Dreaming in Technicolor”
M. Robert Fisher
Somebody once told me that when we dream we dream in black and white. The only reason we didn’t know it is because our subconscious isn’t conscious enough to remind us in the morning. I always wondered how they knew it, then.
It doesn’t rain often in Los Angeles but it has been all day today. Long and hard and erratically. As I sit in the passenger seat of Walker’s car, a hand print begins to form on the window due to the fog and our heavy breathing. I smile at the irony and point to it.
“Who’s is this?” I ask Walker as he looks over from the driver’s side.
“No idea,” he starts, “It could be anybody’s.”
“That’s reassuring,” I say not entirely sure what I mean.
“Maybe it’s yours,” he says.
“I’ve never fucked you in your car before,” I say. I quickly add, “Or anywhere else for that matter, obviously.”
“How do you know it’s from fucking?”
“It’s somebody’s right hand,” I say.
He looks over at me with ennui arrogance.
“What does that have to do with anything?” He asks.
I remain silent for a while and he grows impatient.
“Well?” He asks abruptly.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to explain it so you will understand.”
“Forget it,” he says as we pull up to the valet, “You’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.”
“Probably not,” I say but don’t get sucked in any further. That was his way of not allowing me to make him feel stupid. And I take it. He is driving us, after-all.
We get out and he gives his keys to the valet. They tell him thank you but I’m not sure why.
We’re at an art exhibit in downtown Los Angeles. As people duck out of their cars and limousines, underneath their umbrellas, the rain drenches Walker and I, both too bold or arrogant to bring an umbrella of our own. Maybe I’m not as smart as I think I am. The exhibit is the work of a friend of a friend of Walker’s, Pierre… Something. Walker’s here for the networking and opportunity to rub elbows with people far more important than either one of us will ever be[on a sociological scale – the most important public figures in the world could probably die and make the world a betterplace]. I’ve agreed to tag along for the open bar.
“Try not to get too drunk tonight, alright?” Walker asks rhetorically as we enter through the doors to the exhibit.
“You should have thought about that before inviting me,” I say half jokingly. The other half is out there somewhere between reality and pretense.
“Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want,” he says in a paternal, judgmental sort of way. I wonder why he invited me to begin with.
“It doesn’t?” I say and separate from him toward the bar.
I reach the bar and am greeted by girl, probably an actress; a future reality TV star, which smiles disingenuously and asks me what I’d like. I try to think of a clever response but settle on scotch and walk away.
I approach a painting and stand and stare at it for a while. It’s a painting of a child in it’s diaper, surrounded by fire, holding a sword. It’s titled “Romance in Hell” and I chuckle to myself.
“What?” A stranger asks me. I was unaware he was there to begin with.
“What?” I respond.
“What’s so funny?” He asks me.
“I’m not sure,” I start, “The title I guess.”
“You think the title of the piece is funny?” He asks in what sounds more like an accusation than a question.
“I don’t know,” I say as I take a big drink from my Scotch.
“Not a big art person?” He asks.
“No, I love art. Creativity of any kind, really.”
“Maybe you don’t get it,” he says.
“Are you the artist?” I ask.
“No, a friend,” he says.
“Oh, alright,” I say, “I get it. The baby is innocence and cupid or “romance” – the sword is to represent “love is a battlefield” type of thing – I’m a huge Pat Benatar fan – and the fire is hell.”
He scoffs slightly. He doesn’t think I noticed, either.
“What is it you do? Are you an artist?” He asks in what sounds like he’s developed some sort of accent but I’m not sure as to where it’s from.
“Aren’t we all in our own right?” I ask condescendingly.
“I suppose you’re right,” he responds completely oblivious to my condescension as his faux accent thickens. “What is it you do?”
“Nothing,” I say.
I nod and raise my drink. His brow furrows before he walks away annoyed.
I’d just returned from Seattle a few weeks earlier and decided to stop referring to myself as a writer. Or worse, a novelist. I’d been writing a novel in my head for 6 years but only had half of it down on paper and started to slowly hate myself for being pretentious and phony. I figured if anything the ghost of J.D. Salinger would never haunt me.
Walker approaches me. I’m still at the “Romance in Hell” piece.
“What do you think?” He asks.
“Apparently, all of these are inspired by dreams he’s had,” Walker says.
“They’re in color,” I say.
“People don’t dream in color,” I say.
“How do you figure?” He asks.
“I don’t know,” I say realizing I have no substantial or scientific basis to support my thesis.
He shrugs and walks away.
The night goes on while I continue to drink the free booze and sleepwalk through tedious and pointless conversation with people that claim to know more than they actually know about art and life. They have never experienced true tribulation and they never will, I think. True misery is beyond their grasp while they sip at their free drinks and ride home in their limousines.
Walker is speaking with a famous actor and his fiance and I recognize the actor because he is on one of my favorite TV shows. I approach the trinity six drinks in and circling the drain.
“Hey, I know you,” I say extending my hand.
“Do you?” He says amused but with a slight bit of concern. Like I could mug him right here in the middle of an art exhibit and he figures if he’s polite enough I won’t.
“No, but I know of you,” I say. “I do know him,” I start, “he’s my ride home,” I say tipping my glass to Walker.
The actor looks at Walker for approval and Walker doesn’t know how to respond. He gives a slight nod of approval while at the same time somehow distancing himself from me.
“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he says extending his hand back.
“You know I had a dream about you,” I tell him.
“Oh yeah? Well, it’s fitting I suppose,” as he and everyone else uproar with laughter at his apparent joke. I ignore this.
“Yeah, you were in love with a male angel and trying to explain to your parents that you weren’t gay because angels are Eunuchs.”
He laughs anxiously as Walker takes me by the arm and walks me away from him.
“What the fuck is the matter with you?”
“What’s the matter with you?” I ask flippantly.
He walks me to the bar.
“Bottle of water,” he tells the bartender. She ignores him.
“She not listening – tell her you have a job for her,” I say as Walker rolls his eyes and walks away again. I order another scotch not really sure what happened.
I stay at the bar, surveying the crowd, taking stock of just how out of place I am and surprised at how much I care. My life of solitude starting to take it’s toll, I figure before leaving the bar and reentering the incessant buzzing of the crowd.
I approach a piece titled “Happiness” and I am quite taken by it. I sip at my scotch and focus on the single three quarter dot, like three quarters of a pie would look, alone on a completely white canvas. I slip into a reverie of sorts and for a second I think I may have actually stopped thinking.
“What do you think it is?” A woman beside me asks.
“What do I think what is?”
“Happiness,” she says.
“The painting or the fantasy?” I ask coquettishly.
“The fantasy?” She asks with a smile and intrigue behind that smile.
“I think that’s the point of the painting,” I say.
“You’re losing me,” she says with a confused giggle.
“Happiness isn’t really a state of being, it’s a fracture in time; it’s an incomplete dot on a blank white canvas. It doesn’t actually exist in a tangible way.”
“That’s an interesting perspective,” she says eyeing me suspiciously.
“Happiness is the unattainable goal that sustains us. If we ever were in a state of bliss we’d all end up stewing in our own filth. Like heroin addicts.”
She laughs and extends her hand, “I’m Alex.”
“I’m Ray,” I say as I shake her hand.
“It’s nice to meet you,” she says with a smile I’m just now starting to appreciate.
I tip my glass to her.
“So, when do you come up with this stuff?” She asks.
“While watching CNN,” I joke and really take in how beautiful she is. And it’s in this moment I realize just how beneath her I am. And as the self-loathing creeps back in she smiles again and it’s quelled.
“Do you know the artist?” She asks as her body has shifted facing me now.
“No, my friend I’m here with does I think.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“He’s around here somewhere,” I say as I look around the crowd out of pretension, “I doubt you know him.”
“So, what do you do then?” She asks gazing into my eyes and I am fully aware of it. And she recognizes that and doesn’t shy away. The self-loathing begins to creep back.
“I’m a writer,” I say.
I should have seen that one coming.
By the end of the night Walker is too drunk to drive and I have sobered up enough to drive us home. I try to explain the handprint to him but he just gets angry when he can’t understand.
I have to walk him to the elevator of our building because he can hardly stand. The world feels out of whack, like a shift in the paradigm, it feels unnatural and cold.
I walk outside to my balcony to have a cigarette. In the building across from ours there is an attractive Asian girl with a man smoking on their balcony. I think to myself it probably is better to smoke on your balcony with someone beside you. I finish my cigarette and go to sleep to the sound of rain spattering up against my window.
And I dream of Alex. I don’t know but I don’t think it was black and white. Maybe it’s time to take a leap.