An unexpected dreaming phase happening lately…
Late morning, at work, in Tokyo.
I go home for lunch; once there, I decide to take a shower. When I’m done and get out of the shower, the floor is wet, as though the tub had overflowed. Fortunately, my suit pants are still dry.
I can’t find my suit jacket, but figure I’ll be okay with shirt and tie. My hair, however, has grown wild and unruly. I wonder if I should cut it myself before going back to the office, or if I should stop somewhere on the way.
On my way back from the train station, I realize that I’ve forgotten the way to the office—at least, none of the streets look familiar. After a few false turns, I double back to the station. I pick a random person to follow; a block later, I recognize everything again.
Back at the office, which has turned into a post-modern industrial facility, I can’t find my department. I keep walking until I arrive at an area with several booths, spaced widely apart, in no formal arrangement. I can’t figure out which one I should stop at to ask for directions. Frustrated, I sit down on the floor in front of one of them. The woman on the other side tells me I’m at the wrong one.
A man in a suit comes by; he looks like a cross between Phil Hartman and Wink Martindale. I explain that I’m looking for my department at NRI. He points me back the way I came.
By this point, I’ve been gone so long that I figure I’ll just call it a day.
I am now carrying my hat, which has a few small, blotchy red stains on one side, like hot sauce or candle wax. Either way, I’ll have to have it dry cleaned.
As I exit the building, I spot Chris Jarmick wearing the hat, so I snatch it from his head. He turns around; recognizing me, he good-naturedly asks what I’m doing with his hat. I explain that it’s my hat; he tells me he just bought it a couple of weeks ago. I turn the hat over to point out the stains—but they’re not there, so I apologize and give him his hat back.
My hat, which is still in my other hand, no longer has the stains, either.
The square in front of the building is surrounded by apartment complexes. We (me and someone else) see a couple about 30 feet to our left. “Is that Minnesota?” Judy asks. I look again; the bearded man looks familiar. “It is! Hey, Minnesota!” The couple turn towards us; conversation ensues.
To my right, I see Pamela Hobart Carter, who recognizes me. She asks if I want to read for a women’s poetry competition. I begin to state the obvious—that I’m not a woman—but she then explains that they need people to read the submissions. I tell her I’ll have to see, because I have a few things I have to do first—namely, I have to get my passport so I can get back home, and I’m not sure how long that will take. I might need to make an appointment at the embassy; even then, I’m not sure I’ll get it in time.
* * * * * * * * * *
Evening, outside a small bodega.
I’m wearing a black t-shirt with a black-and-white photographic design on the front. When I press on parts of the sleeve, Marvin Gaye samples play. This intrigues me, so I try to play something. No matter how sloppy my “playing” is, everything I play sounds like a proper remix. I then discover that the front of the shirt also plays samples, meaning that I can play both front and sleeve at the same time.
Meanwhile, a young man in a purple tanktop has been watching me. He comes up to me, tells me I’m in the wrong place, and says he’s going to have to beat my ass. “Why?” I ask. When he says that the gang’s law governs this neighborhood, I remind him that true laws are made by God, not gangs. He ponders this for a few moments. Then he is gone. I have no idea where.
A few minutes later, he comes out of the building and leaves. Curious, I go inside. A tall, burly young man is in the kitchen, leaning over the counter. When he stands up straight, I see that he has been badly beaten. I offer to call 911. He says no, that the hospital will be performing a series of operations on him anyway.
* * * * * * * * * *
To pass this part of the test, we have to complete two tasks before the day is over. I completed mine early, but my fellow cadet still has one left—and it’s a slow afternoon.
We’re on the mezzanine when we hear a disturbance outside. We exit the building.
The young man in the purple tanktop is on the corner, having pulled the other young man and a third, much older, man out onto the corner. He is holding them at gunpoint. He tosses us a pistol with a long barrel and tells us to shoot the older man.
My companion reluctantly picks up the gun with her left hand, and shoots down at the pavement. Unfortunately, the bullet ricochets off the side walk and, out of sight, hits the older man, who slumps over. “He’s dead!” somebody shouts. The young man in the purple tanktop leaves with his remaining hostage.
I get on the phone and call for help. I give my name, explain that I don’t know my badge number, and say that I want to report an officer-involved shooting. All I hear from the other end of the connection is background noise. While I’m waiting for a response, I’m wondering if it will be necessary to explain that I was not the officer who fired the gun.
Notes: NRI is one of the companies I worked for when I lived in Tokyo. Chris Jarmick is a poet and the owner of BookTree in Kirkland, WA.
(written 6 October 2021—posted October 9th)
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