Dream of: 21 October 1997 "Antique Swords"

imagining the beauty to be created ignites the power to create beauty

My young Salvadoran-American wife Carolina and I had recently moved into a new habitation. Although the building was a spacious complex of interconnected apartments and shops, it retained the atmosphere of a single-dwelling abode. At the moment, Carolina and I were on the back porch, which had a cozy homey feel, but at the same time was crowded with other people coming and going, or just standing around.

While Carolina sat in a chair on the back porch and watched a movie on a television, I stood and stared at the television screen a few minutes, tying to figure out what movie was playing. Dozens of dinosaurs - standing up straight about the height of a man were running across the screen with their small fore legs in the air. I was surprised when I finally realized Carolina must be watching the movie Jurassic Park, even though I hadn't thought Jurassic Park had yet premiered on television. I reflected that I generally enjoyed movies by Steven Spielberg, who I knew had directed Jurassic Park.

I looked out over the area surrounding our building. We were obviously located atop a hill, allowing me to gaze down on the small neatly-arranged homes spread out in all directions below us. I noticed several tall office buildings and one in particular attracted my attention. Atop the building, on the top five or six floors, were perhaps a dozen young women climbing around outside on the ledges and windows. They appeared to be doing acrobatics. The women provided a fascinating sight, but their acrobatics looked frighteningly dangerous. Questions rolled through my mind. What would falling from such a height be like? Would falling and landing on one's feet or side make a difference? I asked someone standing near me what he thought, but he didn't seem to have an opinion. I concluded that landing on the side or on the feet would make no difference, that the person would die no matter in what position she fell.

Carolina spoke up and mentioned that she might like to go to a fair being held nearby. It seemed as if other people in the building might also want to accompany us. I, however didn't want to go. I didn't like fairs, and besides, I thought they were a waste of money. I would rather spend the money on something tangible, something I could keep, rather than on some transitory entertainment like a fair. For example, I would prefer to spend the money on something like old record albums.

It just so happened that right next to the porch was a shop which handled old record albums. I could clearly see two young black-haired women stationed behind the shop counter (right next to where I was standing). Most intriguing was a tall stack of 78 rpm records sitting next to the counter. I walked over to the shop and looked through the records in the stack. When I noticed dark maroon labels which I thought I recognized, I realized that these records were all mine. Questioning the women, I discovered that for some reason, Carolina had brought the records down to the shop and had simply left them there. Apparently Carolina had intended for the shop to sell the albums for us.

One of the women behind the counter told me she had already sold one album for $10 to Sussie Schultz. I hadn't seen Sussie in years, and I was surprised to hear her name. (I had only been 15 years old when I had first met Sussie, and I had dated her several times. She had been a pretty blonde, a couple years younger than I.) I found it curious that Sussie should have been the one to buy one of my old record albums. In fact I was surprised that anyone would have bought the albums, because I didn't think they were worth much. All the albums seemed part of a huge compilation of popular music from the early 1900s. I knew I had an interest in hit records from the first part of the century, but since these records weren't the originals, only simply part of a later compilation, I hadn't thought they would be particularly valuable.

The women behind the counter, however, seemed to think otherwise. They thought I could probably sell the records for about $2. I thought maybe the women were right, especially if they had already sold one for $10. Maybe I would let them try to sell the rest.

The women put one record on a record player and the music began. The music was an Italian aria which I found fascinating. I recalled that in the early days of recorded music in the United States, some of the most popular recordings had been Italian arias. I knew I had some of the original records from that period, and I found it fascinating to listen to that kind of music which had once been so popular, but had long ago faded from the public mind. When I tried to remember the names of some of the arias which had been popular, I couldn't recall any. Nevertheless, I treasured the music.

I continued looking through the records, still uncertain I wanted to sell them. Some albums looked as if they might be warped, and I was concerned they might be ruined. The women were friendly and offered me some paper sleeves in which to place the albums so they wouldn't scratch. They said I could simply store the records there with them if I wanted.

I realized that another stack of more modern record albums sitting on the counter were also mine. I was surprised to see those albums because most of the album covers were badly damaged, and I had previously considered them to be junk. Several of the albums were by country and western artists and one was by the rock group "Quicksilver Messenger Service." One woman at the counter told me that although I was welcome to bring more 78 rpm's to them, she didn't want me to bring in any more "sodbuster" music. At first I didn't know what she was talking about, but then I realized she was referring to country and western music.

When I finally scrutinized my surroundings more, I began to realize that this establishment wasn't just a record store, but in fact was an antique shop. An elegant lady with a thick French accent had now entered the shop and was talking to one of the black-haired women who had been behind the counter. The French lady had found something she liked. At first the objects which she was examining appeared to me to be two antique swords. When I looked closer, however, I saw that the objects were actually candle-lighters, the long metal kind that are used in religious services, with a little wick for lighting candles, and a little cup-like device for extinguishing them.

There were two candle-lighters. The French lady offered $1,000 for one, and $2,000 for the other. The black-haired woman immediately accepted and walked away to prepare the transaction. Obviously the French lady now feared she had offered too much because the black-haired lady had accepted so quickly. So when the second black-haired woman stepped up to the French lady, the French lady asked her if she would take $1,500 for the piece for which had originally offered $2,000. The second black-haired woman said she would accept the $1,500. Upon hearing this, the French lady was still concerned she had offered too much, but she decided not to make any more offers, and to simply proceed and pay the $1,500 for the second candle-lighter.

Meanwhile the Italian music was still playing, and I was still listening to it. I could see the album rotating on an old record player which had an exceedingly curious construction: it looked like a chair – a hard-backed chair with a lavender velvet seat. The record player was constructed into the top part of the chair, about the point where a person's head would be. But the record player portion didn't stay in one place – it would move up and down the back of the chair, and even move out over the seat of the chair. Once, when the record player slid out, the music stopped, as if the record player had malfunctioned, but then started again. The device was all the more remarkable because it was obviously so old and still in excellent working condition.

A man standing next to the record player had already decided to buy it. I asked him if it was still possible for someone to sit in the chair, even though it was a record player, and he explained to me a little about the way it functioned. I asked the man if everything on the record player worked, and he said it did.

As I was talking, another man stepped up close to me. I was bothered by his presence, and I had the presentiment that he might be gay. When he wouldn't leave me alone, in frustration, I grabbed him and threw him over a small waist-high wall next to me. I hadn't realized that the wall was a railing next to a stair well. I had thrown the man down a considerable height. I quickly ran around to where the man was and found him lying on the ground. What I saw was gruesome. The man had hit the floor with such an impact, that as I ran toward him, I could see part of his innards smashed on the ground. When I finally reached the man, I saw that I had actually been looking at his head – or rather the insides of his head. His entire skull had been torn off, like pulling off a mask. All that was left on his shoulders was the inside of his skull. But the most peculiar part was the appearance of this mass. It didn't look like a brain. It wasn't even gray. It was a slimy light-green color. It resembled the head of an insect, like a fly, only the size of a man.

Realizing the man was obviously dying, I was immediately concerned about what would happen to me. Several other men had seen what had happened, but they hadn't liked the man, and they seemed to indicate they would cover for me. I felt guilty about what I had done, but I definitely didn't want to become incriminated. So I saw no reason to admit anything when the police came.

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