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TWO-HEADED BEAST

Dreamed 1997/7/31 by Chris Wayan

THAT EVENING

I asked my dreams a question. I found myself repeating it till it looped and turned into a blues tune. I don't have sound on this site, but you can fill in the bass line booming "da DAH-da dum" in the black black walls between every panel of my comic-strip lament:

Broke up 8 months ago. Won't date anyone new. Panic whenever... push comes to shove. So I ask my dreams:

That night, I was answered. But I don't understand. I don't understand.
1943. The Black Forest. Hitler's secret lab: Castle Frankenstein! A lone, hooded figure approaches in the rain...

Inside the gate, it pulls off the rain-cape to reveal a woman with a long face, small chin, and large intelligent eyes, her hair coiled up. She wears a long maroon gown, from a century before. "Elmer?" she calls.

"Mary!" The voice comes from a little bald man in a lab coat, who comes running down the stone stair to embrace her. "Have you... decided?"

"Elmer, the truth is... I'm torn. I think I love you, but..."

Elmer Fudd-Frankenstein, profile, anxious. Elmer Frankenstein shows us his three teeth. The little man bows his head and tears his nonexistent hair.

"It's... it's because I'm 'Toonish, isn't it? But I'm loyal, Mary! Loyal to the Reich!"

He thinks, and, like a small child, his mood shifts to cheerfulness. He smiles open-mouthed. "And look! I have THREE teeth! How many Germans, 'Toon or not, have ANY teeth, after the bombings and famines?"

Mary stalks to a Gothic window and stares out at the storm.

Mary Shelley stares moodily  out a gothic window, as Elmer Fudd peers at her

"Oh, Elmer, it's not your geekiness, or your gums, or even your loyalty I doubt. Mine, maybe..."

Elmer Frankenstein lit by lightning



Lightning strikes the tower above with an instant CRASH. The white glare through the window bounces on the stone floor, underlighting Elmer's great baby-face so he looks even more like a caricature.

But behind him, the switches and electrodes ominously gleam: Elmer Frankenstein is a 'toon with power.

"Mary! Do YOU think I'm mad, too? Mad to create my Beasts?"

Mary paces, half-blind till she encounters walls, putting her hand up to stop herself as if she's a boat in a current...
Mary Shelley muses whether life should be created.



"Mad? No." Her pacing seems random, but she gradually drifts nearer and nearer the dark cage. "But--moral? Should such monsters BE, Elmer?"

Elmer jumps like a child, arms flailing in excitement till he and his lab coat form a little white dancing star.

"Ask them! Mary, ask the beasts yourself! Am I fit to wed? Ask...

my last...
my best...
my Two-Headed
BEAST!"

Mary thinks "Ask the beast? Dear God! Poor Elmer. "Two-headed"? I almost wish it were. But I'll go on--drink madness to the dregs--"

She steps firmly to the bars of the dark, recessed cage, and faces the thing inside. Mary says:

O beast, shall I be the Bride of Frankenstein?

The Beast opens its jaws and laughs "Marry him? He's a nut case!"

Mary gasps "It CAN talk! He's created--mein GOTT! What's THAT?"

Eyes.

Eyes have opened in the great wolf's chest, staring at Mary Shelley through the matted fur. A second great toothy mouth opens and the face in the wolf's breast speaks, in a deep voice resonant as a cello: "His heart's loving. Marry him!" The wolf's head, above, bares its yellow fangs and growls. But Mary doesn't hear... Mary Shelley converses with a two-brained wolf; the face in its chest urges her to marry its creator.

"Two... two... two heads in one! He's a genius! He's SANE!" Mary clasps her hands and twirls in relief, her dress flaring into a great disk, dominating the shadow lab, brushing against the great slab of the operating table. She steadies herself and whispers "Yet the heads disagree! Well, I'll follow... I'll follow the voice of the heart."

The Beast utters a hissing laugh and says "I bet you will. But when head and heart can't agree... only a fool commits."

But the voice in its chest slides in sweet and deep: "...or a lover." Challenging the head!

Mary snarls back at the Beast. "Why do you warn me against Elmer? He's raised you up from a beast to a Mensch!"

"Lady," says the narrow-eyed head, "I'm a dog of war. Head full of teeth and suspicions, not philosophy. I'm savage--a perfect guard..." but again his second face chimes in: "but Herr Doktor Elmer Frankenstein gave me new eyes and a bigger, deeper mind, hidden in my heart..."

Elmer pounds up like an eager dog and says "Yeah, isn't he great? My best monster yet!"

The portrait of Adolf on the wall winks and whispers "Ja, my best!" With his eyes on Elmer, not the Beast.

Mary Shelley kneels before the cell, her hands on the bars. The beast crouches by her and bows its head, baleful eyes closed in shame. But the face in its chest looks her in the eye and says "How can I serve a Master Race that denies my menschlichkeit--my soul--after forcing it on me?"

Troubled, the great beast rears, standing tall as a man, its forepaws touching Mary's on the bars. She does not flinch at its fearsome claws. The beast's head says slowly "Mary Shelley... lover of grotesques..." Mary Shelley faces the two-headed beast.

Its heart fills in the end: "You must tell him what to do. He can't tell them NO. Creation is his... drug."

And Mary? "His drug, his mistress! Oh, I know her, Beast--from inside. I, too, crave Creation. She blinds me to all else--to give life to such as you, I'd let the Führer use me too--like poor Werner von Braun!" And she sighs and looks down on Elmer's button-mushroom head. "Ah, Gott! The four of us! The Mad Genius, the Two Beasts in One... and I, the fool who loves you all! Together, we'd barely make one sorry mensch!"

Elmer tugs on Mary's dress like a toddler. "Gosh! Y'mean I should quit workin' for th' Fuhrer?" Mary sits on the floor, and little Elmer lays his head in her lap, scratching his five hairs in bewilderment. "Golly, wouldn't that be kinda ungrateful? He gave me this neat lab an' all..."

Mary sighs and straightens his lab coat. "Love... you've wrought a miracle here! But we must take the beast, and go. Alone in your tower, you've missed the dark rumors that flow from a place called... Dachau."

Above him, in the dark, the savage head whispers...

The Beast tells Elmer Frankenstein 'Doktor, open your cage.'
The dream began to fade before he chose. But I knew. For my genius may be childish--even mad... But once a question's posed...

I close my eyes, sink back under, and see a great sign, hanging by iron chains from the lab from the laboratory dome above the heads of Elmer and Mary and the Two-Headed Beast. The sign poses the question:

A sign hangs over me, saying AM I JUST TOO CRAZY TO LOVE?
Elmer Frankenstein, Mary Shelley and the Two-Headed Beast flee Hitler.

I think "Does that question mean... too crazy to love another? Or to be lovable? Or to accept love? I don't understand, I don't understand!"

In my last glimpse of Castle Frankenstein, set like a toy amid the dark pines, I see three dolls: a woman, a child in white, and a dog-doll out of scale, the size of a horse, running down the hill together.

Over the dark pinewood gropes a long cloudy arm, a god's arm, clad in black and tan--gigantic, terrible, clutching... but blind.

And, in the end... insubstantial.


HEADNOTES


Portrait of the real Mary Shelley

Some things I do understand.



LISTS AND LINKS: dream incubation - Frankenstein - Elmer Fudd - another dream of Mary Shelley - my boyfriend's Adolf Hitler - dream homes - castles and towers - mad inventors and laboratories - menageries and zoos - wolves - monsters - heads - animal rights and uplift - animal people - creativity - the Id - love - a second dream of wolves and 'Toons: Three-Eyed Wolf - pencil art - picture-stories

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