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I was in the library, reading a haunting Khalil Gibran poem called “Between Night and Morn,” from a volume of early writings by the same title, when a man with a Styrofoam head and clown hat appeared at my side and said, “Hi. My name’s Jack, and I’ll be your server today.” I replied, “Um,” and glanced around, wondering where I really was.

“Today’s special is the artichoke burger with foie gras and serrano pepper chutney on a pumpernickel bun,” he informed me.

“Urk,” I said, thinking that would melt the lenses in my glasses.

But before I could ask him if he had anything less volatile, I felt the hot breath of a large feline on the back of my neck. I turned my head to see a snarling Siberian tiger, poised to taste my head.

Tiger on my heels, I took off. I ran down the hall and tried to lose him by darting into the dining room, then quickly into the living room and back into the hall. But I hadn’t fooled him, so I dashed up the stairs, ran into my bedroom, and ducked into my closet, all of a sudden wishing it had a door.

Just then I heard the voice of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Angst, and she said, “Shh — follow me.” And in a few steps we found shelter behind a huge wall in the midst of a barren field. I finally felt safe.

But it didn’t last. As I stood there, my back pressed against the wall, it started to lean over in my direction. And fearful that it would collapse on me, I ran around to the back side — only to feel it begin to lean in that direction now.

I quickly stepped around to the front side of the wall, but once again it began to tilt on top of me.

At that moment a car pulled up. It was a 1967 cobalt-blue Pontiac ragtop with the top down, 326-cubic-inch V-8, Hurst four on the floor, come to rescue me.

I was saved. I hopped in and threw it into first, but before I could take off, the snarling tiger reappeared, this time in my rearview mirror. He must have been in my tank from the last pit-stop at the corner Esso.

“Out, damn Stripes,” I shouted at him, but my words were met with a blank stare first, and then a fearsome roar.

Finally, with no other option, I ducked under my bed and checked that the dust ruffle was doing its job.

As I lay there, a line from “The Tempest” danced in my head — Prospero saying “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”

Before Shakespeare could make much more headway, my alarm clock sounded, and as I waited for the cobwebs to clear, I pondered the dream that had tormented me in my slumber.

What did Prospero mean? Where on earth does this “stuff” even come from?

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