By Robert Spotswood

The dream that I had on January 30 had no external prompting except for a conversation that occurred on the 29th, the subject: "Black Women" .

The setting was, oddly, since I never spent that much time there, Berkeley. It was Shattuck Ave. as it was in the seventies. In this dream, I own a bookstore on the Avenue, that carries a lot of things in addition to books: jewelry, gem supplies, and it seems to sell lunch­it has cafe tables. I have two shop girls, both highly devoted to me, both ugly as homemade sin, as mud fences.

In the late Berkeley evening, as raucous party mongers stagger in the neon, I decide to burglarize my own shop. No reason disclosed by the dream, but it feels right. We go in, me and the shop girls; their pasty white faces are like mole- pocked hillsides, their guns and crowbars are clutched in greasy hands. The lights are still on, and two cafe tables are occupied: the one nearest the door by a Yuppie couple. The girls immediately shoot them both in the heads.

" Well, you've pretty well buggered us now. I'll give you that." I shout at the girls. They both hang their heads.

At the other table is Frenchy from the Humboldt county bush, still bearded, wearing a wool hat and a dirty wool shirt which strains to hold in his potbelly. He's laughing uproariously.

" You'll have to do him," says one of the girls. She hands me a little .25 Walther automatic, like the one registered to me that the cops snatched from Frenchy so many years ago. I put it to the top of his head and pull the trigger. It misfires, and the slide jams. One of the girls gives me a hammer. Frenchy's head is now like a Mason jar with a glass top. I bash him, and nuts and bolts fly all over the floor.

" He's done", say the girls, " we're going home."

They leave.

I go out to my car parked on the street. Frenchy is sitting there, good as new. A beautiful, tall, black girl wearing a black silk dress is sitting the back, smiling. Frenchy smirks, " I wanna burglarize your shop again. You kinda owe me now." Then he says, tossing his head toward the back seat, " She goes everywhere I go, now."

"Well, all right then," I say. We go back in, and Frenchy immediately finds a box of jeweler's scraps, fragments of gold and silver, mixed with a few gem stones.

" Ha" , he says, "I always wanted to fix some gold." He pulls out a little box, like a crucible, with wires coming out of it. He dumps in some gold and silver. While it heats up, he gets his rig and spoon ready. As he puts the mix, like quicksilver, into the spoon, I give him a small ruby, and he puts it in. It melts, and, miraculously, draws up, no cotton required. He wraps a condom around his arm and starts to fix.

" Massage my rump", says the girl to me. She pulls up her skirt, no underwear; she has a world-class hind end. I reach out, and, as I touch her, an alarm goes off. It's my fucking clock, which I never use, but had to set this morning to get an early start; it's critical to get to the Gas eight-thirty and give them some money, or they'll cut me off.

I lay there in the Hawaiian morning, light coming in like liquid flesh through the louvered windows. I turn the clock off. As I swim to semi-consciousness, the Gas co. no longer occupies my thoughts, instead, I count up the months (three) since my ex-girlfriend became an ex. I have a hard on, that is, like the Mexicans say, " Mas duro que la madera." A phrase usually accompanied by the gesture of holding the elbow with a crooked arm.

Well, I have to get to it. I dress and throw down a cup and stagger out into the honey light. I take the bike, the shadow, down a street that turns into Hualali road. Near the bottom, my gas-low light comes on, and I pull into the Chevron station.

I gas up. As I reach for the key to start the bike, a figure minces up to me. He is a sight almost predictable this morning: the broad shouldered, oriental dwarf that stalks through town with several packs on his back. He now wears shorts and a clean tee shirt and sports a messy Van Dyke beard and close-cropped hair. He looks at me with flecks of foam on his lips.

" Mabunda!" he says.

The people next to us, who were preparing to get out of their car, apparently change their minds and drive off.

" Mabunda" , repeats the dwarf, " eeho an ipswitch. UNA!" he points to the parking lot, and says more calmly, " last night."

" Really?" I say.He nods.

" Scared me!" he says.

" What scared you?"

" UNA! UNA!" He starts waving his arms.

" You mean One?" I ask. He shakes his head, points. " UNA!" he bellows.

" Well, Ok", I say, " Things aren't what they used to be, that's for sure." I start the bike. He backs off, arms outstretched, packs dangling.

I'm in the Gas co. office with people sitting around the room holding wadded scraps of paper in their hands. No one is standing at the counter, on either side. Against the wall, amazingly, is standing a uniformed guard, with a gun. I turn to a local guy sitting in the next chair, " Are you guys planning to make off with some petroleum?" I ask. He sniggers and shakes his head. No response, expression, or vibration of any kind comes from the guard.

Out of the office comes this apparition: the girl who used to work at Helco (I'm always behind on my utilities so she knows me.) "Can I help you, Mr. Foxworthy?" she asks.

Her name is Julia, and she's a vision. She's very tall, almost six feet, the color of chocolate cream, high cheek bones; the face of a Massai princess or something. She would wear her hair in dreadlocks if she didn¹t work for these slimehogs. Now it¹s just to her shoulders, half-ass straight. She's wearing, above the counter, a flowered silk blouse. She asks if I have the whole back-amount, an astronomical, obscene sum. I tell her I've got sixty bucks, but there would be more next week, blah blah blah. She nods her head, and starts blathering something about dates, full tanks, half full tanks.

She moves against the counter and her breasts strain against the silk. Her words go on as pure sound, a musical, throaty murmuring. I'm at the point where Horniness is reaching dangerous, anti-social proportions. I can no longer distinguish between lust and fear. I feel sick to my stomach. She moves stealthily under the silk. Suddenly a low moan escapes from my lips.

" I beg your pardon," says this beautiful girl; I suddenly see a mental image of her husband, a beefy Australian, blond as frothy piss, with the look in his eye of a wary warthog.

" AH, nothing" I say. " I was just digesting what you said." I grab my receipt and stagger out.

She cries "Don't forget to bring yourŠ" (a bit of gibberish.) I wave and the door closes.

I start the bike, and go out of the lot. As I glide up to a stop sign on the highway, there is the dwarf like a sweaty phantom. I almost stop as he gestures wildly and mouths a word which is drowned out by the roar of the pipes. But I can see it on his lips; it resounds in my mind like the crack of DOOM/ DAWN:



© 1995 by Robert Spotswood