Dreamed 1988/2/27 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a small room in Stanford's library, where I work--but this isn't my regular job. I'm up a ladder, near the ceiling. Why? I'm preparing to fight a dragon that's entered the library. It's a small one, but dangerous: a fire-breathing European schemer, not the calmer, wiser, book-loving Asian species. I spar verbally a bit with the dragon. Damn, he's a clever one. This won't be easy.
As the challenged one, I get to choose our weapons, and I pick... poker! I'm a slick dealer. The dragon says "Agreed. Deal!" So I slide down the ladder and sit at a table in the card catalog and prepare to play for the fate of the library.
But before we do, I must turn off the vast powerplant beneath us; it's dangerous left on. I get the front end of the electrical grid off, but a delay is built into the generator itself--it keeps going quite a while, unless an emergency switch is pulled, and it's hard to reach, way down in the sub-basement. So now the grid's off, and the current lacks its usual outlet. It finds an unusual one... me. My hand on the switch. A river of raw power pours through me. As long as I keep contact with a wall, with something to ground me, I'm okay--just a constant uneasy rush-crackle-hissing. But if I break contact, a terrible arc will burn me and all around me--discharge!
I better stay grounded.
I turn slowly, to face the dragon, trying to stay grounded all the way. I find the poker hands have already been dealt, by a mild little man. He picks up one of the already dealt hands and deals it around, then grabs the next hand and deals that on top, and so on... essentially shuffling everything. I'm upset -- I wanted to see what I was originally dealt, but it's too late now. I pick up my new hand. It looks blurry--the cards, or my vision? Is the static electricity half-blinding me? They're all dappled in the same strange way: I can tell they're red or brown, not black, and all the same suit, but they could be hearts or diamonds. Wow, a flush! But what kind? I count the blurs on each card--I have no face cards, they all have spots, but I'm not sure if there are gaps... or if I have a straight flush. Even if I were sure of my cards, I'm not sure of the rules: we're playing some seven-card variant the dealer chose. The dragon, too, is peering at his hand and grumbling and rearranging the cards, while little snorts of electrical flame leak out--no poker face! He, too, has a big charge, a power hand, and blurred vision, I suspect.
This game's been rigged, and I don't think it's the dragon.
Who IS this dealer?
All I can do is... stay grounded.
I go to my friend Mark's theme party. The invites said "Dress like a clown and act like a fool." Not too many people show up. That's Silicon Valley for you. Too busy to be clowns... except, of course, unintentionally.
Mark introduces me to Laney, a tough old lizardy woman with a strong, spiky, oddly sexy aura. Maybe it's because she's a bodyworker and professional psychic--I'm not sure. I say hi, and she startles me by eyeing me silently a minute, then saying:
"You really need grounding! Building up a charge, there, in isolation! Visualize green and brown channels that arc that energy back to the earth. You gotta discharge that stuff."
SIX YEARS LATER
Mark calls to say his friend Laney the psychic suddenly died. She was abused as a kid, had multiple personalities, and went into therapy after years of uneasy truce. She wanted to attain some dreams... but got only endless war with her child-parts, who kept saying "safety at all costs." She never found peace. Therapy provoked chronic fear, rage, and tension. Her blood pressure went up. She persisted. Wasn't going to let the dragon of her own past bluff her! It got worse, until... a fatal stroke! Sorry. It wasn't bluffing.
Therapy stirred up a war so bad it killed her. They don't tell you about those cases, do they?
Mark went to the hospital. Laney was braindead. They were checking to be absolutely sure before pulling the plug, planning what organs could be donated, when her granddaughter came in straight from work, in a crotch-high skirt and low-cut blouse, breasts popping out--just dripping sex. Mark said he seesawed wildly, absurdly, between grief and gawking--kept thinking "Wow! Uh-oh... Wow! Uh-oh..." He wonders... what is her life like, what are her relationships like, if she dresses and acts like this even at the OFFICE?
At the memorial, the room was jammed with psychics and bodyworkers who report Laney telling them startling things, just as she did to me. Mark talked to Laney's granddaughter, and she handed him her phone number. But he feels wary, thinks she too has all the signs of sexual abuse. He both wants and doesn't want her! I say "Why not tell her the truth? Blurting out peculiar truths seems to be a Laney family tradition... If she finds you too bizarre to date... no loss!"
In short: stay grounded!
I'm not surprised at Mark's story. Even at sixty, Laney radiated sex as well as anger--if her daughter has even a shadow of that...
You know, I'd nearly forgotten, but when I met Laney, and she said I needed grounding, I had this utterly irrational urge to ask "Do you have a granddaughter who's single?" I felt she did, and that she'd have Laney's sexy aura without those dragon-spines of anger. Now, learning my intuition was right, I feel... regret. Maybe I was meant to date her, but was too shy to ask. I let my intuition down.
Now it's too late. Regret floods me...
And then, suddenly, I jerk myself back sober.
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