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He Awoke From a Dream that Left Him Unsettled

He awoke from a dream that left him unsettled and longing to return to it. He debated on whether or not he should go to the bathroom or if he was too tired. To sleep fitfully or to fully awaken—if only he could return to that dream about, about something he forgot about or maybe only remembered in the nonverbal part of his brain. He thought about keeping a dream journal but he didn’t want to wake all the way up. He was tired of feeling tired. He didn’t’ go to the bathroom. He didn’t think he fell fully asleep but he must have because it was dark and then it was light and he didn’t remember anything from the in-between. There was a lot of things he didn’t.


“I mean, I mean what I guess I mean, I mean—are you even listening to me?” she said as she licked her finger, ran it around the inside rim of the plate, and then rubbed her gums. “I’m trying to tell you something. Something important. Something like, something like, I mean, I don’t even know how to even say it, know what I mean? Something that important.” She paused as she ran her tongue over the space between her teeth and her lips. “I mean, come on,” she resumed, “you have to know what I mean.”

And then it was like she was there and then she wasn’t there and he was alone in the bedroom of this guy’s apartment who was a friend of a friend and everyone else was out on the balcony smoking cigarettes as the sun came up and she was there too with her friend who was friends with the guy who owned the apartment and the guy who owned the apartment was there too and there were probably another four or five people, including the guy with the handguns who brought the coke which he hadn’t actually chipped-in for but which nobody seemed to care about and he wondered if he looked to them the way they looked to him or if maybe he was out-of-control but just didn’t know it and maybe they wanted to avoid him or maybe he was a ghost but he felt marked somehow, like even in the company of the most lonely people he was still on the outside, like there was still something about him that made others stay away. What did others see when they looked at him? And why isn’t this coke doing anything for me? And then he remembered his friend’s dog, four thousand kilometres away in New Westminster, and this dog looking at him and peeing on the kitchen floor then yelping and running away, and then the cat hiding under the bed and refusing to come out even for tuna, and his friend utterly mystified but he didn’t tell his friend that the crows had started attacking him when he left his basement apartment. The first one hit him in the back of the head. He threw a rock at that crow. The next day there were three crows divebombing him. The day after that, six or seven. He took to carrying rocks in his pockets so that he could toss them and catch them when he got close to his apartment. The crows stayed away then. Watching from the wires strung across the back alley. Perched in the branches of the cedars. They watched and they remembered. “But me,” he thought to himself as he smoked the last of his cigarettes on the balcony of the apartment of this guy who was a friend of a friend, “I want the opposite.”


He had only just gotten to sleep when the carbon monoxide detector began to beep. Still drunk and covered in a layer of sweat and stale smoke, he pulled the device from the wall socket and threw it in the back of the fridge. It continued to beep there. He could hear it. So he got up again and took the device out into the yard and buried it under the garbage bags overflowing in the trash bin. He returned to bed. When he got up at 9PM, the first thing he did was retrieve the carbon monoxide detector from the trash bin and replace the battery. Why the fuck does a device that plugs into the wall, also use a battery?

By 1030PM, he felt able to eat and so he dressed and went to the bar.


There’s this old man who pulls out twenty-year-old pictures of his kids to show him on the patio. Both of them smoking, pint glasses in hand, the old man talking about how much he misses them and how he would do anything except stop drinking and start owning his shit and the years of abandonment and the reckoning with the fact he felt so overwhelmed by his own anger and pain, his own grief and loss, that he chose drink over fatherhood but he doesn’t say that, he blames his kids’ mom and says the legal system is biased against men and he did all he could and it wasn’t enough and isn’t that the way everything is going these days so might as well just have another beer, cheers, brother, but he really would do anything, he really did to everything he possibly could except the stuff he doesn’t mention to never lose them, to see them again. He doesn’t say much while the old man talks. Smokes and drinks and listens. Looks sideways at the stuffed monkey he hid in the bushes last week. Lights another cigarette. That’s hard, man. Fuck. Oh shit. My heart aches for you. Things like that. He doesn’t think about his infant son or his wife. He misses his lover who is at home with her boyfriend sleeping. Orders another beer. Stares up at the night sky. Works his way to blackout.

Years later he would try to remember what it was that was important about this. But he wouldn’t.

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