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DISSECTING PESSIMISM

Dreamed 1997/4/14 by Chris Wayan

THAT DAY

Our house is getting owner-evicted. We're poor, and landlords don't want to rent to us, either separately or as a group. But as artists we know how to live on very little; if we pool our savings we have enough to BUY a house--even here in San Francisco, on next to no income. Sounds crazy, but it's that or surrender to the yuppie flood and move out. I was born here and I won't just let them take my home away.

So today our house-buying group toured a place in the Mission District. Three floors with three bedrooms each for $400,000. The basement has an art studio and huge storage area that was once a livable fourth flat, and could be again. Not a pretty house but solid; the owners are contractors, repaired it themselves. None of us LOVE it, but it'll work.

Go home and discuss it over dinner. Make an offer? Three vote yes, but Ron panics, backs out of our group! He won't even consider passively investing so he has the option to move in later. Doesn't have faith in our numbers, thinks we'll go broke.

Months of hunting wasted. We passed up some nice houses that were too small for the four of us, but were ideal for just three. Ron was the richest of us--we three left-overs look bad to the bank. Even if they do okay a smaller loan, prices have risen by now. We may not be able to buy anything at all, thanks to the delay. I feel locked into renting, exploitation, and further evictions.

I'd be mad at Ron but he looks gray, sick, drained. A slave of doubt, fear, inertia. He's teaching me a lesson and I will learn it. No, HAVE learned it. I gave him what I could--lent him the book YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE, worked out the numbers with him showing his present job/commute was a ripoff, added up his investments and lifetime earnings and financial history... With all the facts at hand, if he denies the implications staring him in the face, what more can I do? I feel sorry for him--trapped by fear.

But when our agent Danita hears the bad news, here reaction astonishes me. She laughs and says "This is GOOD. Now you know exactly where you stand: the three of you are serious, you're the ones committed to buying. And your criteria are clear. Sure, the bank loves Ron, but you're perfectly viable without him."

THAT NIGHT

I have an office job in a corporate headquarters. One of my co-workers is a real pessimist. His motto is "You just don't realize how violent and brutal people are." When we fail to agree, he decides it's up to him to prove it. To us all.

So he goes on a murderous rampage through the building--sneak attacks leaving many injured, at least one dead... and so cleverly done that we KNOW it's him but have no legal evidence at all. The cops question him, but can't touch him.

He shows up the next day as usual for work.

He wants to force us to fight back in self-defense--force us to kill him. We're reluctant, but not suicidal--quietly, we all take to traveling in groups, and watching our backs, and carrying odd little items that can be used as weapons: screwdrivers, drill bits, sharp pens. People at work will adapt to anything!

That afternoon he hovers around me, his eyes mocking me silently: "You're next." I won't let that happen. He's larger, stronger. So I must use surprise. I look scared and edge away... then turn and leap on him, and stab him with a drill-bit! He dies bloodily.

And comes back to life.

So I kill him again: a stab to the heart with a ballpoint pen! Mightier than...

But he revives again.

At last, I methodically take him apart with a screwdriver. Not too bloody a task: he's more a mechanical collection of bones and pulleys than a man, and now, by his third death, he's pretty well bloodless. Drained!

And the bitter brain behind it all... I have to crack apart his skull and break the pieces down to the size of quarters before he'll stay dead. I'm very thorough, for I never want to do this again. A dirty horrible job he forced on me--but I refuse to feel guilt and I refuse to be brutalized. He wanted to force us to share his violence. I reject it--and him.

Since his body's disassembled--hell, pulverized!--we just sweep up and bury the bits of him. Scattered, so he won't be able to reassemble, even over decades. We really don't trust Mr. Pessimism to stay dead!

A corporate vice-president sails through and asks about him, and we all say truthfully, "Oh, him? He transferred out."

Out of this life!

NOTES ON WAKING UP

Danita's right. The disassembly of our group feels unpleasant. But it's a necessary, positive death. A good death. And a good lesson.



LISTS AND LINKS: pessimism and doubt - death - nightmares - hunted! - violence - self-defense - heads (and losing them) - assertive dreams - financial dreams - Emily Joy butchers her old self: Bones Don't Lie - a dream of auto-dismemberment: Tibetan Disassembly

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