One Night Ten Thousand Nights Ago

One night ten thousand nights ago, in a place so far away that I’ll probably never see it again, I had a dream about a wonderful girl I knew named Kaitland.

I’ll cut right to the chase. Kaitland and I met by accident. We could finish each other’s sentences. We saw ourselves as exceptional beings in an awkward place and forged a fierce friendship, determined to protect, serve, amuse, and inspire one other.

But that was the best we could do, for no matter how brilliant or gifted we might have thought ourselves or each other, neither of us possessed the immense amount of courage required to do anything more than exchange sly glances and witty remarks during our frequent evening walks to nowhere in particular.

I knew she wanted to be more than friends. I mean, I knew, but I didn’t know. You know? What if I was wrong? And what if she resented me for it? I couldn’t bear the idea of Kaitland denying herself to me, so I kept my big mouth shut. Even during those perfect Friday nights when there was no one around but the stars overhead, when we found ourselves in alone convenient corridors of cool, concealing darkness, fresh out of things to say, each of us daring the other to say or do something, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t open my mouth and say what was in my heart. It was a terrible fucking feeling. Everybody’s been in love with someone they couldn’t have. I guess this was no different.

Still, it could have been something. It would have been right, like late night radio, or crop circles. But ten thousand nights later as I sit typing this in the dim glow of a 40-watt bulb, resurrecting painful phantoms to appease the evil whims of my slave-driving editor, none of that really seems to matter now.

One night shortly before I never saw Kaitland again, I had a dream about her. In this dream, she wore a tight black t-shirt that showcased her lean features, her flat stomach, and compact frame. She was on the cross-country team, and she had the greatest legs I’d ever seen. Oddly enough, I dreamed we were running, chasing each other through deep woods and clouds of fog, whispering grass and twitching shadows, headed toward a moonlit clearing and the patient face of an abandoned farmhouse. Breathless and giggling, we chased each other through the musty echoes and vacant halls before colliding with the far wall of an empty room.

Visualize it as a movie if it helps you to understand. In this scene, WE SEE: ‘bodies pressed together,’ WE HEAR: ‘laughter fading away,’ WE FEEL: ‘sexual electricity in the air, buzzing and crackling like a Tesla coil.’ I could smell her long black hair, so soft, sweet, and clean. There was light coming from somewhere, and her blue eyes were illuminated in the darkness. After a few moments of sly talk, we reached a unanimous, albeit strange decision – I was going to snort cocaine off her bare skin. Don’t ask me why, or where I got the coke. It was a dream.

With a sweet smile, this beautiful girl; this brilliant chess player; this amazing endurance runner; this otherworldly creature, this loyal friend, I did something I’d fantasized about seeing her do for as long as I’d known her. She undid the button of her brown cargo shorts, hooked her thumbs in the empty belt loops, and gently swayed them down across her tender hips. Holy fuck! I felt the Jolt of secret delight and pleasure so rich that it forgives us our jaded emotions, the Jolt that says PAY ATTENTION, THIS MOMENT MATTERS.

More sensory overload to follow –- as I lay in my bed sound asleep, projecting one of the greatest dreams of my life onto the silver screen of my twitching eyelids, I watched those shorts glide down her muscled thighs. I heard the fabric caress smooth skin on the way down to her ankles. And I felt her hand grasp the back of my neck, leading me toward her, pushing my head down toward her waist as she eased herself to the scarred wooden floor.

“Loneliness is the first crime,” she whispered. I don’t know why she said it. It was a dream, people say weird shit in dreams. But it fit somehow. The moment felt like something we’ve all probably seen in the movies.

I coaxed the little baggie open, and just as I was preparing to lick grains of pure white Colombian sand from her sun-kissed shores with the hungry surf of my tongue, the door SLAMS open and in storms a camera crew.

But not just any camera crew. Hell, no. Not in my dream. The camera operators, hair stylists, sound techs, boom operator, set photographers – everybody was dressed in these weird costumes of black PVC, and covered in blinking lights, pieces of computers and little bits of metal hanging off at odd angles. Some of the masks partially covered their faces, and some of them had lamps on their heads. (*) There might have been an actual hierarchy somewhere in all of this – forgive me for not taking notice, I was a little preoccupied.

Next came a string of starved supermodels – an outlandish parade of perfect mouths, angular cheekbones, garish lighting, tousled hair, inhumane diets, the whole works. They entered ‘on the clock’ – working it, making love to the camera, barking out insane demands for bottled water, practicing their emotions, pouting on cue, and doing all those things that models do on walkways in places so wild no one really bothers to look at the price tag, they just buy what they like.

You should have seen Kaitland’s expression. She was pissed. Fortunately, I hadn’t put out more than a quick dusting, so we lapped our fingers like children at an icing bowl and wandered off in search of a more secluded locale.

In a dim corner of a hayloft that hadn’t known a cool breeze in many years, she took my hand in hers and smiled at me. “So,” was all she said. I guess that’s all she had to say, but in that one word, I heard everything I’d ever wanted from her.

“So,” I echoed. This was it. I can’t tell you enough how amazing this girl really was. She was perfect, as only dreams can be. It was like a picnic lunch in the heart of the sun, or a blind man seeing every beautiful thing in the whole world all at once, but just once.

Some of the models entered, looking for a quiet place to be bulimic, but we didn’t notice. By then the coke was gone, and we were deep in the Mania, devouring one another. I was lost somewhere inside her, fading into her hair, lost in her kiss, drifting in her arms, drowning in the heat of her skin, never happier…

A firm hand jerks my head back, and a digitized voice in my ear shouts, “I NEED A PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU! YOUR CHEEKBONES ARE WORTH PRESERVING ON FILM!” I glimpsed what looked like an over-sized mechanical hummingbird in the photographer’s left hand before he thrust it to my face, where it attached itself with a loud sucking noise.

Somewhere outside and still trapped beneath me, Kaitland screamed my name. My fingers gripped down hard on hers. I could hear her shouting something, but could not reply. My heart was pounding from the coke.

A large, rubber-coated, mechanical tongue forced its way down my throat, the tail of which snapped open to allow for the proper flow of oxygen. Another part of the mask began a series of retina scans; prying open my eyelids with tiny hooks and waving little wands of light across them, like a Xerox copier. Blood, hair, and skin samples were extracted with microscopic drills and tiny scissors. Kaitland was still screaming, terrified. Her legs clamped tight around my ribs, suffocating me. I couldn’t breathe. I could hear a high-pitch whirring in my ears, and the sound seemed to vibrate throughout my skull like hair clippers clattering and bouncing against the inside of my brain pan. Tiny steel fingers fluttered and thrashed against the sides of my head as the mask thing fought for a handhold, tiny servos whining and shrieking as it struggled to keep itself upright.

“YOU HAVE TO HOLD STILL!” The photographer was shouting to be heard over the angry buzz of the machine. “OTHERWISE, IT WON’T GET A GOOD SCAN AND WE’LL HAVE TO SHOOT THE WHOLE THING AGAIN!”

I’d like to end tale this by telling you that Kaitland and I eventually got together, did coke, had sex, shared a coffee, kissed, or at least admitted to one another that we wanted to sleep with each other in the first place.

But I can’t.


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