© 2011 Josh pipe

Eating nuts and drinking scotch.

Ennui, lethargy, and vice; the holy trinity to which I am reluctantly penitent. How fascinating, you must be thinking, how Josh is able to so succinctly state the same sentiment successively in so many posts. I keep thinking I’ll write myself out of it.

And viola, I have; as I reread my amazing alliteration aloud, I struck upon, quite by accident, the precise harmonic vibration necessary to send a shiver through the pillars of creation, and subsequently awakened the slumbering demon Hypnos in his domain, Erebos.

In the next moment, Nix erupted from the velvety black sea below and soared skyward, blotting the stars and moon; clinging to her train, Hypnos and his brother Thanatos soared above the city, and the Oneiroi spread their wings into the wind.  The gods of the night, of sleep and dreams and sudden silent death were loose on los angeles.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite expecting to be plunged into a shared nightmare with the other residents of my apartment complex; but seeing the perpetually-high painter who lived one floor below me suddenly shoot past my window riding a flaming ibex was surprisingly a relief.  Things had been less than eventful for me lately.

I was just reaching for another pistachio when the ice in my scotch took the shape of a Rusalka, who climbed desperately to the rim of the glass and drunkenly flopped onto the table. She was quite beautiful for a ghost. She looked disapprovingly around my apartment, obviously not a fan of Ikea. She spoke to me, in an unkind, sing-song russian sounding language, that I understood perfectly.  “You must drive to the desert and set fire to the tree of wisdom, only the light it sheds will drive Nix back to Erebos”.

The dream had taken me.  An Oneiroi, Phantasos, I thnk, peeked through my window, then took off on black wings, sprinkling water from the river lethe down on my neighbors, who, as it seems, had coalesced into a massive orgy in the swimming pool.  I leapt from my balcony, landing in the passenger seat of my own car, which I was also driving.

The road bubbled up ahead of us, and our headlights cast fixative beams of freezing light, sedating the rumbling earth just long enough for us to safely skim the asphalt river. Ahead, the blinding fire of the hollywood sign illuminated a writhing mass of reveling worshippers who were hurling headshots, screenplays, and acting reels into the dancing flames. We turned right, twisting away from the spectacle.

I turned to the driver, whom I now realized wasn’t me, but the clever and snarky goat-man who had been my favorite teacher in high school, he had only been wearing a human mask to throw off the cops he was perpetually evading.  He adjusted the radio, tuning into a station that played drum’n’bass mashups of baroque chamber music and Sinatra.  He was taking me to a nightclub. I pressed a few rounds into the clip of my handgun.

The valet gave the three of us a challenging look as we climbed out; we had apparently stopped to pick up the ghost of Genghis Kahn when I wasn’t paying attention.  That would make things easier, he was a celebrity. Hooves led us into the roped off VIP section; the entire place was filled with wax movie stars and black and white film characters.  It was uncomfortable, but we were in.

Genghis and I found our way to the bar, and he was soon distracted by a comely waxen starlet.  As I sipped my drink, I took stock of my situation.  Most of these people were, in fact, people, who had, in the wake of Morpheus and Phobetor, succumbed to the mythos of the great dream, the universal dream that waited just on the other side of sleep here in Los Angeles.  The shared fantasy of worth and stardom.  As I looked closer at one of the many Marilyn Monroes I could just make out the redheaded, slightly homely midwestern girl just under her skin, then I couldn’t help but see it everywhere; beneath every dream face was the dreamer.

I caught sight of Phobetor, who was approaching the DJ booth, carrying a watergun filled with Lethe-water, and took that as my cue to leave.  I couldn’t be made to forget, I had a mission.  As if reading my thoughts, suddenly the houselights came on, a deep red, contorting the waxy faces of the pseudo-stars; they turned to me almost in unison, Phobetor was aiming his water-gun over the crowd and taking a bead on me.   Waxy hands reached out from all sides, and I was suddenly weighted down by the dream-fear.  I knew this feeling all too well.

My feet were rooted in place, my arms and legs so heavy that I could do little more than watch the crowd close around me; but I had experienced this in countless childhood dreams, and learned how to overcome it.  First, I would have to reclaim a piece of my reality from the dream, I would circumvent the rules. I looked down expecting to see tiled floors, and there, the floor was tiled, each of my perfectly inside a square of tile, I worked the tile out of the ground, first the right then the left, each foot connected to a cube of floor.  I stomped off through the crowd, kicking aside with giant stone feet all the Faux Jackmans and Quasi-Jolies.

Phobetor would be furious at my escape, but he was busy dousing the crowd with the water of forgetfulness. Outside, I kicked off the stony shoes and leapt into a waiting convertible, screeching off to the east.  It was a long drive to the Mojave, and I had no idea what was banging in the trunk.


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