Dreamed 1988/1/26 by Chris Wayan
I'm walking toward the Palo Alto train station... nervously. It's a rough neighborhood these days. Outside the station, a guy walks up, points at the 1-kilo jar of Vitamin C I'm carrying, and says "Gimme that." I slowly realize he thinks it's a drug. He and all his friends hanging around the station are junkies.
I say "It isn't what you think" and open the jar and eat a large pinch of it to show if it's a drug it must be pretty weak. I say "It's a nutritional additive" rather than say it's vitamin C specifically. I wonder why?
He tastes a pinch and his face prunes up. "Shit, that's sour!" He believes me--no drug is that acidic. "You put it in sweet juices and stuff" I say, but he's already walking away. The train pulls in and I ride away...
...to meet my mom and her co-workers in their drug rehab center. She's on the board of directors. I meet them all at dinner. My father's not there, and my mom's WAY more forceful than I've ever seen her. Livelier too. I always thought she was an introvert who held my dad back, but it's clear now the opposite is true.
She leads me through the clinic to a ward where a man's going through withdrawal. He lies in a dark room, on rugs and pads. I think of the junkie who wanted my C: at that moment she says "We've heard that certain vitamins and minerals can help reduce stress of cold-turkey withdrawal, but we don't have the details yet." I've studied the new data, and want to say "Calcium ascorbate and pure C in neutral pH proportion seem to block opiate withdrawal seizures" but I feel timid--finally, hesitantly, I start to say a little and she says "Shhhh, technically you're not supposed to be here at all." I shut up so I won't get caught.
Whoops! Now my mom has changed into the nurse from that surrealist PBS show "The Singing Detective," and the addict is the lead from that show--a cynical writer, bedridden with a hideous rash...
Uh-oh! Now I've BECOME that sour artist, writhing on the rug. I feel a horrible craving for something outside me--it GNAWS at me--it really feels like possession! An evil thing inside my bones, that must be fed. What is it though? It's no DRUG I'm addicted to--it's a vibration--a particular vibration--
The sound of a train in the distance.
That's my addiction!
It's in my bones at first--that sound--and at first I feel the high--a pleasure so intense it's sexual--but then it becomes a deeper vibration, a shaking, a thrashing as I crave more... and then the demon's real. I'm POSSESSED.
Yet I feel I'm faking it, inhaling and croaking to create the grotesque demon-voice, consciously trying to alarm the staff with it. Yet.. its powers are quite real. The room shakes and poltergeists snatch things and smash them--huge cruel air-fingers all over the room. The nurses clear the room of breakables, restrain me with pillows, and watch... and use their own psychic powers to keep a lid on. The staff have powers too!
I go completely psychotic. I'm not myself any more, just a wild, raving force... a force so strong their containment fails. I melt down! I shake the house until the vibration inside me loosens walls, and windows pop and shatter, and the house crashes in.
More than this house! Rubble-heaps, all down the block.
I come to myself again, sitting in mud and rocks and pipes and broken glass... still shaking. Cops and rehab people and firetrucks ring the block, to keep the poltergeists and tremors and fires from spreading.
A long, slow convalescence. I deliberately stay ignorant. Protect myself by not looking--keep my ego underground, in protective storage, under a layer of rubble! This keeps it away from the Addiction, which still flares up in flashbacks.
At last I dare to I go inside, where the Ego sits in its blind bombshelter, blocked from action or information. Above us, faint voices. The Board. The other parts of me! They're debating what to do with me, how to handle the situation, how to keep me in the dark, in protective custody, till the flashbacks are over... or at least too weak to smash city blocks... They promise I will improve... over time.
I wake, feeling shaky. But believing them.
In Paul Simon's song "Train in the Distance", the distant rumble and lonely whistle means the restless American search for something better, that drives both bonding and breakups, creativity and destruction.
But it's also literal. I was recording an original song today. But something was wrong--I heard a strange throb in my head. Fatigue? No, it changed when I moved around the room. My stereo! I tightened screws and plugs, grounded everything, but the hum stayed. Finally it whistled and faded: it was a slow freight train passing, miles away, making the whole room vibrate! I hadn't even recognized the call of the Train in the Distance.
I dream of a family that locks a madwoman away in their attic forever, because she was embarrassing.
So just how benevolent IS my Board of Directors? Or... benevolent but wrong? They didn't even know about Vitamin C... any more than that junkie on the street.
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