My next-door neighbor killed himself two weeks ago. His wife was there in the house when he blew his brains all over the wall of the garage.

I didn’t realize anything had happened until I took the dog out to pee and saw six or seven cars parked along the curb. Even then I thought someone was having a party.

Then I saw that his garage door was up and someone was standing in the driveway taking pictures of the interior. Some other neighbors were standing around on the sidewalk across the street, so I went over and asked what was happening. Nobody knew much at that point, but we could see that both cars were in the garage and his son’s pickup, as well as his daughter-in-law’s van, were in the driveway. Obviously something had happened.

Bob, my neighbor, and Joyce, his wife, were both in their early sixties, a nice retired couple. Kept their lawn mowed and fertilized, went to church every Sunday and on vacation once a year. Bob’s mother died recently and Bob had used his inheritance to buy a really hot little Mazda convertible and a computer. I gave him a few lessons in how to find the files he had saved.

He also bought a new riding mower. Got the deluxe version with a holder for his can of beer. He didn’t get drunk very often; I remember him being faintly buzzed two or three times in the five years we were neighbors. It was usually when they had the family over for Saturday night supper. Then he’d come over and talk to me if I was in the back yard. He’d be silly and happy, slurring his words a bit.

Right after he got the riding mower, though, he came over and apologized. Seems he had been a little tipsy when mowing his lawn and had gotten too close to one of my flower beds. Sorry about that. I said it was no big deal; he was still learning the new mower.

Lately, though, there were more half-gallon jugs of Johnny Red in the “glass trash” on Mondays. And once or twice he’d start out walking Elvis when he, Bob, was definitely more than two sheets to the wind. Elvis is a fat little pug who hates to go for walks. Three weeks ago Bob tried to have Elvis play with my dog, Bronco. I had to take Bronco back into the house.

I went to the viewing at the funeral home. “Viewing” is not the right word as the casket was closed. Joyce was great. She moved back into the house earlier this week, right after her son replaced the wallboard in the garage.

I miss Bob. I hadn’t realized how often he came over and talked to me when I was out in my yard. All except the last few times. I don't like to think about those times. Sometimes hindsight can be very disturbing.

It's been an interesting week.

Wedneday I went to the funeral of my niece's Aunt Denise. She was 37. Coming home from work last Thursday she slipped on the ice, knocked herself unconscious and died, in her driveway, of hypothermia. Her Mother found her at 6:45 am Friday.

Last Friday my sister calls to say she's broken her ankle by falling on the ice. I spend the rest of the day in the ER with her. The hospital declares she needs surgery, but take her home until Monday 'cause they're not doing surgery at 5:30 pm on a Friday night. This was just the beginning of several WTF coversations I've had all week.

I get the crippled one back to her house, up two flights of stairs, and one of my brother calls. Seems my Dad, who had the plaque scraped out of his arteries in January, had gone numb down the right side of his body. After a six hour car ride to Maine I suggested he not take. Should we take him to the ER? my brother wants to know.

No, no... just let him lie there on the floor until dead, mkay?

Several bizarre and mind-blowing conversations with doctors in Maine, doctors in Connecticut, it's decided that another brother would drive our parents back to Connecticut on Sunday. Both Dad and my sister had doctor's appointments on Monday. Which ended up happening on Thursday instead, because gawdfuckingforbid a doctor bother his/her uselessfuckingarse to tend to a patient. I spent Thursday with Dad at Yale while Mom spent the day with my sister, who was having pins and plates put into her ankles.

According to the medical geniuses at Yale, after doing several different scans of both the brain and body, Dad's fine. No problem. He can go home. Most likely a pinched nerve from the driving, that's the ticket. Really, they assure me, he's fine.

So, today, he's in Norwalk Hospital. Numbness down the right side, feels like his head is unattached from his body. Not that he's a having a stroke, they tell me. But they're keeping him for the weekend for observation. Just in case.

Marijuana has always played a part in the culture of my life. Even in high school the coolest people were those who smoked pot. As my curiosities and risk-taking personality gave way, I found a new way of life.

I went to strictly Catholic schools as I grew up, so I did not realize that weed could be a way of communicating with and meeting new people. Through my two years of college, these communications were crucial to me.

After my parents found out, they sent me to a foreign country, hoping they could fix me. But I don't want to be fixed. I'm fixing myself, bit by bit, and I'm happy with my life and where I'm going. I used to be a real mess. Now I feel productive. I have a great job, good friends, and a real interest in going back to school.

The thing is, I'm still unwilling to give up my lifestyle. I applied for several local jobs, hoping that I would get a job that wouldn't drug test me. Fortunately enough I found a local job I really enjoyed, and I didn't get drug tested. After a short time at my job, I found out that most of my co-workers also smoke pot. I was a bit shocked at first, honestly, I thought I was doing something horrible and shameful that no one else did. While I really hope my boss doesn't know, I find it entertaining that within two day shifts at my new job, I'd already smoked with two of my co-workers. I am amazed at the amount that ganja affects these people's lives. The culture excites me. I really enjoy the social aspect of my habit, even if all the negative aspects reflect on me. I've met several people who have no direction in their life and just smoke weed. Hell, I've been one of those people. But now I feel like I know what I want to do. I'm not going to lose my direction, whether or not I smoke.

It is cold and my fur-feathered coat is blue and he is taller. Blond, spiked hair, and that same muted blue tone permeating the reality we currently share. I walk in heels like it's my job, but streetwalking doesn't pay enough anymore. I light a cigarette, the smoke wafting across my pale painted face. We drift from club to club.

I awaken. Three hours later, I fall back to sleep.

I know they are clubs because of the alcohol and neon. The entire world now is bathed in that electric blue raspberry. Blue, it seems, is the future; however one sigil stands out as Budweiser brown: a strange pattern of illusory adverts and gnashing angles draws the eye against the mirrored bar.

And suddenly, we're outside. The traffic is heavy, and I now realize (post dream, that is) that this used to be OSU. But that place has been gone for years and years -- so long I do not remember it existing. He and I have no vehicle in this web of unwheeled traffic, and taxis are more dangerous than walking. But this does not stop us.

We hail a fellow riding an open-air skiff. Just a cart with railings, but at least it's big and still made of good solid metal. Too many of those economobiles aren't anything but plastic and third-world labor. We head up the road, turn right, and stop at a light. Our benefactor then ditches the skiff, leaving us on it. Thanks to the magic of dreams, this is not noticed until we turn onto Frambes from High. We then notice an undercover cop, which is now a redundant phrase.

Dread fills me, and my partner too is unnerved, particularly as the sirens rev up and the searchlight blinks into life; eyeing our lives with its white-hot solar flood. The skiff is wanted, and we are soon to be what people lovingly refer to as habeas corpses.

I awaken again, aching to sleep once more to find my conclusion. It never comes.

dreamquest 2007

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