My dreams have taken a turn to the aweless waste. When formerly I could traverse the dreamscape of candywine waterfalls and purple glory sunrises with consistency, the night journeys have descended into the dimensions of the mundane. And excessively so, my waking life begins to beg the attention I normally reserve for the infinite. Long before the day breaks, I ascend the ladder towards consciousness with hope and dignity. My time under the sun is spent hidden from its view, tied away beneath asphalt protection and drop ceilings. My legs are bent beneath faux wood and busy desk calendars, those obsolescent reminders of rigid daily boundary. A wire framed box of things-to-do awaits me at the corner of an unnecessary desk.
There once was a woman from Exeter. Judith, I believe her name was. I met her in a trendy hat shop among the towering spires of cardboard cylinders. It was not a dramatic set of circumstances that led to our collision, just a random rotation of repeated events pressed off center and allowing the odd page to bleed through and obscure the word we were trying, mutually, to focus on and read. Judith was a sandwich artist from East Kingston Way; she had five cats and a drawing board made from oak. I asked about her canary, to which she replied, “He has the heat.” It was less than I had expected. Judith’s family worked in coal, and seven of the men in a direct line of ascendancy had died of ennui.
I found this amusing, and the sound of my chuckling, wafer-thin as it was, must have fallen heavily upon her unhatted cranium. She left me there in that shop, alone and without.
Judith’s path crossed mine again, as was to be expected, on the fifth of a blustery January, the year of which I am uncertain. She smiled through a painted window advertisement at my predicament near the pastry counter of the coffee shop I had intended to offer custom to that morning. After several moments of attempting to discern whether her glance was my imagination, the pastries offered were quickly denied to me, and, again, I was left alone and without.
The truth of Judith’s passing, which met my knowledge several weeks following the pastry incident, came with a hint of peppermint. While I certainly enjoyed the freshness of the tale, it wore bland through repeated chewing. I found her tombstone unfashionable and verbose. On it I scribbled:
Here lies a speaker of truths.
I adopted the canary and keep it taped up inside a cigar box I purchased through a container dealer from Papua New Guinea. He had an infatuation with The Orb, which I immediately found suspect. The cigar box was shipped in another of its kind, though slightly larger to allow for a pleasant rattling when shook. The canary enjoys the peace of boundaries and sings to my delight. I surgically removed the coal from his purpose of mind and together we intend to reinvent the octagon.
When I turned fifty-three, I found Judith alive and well. I had been visiting Europe at the time, but was on vacation in Odinsburg, Nebraska when I ran into her. Her Toyota was rendered obsolete by the excessively large farm truck I continued to insist was needed for the wealth of manual labor I pushed off onto immigrants. Neither of us was injured in the meeting, but I drew courageously from a well of confidence the wherewithal to accuse her of theft. She immediately swore that the tombstone had not been her idea; that it came with the plot of land she had stolen from a vicar’s wife. I found the story aweless.
Judith, likewise, found it necessary to accuse me of kicking her in the back while she was squatting to urinate, though I never witnessed the ordeal. We have Western style toilets in the haunts I exorcise. The ruse had come full circle by that time, and with magnanimous and cocksure aplomb, I removed her mask only to find the face of the canary.
It was the last time I remember dreaming.