Nighttime is an often-scary place for Officer Alex
In the dream, I was on fire.
Some sloppy melting fragment from a car exploding had landed on my back with a wet slap and I could smell burning hair without realizing it was mine. I was oblivious because I was in a gunfight and the brain my academy gave me was running things now, not ol’ Alex. Pure business, and business was apparently good.
The street was wet and lined with trees and I could smell the river as well as the fresh rain, my feet slowly moving forward with my arms raised, the empty one counter-balancing the one holding a pistol as I strode forward, a moving target being better than a stationary one in my case.
The steps were as paced as my breathing so I could focus on hand-eye coordination for shot placement on my own less calculated targets, who were letting adrenaline get the best of them as they shot up my precious city right here in broad daylight in front of God and everybody. How rude.
The dull pops of my pistol were a completely different sound from live fire on the range thanks to a stress reaction that was shutting hearing down to divert blood flow to my eyes and nose…Target one, target two, target, target, target…I finally started to acknowledge that each dull thud I felt was probably a bullet and instead of panic, I factored it in to how much more quickly I needed to wrap this up, a percentage counter in my head growing smaller and smaller as I did the biological math, the cold dampness I felt on my abdomen and thighs almost certainly blood, now that I thought about it.
(I filed the thought away almost immediately. It was data now for the calculation above, not mortal fear, just…planning purposes, whatever the end. Thank God.)
The targets either stopped their attack or I’d stopped them all with my response, their armor-clad corpses lying about my once-happy street with my own brothers lying at the base of a brick wall nearby, unconscious from the explosion that started all this.
I saw this as I dropped my pistol to a low-ready, and I smiled ever so slightly just as I teetered forward from a standing position and struck the ground without a hint of bending my knees or raising my arms to stop. I was out.
The paramedic seemed like a nice fellow. When I opened my eyes and he told me it would be OK, I tried to tell him “yes,” but no sound came out. As he worked, I finally managed to make an actual sound and said, “Wanna see a trick?” ever so slowly. “Watch this,” and I grinned a moment before I died.
The dream was always the same.
I didn’t regret dying in it; boys and girls, we all live in a race that has to end, no matter how many toys we have. Why get mad when the Landlord built us with an expiration date in the first place, right?
I had no idea what that dream meant, but I needed a break from it and I got in in the form of “time passing.”
I’m bringing this up because just last night I found myself on my neighbors’ two-story roof with winds howling in the 10 p.m. darkness between rain storms as I scrambled desperately to patch a hole in the roof, a gallon of roofing mastic by the handle in one hand and a propane torch in the other.
The torch was used to light gobs of this tar-like ball into something more willing to bond with roofing shingles, perhaps older applications of mastic…and of course, polyester, were it to be superheated and ejected from a car and onto my back during an attack that mercifully never happened.
I smiled, and subconsciously checked for the smell of burning hair before I returned to work.
It’s the little things, you see. What was that dream about?
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.