Excerpt from Wake Up In The Dreamhouse
The following is an excerpt from the novella Wake Up In The Dreamhouse, available as a paperback or an ebook via Amazon:
He awakes one morning, still nameless, in a riverside dreamhouse, along the banks of the Wye.
He's always known he'd end up living here along this river, the Wye, sharing his destiny with the Wye, asking the Wye for guidance.
The guy is perpetually amiss.
But the pensive waters of the Wye soothe his downward glance. Everywhere he looks is river and trees. Enough to dampen sorrow. The whole place is like a dream house.
"What does that signify, to wake up in a dreamhouse?" he wonders, "anchored to the Wye?"
It is here, in his perfect loneliness, that he will mix his elixir, a synergy drink, an approximate ambrosia, nothing but love.
"They flee from me that sometime did me seek," he quotes with knowing oldness, incapable of oblivion, ever soaked in the presence of memory.
He knows he will always only be but one of many. He gets that. He loves her anyway. He knows she will always only do whatever she wants.
It hardly matters 'cause she lost interest in him long ago. He's just remembering. Eyes on the Wye. Clinging to a ghost.
He just woke up in this dreamhouse and suddenly the past becomes as present as anything. Now memories are entities.
He is fully prepared for none of this to be real.
Perhaps it is the gray sky, perhaps the blistering wind, but his sense of heaven cannot complete itself under these conditions.
His little life is rounded with a sleep.
"I woke up in this dreamhouse facing the Wye, though I used to be someone somewhere else," he says but can't remember who or where.
He's never able to decide which book to read next.
Every decision bears the twin tinges of promise and disappointment.
Besides, whenever he tries to read, the words just always look like gibberish.
All except for Finnegans Wake.
He thumbs the pages, looking for his name but doesn't know where to start. Maybe it'll jump out at him. Like her face when he first saw her.
The way her face didn't fit her name.
If he could only find his name perhaps he'd be able to recognize his own face.
In the meantime, he asks the Wye for illumination. And consults Finnegans Wake as a secondary reference.
He doesn't own a mirror.
Sometimes he looks at a picture of her and pretends it's a mirror.
He sings to himself, "I don't care who I am anymore," dishonestly, counting the times he's made this same claim and gone back on it.
He really should be doing something else, something other than watching the river and obsessing over some dumb girl.
He really should be at work in his laboratory, concocting a satori serum for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
He really should be practicing his art with a bratty passion like Achilles.
He really shouldn't be lost in female foghood.
But she's a magnet like gravity and so his thoughts always fall into her vortex.
A long time ago he sat in a room alone and wasted his time watching television. Now he sits alone in his dreamhouse watching the Wye.
He prefers to be alone and doing his work, the work of salvation.
He has something he wants to say but no one to say it to.
"Loneliness is love without an object" is what he wants to say.
Jesus must've been lonely as hell. Loving everybody is the same as loving nobody. This thought crosses his mind whenever it rains.
He imagines a world without locks.
We'll know everything's fine, he thinks, when there is no need for locks. Locks are a unique signature of the fallen world.
Even in the sweet dreamy dreamhouse he remains a slave to shoulda-fucked paralysis, a perverse nostalgia.
He shoulda fucked so-and-so.
But he never knows where to start.
He only knows that every artist must dedicate himself to a faithful transcription of the unfolding cosmos. Otherwise, why bother?
The universe is a girl.
His entire mode of being is geared to this truth.
And he's got to be, like, a man in the midst of all that yoni holiness. He doesn't know if he's got the muscle to hold his own amongst it.
At nightfall he turns away from the Wye and explores, for the first time, his dream house.
All the walls are lined with books he's either read or has pretended to read.
Every room should be a library.
Every room should have comfortable sleeping arrangements.
He's glad he doesn't have any servants because he wouldn't know what to have them do. "You guys can just hang out if you want," he'd say.
Instead, he's alone in this dreamhouse, surrounded by books and silence and internet porn.
It's a secret between God and him and whoever else is listening.
He appreciates the fact that he can sleep in any room of the dream house.
Every room should be a version of the afterlife.
Even though it is dark he can still hear the Wye. He likes to listen to the Wye. The Wye is ever present in his dream house.
Although he talks a lot about Gravity's Rainbow, the great inside joke is that he's never actually read it. He just likes the title.
A perfect title is recompense for imperfect content.
A perfect title operates like a fortune cookie.
A perfect title is as important as the work of art itself.
He has never understood why anybody on earth thinks the game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" is fun. What the fuck? It is the stupidest-ass game.
He knew from the start he was not the love of her life, but he was willing to be indelibly temporary with her 'cause she was perfect for him.
He made an agreement with himself to suffer the loss bravely once she moved on because, he told himself, it was totally worth it.
He could swear, in the dark, that his dreamhouse isn't in Wales but at the Tar Pits.
He hasn't seen his own dick in a really long time 'cause it's, like, why bother.
His dick ain't nothing but a spigot for waste.
He is like those slugs you see making their mucus-like way across acres of crabgrass.
Girls are, like, "Ew, gross, go away" when he approaches, even if it's only to order a quarter-pounder with cheese and a diet coke.
Luckily he can protect his puny sexual ego with distractions like internet porn and late-night infomercials.
That way, he doesn't have to face his own inadequacy. Everything becomes a mirage in the desert of his own making.
His ego is even smaller than his dick. And that's saying a lot.
The dude can't even remember his own name.
He doesn't know where to start.
He just sort of woke up here. But what had he been dreaming? That might be a good place to start.
Had he been dreaming he was mixing an elixir like formaldehyde?
Mixed with the proper amount of Wye water, his elixir would unlock a hidden love for everyone. It's just a matter of dosage.
Had he been dreaming about some blue jays at the Tar Pits?
Had he been dreaming he was trying to read Finnegans Wake again?
Had he been dreaming of some girl's knuckles?
Had he been dreaming of deprivation in the desert, a punishing Mojave?
Had he been dreaming of only oneness?
Had he been dreaming of standing in line at the bank?
Had he been dreaming of frozen ocean?
Had he been dreaming of when he used to get invited to parties?
He first felt old when there was no one left alive who remembered what he was like when he was a baby.
He can't recall what he did with his laboratory.
"I must've left it somewhere," he thinks, "or somewhere else."
He lies on his back and stares at the ceiling. He hears a voice in the air singing, "Will you ride the great white bird into heaven?"
The ceiling has patterns he can make into faces.
They always eventually become monster faces or profiles of old people.
Another illusion to use as a mirror.
Had he been dreaming of an apocalyptic ending to the world, the last days of life on earth and everybody knowing?
Something had gone wrong with the sun and human beings would not be able to survive the cataclysm. The panic rose slowly and repeated itself.
Was that the essence of what he'd been dreaming? Waiting with resignation for the end?
"I didn't think I'd be alive to witness this . . ."is what he might have been thinking about in the dream, "I thought it was the stuff you only think about in dreams."
He believes he used to get invited to parties and even had a few friends, though their names have faded, much like his own.
He never takes off his clothes.
He sleeps, on the couch, in his clothes. He showers in his clothes.
He never takes off his clothes because he wants to be ready in case someone comes over. But no one ever comes over.
He tells himself there's always a first time.
This is an argument he's heard for the existence of God: There's always a first time. He doesn't buy it though. No one will ever come over.
Occasionally he has to change his clothes, but he spends the whole time worrying, "What if somebody comes over while I'm changing?"
He didn't bring anything to eat with him. Now what does he do? Where does one find food along the Wye? Maybe food is unnecessary, he thinks.
"I will live on river water and the mineral-rich air," he says out loud all alone in the kitchen of his dream house.
He doesn't know how he got here.
Whenever he bends down to pick something up he can smell himself.
That's when he knows it's time to change his clothes.
He wants to smell nice. In case someone comes over.
If a girl comes over he'll suggest a variety of possible activities such as doggy-style and reverse cowgirl.
"Girls aren't true," he says to himself in the dark, choosing to sit in a room full of book smell, listening for the Wye, hearing birds.
Birds are better than girls. Birds are true. Birds aren't always trying to find something better. Birds aren't drawn to the immediate.
He listens to birds and wants to say, "Birds don't fly away," but they do, and he knows it.
"Fuck birds, fuck girls, fuck everything. Life is wrong," he says out loud to himself.
He only talks to himself out loud when he's in the kitchen. Especially when he can't remember why he came into the kitchen.
"Why did I come in here?" he's prone to ask himself as soon as he enters the kitchen. Often he can't remember.
Without food it's not really a kitchen.
He keeps lots of cookbooks in the kitchen and also books about the afterlife, so it's more like a library, the way all rooms should be.
Books are more important than food.
Books nourish the eternal.
Sometimes he thinks about eating the cookbooks.
But for now he eats the air and drinks the Wye and meditates on reality. Reality is worse than girls.
Reality is a bastard whore built on rumor and falsehood, nothing more than a taunt, a double-cross, an innuendo.
Girls are always trying to find something better.
Girls always have to pee.
Girls are more useless than a kitchen without food.
Girls should be more like libraries or the afterlife.
Girls are mostly trying to impress other girls.
Girls don't know what they want but they know that they want it.
Girls pretend to care about shit, but they don't give a shit about shit unless it fucks them right and buys them shit.
He has learned this in his solitude.
Copyright 2011 by Barry Smolin. All Rights Reserved