Behind the Black Door: Dreams and Story-writing

Last night, I dreamed I had suffered a stroke that left me unable to speak and with only limited use of my left side. Having already suffered a TIA almost a decade go, you’d think I would take the dream as a warning. I didn’t. Dreams, as we know, rarely mean what they portray.

In the dream there was this black door I had to find:

The black door was, in real life, a ramshackle cracker-version of a Bilco door that led to my basement. I called it my Game of Thrones door since it weight close to one hundred pounds after years of water damage. Anyway, the black door lies in a small scrap heap in my backyard as my house undergoes some renovation work. In the dream, however, I learned that I could make myself well again if I found the black door and passed through it.

All the makings of a story so far, right?

In my dream, the black door was “hidden in plain sight,” a bodiless voice told me. In my stroke-addled condition, I had to wander around center-city Philadelphia with the hope of discovering the black door I had removed from my house in real life.

Are you with me so far? Good.

It wasn’t easy, but I found the black door lying on a sidewalk on 12th Street near Pine. In my dream-stroke weakened condition, I was unable to lift the black door (having a sense that once I lifted the door up a portal would open in the sidewalk and I could fall into it, thus facilitating my cure).

Enter a Sandman, of sorts. A familiar face, who shall remain nameless, appeared next to me. In my dream this gave me a fright since the face belonged to someone I knew in real life, someone who, sadly, had passed a few years ago.

“I can help you,” the familiar face said, “but you have to touch my heart first.”

He opened his shirt to reveal what looked like a brick beneath bruised skin on his chest. I was unable to say anything since my dream stroke left me mute.

Before the dream ended, I shoved Mr. Dead Familiar Face aside with my good arm, gripped the handle of the black door lying on the sidewalk, and yanked on it with all my strength. The door tilted up, enough to reveal nothing but plain old sidewalk beneath it.

My dream ended as I wandered further along 12th Street, distraught over having to remain as I was—nearly crippled and completely mute. Or did it?

The black door is still in my backyard (see photo above). I don’t have the heart to lift it up. There’s no telling what doorway I might find beneath it if I do. Maybe I’ll write a story about this dream instead.

Boa Feathers and Leather: The Downside of Daytime Dreams

“…where did devout Party enthusiasm end and sardonic lampoonery begin?”

~ Philip K. Dick from “Faith of Our Fathers”

Between daydreams and daytime dreams lies a wide chasm. Daydreams are essential, if for only allowing to rise above the tedium of daily life. Daytime dreams are another story. Daytime dreams leave me ragged, worse off than nightmares.

Today, I felt sick. So, I came home from work and took a nap. That’s when the daytime dreams began.

The first one took me to a park where I saw some familiar faces. There were others there as well; those strangers who populate our dreams and who, for reasons unknown to us in the waking life, appear as if dear old friends; the populace of the dreamscape who know us by the other lives we lead there.

In the park I saw a guy I knew from high school. He was with his daughter. They were kicking a soccer ball back and forth. The daughter kicked the ball and it veered right, away from her father and headed straight for me. It was a good kick. By the time it reached me the ball was airborne, about waist level; so, I trapped it the way they taught us in school, brought it the ground, and booted the ball back to the girl. The ball went sailing over her head. Several yards behind her there was a marsh. The ball landed in loose mud, kicking up a splash.

This is where the dream went off the rail.

The girl’s father, the guy from my high school, started shouting like a madman, jumping up and down like a monkey on crack, using every name in the book as he verbally assaulted me. It would have been comical if not for his daughter being there. The bland “what the fuck, dude?” soon turned into a rant against liberals (“They‘re what‘s fucking wrong with this country!”), Barack Obama (“Commie Muslim!” — though I suspect, and I have to research this in order to be sure, you cannot be both a follower of Islam and a devotee of revolutionary socialism), and all things that did not jive with his outlook on life.

I left the park, feeling sorry for the guy’s daughter. Soon, as it happens in dreams, I didn’t have to walk far to return to my neighborhood. Where I lived in my dream was a cross between a boardwalk shore town, an amusement park, a rather run-down version of Key West, and all the buildings in the business district there were framed by perpetual scaffolding that had been there so long vines had grown up and around the metal framework.

I remember thinking in my dream that all I wanted to do was go home and write. But the town was too noisy, not New York City noisy which, when you get used to it, I imagine is tolerable. Philadelphia is the same way; only, it offers a different sort of noise. My dream town offered none of these things. I passed people on the street who appeared to be in a festive mood. Some wore costumes; others were nearly naked. I remember boa feathers and leather. Despite the wild festive flair of the townsfolk and the tourists, there was something off about the whole thing. The faces in the crowd were fatigued; as if something drove them against their will to be happy, to have a good time, to sing and dance in the streets.

Before I could get back to my dream house, I woke up. It was 4:20PM. The significance of this number, I will admit, did not go unnoticed.

I hope I feel better soon. I can’t imagine a steady diet of these daytime dreams. They bring back too many memories from when I used to work nights and sleep throughout the day. That, however, is another story for another time.