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JACK DANIELS
or
Silent Call

Dreamed 1983/10/14 by Chris Wayan

A bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey Old #7.

THAT DAY

Working at the library, I stumble on a book called The Psychic Thread, about ESP in therapeutic settings--what therapists should and shouldn't do. One example especially troubles me:

Four interns in a psych hospital try an experiment in telepathy. One guy at work in the ward will silently call a message to the other three, at a birthday party some distance away. The guy thinks it over and sends "Drink Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels! JACK DANIELS!" His target normally doesn't drink liquor, let alone Jack Daniels, so if he does, it'll be a pretty concrete hit.

But a patient in the psychotic wing starts screaming "I'm NOT Jack Daniels! I'm NOT JACK DANIELS!" An authoritative, overwhelming voice seemed to be summoning him--but called him Jack! He was terribly shaken, even doubted his own identity.

And so what do our experimenters do? They reassure him he's not Jack Daniels, but they DON'T tell him what they were up to! "No point in upsetting him. We might encourage his delusions."

Their glib little rationalizations disgust me. They set up an experiment in a volatile place, it harms a third party, and they hide they had anything to do with it... when telling him the truth would give him the option to discount ALL his voices, not as delusions, but just other people's thoughts--proven so in the only controlled experiment they had. Even delusions, after all, are your own, and have to be reckoned with... but if you're just a random radio, you can ignore it. Telling him wasn't just basic honesty, and the obligation of people who'd wronged him... it had real potential to help him.

Indeed I'd say they had a responsibility to go further, and suggest that particular patient needed to be moved out of a crowded hospital to a small rural ward with less noise. A telepath locked in a psychotic ward! The worst possible place for him. Even if they're laughed at, their obligation to a patient they hurt comes before their own careers. Instead they rationalized they might encourage his "delusions"--when, due to their own reckless experiment, they had evidence his voices weren't delusions. Evidence they withheld from him.
Stunt car goes over a cliff.

THAT NIGHT

Dream 1: COWARD!

I'm biking near sunset. A dangerous road in Santa Cruz--a sharp turn angling down a cliff. Cars barely make the curve. If one hit me... just too risky. I decide not to bike down it. I turn to go back and find a safer route.

Then a car passes me, misses the curve, goes over, crashes, and burns fiercely. I fear it'll explode, and run away rather than see if the driver's alive. Figure "no chance"--but is that realistic, or cowardice?

I do flag down the next car and tell the driver "Call the cops!"

Later, I see the crash-and-burn driver by the roadside, being bandaged. He got out immediately, long before the car blew. He looks OK--just a few scrapes.

Feel ashamed of my cowardice, but it looks like I wasn't really needed, either.

Miner girl new to the surface stabs a baby in a stroller; nightmare sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

Dream 2: WHY SHE DID IT

Most people died back in World War III, and then came the eco-crash. The land is recovering, but the few survivors are still isolated, and many live underground in the shelters. Small wars, much mistrust.

I live in a mine-community, down in the dark. We have power, food, tools, even grow-light gardens; but it's confined. I want sun and wind. My fiancee doesn't, wants the security of the mine. Earth is polluted, and all the survivors up there are savages, enemies. I agonize but at last, I leave her, and home, and safety... for sunlight.

The city's still in ruins, but it's green and healthy. The survivors aren't savage at all. Their community is freer than the authoritarian miners. I walk in a park, sit on bench in the sun. A cute woman pushing a stroller comes up, we talk. I like her. She seems like a better prospect than my closed-minded ex. Though it's true that all the women in this dream are pretty, since it's a network TV show--just a convention of the genre. Still...

Then my underworld fiancee walks up! She's followed me onto the dreaded surface. I admire her courage--didn't think she'd do it.

She looks into the stroller, pulls out a knife, and calmly sinks it into the baby. The woman wrestles her away. I examine the baby. Blood wells from a deep stab wound, 10-15 cm. I'm unsure if advanced medical facilities could save the baby, and where are there any? Not in the mine, and certainly not up here in the ruins. And even if the baby lives, it'll be permanently, severely impaired. Either way, its spirit will be crippled--it'll spend years wondering "what'd I do wrong? What'd I do to her?"

So why DID she do it? Simple. I ask, and she says "All of us up here are evil." Utterly, inherently evil. Enemies are to be killed. And that's that. There's no way to change or mellow her thinking. Though she walks among us, she's sealed off, unreachable.

Bunker mentality.


President Calvin Coolidge spinning a basketball on a finger; dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.

Dream 3: RADAR AND COOLIDGE

I'm one of the Harlem Globetrotters. Radar O'Reilly, the little moon-faced clerk on MASH, is also on our team. Short, but he's intuitive--always in the right place.

Our best player, though, is a tall white guy who used to be President long ago. His name is Coolidge.

He and Radar and the others can spin the ball on a fingertip. Not me. I'm still just plain old me.

But Coolidge isn't himself. He's autistic, and this is one of his bad days. He insists "My name's not Calvin! I'm CHRIS!" Then he points at Radar and says "HE's Coolidge!" And then, pointing at ME, he adds "And that's Radar!"

And since he's Chris, and Chris can't play for shit, our best player can't play for shit.

Too bad we're NOT autistic! He can call Radar "Coolidge", but Radar doesn't acquire Coolidge's skills with the name. I'd be happy acquiring even Radar's... but I don't.

I'm still me.

Damn! I'm still me!



LISTS AND LINKS:
JACK DANIELS: healthcare - therapists - on the job - oops! - ESP as an issue - examples of psychic dreams - book-inspired dreams
COWARD: car crashes - falling - fires - guilt - death - ethics
WHY SHE DID IT: other worlds - violence - dating advice - babies - Marcy, my mom - dream moms - knives - Harlan Ellison - what they did to uncle Hugh
RADAR & COOLIDGE: I'm Just Not Myself Today! - identity-bent dreams - sports - presidents - autism - puns & Freudian slips - Radar's Bear - Silent Cal Sings!

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