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The Red Beast was Happy

Dreamed 1981/11/16; pastel 14x17", drawn 1983/11; by Chris Wayan

I was rather afraid of red before this dream. Too fierce, too intense. Understandable--at the time, I was slowly convalescing from serious illness, and working in a library. My life was all quiet gray walls. This was the first hint a new side of my personality was starting to emerge.

Someone happy--and loud.


An alien visited Earth. We became friends. I joined a student exchange program.

So now Iím the lone human on this alien world. My friend lives nearby; I can visit. Public transit is neglected though. In the dream, I compare San Diego (easy to switch between modes--bus, trolley, shuttles) and Santa Cruz (awkward, uncoordinated). The alien town's more like San Diego. But I'm more aware of awkwardnesses here; feel more vulnerable.

I'm cautious and shy with attractive alien girls on the bus. Don't know the rules of flirting here. Just here? I was as cautious on Earth as most people are when alone in an alien culture.

Walk with my friend. Curious aliens imitate my walk... annoying! I turn around, to stare... they all turn too! I shout "NO! That's WRONG!"

A sage, well, an ordinary but supposedly very grounded/practical person, gives me advice, but I canít absorb it at all. Content yes, meaning no. Intuition's blank. Walk around the block discussing it with my friend. "I worry itís genetic, I CANíT learn it, brain not wired for it..."

My friend's skeptical: "Of course learning takes time!" And just walks ahead. Red creature tall as a cliff grins at a bird girl.

The street becomes a lane, the suburb thins to country. My friend's a good 50 yards ahead now. Strange creatures peer at me over fences. Feel like I'm running the alien gauntlet again. A long-necked species with flat hornless heads--hammerheads? Others have one horn, some two, some more. The longnecks follow me. I make noises. Worried. I don't know how to treat them. Suspect one species is carnivorous or a bloodsucker or some other danger that every farmkid here knows... but I don't. Ignorant alien!

But I get by safely. After all, those critters couldn't be sure what to make of me, either. Ignorance isn't always fatal.

Next, a helpful Narrative Voice leads us up into a nature preserve. Mountains, woods. Could almost be Earth--southern California, maybe. Mt Palomar! Climb to a huge Observatory on the broad summit. Inside, astronomers are debating how to move the telescope and dome! They need to migrate coastward, where the air is cleaner. Not just smog but smoke from Buddhist ceremonies in a great temple at the mountain-foot.

Evening, now. My friend and I sit on a clifftop overlooking a piny canyon. Below, a gigantic red canine beast grins up at us. Elephantine, but fire-engine red!

I ask ďIs that a coyote or a wolf?Ē

Neither, of course. Its own alien thing. I'm still trying to squeeze these folks into familiar slots! And they just won't go.


I remembered that huge red happy beast, but didn't draw it for two full years! By then, I remembered it was a dream image but couldn't find the dream amid the ten thousand in my handwritten journals. The predigital age!

Today, summer 2014, while typing up those early dreams, I stumbled on the source-dream and was able in a single minute to find that picture and reunite image and dream at last. Better yet, it verifies my memory it WAS a dream. Over time, I doubted that. I'll trust my memories more about other images I recall as dreams but can't yet connect to their lost texts.

Psychology now claims memory is unreliable; I haven't found that true.

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