Group Post: Dark and Stormy Night

This story was written by my Master as a contribution to this week’s group post following the prompt, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

The line between awake and the subconscious is an amazingly deep divide. Frustration is waking before the alarm burps revile, right at the pivotal moment in an amazing sex dream, only never able to get back to that state, or remember if I actually did. Dreams are taunting like that. So real, yet so separate from our everyday lives, able to change our entire perceptions of others, or even purpose in life, with their little dramas. The Crow Indians would venture off alone for four days on “Vision Quests” hoping that after that time dreams would return with solutions to the next hunt, or the name of a new child. People’s lives, affected, forevermore by the results of that separate world.

That vivid world seemed so much more threatening in childhood, too. It seems now, as an adult, that even in the most fearful of dreams I am slightly aware that they are just that, and I should not fret, too much. But a child, new flesh, and a sponge for all that crosses their eyes, a dream can be quite real and dangerous, and the lines between awake and asleep not so well separated.

I often forget dreams by the time I make it to the bathroom in the morning. I would bet cash money I have no recollection of them by the time coffee hits my lips. Except for these. Except for now. Except for what happened today.

I had not dreamt of the “Dark and Stormies” since probably before grade school. That long hot summer in the suburbs of California, in the San Joaquin valley, when so much badness happened. I learned what death was that summer and I learned what the need for revenge was after the loss of my prize pigeons. I would find out much later that they were only the beginning of a long list of local pets that would die that summer. And then there was the Fisher kid. No one really explained what happened to him. It changes you as a person to find a pet, a beloved one, disemboweled and splayed in what looked like a Zombie buffet gone bad, chest and stomach peeled open with half the contents gone or spread on the ground.

What they don’t tell you in the movies, movies like Gladiator, or Halloween, or any B-horror movie, is that in any carnage in which people are torn apart, the smell of bowel, bile, and vomit accompanies the smell of death and rotting flesh. Everything bad. You never forget it and never see a scene like that again quite the same.

The detail of the necklace was fascinating and drew me to it immediately in the little pawn shop next to my hairdresser’s salon. Yes, I said hairdresser and not barber. Call me high maintenance, but I had not been to a barber since childhood, and frankly, I just don’t trust $5 haircuts and the sterilization properties of Barbizol. So, while waiting for my hair dresser, who I had so carefully trained over the years to trim me just so, to finish a last minute squeeze into her schedule, I figured I would explore the little tired pawn shop next door.

Pawn shops always seemed so sad to me. Pawn shops are a place where people go to sell dreams in desperation or need, when life gets too hard; a place where time and urgency ride higher priority over patience and true value. Loan sharks with a neon sign to make it all nice and legal.

I walked quickly past the used lawn equipment and 4-wheelers, past the guitars and amplifiers all neatly aligned on the wall and floor like so many forgotten dreams and hopes. The gleam of the jewelry case stretched onward next in the dirty light, which would make any department store jewelry snub their noses. Among the turned down engagement rings, broken marriages and class rings exchanged for drug money was the Indian dream catcher. Much like the ones you would see at the highway truck stop or the gift shop outside Little Big Horn in the Mid-West. Only this one was elaborate, silver wire strung delicately over what appeared to be a bone hoop tied together in the shape of a snowshoe. The wire made the most fragile looking spiders web and the hole in the center had small turquoise beads, strung to create the outline on a human eye. At least, I thought it looked human.

I honored the keeper with what I thought was the appropriate amount of dickering and settled on a price that he scowled over, then smiled to when I paid him. It was more than I expected, but something made me want this item, so I let him have his victory.

After the haircut and the rest of my day, I placed the dream catcher on the bedroom window thinking it would be a great gift for my new girlfriend, or even a show piece for a shadow box in the hallway. It really captures your attention. This was the beginning of the nightmare and my return to dreams I had forgotten from that summer long ago.

I have no idea what they look like, these Dark and Stormies, but I am sure I named them during a lightening-filled sleepless night much like tonight, when as a child, I heard them as I do now. The house is quiet and no other hearts beat under this roof, anymore. Sunlight will come soon and I know what has happened.

I heard the scamper under the bed and the creak of the house that I knew was not a creak. They were here. That damn dream catcher brought them here. It is swinging on the window where I left it, laughing at me even now. Howling. I woke up looking right at it, in a sweat, and the room smelled again of blood and bowel and I knew instantly that I had bought more than some bauble. I had opened a door that was long since closed, and I knew what I must do.

Naked, half awake, half dreaming, I stand now in my ransacked room staring at the full length mirror on my closet door. Covered in the blood of my kin and the filth that fills my nostrils. The ladder of both self-inflicted and defensive scratches that litter my body, adding and mixing with those crimson tears, catching the moons reflected light off the dream catcher. I see them now. I know what they look like, and the flashes of those howling, dying pets from long ago, flicker across my eyes. They are me.

The knife from the bayonet from my fathers army rifle lay under the bed and I know now what I must do. I see the truth and peace in it, and the satisfaction of ending the monster. Ending the dying dreams lost in that pawn shop. Ending the pain.

And as you read this now, my last words, please understand my pain, and my fear and the favor I am doing you. It was not me! Not truly me… It was a Dark and Stormy! Night. Forever Night.

-Profligacy, aka Mr. Shameless


This was a group post, organized by Kimberly over at The Errant Wife. Go see who else participated:

13 Messages
Barefoot Dreamer

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  1. xX...Amy...Xx
    Posted September 15, 2009 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    That really was dark and stormy! But incredibly well written and evocative as well.


  2. Topaz
    Posted September 15, 2009 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    That was some hell of a narrative! I love the build – you can't see the dreamcatcher purchase until it actually happens – but you see the forshadowing once you read about the silver strings and 'human' eye – great writing!

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