Dream of: 10 November 1996 "Who Has The Better Story?"

I was in a large well-lit office room which contained many desks with people sitting and working at them. I also worked there and I was familiar with all the other people. Everyone was being especially nice to me today because they had heard of my bad news. Some kind of test had been taken of all the people there, and the tests had indicated that I had AIDS.

Carolina, who also resembled Louise, sat down beside me and cheerfully tried to comfort me. She seemed so fresh and lively, so young and vivacious. She didn't seem to mind that I might have AIDS, and she even gave me a kiss on the lips. But I pulled away, suddenly realizing that I couldn't kiss her anymore; I might be able to pass the virus to her through my saliva. I was unsure I should even touch her anymore.

I looked at my hands to see if there were any cuts or abrasions through which I might have lost some blood which could get on someone. I was relieved not to see any. Still, I thought I needed to be very careful now when I would come in contact with other people. I was surprised everyone didn't shun me, especially since I knew one of my duties there was to prepare the food. But just the opposite had happened: everyone was being very friendly. Even Kennon, who generally wasn't particularly well-disposed toward me, and who also worked there with me, had been overly friendly when I had come in contact with him.

Carolina, sitting on my right, kept talking to me. Since we both knew the test which had been taken hadn't been conclusive, she asked me if I would like to take a real blood test. Although I sometimes had a tendency to procrastinate, I knew this wasn't the time to put off the test. I told her to arrange it for me and I would take it immediately; I would even leave right now if it were possible. This was something for which I had to know the answer. Even the thought of the needle being stuck in my arm and the blood being drawn out didn't deter me. I was ready to go and find out the truth.

I just wondered how I had gotten AIDS. I couldn't think of anything I had done which would have caused me to contract the disease. I certainly hadn't been involved in any homosexual relation. It was a mystery. But at the same time, it just seemed natural that I would end up with AIDS. I had a rather fatalistic attitude about it, as if it was simply meant to be and as if I should accept it. In a way it was sort of a relief to finally know I had it, and not have to be uncertain anymore.

At least now, maybe I would have some cause in which I could believe. It seemed that I had never developed a real passion for anything, that I had never had anything I could really throw myself into. But now I could take up the AIDS issue. I could march in the street, I could demonstrate for more money to be spent on AIDS research. I could learn as much as I could about the disease, study all the scientific evidence. I could visit the sick and dying. I felt strong and I might live a long time yet. Indeed, maybe even a cure could be found.

***

I was walking up the creaky wooden stairs of what was apparently a low-class bordello, headed to a room on the second floor. I wasn't planning to use the services of the bordello myself, but was simply accompanying another man who was going to avail himself of those services.

My relation with this man was rather peculiar and not well-defined. I knew I was somehow attached to him in some subservient manner, but it seemed as if I were free to leave him at any time. He was a big gruff boastful man. He seemed strong, yet slovenly and ill-bred. He had no particular affection for anyone – not even for his four wives.

All four of his wives had come to the bordello with us. The wives simply accepted the fact that the man would lie with a woman in the bordello, and none of the wives dared protest. In fact, the man had told the wives they could come upstairs to the bedroom with him, to watch what took place. Two of the wives had decided to stay downstairs and wait, while the other two were now walking up the rickety wooden stairs with us to the second floor.

As we finally reached the room where the prostitute was waiting, I began to wonder what my role was. Was the man going to allow me to have sex with his two wives while he had sex with the prostitute? That seemed the most logical answer. Or maybe he enjoyed having other people watch him when he had sex. Perhaps the idea was for him to have sex with the prostitute while I had sex with one or both of his wives.

I thought I could probably oblige, especially with the younger of the two wives who was with us. She was a comely young thing (not much more than 20 years old) with dark black hair. I wouldn't mind being with her. The other wife however, was another story. She was older, probably in her 30s, and to say she was homely would be flattering. She had little to recommend her and I couldn't imagine having sex with her. But what was worse was what I saw when all of us were finally assembled in the room.

The room was a barren affair with only two old metal-frame beds. The young wife lay down next to me on one bed, while the man went to the other bed with the prostitute. This left the homely wife standing alone in the middle of the room. Now for the first time, as the homely woman turned toward me, I was shocked by what I saw. On the neck of the homely wife were two deep vicious gashes. The gashes began right in the middle of her neck, up high, just below the chin. The ugly red gashes slanted down all along her neck almost to the top of the left shoulder. Although they were fresh, they were old enough to have stopped bleeding, although it was evident that they must have bleed profusely at some point.

I was aghast at what I saw. I knew immediately that the man, as cruel as he was, had made the gashes. I also knew that he had no remorse, that this was just something he would do to his wives as a matter of course. I felt such strong revulsion for the man, I just wanted to leave him, perhaps even to take his wives away to try to save them. Yet I didn't. Although I was indeed free to leave, I somehow felt tied to the man. Besides I didn't think the wives would leave. As abused as they were, they had chosen to stay with him. And furthermore, I was just beginning to enjoy being with the winsome creature lying beside me. The tips of the fingers of one of my hands were already touching the bare skin of her thigh. It looked as if it was indeed intended for me to have sex with her, as if the man would permit it, as if I would be able to indulge myself as I saw fit. The man himself had just lain down beside his prostitute.

Suddenly he stood back up, announced that he was finished and that it was time to go. I was stunned. I immediately saw that something here was just not right. It was as if I had been reading a story, or telling one, and suddenly some of the pages had been ripped out of the story. I was sure there was supposed to be a whole section of this story about my having sex with the woman beside me, as well as more details of the man having sex with the prostitute. It was as if we had skipped ahead in time, and a little piece of time had been snipped out.

This gave me pause to think about what was going on. I couldn't quite explain it, but I knew there was something unreal about this scene. Little pieces of time didn't simply disappear in the real world. Something was definitely amiss.

***

I was in a small close room, about the size of a boxcar on a train. In fact it seemed to me that it was the boxcar of a train. I was lying on my back and had just awakened from sleep. I was all covered up with several covers or sleeping bags and was quite comfortable. As I looked around, I thought it was good that I was covered up, because right next to me on my right was what appeared to be a refrigerator with the front open.

Only it wasn't exactly a refrigerator. It was more like a shelf with packages of frozen meat stacked on it. Somehow the area on the shelf was refrigerated, even though there was no door in front. Although the shelves appeared to be simply made of wood, and the whole apparatus looked rather old, the technology behind it was apparently advanced enough so the cold air was kept around the shelf without escaping.

However, what I soon discovered was that although the air didn't escape, something else did. I was awe-struck as I suddenly saw standing before me a large grotesque hog. The hog looked as if it had already been skinned and as if the blood had dried on its skinless body. Apparently the hog was actually dead and had been stored in the refrigerator. But now, even though it was dead, it was standing before me and threatening me, staring at me over its long snout.

I was terrified. It was so unreal and so real at the same time. I began screaming out for help, hoping someone in the next car might hear me. I was relieved to hear the sweet voice of Carolina, who also sounded like my first wife Louise. She seemed to be telling me that I didn't need to be afraid, and I started to calm down.

***

I was sitting in the passenger compartment of a train. The compartment was filled with other people, all men it seemed, and it took me almost no time to realize they were all dead. They didn't look or act as if they were dead. But I knew. I also knew I was dead. We all had only recently died and had just now been brought together for the first time for this trip.

Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, although no one was talking. I decided to begin the conversation, and I thought I would try to open with something humorous. Somehow it was evident to me that two or three of the men in the compartment were accountants. I began talking by saying there was no greater waste of a man's life than to spend it by being an accountant. I could tell the others, even the accountants, were amused by this. I expatiated how that of all of life's occupations, the worst would be to waste one's precious time filling one's head with numbers and figures about someone else's financial affairs. These were truly the great fools in life. They hoped to make a good living with their calculations, when what they succeeded in doing was sacrificing their lives and not living at all.

I myself had had occasion to work on such matters and had been tempted by the financial rewards. But I reflected how I had turned away from that direction, and how I had turned to experiencing life. Still it amazed me that so many people were so blind to give up the most important thing they had and sell themselves into mental slavery, such as a career in accounting. One fellow who was an accountant and who was sitting right in front of me just smiled. He looked just like the actor Jeff Daniels. Obviously he agreed with me that he had wasted his life.

Someone spoke up and asked me what I thought about football players, whether they were even worse than accountants. I replied that football players weren't even to be considered. Their lives were such a waste, they were even below recognition. I said I was only now talking about professional people, and although football players spoke of themselves as professionals, they didn't even come close it. They led completely worthless lives, achieving nothing.

Somebody asked what I thought about lawyers. I weighed what I might say about lawyers. I didn't want to mix lawyers up with accountants, although I knew that was often done in some people's minds. For lawyers weren't like accountants. Although it was true that many, if not most lawyers, wasted their lives, unlike accountants, lawyers at least had the possibility of leading meaningful lives, and some actually did.

But I thought to myself that the most meaningful lives were led by doctors. The idea that someone, such as a doctor, could actually spend his or her life helping other people was amazing to me.

Without ever actually responding to the question, I began thinking more about the situation we were in. I knew we had all recently died and no one had gotten used to it yet. None of us even knew where we were going. But suddenly a thought occurred to me: this was the kind of scenario I had discussed with Donna, with whom I had been exchanging dreams on the Internet. Donna and I had talked about concentrating on trying to meet or contact dead people when we were dreaming. Now when I thought about this, I concluded I must be dreaming. That was the only thing which made sense. I thought I would have to remember all this so I could later tell Donna about it.

A woman spoke up, a woman whom I hadn't noticed before. She resembled the actress Sian Phillips in her role as Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar, in the television series "I, Claudius." She had a question for me, and apparently since I was dreaming, I was now supposed to have the power to answer this question. She said the question was about Penelope, the wife of Ulysses. As she propounded her question, the story of Penelope was firm in my mind. I knew Ulysses had left Penelope for 20 years when he had gone to fight the Trojan War and then wandered about. While Ulysses had been gone, many suitors had come to Penelope and told her Ulysses would never return, and the suitors had tried to persuade Penelope to marry them. She had told them she would marry when she finished weaving a particular garment on which she was working.

Now the question of the woman dealt with this garment. The woman said that two different stories had come down through history concerning this garment, and the woman wanted me to tell her which story was the correct one. One story claimed that since Penelope didn't want to marry any of the suitors, every night she would unravel the previous day's work on the garment. The other story was somewhat different. The woman said, "She trundled it up at night and started working."

I listened to what the woman had said, trying to get the picture. First, I didn't understand if she had said, "trundled" or "tundled." I wasn't sure of the meaning of either word, or even whether they were words. I knew I liked to learn new words, and I would quickly look these two up to see if they existed. But for right now, I assumed the word meant to "roll something up." Thus I concluded the second story basically said Penelope would roll up her garment every night and carry it away.

As I sat there pondering the two varying stories, the woman looked at me and asked, "Who has the better story?"

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