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The dreamer 

It's 5 a.m. as The Observer writes this, and we're still shaking a bit from the adrenaline of the dream. We don't remember our skull movies often, but when we do, they're always vivid. In the one we just woke from, we'd spent all day and into the night driving a friend around in the deep green 1968 Pontiac Bonneville our mother owned when we were around 7 or 8 years old, acres of sheet metal and American chrome, The Observer and our old pal whooping it up and carving corners, windows down, cold Coca-Colas in glass in our hands and so sweet they were like manna. With the sun soon to rise, we took him back to his place, and said our goodbyes. He got out, walked four steps away, then turned as if he'd forgotten something. As he opened the door again, he pulled a black bandana over his face and a small automatic handgun from his belt and pointed it at The Driver, demanding our wallet that was suddenly swollen with hunnerts. We were fighting over the gun, trying to angle the barrel away from anything vital and cocking a fist back to break his jaw, when The Observer awoke, heart pounding and on the verge of shouting in the sleeping house.

A modern Dr. Freud could probably help us decipher that one if we were so inclined, which we're definitely not. Prolly best not to know. The Observer tells ourself that dreams mean nothing, just our brain spinning on in darkness as the body recharges. That's likely not exactly true, though. If it was all just mental flotsam and jetsam sloshing around in our brainpan, why was it a friend's betrayal and not just the greed of some stranger? Why did he mask himself? Why our mother's long-gone Bonneville, and Coca-Cola in glass? Every night, human heads hit the hay all over this ball of dirt and gin these riddles of the Sphinx, which might be The Answer to It All if we could ever pick the lock on their dark chest. But they conspire against us for whatever reason, just maddeningly and tantalizingly vague enough that they seem to mean everything and nothing, like "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." Even now, as The Observer writes this, the dream, so crisp only 10 minutes ago, is fading back toward nothing, like a painting succumbing to a slow and deliberate crawl of fire. If we hadn't written about it, the dream would mostly be gone by the time we hit the bottom of our first cup of coffee. By lunch, it will have wholly retreated into the haunted mist of our mind. A strange business, these dreams.

Though we don't think much of our dreams, The Observer grew up believing in their power, even their prophecy. When we were a lad, The Observer's dear Ma periodically had tripartite dreams, episodic-like TV shows that picked up right where they left off the previous night when she went to sleep. The thing is, she came to believe that every time she completed one of those trinity dreams — always a terrible, inescapable nightmare — someone close to her would die. It was a theory proven to her satisfaction a half-dozen times in her life, there being stranger things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. So it was that when The Observer's brother, when only a slight boy of 5, was bitten in our backyard shed by the biggest copperhead snake anybody had ever seen in these parts, the serpent pumping him so full of venom that a good part of his lower body turned black, she had just woken from the second night's episode of one of those funny dreams. The Observer's Ma will tell you to this day that the only reason her eldest child is alive and well as you read this is because she stayed awake for the next 78 hours straight, until the doctors got him out of the woods, so as to fend off fate and the third episode of that three-part killing dream.

As for Ma, she may still have those three-reelers yet; we just don't know. There are some sleeping dogs that are best to let snooze. If she does, though, hopefully she'll call us so we can get our affairs in order. For now, let's say it again while we can: a very strange thing, these dreams.

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