I was wearing Army boots. I don't think I've ever had on a pair of Army boots in my entire life. I was walking down some dimly lit alleyway in a very large city. Yeah, probably Little Italy in New York. I could smell Italian food.
Each time I passed a cross street, the light from the street lamps was folded in upon itself. An envelope of light with the suggestion of brightness, but no real brightness at all.
The child, perhaps seven or eight years old, was standing in front of a mixed group of people. I believe they were holding him there. For me.
His eyes were dark and he wore an old flannel shirt, half tucked into his corduroy pants. He looked down at my feet. I could hear him ask me, "Are you in the Army?" His mouth didn't move.
I thought, "No. I don't know why I have on these boots." He understood me.
And then I knew why I was in this place. This little boy knew the answers I wanted ever so badly. And, just as I realized this, he looked up at me and smiled.
On his forehead I noticed some letters written in what appeared to be yellow highlighter. It was hard to read them with just the dim light in the alley. I drew closer to the boy's forehead. They were written backwards! That's why I couldn't read them!
The backwards letters said, "tsehc sih no s’tI" I thought that I would ask him nicely if he would take off his shirt. He began unbuttoning the flannel shirt, and then opened it up to expose his little boy chest and belly.
And there it was, written in black fine-tip magic marker. It was a paragraph of about sixty words. I read it, and a flood of calmness washed over me. Finally, I understood. How could I have not realized this before? I had been close several times in my life, so close, and yet I was never able to put the pieces together. There it was.
I was squatting down now, at eye level with the little boy, and I looked up from reading and into his eyes. He knew that I now knew, and he also knew that he knew. He had wanted me to know.
I woke up about an hour before I usually get out of bed. I laid there for a solid hour, trying my best to recreate each section of the dream, in order to remember what was written on the little boy's chest. The more I tried, the less clear it became. I finally gave up. Not one word came back to me.
I went downstairs and made coffee. My wife had left the newspaper lying on the kitchen table. It was open to the comics, and the horoscope section is on that page in our paper.
I never read the horoscope, but while the coffee was brewing, I glanced at mine for the day. I swear to God that this is what it said:
The answers to your problems will be found in your dreams.
Yeah. And I guess that's where they're going to stay, too.