Dream of: 07 February 1998 "The Manuscript"

I heard the knock at the door, I knew who it must be. Groggily I stood up and went to let the person in. Although it was 9 or 10 a.m. – much later than the time when I usually rose – I still felt tired and listless. Fortunately I was already dressed and presentable, even though the motel room in which I was staying was in disarray, with clothes piled here and there. I hoped my guest wouldn't think I was a complete slob.

I opened the door and saw standing before me the person whom I had expected: Andy. I couldn't remember Andy's last name, although I recognized his face. He and I had gone to high school together many years before, and I didn't think I had seen him in all the intervening years. He had stayed in Portsmouth all these years. Now that I had returned to Portsmouth to visit for a few days and was staying in this motel, he had come to visit me.

As it turned out, it appeared that he and I might have something in common: we had both recently written books which we hoped to have published. Someone in my family had apprised Andy of my visit to Portsmouth, and he had asked if he could come and see me and show me his book. Apparently Andy had been laboring alone on his book and knew of no one to show it to now that it was finished. He appeared to be under the impression that since I had written a book, that I was a knowledgeable person in these matters, and that I would be able give him some advice.

The first thing I noticed about Andy – his overwhelmingly salient feature – was how obese he was. Although he was neatly dressed in white shirt, jacket and tie, his huge frame held my attention. He was not flabby-fat, but rather firm, albeit huge. Beginning with his neckline, his bulk gradually sloped forward over his chest and down to the apex at his stomach, giving the appearance in front of one side of a football, standing on its end. A man in middle age, he was also taller than I, able to stare down at me. But there was nothing haughty about him. He was meek and polite, a little diffident of standing before my door.

Maybe he was also somewhat embarrassed about the circumstances of his visit. I seemed to vaguely recall that when we had been in high school, he had held himself above me, considering himself to belong to a higher social stratum. In fact, I never recalled having spoken to him before. After high school, he had apparently obtained an office job at a business in Portsmouth, a job which at the time he had thought was quite important. However, over the years, as other people, including myself, had moved on to more interesting lives, he had stayed bogged down in his original mundane position.

But all that was behind us. Now I wanted to view him as an equal, someone who had struggled – like myself – to create something: his book. I amiably invited him into my room and he stepped through the door. I wasted no time, but immediately asked if I could see his book. He handed it to me and we both sat down. It was an unpublished manuscript, probably a couple hundred pages. I quickly opened it and began flipping through the pages, immediately impressed by how well-constructed the book seemed to be. The chapters were short – only four or five pages each – but each chapter was preceded by a colorful picture. Clearly much effort had been expended to include the pictures in the book, and I wondered how he had accomplished the feat. He must have used a computer, scanning the pictures onto the computer and then printing them. I reflected that my book seemed a bit drab in comparison.

Perhaps his book was even better than mine. Who was I to say? I hardly knew anything about publishing books. But when I told him I had never read anyone's unpublished manuscript before, except my own, he seemed unconcerned. He still seemed to value my opinion.

It occurred to me that as long as I were reading his manuscript, I should probably show him mine. But when I stood up, for a moment I couldn't remember where I had put it. At first I thought I saw it lying on the floor, but then I remembered it was in one of my suitcases. I walked over to the suitcase, pulled out the manuscript and held it in my hand. Once I was holding it, just the feel of it made me appreciate the manuscript more. It was approximately 250 pages, bound in a hard black cover – my book of dreams about God. As I stared down at it, I knew I had written something I could be proud of, even if it didn't have any pictures. In fact, now that I thought about it, my well-preened manuscript really didn't need pictures – it was rich just the way it was.

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