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Dreamed 1986/4/14 by Chris Wayan


The Chronicle has a story about a timid man who after all-night questioning confessed to a murder, and now says he was so tired and scared he'd have confessed to anything to make them stop. "Absurd" says the DA. Really? I doubt my motives, memories and even sanity all the time; only someone with a vested interest would deny that grilling can produce results as false as torture--because for some of us it's the same thing. Therapist and patient. Sepia cartoon by Wayan.

Bike over to therapy. I tell Don part of my big dream this week, the part where I was married to Ariane, my sister's childhood friend. But I hide the rest--shamanic dream-beings. Too private, not the sort of thing I think he can understand. I stick to my dream marriage: "I don't know what I want in relationships." Jeez what a cliché. You can always spot my lies, they're so boring! How will I ever learn to write fiction? Trapped in journalism!

Don says "What are you looking for?"

"I want..." silence. Something too selfish to face. Something sexy.

Don probes cautiously. "Who or what is your ideal? I've never gotten a picture."

I stare at the shiny spot on top of his head as my emotions convulse.

"Guilt..." I grope for the ability to speak, "censors me." I am shivering. "Says I'm GREEDY to want love, or even just sex--you see, I can survive without it!" The caverns of survival.

Don says again, "What are you looking for? If you can't tell me, say so, but picture it at least."

I force the issue. What qualities attracted me to women I've wanted?

Bam! I hit a wall at ninety. Braindead, blank.

What am I after? Why am I blind?

My mind grows a creamy blur of light, an oval screen... an image begins to form. My eyes jerk away! I force them back. An ice-green cataract follows my pupils' every swing. Only peripheral vision shows me there's something, some image. Look directly and I'm gone. I mean it's gone. A faint voice says don't, it hurts, please don't.

I say, carefully, "I try but I go blank. There's an image, but I can't look."

He asks once more. I retreat into wary abstractions, and stay there all day. But...


Lieutenant Eggo's getting mean. I see why they call him Hardboil. He's sure Moi's gonna break. Watashi agrees, but I don't like it: just 'cause Moi's little and weak, they think it's okay to push him around. And we need him! This case is hard enough without more enemies.

We got Moi upstairs in the California Street station, under a light. Six hours now. They can't believe he's held out this long.

I don't think he has. Two shadowy cops grill a man. Dream sketch by Wayan.

Moi rubs his farsighted eyes and gropes for his glasses. Eggo's moved them again. He blinks at Eggo, almost crying. "I can't prophecy to order." he repeats. "Visions come to me when THEY want to."

Hardboil's tired. "Well then you better make them want to, unless you like our little hotel. Now... one more time... Who'll it be? Where'll they meet? When?" He leans by Moi's ear and I can barely hear him. "And while you're here, what about the market tomorrow? I got five hundred, where'll it do me some good?"

He's sunk to that!

Moi waves his head away from the light's glare, from Eggo's glare. "I never see stuff like that. Never... It has to make sense to me, and I, I don't understand business, I never have."

The Lt. says cheerily "Does another 48 hours in here make sense to you?" He smiles. "WE can take turns..."

Moi rouses himself. "Try to understand. It's not that I won't help, I just can't. The Gift's not for profit. It doesn't work that way."

That's not all they don't understand...

I'm disgusted. Hardboil knows it. He blinks as I turn and join them at last. "Conference." I say. Watashi looks to Hardboil, as always, who lifts his brows but goes into the hall with me. I whisper "Let's get this over with. He's not hiding a thing. He's a fucking saint, Hardboil. Let him go or he'll die."

"Die! We're just scaring him a little."

"Eggo, he's a psychic, dammit! He can't take your feelings. You're not just shining a light in his eyes, you're holding his head under water, you're drowning him in YOU."

"He's not so damn fragile. That's his act. Look how he's held out."

I struggle with my temper. An image comes to me. "You told me once you liked this work for the challenge. Beating slimes at their game but keeping your own integrity."

"Sure. Battle of wits." He looks me in the eye. "And YOU happen to be a sucker for Moi's poor-me strategy."

"You play the game so long, you forget some people don't. He's not holding out. He has NO strategy. He's not fighting you--he can't fight, Eggo. Not and be psychic."

"So what do you suggest? He's our only lead. You got more riding on this than anyone. You got to know where she is."

It's true. He's too good at this.

"You don't grill saints. You ask them--politely." I bluster.

"And when they say no?"

Bitterly I think Then I'll never know. Then add, I'm getting dangerous. Because I can't go on this way. I have to know there's hope. If not, someone inside plans to die.

I say "Then you beg!" and turn from his scoff and go back in.

I tell Moi, "I believe you've told us the truth. You're under pressure, and visions don't come that way. So! We'll stop pressing. Each of us will pick one simple question--who, what, when, where. You tell us what image flashes into your head the moment we ask. We treat your image as the key to that angle of the case, and follow it out by legwork. Meanwhile, you go home, rest. If they don't pan out, we drop by your shop and ask for another flash, same way--no more grilling." Line drawing of a unicorn.

Hardboil glares like a laser as I undercut him. Moi sees it; maybe that encourages him. "All right." He hesitates. "But I need to touch something personal of yours to start from. Handwriting... a picture you drew would be best. A simple image that means a lot to you."

He IS psychic, damn him!

"Hang on." I say heavily. I go out to my desk and open the locked drawer. I do sketch at work, but on the sly--don't want to look like I'm goldbricking, and they'd laugh if they saw. I slip the folder out, peer in edgewise, and pull out my last picture. I tell myself I grabbed it at random but I know that's a lie. It's a Xerox of an ink drawing in my stained-glass cartoon style, very Sixties. Of a unicorn.

I've been penciling in different backgrounds. None work yet.

I can't use this. Not because it's a mess. The subject. I'll never hear the end of it. But I need answers! And to get clear images, Moi needs a clear image--from me. And this is me, the hidden me. I riffle the folder. I could show him a safe bland one... Nothing else comes near.

Garbage in, garbage out.

So. How bad do I want this lead?

I roll up the sketch and carry it in to Moi.

"Well, what have we here?" says Hardboil, grabbing the picture. I wait for the axe to fall. He stares and stares. "Not bad." he says. I can't believe it. "You really can draw!"

Watashi peers at it and finally says, "Why is the background rough? The, uh... unicorn is so perfect." Embarassed to say the word.

"It's several backgrounds on top of each other. None of 'em work--ignore 'em. I have clean copies at home, I'll try again."

Moi peeks and says "An auspicious being--" and Eggo says "Hey, not yet!" and flips the picture away. "All that background junk's confusing," he scowls. "Clear and simple, he said. We'll just give him the horse." and RRRRRIP he starts twisting off the blotchy side as I gasp in shock.

"You said it's a copy!" he reminds me calmly as he rips off the bad tree. "Oops." There goes the flank and the marvelous tail. "Damn cheap Xerox paper, that's the City budget for you--" there go one and a half legs along with the yucca that became a rock. "Shit." So he tears the other legs off to match and now the lithe body swims over nothing... "Oh well." I picture him tearing on, down and in, spiraling down like a buzzard, to a white dot. A point Hardboil finds acceptably... simple. Drawing of unicorn head on torn  paper.

He hands the psychic a card-size scrap. On it is the unicorn's head, profiled, neck arched like a swan. I stare at the stark mutilation, but... maybe Hardboil's right for once. It's clear, simple, and still all me.

Too late now, if he's wrong.

Moi says, "I'm ready. Ask questions!"

Eggo says "I wanna know WHEN."

"I'll take..." Watashi looks at me, and pauses. "...WHERE, I think."

I say, "Thanks, Watashi. WHO, Mr. Moi. Who'll be my true love?" Unicorn's mare's tail, and what's under it.

Moi holds the slip and waves his arms... and projects his visions on the wall. The plaster glows vaguely with the form of the unicorn's portrait, then the whole unicorn, blurrily, flickering. Parts fade, and dim alterations seem to be occurring. "Yeah? What? What's that mean?" says Eggo like he's answering a bad connection from the moon.

Finally, faintly, the unicorn rolls in the sun like a cat on its side, hind legs sprawling toward us, tail flicking cheerfully, baring everything. The unicorn is a mare. "What's it mean, damn it!" says Eggo, pushing as always.

The image fades, but one last sharp bright flash appears--her ass, close up, her pussy glistening under the raised tail, wet and excited. Like me. I start blushing, and hope they don't notice I'm hard. I'll never hear the end of it. A cop hot for unicorns...

The wall goes dark.

"Well, that was a lotta help!" growls Eggo.

I blurt to Eggo, "You shredded my image! This all happened 'cause you tore the legs off!"

Eggo, unperturbed, says "Looks like Moi really can't swami to order. Or else no one's in your future, kid."

Oh, I can think of another interpretation, Eggo. The vision was answering you. "Ya horse's ass!" Are, too. Only... she's no horse!

But maybe he's half-right. All that's in my future is an anonymous piece of ass.

By focusing so tightly on her head, was a backlash created? So the vision shows only cunt? And if all I see is sex, how can I tell if she's a unicorn, or... or an ordinary mare?


I wake up late for work. Shit! Can't even write it down in detail. No time. Sketch the unicorn drawing, and the flash of her cunt, blushing. Afraid someone will open my dream diary and see it as perverted, bestial. Not fear--memory! My ex-girlfriend Kay snooped through my journal, then screamed and threw stuff at me for dreaming of anyone but her. For three years I quit drawing and wrote dreams in bad Chinese... till I faced that it was her or my dreams--and chose dreams. At least I gave them that much.

Haunted all day by the images. Want to draw them.

In the evening, after work, I write the dream on the Mac from my sketchy notes, details and dialog pouring out of my head. I'm fierce and hot, banging the keys, half in a trance... till I reach my last, peculiar accusation about shredding. That stumps me: yes, my shrink and my ego do always focus on head stuff, but the rest of the picture wasn't ripped away totally. If I'd felt that violated in therapy by Don's pushing, I'd have noticed! I think.

Dream image: unicorn mare raising her tail seductively. Click to enlarge. But then... why the mutilation scene?

Abruptly the Mac starts roaring like a chainsaw. I've never heard one do this! Not just the drive. A grinding vibration grows and the unicorn dream shreds into black and gray pixel-smears. The screen wobbles and the grind loudens to a scream. Hot to the touch. Scared it's shorted out and might burn, I turn it dead off. All lost. I was so excited I didn't save an early draft. The whole story gone, up in smoke. I get up to fume home and curse everyone all night. But as I stamp out to my bike, I pause by the new clock tower, and lie flat on the still-warm cement rail. Unwise to bike in the dark while I'm shaky with rage. I calm a little, staring into indigo space. The moon's full. I jot a note by moonlight: "Add the shredding to the tale." A weird amusement creeps under my outrage. The little guy really was psychic!

But what a way to make a point.

Suddenly I admire the practical joker's sheer nerve. "WHAT a way to make a point!"

Then I go home and bitch.

Tomorrow I'll rewrite it from my head and the original dreamnotes--without the freshness of a first draft.

But with an end I now understand.


Now I wonder about my dream five days ago, THE DEER PARTY--it had a White Factory with just the creamy blank boxy look of a current-generation Mac. It exploded, burned. Was that dream too a forewarning of the crash destroying my evening's work? But dimmer, because it was four days earlier?

I thought time was a placid river, or a landscape we travel across (flow in what, travel through what? Metatime? J.W. Dunne pointed out our conventional images lead to an infinite regress of "times"). That image needs revising. What if time's a white-water rapid? Precognition might be analogous to bow-shock waves--standing waves, a series of harmonics, out in front of each rock in the river (major events? Who decides what's major?). Anyway, events'd generate multiple premonitions, blending in with the background noise at first then recurring more and more plainly until the "event", with the turbulence downstream from the disturbance being quite similar in character but labeled differently--as "memory" or "reactions". One taken for granted, the other repressed as unnatural, impossible, a delusion.

Both real. Both there.

Next: DREAMRIDER. A strange interlude: I find a book that describes my life! And not in my dreams.

UNICORN TAG is a set of dreams of hoofed animal teachers who dragged me (kicking and screaming!) past simple dreamwork into shamanism. 1: The Deer Party 2: Ariane's Honeymoon 3: Everest Marathon 4: Who'll Be My Love? 5: Dreamrider 6: Half Shaman, Half Statesman 7: 8 To A Horn 8: Black Magic 9: Misfits On Mars

LISTS AND LINKS: therapy - detectives - fear and its uses (and misuses) - dream humor - unicorns - oops! - heads - artists - embarrassment - sexy creatures - pussy symbolism - psychic dreams - precognition - life-paths - pure digital art - portraits - picture-stories

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