Dream of: 21 April 1997 "African Desert"

Musing of what it would be like to be with a prostitute. Vague visions of a small room, bare wood walls. A young black-haired woman. I could picture the feel of her skin. But it seemed so impersonal – I didn't think I could enjoy it. I could imagine this being the type of place where sailors might go. A huge gray ship. The U.S. Navy. What must it be like when such a ship docked at some foreign port and the sailors debarked? All the sailors going ashore – prostitutes waiting in droves. Surely the local authorities must be aware of the goings-on and simply overlook the prostitutes for the economic benefit to the community. Poor communities where the ship docked. On small islands. Or in African ports.

***

I was sitting in a tiny, tiny room, about the size and feel of one of those little buildings where the attendant of a parking lot sits and takes the money of people driving up to park in the parking lot. Only this little building was nowhere near a parking lot, nowhere near anything except the vast African desert, whose brown undulating sands stretched to the four horizons. Africa. I was in an African desert and the desert rose and fell to my left to my right, to my front to my back.

At least I wasn't alone. With me inside the booth was a girl, almost a woman, nearly in her late teens. She lived here, indigenous, African, but not black. She was a dark-skinned Caucasian with long kinky scraggly black hair. She was sitting down. Next to her was a small bench with the colored comic section from a newspaper lying on it. I thought of sitting on the bench, but decided that I preferred to stand. I didn't find her particularly attractive, but there was nothing else for offer here in the desert, and I wondered what it would be like to have sex with her. However – she opened her mouth and clearly teeth were missing. One snaggle tooth in front, black space beyond.

Indifferent to me, she talked about our situation. And about the war. She seemed to think that we were safe from the two warring factions as long as we remained ensconced in our little building. But I felt uncomfortable. I didn't particularly want to get involved in the war; but I didn't want to remain in this little building either. I thought if I could just cross the desert, I could extricate myself from this increasingly unpleasant situation. I could see the traces of a road, sand-swept though it was, stretching out in one direction, and I knew if I followed the road for about a mile, then turned right, I would be headed back for civilization. I even had a plan in mind for escaping the dark-skinned combatants whom I knew were roaming the desert. I thought it would be possible to travel for a while, then bury myself in the sand, and finally resume my travels. I discussed this idea with the girl, to see what she thought. She abruptly informed me that my plan wasn't practical. She explained that a few men might be able to hide themselves in the sand for several hours. The actor Harrison Ford for example. The actor. She said he was able to bury himself in the sand for hours at a time. But she didn't think I would be able to do it.

Nevertheless I continued to imagine what it would be like to cross the desert and evade the warring factions. I could see burying myself in the sand for an hour, and then slipping out from my hiding place and circling around behind my attackers. I could see myself, like a cowboy, pulling revolvers from my holster in each hand. I saw myself sneaking up behind five swarthy warriors, lying on their stomachs, peering over a sand dune, looking for me. But I was behind them. And suddenly I would fire, unwieldy from each hand, killing all five of them.

I broke from my reverie, back in the little building. Something outside had caught my attention. It took me a moment to realize that it was Picasso. He was running outside, roaming through the sand dunes, headed for a dry creek bed behind our building. Fearing he was in danger, I hurried outside and hollered for him. But he paid me no mind and ran straight out into a busy street just on the other side of our building, a street which I hadn't noticed before, a street filled with cars. I hollered, "Picasso, no! Picasso, no!" and then more imploringly, "Come here. Come here."

But still he didn't listen, running back and forth between the cars. And now to make matters worse, I saw Chaucer also ranging through the cars. But before I could focus fully on Chaucer, Picasso finally ran up to me and let me grab him. Then suddenly I heard a thud, and looked up to see Chaucer lying in the street. A sickness ran over me. I could hardly believe what I was witnessing. Some people were already out of their cars and lifting Chaucer by his front legs, his back toward the ground, trying to pull him out of the street. It looked as if his body was trembling, probably in the throes of death. I could hardly bare to look, but I let go of Picasso so I could go to Chaucer. And then Picasso started running wild again. Again I had made another mistake by releasing my hold on Picasso. Now he might also be hit by a car. I felt sick.

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