Dream of: 04 February 1996 "Fantastic"

Carolina and I, while traveling, were in a city where we didn't know anyone. We had gone somewhere to wash our clothes, into a store which wasn't a Laundromat, but which had washing machines open to the public just like a Laundromat. As I began putting clothes into one of the washing machines, I noticed other people in the store, and I thought how normally I would be embarrassed for someone to see me washing my own clothes in a public place like this. But I realized no one here knew me or would ever see me again, so I tried to put such thoughts out of my mind.

Once I had the clothes in the washer, I began looking around the store. It was quickly obvious that it was a second hand store, and was filled with every sort of merchandise. However, unlike most second hand stores I had been in, this store was bright and clean, and the items being sold seemed in good condition.

Right behind me on a rack were stacks of boxes of board games. I picked up some of the board games and looked at them. I was surprised by what good shape the boxes were in. I had never seen any of the games before, but they all looked interesting. I began stacking some up, thinking I might buy them.

I picked up one large flat box about two feet long and about a foot and a half wide. With Carolina standing beside me and watching me, I pulled open the top of the box and looked inside. I immediately realized the box contained five or six large paint-by-number pictures, all of which were supposed to have a vampire or Dracula theme. I immediately wanted to buy them all. I had several other paint-by-number pictures at home; I would add these to my collection.

I flipped through the five or six colorful pictures in the box. The first one looked as if it were the picture of a large spotted panther or tiger. It was already about half finished, and the work which had been done on it was quite good. The other pictures had also been partially completed. The vampire theme, although unclear, pervaded all the pictures. One picture showed a man lying on his side, either already a vampire or about to become one. Carolina was watching as I came to the last picture. Both of us shrank back when we saw it. The picture was abstract and actually quite indiscernible; however both of us found something starkly disturbing about the picture. I had the distinct feeling that the picture portrayed Dracula in a most discomforting way. I quickly covered it up with the other pictures and closed the box. I set the box over to the side, certain that I wanted to buy it.

Continuing to look over the shelves, I noticed, sitting to my left, on the top shelf, eight or nine eight track tapes. They seemed a bit unusual because they were all in pinkish-red cases. I picked one up and looked at its front. At first I thought it was a tape by an old group called "Frigid Pink." If so, I might want to buy it. But looking at it more closely, I saw that the tape was by a group unfamiliar to me.

I looked at the next tape, a tape titled "Disraeli Gears" by the rock group "Cream." This was one of my favorite albums, one which I had never seen on eight track tape, and I knew immediately that I would buy it. I eagerly looked through the rest of the tapes, impressed by their almost new condition. I didn't find anything else that interested me, but since the tapes were in such excellent condition, I thought I might buy some of them anyway. Having looked at all of them, I set them aside so I could continue looking at the other interesting things stacked up around me.

I found some magazines, some of which were stacked up like paper-back books, with their backs facing me. Looking more closely, I realized some of them were very old issues of TV Guide. These definitely interested me; I thought I could probably buy them for practically nothing. It would be interesting to have a collection of old issues of TV Guide; I could look at the old covers to see what shows used to be popular.

But something even more interesting next caught my attention: a stack of "Mad" magazines. I quickly went through the stack, picking out the issues in excellent condition and setting them to the side.

Continuing to scan the top of the shelf, I next saw something unusual, the likes of which I had never encountered before. It was a picture frame over a meter long and over a half meter wide. But there was no picture inside the frame. Instead, inside the frame were probably a half dozen walking canes, unusual canes. All of the canes sported intricately carved handles, handles which fit together like jigsaw puzzles. The ensemble – the frame and the canes – was obviously an intriguing work of art. I picked up one of the canes and held it in my hand, examining the handle. It appeared to be the head of an old man with flowing white hair. I thought I would like to buy this set of canes. I might even give one of the canes to my father. I recalled that I once before had given him an intricately carved cane. But I was beginning to wonder if I was getting a little carried away. Did I really need all this stuff?

Continuing to look at the top rack, I next saw what I at first thought was another picture. It looked like it was one of those cheap paintings on a velvet background such as one might find in Mexico. I thought it was probably a picture of a bull. But when I picked it up, I saw that it wasn't that at all. It was actually two flat pieces of wood fastened together on hinges, so that I could pull the pieces open like opening a book. And when I opened it I was surprised at what I saw. On the face of each board was the face of a horse, the one on the left clearly male, and the one on the right clearly female. But the interesting part was that the faces of the horses had incorporated some of the natural knots and grain of the wood for part of the face, such as the eyes and mouth. I had never seen anything like it, and once again, I thought I might buy it.

I set the picture aside so I could come back for it, and walked around to the other side of the rack. But there wasn't much to interest me here: it appeared to be all clothes. However the clothes appeared to be in excellent condition and I saw one pair of Levi's jeans which I picked up and examined; but they were too small for me and I put them back down. I saw another rack with some shirts and a man looking at them. I thought I might also look, but I wasn't terribly interested in them.

Instead, sitting on a table nearby, something else caught my attention: a stack of comic books. I suddenly realized when I had been looking at the magazines earlier I hadn't even thought about comic books. But now as I walked toward the table, I thought I might be able to find something quite good here. Reaching the table, I sat down in a chair, and began greedily going through the stack. I first found what looked more like a magazine than a comic book. It was titled "Fantastic." I flipped through it and saw that it was nothing more than pages of price lists for "Fantastic Four" comic books. Not interested in it, I put it down.

But I quickly did find some colorful comics which interested me. First I pulled a "Fantastic Four" from the stack. Next I found a couple copies of "Spiderman" which I liked. Since there were no prices on the comics, I wondered how much they cost. Finally I found a comic called "The Angel." I thought the comic character "Angel" was from the comic group called "X-Men" and I wanted to take it also. However I saw that it wasn't in excellent condition. The left side had been torn and repaired with tape. I put it back down, thinking I would leave it.

But now I stopped and began questioning what I was doing. Why did I want to buy all this stuff? I didn't really need it. Would not the better course be to simply not buy anything? How was I going to carry it all? I was still uncertain, but was beginning to incline toward not buying anything. I sank deeper and deeper into thought, trying to decide what to do.

***

Carolina and I were no longer in the store, although I still had some traces in my memory of being in the store, and where we were now seemed to follow naturally from being in the store. Apparently we were homeless. We had found a small building to sleep in, and Carolina was rolled up in a sleeping bag. The building was nothing more than a little brick pagoda, about three meters in diameter. It was sitting alone in a desolate field covered with snow.

About the only thing we had with us was a television which was turned on and which Carolina was watching. I thought it was strange that there was electricity in the little building. I thought to myself if I owned a building which I could leave open for the homeless, I might leave the electricity on. But then reconsidering, I thought I probably wouldn't. There would probably be too much liability to do such a thing.

Looking around the field, the only other thing I could see was a police car about 20 meters from us. Suddenly I noticed that the door of the police car had opened and several large black dogs had jumped out. As one of the dogs began racing toward us, I called to Carolina to be prepared, because a police dog was coming toward us.

Just as the dog overtook us, I pulled out a hunting knife which I was wearing in a sheaf on the right side of my belt. The blade of the knife was seven or eight centimeters long. The dog leapt into the pagoda and headed straight for Carolina. I tried to step between them and fend the dog away from Carolina. However the dog was too quick for me and as soon as I would move to one side of Carolina, it would leap to the other. But it didn't attack her, and indeed it didn't seem as if it was going to do any harm. I thought of waving to the police car to get the attention of the policeman inside; but I didn't.

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