Dream of: 30 October 2002 "Dark Safety"

Portsmouth, in the 1500 or 1600 block of Fifth Street. (A residential area of two-story frame houses where I passed newspapers for the last three months of 1964 when I had been in the seventh grade.)

Another fellow (probably in his late 20s) and I were walking down the street when I realized we were in front of the house where Debi lived. Without interruption, the fellow and I walked into the house – I would like to see Debi. She was inside, busy doing housework, vacuuming. She had dark hair, trim figure, and looked to be in her 30s. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to talk with her, she gave us little notice and she continued unabated with her work. Could the problem be her husband, Shaw? I asked and she confirmed: Shaw could return home at any time and if he were to find me there, he would be furious. She said he normally didn't return home until midnight, but he was known to pop up at any time, and recently he had been coming home earlier and earlier; clearly she was worried.

Sensing an unfruitful outcome to this visit, and desirous of avoiding a confrontation with Shaw, with my companion I stood and took my leave. Outside on the sidewalk, my companion and I again took up our walk heading east along Fifth Street. Could I have made love to Debi if I had stayed and been more persistent? Would making love with her have been worth the risk of encountering her husband? Such missed pleasure – making love to Debi; I could almost feel it.

Suddenly I remembered: I had forgotten the most important reason for visiting Debi: I had wanted to tell her that Shaw was the father of my wife's child! The child had been born more than 20 years ago, and in all this time, Shaw had never been told. I should tell Debi now. Fortunately, we were passing the home of my uncle George, and again, without interruption, my companion and I walked into George's home, into his bedroom, where he was lying in bed on his back. I hardly spoke to him or even acknowledged him – I was too absorbed in my need to tell Debi of Shaw's fatherhood. I pulled out an old book-calendar which had information about the birth of the child – when and where the birth had occurred. However, I became distracted reading some of the entries in the calendar; here were the dates and appointments of my first year of my law practice, clients and court dates which I had forgotten. The entries were sparse at first, then multiplied. How long ago!

Finally, however, I found the entry about the birth of Shaw's child. The word "Dawn" was written there; was that the name of the child or the hour of birth? The handwriting was difficult to read; as I tried to decipher the entry, I noticed my companion had already picked up the phone and had phoned Debi's house. My companion had a peculiarly pained expression on his face; I whispered to him, asking him if Shaw had answered the phone at Debi's house. Yes! On no, I thought, and I motioned to my companion to hang up. He did so and I immediately blurted out, "Caller ID!" If Shaw had caller ID, he would be able to see that we had made the call from my uncle George's house, only a block or two away.

Almost in a panic I told my companion we must leave immediately. We both rushed out of the house and onto the sidewalk. Yes, there, about a block away, I could see a blond-haired man running down the street toward us. It must be Shaw! Run! We must run! We both tore off in the opposite direction of the man, running frantically, desperate to escape. We turned corners, thought of running through yards, looking for safe harbor.

Up ahead I could see Grant Junior High School, much larger that I remembered it; a whole complex of beige brick buildings now stood where I recalled only one building. Maybe we could run into one of the buildings and hide there. My companion, however, seemed disinclined to head to the school, and as I pressed my course toward one building, he headed in another direction. We separated.

I went on alone toward a building which at first looked like a government building, but which I finally realized was a church, a Catholic church, a cathedral. Was it open? I had never seen this church before and I thought I knew all the churches in Portsmouth. Old men were standing and sitting in front. The place seemed dirty, as if grimed and spotted by rank dark chewing tobacco from idle ancient men.

A small wooden door – yet a heavy door – stood closed. Would it open? I pressed. It swung. I entered.

Almost immediately a peaceful sense. I would be safe here. But, inside, not what I had expected. Dungeon dark. Mammoth, cavernous, like a cave. Was anyone else here? Yes, a few people here and there in the pews. Probably tourists. And there in the aisles, a man in church garb, swinging a censer. I would find a seat and sit. Surely no one would attack me in here. At least for the moment, I was safe.

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