I often dream I am in jail. I can’t imagine why. Maybe if I did have enough imagination to imagine why, I wouldn’t dream about being in jail in the first place. But what I lack in imagination I always try to make up for in substance. Here’s a typical example (like all my jail dreams, I just got there):
They say I have substance. Have it on my person. Claim substance on my breath.
Yes, I admit, I have substance – what of it?
They say, because of the substance, I am a danger to myself, and/or others. They hafta take me off the street.
Before I can object, they snap on cuffs. Push me down into the backseat. Drive me off to the building. Herd me into a cell.
Because this is a free country, I get a lawyer, no charge. He is fresh out of school, doesn’t appear to have any substance at all. Urges me to plead guilty. So the trial will end quick and he can get back to pounding pavement for a real job.
I say, sure, I’m guilty. We all are. Bible got that right. The whole species is fallen, fucked from the outset. But I am damned if I’ll plead. No call to beg – I have substance.
Substantially, the kid admits, I am right. But in matters of the law, ritual matters. If I’ll just sign the confession he has prepared…
I beg him go. So I can think.
The verb throws him; think not legal language. He advises me, as my lawyer, not to for godsake do that. Then, shaking his head, trembling noticeably, even whiter than when he first came, he splits.
I look around – toilet, bunk, bars, wall. My future home, future office, vacation spot of the future. I am now at last a real asshole, stuck in a space with just about that much room.
Pull out my substance. Isn’t much. Bitty little dingleberry. But it gets me off. And that’s all I need – to get off.
When the kid comes back, he is grinning ear to ear. He says, “Hey, old man – you got off! You can walk – you’re free to go!”
I stand. Walk to the toilet. Go.
“If it’s all the same to you,” urine cascades into the bowl, “I’ll just stay put.”
His face – like a civilization – collapses. He sees with horror the years of food I’ll consume; say nothing of free rent, free medical, free dental – Christ, the city’ll wind up footing the burial!
Worst of all, the judge will kick the kid’s butt personally for not getting my butt back out on the street, where – after the song and dance of arrest – said butt arguably belongs.
Above the riot of urine impacting water, I chuckle, “Please close the door on the way out. And would you inform the authorities I detest apple? I eat only mom.”
Then I die happy. Because, sensitive about the mom crack (or maybe the pie gets his goat), the kid stabs me in the back.
“You got it!” I gasp, echoing in the bowl, collapsed chin-down on the rim. “That’s all I ask – pass it on. Now you got substance… maybe you too can kick…” and I rattle into the porcelain – born again glad and anxious in the baby between the kid’s ears.
I first recounted this dream at THIEVES JARGON. There was a period in time, not so long ago, a number of my dreams acquired the habit of stealing into that otherwise respectable journal. Dreams are like that – sneaky dirty little reverse pickpockets oozing jargon invented on the spot.