Dream of: 05 September 2004 "Foul Stench"

I was having a meal with my father in a restaurant in downtown Portsmouth. As we ate, a man stepped up and spoke with my father for a few minutes, and after the man had left, my father began inputting some information about the man into a small silver electronic device (about three by three centimeters, flat and thin). My father typed the man's name and an ID word which the man had given to my father (but no telephone number). I told my father that he should check his device to be sure he could download (or upload?, I wondered) the info into his computer from the device; otherwise, someday he would lose the device and all the info. I myself had recently lost some info, so I knew the pain involved. I also told my father he should make sure he could transfer info from the computer ("vice-versa", I said) to the device. He paid me little mind, as if what I was saying was unimportant, and he went about his business. 

My father looked about 50 years old, and the way he was acting roughly resembled the actor Kelsey Grammer.

We were sitting at a long cafeteria-like table. I was sitting on his right and another man about his age sat on his left. My father and the other man talked with each other, completely ignoring me. I busied myself with my meal, a couple of unappetizing lunch-meat sandwiches on buns.

Only gradually did I become attuned to a woman who had sat down next to me on my right, so close she was almost touching me. Since many other empty chairs were at the table, I concluded she must have purposely sat there to talk with me. I turned to her and opened a conversation. She immediately indicated she knew me. I looked at her more closely, searching her face for her identity. Finally I mumbled, "Judith?"

She nodded affirmatively and said, "Judith Ray."

Since I knew my friend Judith had had a different last name when I had known her almost 20 years before in Dallas, I concluded she must have married and changed her name; and she confirmed my surmise.

I was happy to see her. She looked in her early 30s, even younger than she had been when I had known her. Her features were far prettier than before -- I wondered if she had had cosmetic surgery, she was so pretty. I was surprised she was living in Portsmouth and I wondered how long she had been there. I wanted to know more about what she had been doing over the years. Did she still work as a legal secretary as she had when I had known her?

She was friendly, but a bit reticent. After a short conversation, she announced she had to leave. I quickly asked for her phone number, and when I did not receive it, I asked again. I wished she didn't have to leave so soon. I thought maybe she could join my father and me right now and we could go somewhere together for some entertainment.

As she was looking for paper and pen for her phone number, I stood and excused myself from the table. I hurried to the front desk of the restaurant -- I was looking for a newspaper, hoping to find in the entertainment section somewhere where we could all go. I saw a pile of Portsmouth newspapers (each containing two thin sections) under the front counter and I picked up one. I fumbled in my pocket for a quarter -- but then I noticed that the price was 75 cents (which seemed expensive to me), and I realized the paper was the Sunday edition. Since today was Saturday, I asked the man behind the counter if he had a Saturday paper with the entertainment section. He said no, and that the Sunday paper wouldn't help me. I laid the paper down and walked toward the door.

Next to the door was a machine which I thought was a newspaper machine. Only when I had put a quarter in the slot did I realize the machine was a jukebox. The insides whirled and a vinyl record began playing exquisite Latin music. I stepped outside onto the street, still looking for a newspaper. I walked a short ways until I realized I was running out of time: it was already 10 p.m. and by 11 p.m. everything in Portsmouth would be closed. 

I walked back toward the restaurant only to find my father already outside. The man who had been sitting and talking with my father inside was now standing with my father. The man seemed to be working for my father. The two of them started walking across a parking lot toward the car. 

Next to the parking lot was a swampy area with a pool of foul-looking water. Suddenly, without warning, my father ran toward the pool and jumped in feet first. He completely sank beneath the surface. I was disgusted. Why would he act so foolishly? Clearly he might drown. I vacillated, wondering if I should try to save him. His feet and legs might have sunk into the mud on the bottom. If I jumped in, I might also become stuck and drown. I decided not to jump in. Instead, I picked up a stick with several branches and pushed it into the water, thinking he might grab the stick and I could pull him out. I wished I had a straighter stronger stick.

As I groped, the other man also jumped into the foul stench, apparently intent on helping my father. He also sank beneath the surface, and for many seconds I probed with my stick with neither my father nor the other man in sight. I had crouched down and had even moved into the water up to my waist.

All was quiet; but gradually off in the water-weeds I thought I heard breathing and finally I saw two heads above the surface. Slowly both men climbed out of the water in their drenched clothes. I also stood and headed toward the car. I was disgusted; I still wanted to talk with Judith. I had the feeling she was standing near the restaurant door watching this whole sorry scene. Now, however, I was such a mess, I just headed toward the car, thinking I could talk with Judith another time.

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