I’ve been sleeping on the couch quite a bit lately. No, I’m not on-the-outs with the wife. But we have just ceased swaddling our infant son, and he is still waking up several times in the middle of the night, desperately searching for his pacifier. And after five or six of these performances a night, I began crashing on the couch in between cries, grabbing an hour or so when I can (I do have a talent for this — give me a hardwood floor and twenty minutes and I will be asleep in four, dreaming in five, and completely refreshed in the remaining fifteen).
But it is the morning cat naps that produce the most terrifying and memorable dreams.
As is usual, it begins at my parent’s home. I am looking out the front window in the driveway. Behind a heather-gray Honda sits a strange vehicle: a cross between a motorcycle and a helicopter. It has two wheels, obscured mostly by a sleek red, metal exterior. Two bat-like wings project form the sides, and a dome of tinted black glass like you would find above the cockpit of a fighter plane rests atop the body.
I turn around and they are standing there, in my parent’s kitchen. A squadron of Korean women in strange jumpsuits. One pockmarked Korean man stands behind the counter, smiling and gesturing towards something. “What are you selling?” I demand.
And before my eyes the women converge and begin working. I can see in between the quickness of their arms a deluge of colors and thorns. Within moments, one of the women turns around to unveil a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Not one or two dozen, but dozens of dozens. Abundant varieties.
“Who sent this?” I ask.
The same woman flips her palm up to reveal a card. I read out-loud the names of my cousins. There is no occasion given.
At the bottom of this card is a number. With a dollar sign to the left of it. “$2,437.”
The man speaks up now, asking if I would like to pay for it, or if I would like to bill the sender?
I leave the negotiating to my father, while I return to the window to view again the amazing vehicle on which this team of florists has arrived.
When I return to the kitchen it seems we have reached an arrangement. A very overweight seven-year old boy now stands in the place of the gang of horticulturalists. He has short, black hair, and a mean face. My father has already given him a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and it is now covering his face like a parasite. I despise him immediately.
While reaching for a towel to clean off his face, he takes off running. Up one flight of stairs, then another, then another. My childhood home suddenly contains no less than six floors.
I catch up to him and grab him by the collar. I tear at his hair. I slap his smug face. “What are you doing?!”
A scream. I run down the stairs. My father is standing in the living room, his face awash in blood. It is slowly turning paler and paler, as his eyes begin to bulge. I frantically begin attempting to remove the strange metal device that is snapped shut around his neck. Once released, he gasps for air, and attempts to steady himself on a chair. His face is a bloodied mess of scar tissue.
I awake in a panic to the sounds of a gurgling and happy baby. “Bah bah bah bah…”
I throw the thin blanket from off my shoulders and sit up. I stretch. I reach for my glasses, haphazardly tossed onto the floor. I open his bedroom door and turn on the hot water for his bottle. I look in the crib. He is smiling.