There is another dream. It “is existing” right now. This is different from “it exists” now.
I set about continuing to flash a light into all the corridors of my dreams even after I am awake. I cannot stress the immediacy and urgency of pushing all of me, conscious, unconscious, all the parts of me soon to be dead, and the parts burning to be alive, into the present tense. If I wander, in the missteps of my writing, into a retrogressive tense or peer into the past, please correct me.
Please correct me now. And don’t forget to check and proofread for my feet are meanderers. My mind strips the moment away little by little in its resistance to acceptance and soon all I can set down in little black lines on the absorptive blotter of the white page are regrets from the past. At least I am thinking straight about what I can do and not what I could or did do. The “did do’s” are not part of this at all. I hope.
The pulse of a blinking searchlight, always blinking to remind me that it is alive to only the present and not trained into a past moment, establishes a cone of awareness in the corners where fleet footed motivations evade me.
The light peels back old paint and exposes the ghost of a soul. Now don’t get too excited or concerned about where I am going with this. I already told you this is meant to harness a blisteringly painful awareness of a section of stolen time that normally cannot be perceived. I think I made that clear when I pushed the present tense into a realm where people just don’t pay a lick of attention.
This is all very complicated and my mind in its tennis match between now and then falters in its mindfulness, yet when I see the now, the gods storm in at a hat’s drop. And then it’s over. It’s easy to miss. That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t like to miss these things. I’ve trained the searchlight.
I can just go ahead and say it. This all really came to a head after a recent death. No matter how mature I think I am, I cannot reconcile death. How can I? It is a complete extinguishing of the moment for another person, often suddenly without warning, in the middle of the night, during sex, on the ski slopes, floating on a glass-bottomed boat in Mexico….
The Stoics say to wake up and prepare for the worst possible occurrences. This includes death, a natural event that is really not that different from the flux all around me. Leaves brown and crumble, apples fall and rot, worms are stepped on, dogs run in front of cars, bullets find crucial arteries, nourishing coronary vessels occlude, phrenic nerves fail to raise the diaphragm…
She was in her house with two of my kids there. Like a stone from the sky she fell into a pewter tub in the middle of the night. I think she dented the tub with her head and never woke up. It feels like that could be in a comic book. There is a dark animation to the cartoon I construct to distance myself from blame.
I loved her. Shit. There I go with the past tense again. Saying I loved her means I don’t love her now and that’s not necessarily true. Can love finally arrive after death? That is the part about her not being here. I go back into the past when I felt love then I start thinking about how it all fell apart and the contempt set in. Then, next thing, the past is on me like a cloudburst and I’m swimming in the morass of the past with the sharks and then I’m staring at the double rows of teeth as fear grips me and then I’m afraid to even go in the water at all.
So where is my searchlight? And why does my waking state feel like a dream? Everything changed suddenly and during that night when her soul stole away a curtain dropped quickly onto the stage in the middle of the performance.
So think about it. Everyone is asleep. She gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and after an agonizing six seconds of crushing chest pressure, she loses consciousness and falls into the grey metallic tub dead. The dog whimpers and climbs in there with her and nestles by her side until my daughter finds her the next morning.
So now this is where I lose my mind. Where did she go? I’m not saying I miss her, but I was attached for quite a while and we’re not talking just an engine shut down or a mollusk drying up in the sun, this is the most precious section of animated love connected to everyone and to God alive and vibrant with the sun and the moon bolstering the energy and all the great depths of the oceans coursing in the bloodstream with eons of pulsing consciousness thriving inside with relentless expression more powerful than the pull of a thousand horses or the roars of all the massive mammals populating the planet captured in a captivating serving of humanness unique within billions and alive just yesterday and now vaporized into nothingness?..
So then a friend of mine offers that she is living in the walls. Just sort of clinging to the exterior of the paint and floating around sifting her smell onto family, knocking over knick-knacks, lighting random candles and spooking everyone into believing they are becoming delusional.
Then I really start to think in an unknowing way with my heart. I say to myself, Ok, just accept this as a random fact, Horatio, because there is more to heaven and earth than I dreamt in your philosophy. I like that quote. It helps me to accept: there are ghosts residing in the wall’s lamellar layers still expressing feeling in the painted walls.
That is quite a statement. I’ve always heard in parlors of gossip that the walls have ears, but this? Then, that means every new paint job traps a new soul, especially when the house is sold after a death, and so, there is this grab-bag of trapped ghosts in the layers of paint like a brick of organ meats in deli head-cheese. I know it sounds crazy. I also have lost quite a bit of faith in science, plus I’ve heard this from more than one source and I can never argue with what I, myself, have seen.
I say “never” after “I can” not because I take “never” literally; I do this as a bulwark against the past encroaching upon “I can.” Without vigilance I drift into complacent “has-beens.” Where the hell is that searchlight?
The smells and voices that were once thought to be hallucinations leave their true stamp even to those with prominently cultured outward dwelling perceptions.
My friends with schizophrenia, manic episodes, Tourettes and OCD take all perceptions as important. Lean into every stimulus and believe absurd connections. That is what they say. When every perception is crucial, then nothing is crucial and connections become an insane playground. I might be venturing close to this but I am really only taking one potentially insane idea and blending it in. This could be construed as progress.
What I’m referring to is not as simple as a hallucination. It is a type of conjuring. Not those in the modern multiplex grindhouses. The fashionably creepy newsreels with found footage and professional hunters stalking the spirit realm, no, they turn out another recycled cotton candy product, haphazardly pieced together with hackneyed lore by committee, known today as sophomoric new millennial pre-post horror. What I’m talking about is none of that, nor can it approach it in the level of pure banality displayed.
The fact is, she is in the walls and the only way to cover her voice is to apply new paint. Even then she becomes a muted trumpet underwater as the school of fish in the tank nearby turn from turquoise to ruthenium gray.
The tendency she exerts will remain and continue to look out from behind the eyes of the oil portraits. When her will exerts itself, beyond the limitations imposed on her soul, a heart shaped balloon will suddenly be caught with a resounding skid in the arms of a no longer revolving ceiling fan. And, as if that weren’t enough, the dog will also attempt to dig under the laundry room sink and rummage through crumbs on the pantry floor feeling a light scratch on his ear while expecting the can opener to unlock a cylinder of wet food.
The fact that she is still in the house cannot be denied.
If another person suggests I am like an onion peeling back the layers I will scream. So what if I believe souls can reside in the fastidious lamellae of the painted walls? Like the morphology of bone, a circular crust develops in the wall near heat sources where fire creates a warming of the knot-holes in the painted wood enveloping virulent vestiges of a soul which can now hide in the prison cell of its own lacuna.
Do you follow how death happens in the past but the imprisonment of a soul’s remains occurs now? This incarceration does not have to be painful, rather an advanced burrowing leads towards a new celestial molecular growth that bypasses ordinary biology and the bloodstream while pondering its persistent attachment to all left behind like a virus stirring along the steps of an insect.
It doesn’t have to painful but I believe it can be.
No matter how much of a positive spin I apply to this I am mercilessly assaulted by an unassailable sadness. The wiles of what still exists in the cracks and interstices of the walls around me unfurl a surreal flag. Sometimes this is imperceptible in the grandiose moment and I must hold fast that perception is relative and subjective and tinged by belief.
In the desperate hours that do not allow for seeing, the walls become blank and translucent like a gossamer nightshirt barely hiding the most supple breasts imaginable.
At precisely this time my obsessive thoughts derive their repose in the milk of intoxicants and that part removed from my will comes to possess a positive stroke of genius for craving the forbidden.
Then it opens up.
This is the golden fragment of time, fleeting in its unfathomable shyness. A moment so difficult to see, yet, also prone to being exposed, in the realm of the right mindfulness, when the cone of the searchlight traps a sound born of a certain color or maybe a crevice in the attic nursing a leak softens into an inhibited pronouncement of that which is hiding within.
An air of vanquished opportunity relishing release.
A soul broadly pinned like a butterfly to the padded white expanse of a new limiting science that no one can explain.
The walls become a new celluloid hide; a voracious skin holding the stunted fantastical insubordinate desires existing in the wildness of frustration.
This deep-rooted failure turns back a melting clock after the bloodsmother and every itch becomes a tick inside the malleable clock of a tortured purgatory.
Nonetheless, the occasional novel explosions come through the dense layers and pile up quickly and in my heart.
I can’t believe latex paint solves anything.
Then there are the filigreed lampshades that feel like skin burgeoning out with the soul’s latticework. Drapes hanging like unspooled threads of flesh in silken rivulets like a reflective pool.
There is a stifling understanding boxed in everywhere when a soul dissipates and this imprisoning allows only drips from the skins fallow tears to haunt other’s thoughts.
All the while the inhabitants of the house left behind sleepwalk through the mist while the searing moonlight preoccupies the same curtains and steals into the low-lit bulbs.
Not even the sheets and the whispers of warm, alive, skin abrading the soft bed covers are protected from the silent sting of the soul’s permeating insinuations into the distorted senses that drive the bereaved indoors.
No matter how hard I push into the now-moment there is no way to comprehend the straight-jacket of disembodiment a soul chisels against while struggling to reopen lines into the animated world.
It could be coming from ten thousand years ago or from a sand castle on Mars. What do I know? I do know for sure, that as I continue to push my own rock and become less able to even begin to break down the afterlife, all the rest of my knowledge falls into a dust bin while I look out at the basketball sun bobbing on the horizon and simply say with great convincing gravity: I don’t know.