REPORT A PROBLEM
"Cut my hair like Captain Kirk."
Boing Plush shoots a look to no one in particular, the whole of the salon; the drapes catch fire. The hottie in the chair tips his head forward and a little to the side, glancing back at her from under long eyelashes and along a lightly acne-scarred cheekbone. "
there’s enough light in here."
"Baby," breathes Boing into his ear, raising a pair of scissors the size of hedge clippers, "I don't need light. I
At the counter, green-eyed Rudus Glurvopop purses purple lips and chirps: "Bite him, Boing, he looks juicy!"
At nine, I discovered my talent for lucid dreaming. I remember the first time clearly: riding bikes with my brother, I explained to him that it was all a dream, that we weren't really there. Shortly after that I realized that in that dream state, I could do whatever I wanted, change reality any way I liked. At first I spent a lot of time humming around in a transparent spaceship; later I floated through walls and watched people as they were sleeping. For some reason, I would replay each dream over and over again, bathing in every astonishing detail.
Boing knows his type; cheeky and overly confident. More than likely he'll promise her the blue moon and then try to poke her in the armpit. Still, he's got a little something going on; his ass is so fine it melts the vinyl and already Rudus is creeping across the floor toward his gleaming black boots, pushing along little particolored waves of severed hair.
"You want color, sweet pea?" Boing asks lightly, planting the toe of an ass-high Spiderman boot on Rudus' gleaming forehead. She pushes, just enough, and Rudus glides backward through the dead tissue, emitting a plaintive whine.
Over and over I saw my hand curling over the crystal throttle, controlling the ship's motions through space and time, floating through solid rock, rocketing across the earth so fast that the sun would float up from the horizon and disappear over my head like a traffic light. I ran time forward and backward, watching river valleys form, deepen, split -- and then heal, as if the water were pulling behind it a gooey stream of molten earth, each rock and hunk of dirt sliding perfectly into place, each tree rotating into position, righting itself, and then slowly shrinking to nothing.
Captain Kirk's lip curls mildly in amusement. "No, cuddlebones," he says, making her neck tighten with pleasure, "just lighten me."
The Captain has a friend, and she's not happy. Dressed in a mustard, ass-squeezing yeoman's uniform, cut high enough to reveal the color of her children's eyes, she's being pushed around the waiting room by Barntwister's gentle lingual lovemaking, squirting Binaca mist in a vain attempt to get him to shut up and back off.
"This might take a while," says Boing in the general direction of the chippie's reflection, a serpentine smile creeping up one side of her face.
It wasn't the hell you’d imagine it could easily become, a mind feeding upon itself -- because like regular dreams, each one arrived with a fully-formed landscape, situation, and emotional charge, ready to be shaped but already complete in its singularity and strangeness. My dreams changed utterly when I began driving; I would "come to" behind the wheel of the Deathmobile, piloting it along wide, dark, empty highways that rose into the air and turned back on themselves, curving into immense tangles with rollercoaster dropoffs and long bridges that hovered over oceans of fog beneath a swirling sea of stars.
Boing's haircutting style is unique, a blend of upper-body ballet and Agent Orange, a sort of bonzai aikido. She uses neither comb nor clippers, relying instead on rust-spotted machetes and antique electric knives, severing locks via long backward underarm twists with a twin set of samurai swords. She hums as she cuts, Frank Lloyd Wright marches, deep basso profundo tones emanating melodiously from her shapely, lightly flared nostrils. When a particularly meaty drum part rolls up to bat, she turns and evokes the rhythm by bouncing and spinning her instruments against the cast-iron counter like a Gasho-of-Japan musical chef.
The stars, the stars! By day I read books like "The First Three Minutes," far over my eleven-year-old head but fascinating in their bizarrely straightforward descriptions of black holes and event horizons; by night I glanced up and saw blue galaxies, huge planets, dully glowing discs of black. It was as if the entire Earth had been quietly transported to the center of the universe. Everything was alive, and everything moved, the galaxies rotating like glitter going down a slow black drain, the fat orange-ringed planets floating serenely down to disappear behind the silhouettes of the houses up the block.
There are three zombies in the waiting room, sitting together in the corner. One of them is glumly trying to unstick one of the skin mags from the surface of the block of ice that serves as an end table, approaching the task like a child who has played with this particular toy about four hundred times too many. Captain Kirk's girlfriend has managed to disengage herself from Barntwister by unleashing a gruesomely malodorous fart, by which only the zombies seem to be unaffected.
"Nice one," says the Captain enthusiastically, ducking to avoid a distracted swipe of Boing's steak knife.
In "real" life, I was a fattish, pale kid with greasy black hair and no clue how to dress, afraid of sports and bullies, spending recess hiding behind a bunch of bushes with a Danny Dunn book from the library. The school assholes didn't trouble with me much, because I never fought back; I remember Dean J watching as I cried and tried to soak up the blood from my lip with my acrylic black tassel cap; he breathed mist and curled his lip in raw disgust, like he'd been roped into bullying the most pathetic being on the planet.
Boing has known Rudus Glurvopop for just over six months, which is long enough for her to be able to predict the spindly little stylist's every move and thought. Rudus showed up one winter's night at about 4am, scratching determinedly at the side window with ragged (but cunningly painted) nails as Boing and Barntwister cooked down a bodybuilder to extract the steroids. Barntwister, tweeking like a chihuahua in a paint shaker, hid under the big metal desk and screamed not to let Rudus in. But Boing, who knows raw talent when it drools on her windowsill, did it just the same.
In ninth grade, I would gain a foot in height without putting on any weight, and an English teacher would confront me with a standardized test score folder under her arm and inform me that I was wasting my time in the regular English classes. Later still, a cute, teasy sort of girl would press her pelvis into my kneecap at a party, thus inspiring me to bathe more regularly. At the time, though, all I could do was whine my way through the day, and then dream meditatively and repetitively of tearing Dean's jaw out of his head.
Captain Kirk seems now to be sufficiently amused that he has shifted in his seat, spreading his black-clad legs enough to reveal a formidable but rather strangely-shaped lump.
"What you got in there, cowboy?" coos Boing, singeing a sideburn to perfection with an oxyacetylene torch.
The Captain sighs thoughtfully. "When I was on Aldeberan Four, I got some on me with a Titanian Cock Worm. The relationship was... mutually... edifying, and now we work together as a team." He graces her with a brief, white-toothed smile, hazel eyes sparkling.
Boing chuffs dismisively, her blood pressure rising a ticklish notch.
My beat-up old Dodge Dart was nothing special, but I was more than happy with it, especially after I painted it. Most people seemed to assume that the airbrushed skulls meant I was a Grateful Dead fan, but a redneck guy I met at a party told me that he'd thought it was Satanist and had wanted to blow the thing up until he met me. I can't remember his girlfriend's name, but that summer she'd had breast reduction surgery, and being privy to her difficulties with showering after the surgery was one of the sexiest things I'd ever experienced.
As time passes and the shape of Captain Kirk's coiff draws nearer to perfection, it's a toss-up as to who looks antsier: the Captain's girl, or the zombies. The slutty little yeoman, having smoked her dolorous way through two packs of Virginia Slims, is now trying to put a sloppy make on Barntwister, who looks like he'd rather kiss an exhaust pipe. The zombies, knowing that their time is limited and not wanting to go out with the barren crusts of frizz that ring their skulls, are pulling dejectedly at their ragged clothing and staring forlornly at Barntwister's chartreuse wig.
Around the time of high school, my dreams started to turn revisionist. Being a full-time victim, I guess I'd had nothing to regret before then. But in high school, the occasional girl started paying attention to me, and each time it happened I felt like I had to jump on the opportunity -- after all, my brain screamed, it was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. One girl brought me to her parents' condo while they weren't home; at one point, as I manhandled her stretchmarked breasts, she grabbed my wrist and frustratedly informed me that yes, they were in fact real.
Its' Rudus' night to choose the music, and he's put on one of his Spaz Station mixes, all hot pumping spurts of sped-up jazz and thudding, shuddering basslines that repeat over and over until their absence evokes feelings of panic. Between songs, there are clicks and scrapes and breathing; once, Rudus' voice comes through, louder than God, asking "Is this on? Is this fucking thing even turned on?"
Rudus blushes. "I ain't no DJ, that's for damn sure."
Boing smiles and nods, shaking her head softly. "Shut up and get back on that centrifuge, little sister." she says. "I need a drink."
I didn't know enough to regret that one right away. In school, I subsequently avoided her (not that it was necessary). Had there been more time I think I would have become close to her homely hippie friend, who was the one who had wanted me in the first place. But eventually it struck me that I had done something wrong and one night I returned to that threradbare white couch, poised on stained and overscrubbed white carpet in a condomnium that could only be described as "affordable," and this time I gave the girl a proper kissing.
And she does, too; suddenly things have gotten all out of control and Captain Kirk is drilling the entrails out of her on the black-and-white vinyl floor. Unable to contain herself, high as a helium kite on the SOB's unexpected virtuosity in the sodomy department, she's devolved to the point where she's slapping her own ass and begging him to "bring it on home" as if acting out one of the Blind Date episodes she can't bring herself to tape over. The Captain, leering lustily at his own reflection in the hair-spray-spotted glass, gasps: "Beam me
In 11th grade, in drafting class, I ended up partnered with a perky-nosed brunette named Elisabeth. She wore too much makeup, bragged about doing a hundred situps a day, asked me for help constantly, and told me about her church, in which people routinely dropped to the floor, possessed by demons and/or speaking in tongues. One day she told me she thought it would be nice if we went out, then laughed and told me how cute it was that I was blushing. In real life, I never asked her out; in dreamland, it went exactly the same way.
Time draws itself out and uncurls, and before long Barntwister has broken out the Bad Stuff, which is served room-temperature in a plastic gallon milk jug and leaves a trail of smoke as it moves around the room, hand to hand, accumulating slowly rotating islands of bubbly backwash as it goes. The yeoman declares to the zombies that this is the longest haircut she's ever seen, and they stare at her as if she has just informed them that personal appearance matters, their sunken eyes rolling slowly in their sockets like pinkish-white dumplings in tiny bowls of sand.
The summer after I graduated from high school, I started getting stoned with my best friend, an extravert who drove me downtown to meet kids with dyed hair and eyeliner as if it were a matter of course. We hung out at Muddy's coffeehouse and smoked bowl after bowl in Cheesman park, laughing like crazy at nothing and devouring Sarah Lee Chocolate Chip Pound Cakes in the car, listening to Love and Rockets and Sisters of Mercy. Being high felt dreamlike and secure, a state of constant surprise without care; for once, I had nothing to match it with in sleep.
Barntwister got his name from a farmer. The old man was in a feed store, browsing the six-foot rack of nails (a different size for every job), when the daughter of the store owner came out from the back room, pregnant as hell and looking like she'd rather be on the moon. Right behind her came the store owner himself, his neck pink with what looked like a permanent blush. And then a teenager the farmer remembered seeing as a nine-year-old at a tractor pull, now gangly and green-haired, his eyes daring anyone in the room to tell him he belonged there.
As a freshman in college I was assigned to a dorm room with three black guys who blasted "Fly Girl" what seemed like 24 hours a day. I met a white guy who was in a room with two other white guys and a black guy, and we agreed that the black guy and I should swap bunks. That night, in the new room, my stuff all repacked and stacked in boxes on the floor, I tried to sleep while my new white roommates drank themselves into deafening oblivion. Fresh out on my own, I was embarrassed to dream of home.
Rudus is the first to notice the hum. The salon fills with it as Boing severs the last straggling length of normal human hair from Captain Kirk's head, and then the two of them dissolve into intermixing streams of underwater glitter, neither looking more shocked than the other.
"Oh, shit!" Rudus shrieks, grabbing instinctively at a tube of bleach, "Who's going to balance the cash register?"
"Relax," says Barntwister, eyeing one of the zombies in a last-call sort of way, "she hasn't balanced that fucker straight once since she got this place."
The yeoman sighs. "Last week Eraserhead, this week this."
During my junior year I got suicidal. Unwilling to call a crisis line, I instead joined a group that ran one, where I not only did a halfway decent job, but rose to trainer and then to co-director. It was a phenomenal group of people, every one of them driven, haunted, and ready to party. One night, working alone, I took a call from a girl who couldn't stop cutting herself; it was hours long and ended in police intervention. Later I learned she was an ex-member of the group. For the first time, my dreams became about
Boing is initially thrilled to be on the Enterprise, but her excitement disappears when she learns that the ship has no holodeck. "Well then," she says, idly shoving away the drooling Captain, "lead me to the nearest Klingon. I've always wondered just how much abuse one of those big boys can take."
Chekhov is wery confused by the way the Captain follows the black amazon around the ship, and wery happy when he finally gives the order for her to be beamed back to the planet. "Quickly, Ensign," Kirk whispers, "get her off the ship before she spots our science officer."
After college I drifted to California, housesitting for my brother, who was off in Romania doing makeup for a vampire movie. In that past year I had been introduced to William Burroughs and had grown close with another dreamer (who's also writing for 100 words). Something had changed, and rather than controlling my dreams, I suddenly wanted them to control me. I took a temp job that let me sleep during the day and turned the reins loose for the first time in over ten years, writing each night until dawn. I turned out 64 short stories in two months.
One thing they don't tell you about "beaming up" is the way your atoms intermingle, commiserate. For weeks afterwards, even after Boing has returned reluctantly but resolutely to Earth, McCoy is pleased with the way Kirk laughs at his jokes, agreeing to join him and Scotty after hours for a round of drinks in the Scotsman's quarters, instead of brooding endlessly in his stateroom while Yeoman Rand draws redshirt after redshirt into her cabin for relief. "Well," declares Kirk one evening, after listening bemusedly to one of Scotty's fuck-tales, "this is divine. I mean, what man hasn't been
That was ten years ago. Now my dreams can be described only as complicated. Always part of a freedom-fighting force, I defend the world against terrorists, bureaucrats, and the living dead. But even when I try to keep my hands off the plot, at some point I have to step in and turn the tide of battle. And always, with every victory, there are defeats, and I don't believe in the concepts of good and evil. The victory I want is the victory of innocence, but that's a dream you can have only
you see the face of the enemy.
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