Wednesday, October 3, 2012


In my dream (induced, perhaps, or influenced, at least, by a recently watched season of HOMELAND and recent events in my personal life), I was moving into a basement room in a halfway house after  several haggard years in an "enemy" prison camp.  
I get little flashes of the camp, which seems to have been more of an asylum for the broken-hearted, where soldiers who cared too much or too little recuperate from the wounds they've accrued in the "love wars".  

The camp was really an interlude, where traumatized romantics were acquainted with new faiths and philosophies, bodies of thought designed to fill up the empty spaces where the beloved left them to die.  I remember doctors with inscrutable accents training me to feel passion for cartoons and fear of photographs.  I remember nurses in flowing robes making the rounds, collecting the tears of the dejected and the doomed.  
Tears for the fueling of rainbow bombs, which can break every heart and unhinge every certainty in a ten mile radius when they explode with a dying sigh.  
In the basement room, which is painted black and purple and red like the room I will wake up to, a sycophantic teenage soldier unpacks my bags and tells me what a big fan he is of my suffering.  I'm wearing a uniform with militarized valentine insignia, smoothing my creases in a man-sized mirror.  The creases in my face won't be smoothed.  
I didn't see my reflection at all in all those years at the camp, so this face I'm wearing now is unfamilar to me, like James Dean in his awful old man make-up at the end of "Giant".  But my mortality is not prosthetic.  It's part of the package.  
I was blindfolded when they drove me here from the airport (which I remember as a pterodactyl preserve, but the dream doesn't really go into it).  The blindfold was not for keeping this location secret.  It was to protect me from culture shock.  
It's a harder, more callous and casual world than the tender zone I frolicked in when love was young and I'd die for it.  I'm curious about the shift in things, wondering if any trace of the utopia I fought for has come to pass.  
But I'm mainly worried about my children.  How they've been getting on without me.  The soldier tells me that they were frozen the day after I disappeared.  
My wife had it done, so I wouldn't miss any magic moments in their upbringing.  
Then I ask about my wife.  She's a scientist.  
She builds satellites out of intelligent ice and "coma-cubes" upholstered with erectile silver fur.  
I'm told that she remarried.  
I was a wreck before I shipped out and they told her I was dead, so I can't say that I blame her.  I swore an oath to love unto death by any means necessary.  We both did.  
But we're smart and modern and we make promises like that with our fingers crossed and one eye on the clock.  And the war made me a sad sort of monster.  My messages to her before I was captured must have been terrifying.  I maybe burned the bridge before I jumped.  
She'll be coming over soon, to discuss the unfreezing of the children and what to do with them.  I put my bravest face on.  I remind myself that she let go of me.  People have reasons, and I was always gone, in one way or another.  But she let me go.  
For the children, and for my own sanity, I must return the favor.  

I remember a dismal furlough where I chastised her for not making love around the clock like the succubots they send us in the trenches.  I shudder at my own spoiled appetites and at the memory of what I took for granted.  Nonetheless, life has rolled on without me.  
It's now my job to find my place or to make my place in a world I don't understand.  
I turn around to ask a question and the sailor has deflated with a hiss. A single serving private.  
There are footsteps coming down the stairs.  
They sound like high-heeled footsteps, placed by legs even longer than I remember.  
My wife is in the doorway.  
She's not my wife anymore, but she's in the doorway and she's lovely, not like the photographs I've been trained to avert my gaze from (for fear of my ardor swelling beyond the reach of reason), but like those photos have always been epiphanic prefigurements and nostalgic echoes of her.  
We talk about business.  The frozen children, etcetera.  
I remember our fist-fights and all i want to do is peel her like a fancy fruit and help myself.  
I know the pentagon is already arranging suitable mates for me, and that they will emerge under the camouflage of circumstance and serendipity.  
But the exacto knife hidden in her wit and her gangly glamour and her geeky ebullience (like a summer crush at space camp), all these things conspire to make me not quite as mean as I want to be.  It's evident that I'm still the most interesting man-thing on her radar.  
Even in absentia, I'm more fun than most of the local soldiers.  
I ask about her new husband and she acts like she doesn't know what I'm talking about.  
In a weirdly distant corner of the basement, our children in their capsules tap on the glass.  
Maybe in sleep.  Maybe in sadness.  Maybe in anticipation.  
We agree to keep them frozen, I think.  
There's a faucet down here that dispenses champagne.  
I'm not sure what's happening anymore.  I think I have a mission.  Is this helping?  Does it hurt?   
We bite each other accidentally as we lap champagne from the faucet.  
What happens next is no accident.  
I'll play it as it lays and lay it as it plays.  
I'm a veteran from the love wars. My scar tissue stops bullets.  
No honeytrap can hold me...unless I want very badly to be held.

*photos and videos used without permission and without shame.  nobody owns a dream."

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