This is my entry for Week Twenty-Four of The Real LJ Idol competition, where the topic is "Auguries." I'll post an update about voting later in the week. If you haven't already, you may want to join therealljidol, since some voting will be restricted to community members. Again, I really appreciate all the support so far!
Me in an abandoned building, full of broken boards
In my dreams, Jackie Onassis was tending a "garden" of trees and foliage. She was humming a little song, and the trees had grown lush and tall.
Then the dream turned more frightening. Somebody I loved at the time, The Luser, was burning to ash against a car with no roof. People in trenchcoats were throwing knives at me and shooting at me. I tried to change the character of the dream, but couldn't.
Finally, I rose into the sky, saying that I was tired of all this pain. I fell down to the ground, like some sort of fallen angel, narrowly avoiding a small family. (A blond woman and her relative a sister?) Someone shouted at me, "Look what you've done; you're dead."
I awoke with a start, the feelings of desperation and fear lingering.
About a week later, The Luser, who had been growing increasingly restless, told me he wanted to go to Memphis to see his father. On an impulse, I offered to drive him down. Yes, all the way from Pennsylvania. I was in a strange place in my life, recovering from the breakup of my first marriage.
The Luser was a skinny bleached-blond punk who wore a painted leather jacket and had pierced nipples and bad teeth. I'd met him at a party, where we'd stayed up late, getting drunk and raving about David Bowie. By this stage in the relationship, though, he had already cheated on me. Against my sister's advice, I'd forgiven him and let him move into my place. I couldn't bear to be alone, even if it meant clinging to a negative force like The Luser.
We drank too much together big plastic jugs of vodka while watching stacks of movies. Sometimes, we'd have drunken, rough sex. I had a blackout once, woke up bruised and confused. I still don't know what happened in those hours when my brain shut off.
Once, The Luser and I had done a photo shoot in an abandoned house, filled with papers and dust and broken boards. That's how I felt back then: abandoned, broken, like just another piece of refuse. It was the nadir of my life, a deep trench with slippery sides.
So one Saturday, we packed up my pickup truck, Red Arrow, and got on the road. I remember very little of the trip down, except that it was summer and we drove into a sweatbox. Once we reached Tennessee, I felt like we were wrapped in hot towels.
As we neared his father's house, The Luser grew nervous, bouncing his leg and puffing on a cigarette. We pulled up in front of the small, white ranch house, and I followed him up the driveway to the carport, lined with rose trellises. His father faced away from us, intent on a fish he was cleaning. All we could see was the back of his head, the hair so much darker than his son's. He wore a light button-down shirt, and he seemed a compact statue of muscle.
As his son greeted him, he grunted without looking up, "What are you doing here?"
The Luser, who was usually as full of swagger as Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, opened his mouth, closed it again. Clearly, this was not the greeting he'd expected. "Dad," he said. "I'm coming home."
His father replied, "Who asked you to do that?"
I shifted back and forth in the swelter. The Luser suggested we go inside and say hello to his stepmother. A neat, delicately pretty woman, she seemed surprised to see us but forced a smile. After brief hesitation, she invited us into a living room of pastels and flowers, with studio portraits of The Luser's step-brother and sister on the wall; none of him.
As she looked me over, The Luser spoke up: "This is my friend, Alyce." Friend? This is the guy who had been living off me for a couple months, the guy that I considered a lover, if not exactly a boyfriend.
"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked me. I told her water would be good.
The Luser rubbed his sweaty palms on his pants and returned to the driveway for a second attempt. As the stepmother and I made small talk, I felt like a stain on her cream-colored couch, a sweaty hippie chick dragged in by a prodigal son.
Before I'd even finished my drink, The Luser stormed inside and announced we were leaving. "So soon?" the stepmother asked. "Don't you want to stay for lunch?" But The Luser was already walking briskly down the driveway.
"Thank you," I said to the stepmother as I handed back the half-empty glass. Her eyes seemed sympathetic.
We returned to my steamy truck, which had no air conditioning, and stopped at a diner not far from Graceland. Since we'd had no money for a tour, we'd viewed only its grand gates. It was a day of standing on thresholds.
A nosy waitress took our order and, perhaps noticing my blousy shirt, asked me when I was due. The Luser snorted disdainfully. Even if I had been pregnant with his child, he would have probably still introduced me as a friend. Sunk in bitter thoughts, we choked down waffles.
"What do you want to do?" I asked him, knowing his plans were shot.
"Go back to Pennsylvania, I guess." And so we made like mad for the north. When we got tired, we stopped at a public park and slept on picnic tables. On the unforgiving hardness I slept fitfully, dreamlessly.
I'm not surprised his father wouldn't take him in. Once, he had gone to stay with his mother in the Pittsburgh area for a while. He came back with a video camera, claiming it was a gift. Later, I heard him on the phone with her, angrily insisting that he didn't know where the camera was. I shouldn't have been surprised, having already seen the empty prescription bottles in his bag, with her name on them.
I wanted more than anything to just be home, so I refused to stop more than necessary, fueling myself with Mountain Dew, driving with my eyelids plastered into the back of my head.
During that bitter walk of shame, we were both sunk in thought. "Friend," I kept hearing, echoing again and again. "My friend, Alyce." The Luser was equally absorbed, probably about the lack of reconciliation he felt his journey had earned him. Neither of us had gotten what we wanted.
Then, over the radio, we heard that John F. Kennedy Jr. had died in a plane crash, flying from Martha's Vineyard. The radio was full of JFK Jr. talk, interrupting our music as we barreled back to Pennsylvania.
Could the "garden" be a dream representation of Martha's Vineyard? Could Jackie O. have been preparing a place for her son to join her in the afterlife?
Could the part about knives and guns represent the assassinations and tragedies the Kennedy family has faced? Could the man dying near the roofless car be JFK?
Could the part about falling to earth represent JFK Jr.'s final descent? Could the blonde women be his wife and her sister, who were killed along with him?
Our trip wound to an end, with silence and a celebrity death. Maybe that's what the dream really meant: a preview of that ill-fated trip, interweaving my dark personal life with the tragic national news. If so, I was the one slashed by heartache like knives, lashing myself to that tower of ash, The Luser. As I drove, I felt the way I'd felt in the dream: trapped in a cycle of retribution, longing to escape but heading, instead, full-tilt into self-destruction. The blonde women? Perhaps they were my sister and I, and maybe the dream warned me that if I kept going the way I was going, I'd destroy her, too. I'd destroy my whole family.
I longed to fly free. More than that, I longed for this cycle to end. To just end. Look what you've done, my dream told me. Look what you've done.
Claivoyant dreams often make sense when it's too late.