Distant. Early. Warning.
I had a dream
about a slot machine
last night. A slot machine at a bus station
. I've always felt the same vibe from both. The coming and going spirit.
The tattered edges of people that just didn't quite get it living their lives in transit
. The flurry
of hard earned dollars spent on dreams, and distances. Distances that seem insurmountable
. The distances of oceans separate the shadow people around me from their dreams. Winning a jackpot is like arriving, but the other end is just another bus station. Happiness can't be bought
So, in this dream
, I was pulling the one armed bandit arm. It was greasy with that unique paste
of sweaty smoky palm film I've only even seen when people who cannot afford it lose money. I think the terror in their bellies forms a gel that makes the money burn their spidery
fingers. Like sterno
, blue jellied fire, turning the coins red-hot and soft. The machine was black plastic, sort of a Bakelite
alarm clock crossed with a bus station television that you used to have to feed quarters
. A man, a strange, happy, generous man came and sat with me. He held his palms like he had a grasshopper
trapped within them and said "I can win for us." From his hand trap, he pulled a small red plastic cube, and plugged it into the slot machine. I yanked the slick
lever and we won. We watched the alarm clock numbers fall in half plastic clatters until it said "1million 100thousand 1dollar and 84cents". Instantly, the bus station feeling was replaced with the creeping fear
of the airport. It was still a place of transition, but now something gnawed at me. Was I who
I said I was? I am supposed to win
? Do I deserve this wonderful thing?
Is it mine to enjoy?
When I woke up, I was thinking of ladybugs
. We've all seen ladybugs, bright red, little summertime soldiers. The ladybugs I remember most were the ones I saw in a place that they never belonged
s that made me question the dream of my life. "Statistical Analysis of Data Structures". It was a white covered college book that cost me an obscene
amount to buy. It was a frigid January, and I didn't take off my coat in class
. Outside, the wind was cruel and the Sun was yellow and weak, so far away. A stormy morning so gray and heartbreaking
, the kind that makes you just want to lay down in a pyre
, to remember what warm was. The chairs in the classroom where garish earth tones, and cold. Only after nodding off did I finally wake to see the room was awash
in ladybugs. They were the color of unripe
tomatoes, that yellow orange shade. A swarm of them, in a bare math classroom, in a Canadian winter. How? Why? I may never know. It made no sense at all, but I remember them.
Likely as confused as me, in a place that was never dreamed of by their nature, and yet, after a fashion, adapted to. Doomed
, but alive with hope.
Sometimes I get the urge to just run
. Not away, just off
. I think of these huge Koi
I saw at zoo when I was very young. A tiny wooden footbridge
crested a muddy shallow creek, shaded by an extravagant weeping willow. The water was mostly slit
gray and studded with rocks. The bridge seemed headswimmingly high to me. High above the bright koi, in reds and whites and mottled blacks and unnatural oranges. Fall
Orange. They swam against the modest current, dammed in by the rocks, forever questing for the bridge
. Koi live a life of primal hunger
. They will eat until they explode, driven, hellishly focused, only to quest for consumption
. It is easy to think them greedy
, but I have always held a kind of quiet admiration
for them, a workman's professional acknowledgment. The roiling
carpet of koi, huge, sleek, scaled sun dancing koi, clogged that stream from bank to bank. They forced their whiskered faces up from the water constantly, watching and waiting. Fins
swam in air and unseen muscles churned the water. 10 feet of stream was orange with writhing organic
hunger. After that, the water became serenely calm again. I stood on the bridge, watching the koi watch me, wondering how they could ignore the freedom just around the bend. I stood beside the red gumball machine full of fish food on that bridge, and slowly, I came to understand desire. Nature is desire.
Winter is coming. Look around you.