fit into this house. All these people were rebels or outcasts from society. And I also saw that I felt at home with these people. I really didn't feel at home in society in general. I felt much more at ease with people on the fringes of society, people who were rejected by the normal people in society. I had first started feeling this way many years ago, at the time when I had first started hanging around with Stevens. And I knew that here in this house, the other people, almost all of whom were black, would accept me because I, like they, wasn't a part of normal society. Of course if they didn't accept me it could be disastrous, because they were all very strong.
I began talking with one of the black fellows. Several other black fellows were also sitting around us. I knew that one, just to my left, was named Luther Vandross, but the one with whom I was talking reminded me a bit of Samuels, (a former black schoolmate from high school), a rebel. He was sitting down and leaning back, as if on a recliner. As my conversation with him progressed, I realized we were no longer in the house, but were riding along in the back of a pickup truck. Another white fellow had also gotten on the truck and was talking with the black fellow. I followed their conversation, becoming increasingly interested in what they were saying.
It quickly became clear that both the black fellow and the white fellow were lawyers. They were each probably in their early 30s. It was also clear that the black fellow was a defense attorney and the white fellow was a prosecutor. The black fellow was dressed very casually, while the white fellow was dressed properly in his suit, white shirt and tie.
The white fellow showed some papers to the black fellow, papers which were supposed to offer proof that marijuana was a dangerous drug. The white fellow was going to try to use the information in the papers to have the laws against marijuana stiffened so that people convicted of possessing marijuana would receive harsher punishments. I knew that I myself had recently read this so-called proof that marijuana was a dangerous drug, and I knew that the proof was a complete fabrication. To me, this white fellow was another sign of just how baleful society could be – to fabricate lies about how dangerous marijuana was and then to punish people for using it. These people were the worst enemies of freedom, and I hated them. I knew the laws against marijuana for what they were – cruel and ridiculous.
The white fellow was suggesting to the black fellow that they might soon have a case where the papers would be offered, and that the two of them would have to fight out the issue. I thought to myself that I was also an attorney. I wondered if it might be possible for me to work with the black fellow on such a case. I knew it was important to me that our freedom to do what we wanted with our own bodies not be eroded any more than it already had been. I would be willing to spend some time fighting against such tyrannical repression.
I also recalled that when I had read the papers, copies of which the white fellow was holding, the name of Luther Vandross had been mentioned in the papers. I finally broke into the conversation of the two men, and mentioned that Vandross' name had been in the papers. However neither man seemed to pay me much mind. The white fellow soon finished saying what he had to say, and he got off the truck, leaving the black fellow and me to talk to each other.
The black fellow immediately chastised me for bring up Vandross' name. Vandross himself (sitting right next to us) didn't seem concerned, and I defended myself by saying that Vandross' name had been in the papers, so the white guy already knew about it; I hadn't told him anything new. To myself I thought that Vandross had once been a lawyer, but that he didn't practice law anymore. However I thought if the black fellow and I began working on the marijuana case, Vandross might join in to help us.
The black fellow seemed assuaged by my explanation, and I could detect that he was finally beginning to warm up to me. In fact he started to mellow out considerably, so mellow that he took one of my hands and put it on the outside of his left pants pocket. Through the pocket I could feel what seemed to be a time release pill. And he told me that was what it was. However, it wasn't the kind of pill he wanted. He said he wanted some amphetamine. I told him if I had any amphetamine, I would certainly give it to him, but I knew that I myself didn't take amphetamines. I recalled that I had taken amphetamines when I had been a teenager, but I had learned not to like them.
The black fellow became more and more garrulous, and he seemed as if he might be slightly intoxicated. He began talking about drinking and he said that sometimes he would get drunk on just one beer. He was a very strong man, but he was admitting to me that he wasn't the powerful man that most people thought he was.
As he rambled on, he told me there were seven things he liked to do when he got drunk. The first four involved being with teenage girls. It seemed strange he was telling me this and I wondered how young a girl he was talking about. I thought it would be all right if he were talking about an older teenage girl, but if they were too young, he might have a problem.
As he continued to talk, becoming more and more friendly, I realized something new: he and Vandross weren't lawyers – they were singers. In fact they had both once been famous, and each had at one time had a number one song. I tried to remember the name of the song the black fellow used to sing, and then suddenly he began singing it. He sang, "You don't have to spend the night ..." I thought that must have been the title of the song.
I was surprised at how well he could still sing. Obviously he had an innate talent which he hadn't lost over the years. Suddenly a thought came to me. I knew both the black fellow and Vandross were both washed-up has-beens, but I wondered if it might be possible for the three of us to get together and form a band. I could write the songs. I thought I had some untapped talent in that area. And both of them obviously had talent. It was an exciting idea.
The truck was getting close to my destination. I remembered I was headed to my mother's house, a small frame house in New Boston, sitting on the lot which my father owned in New Boston. I wondered if letting these two black fellows know where I lived was a good idea. I didn't know them well and I still didn't know if they could be trusted. They might come back and kill me. But I quickly decided if I were going to form a band with them I would have to take a chance: I would let them see where I lived. They would need to know that.
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