When Willie Shows Up in Your Dream…

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I fancy myself a writer (yes, I’m aware very few others think likewise, but I always received a check plus in the “entertains himself” column). We writer-types are highly in-tune to these cosmological signs, so in-tune that we perpetuate the myth that these signs are actually proof of a muse, and if one does not have a muse, then…well…one is simply not a real writer, but is instead, a muse-less writer. Muse-less writers are doomed to forever scribble only fan-fiction, or worse, get a job. If both of those fail, the muse-less writer begins reeling off vampire or S&M fiction and listening to Justin Beiber. When that happens, we real writers call them sell-outs and hacks, unethical capitalists preying on the helpless and unknowing masses, somehow duping those masses into buying their little books and therefore, getting paid for their….their…writing. But, I digress.

I was talking about dreams and writers. Me? I rarely dream, at least not that I remember. I go long stretches, months and months, without recalling a single dream. So, when one presents itself with any clarity, I assume it contains a message from the other side. You know, some cryptic yet deeply existential truth whose message ultimately turns out to be “don’t eat jalapeño poppers dipped in Sriracha an hour before bed.” Or something more practical, such as “buying a veggie burrito out of the back of that guy’s van at the Widespread show may not have been a pragmatic choice on a school night.”

But lately, the frequency and intensity of these dreams has increased, so it has to mean something. It started a month or so back. Nothing significant, at first. I’d wake with a start, vaguely aware I’d been dreaming, but not able to remember anything. I’d plod to the bathroom then try to summon the dream’s return as I drifted back to sleep…always to no avail. Next, it increased to once a night and I could grab snippets of the scenes when I awoke, even remembered them the next morning, but fractured and disjointed, never enough to translate.

The past week or so, things have gotten out of control. I’m awake three or four times a night, which means three or four trips to the bathroom. I’m not eating anything strange, I’m not eating late at night, but still the dreams. The scenes aren’t that weird or bizarre by dream standards, no Inception stuff, no Nightmare on Elm Street. Nope, not the first hint of sex, no trains and tunnels, no hotdogs chasing doughnuts, no Jamie Lee Curtis, no Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, nothing.

Instead, I get random but normal people coming up to me, asking to borrow $789 dollars for a variety of reasons. Exactly $789. One was starting a business. Who knows what kind of business you can start for exactly seven-hundred-and-eighty-nine bucks. I knew I was dreaming, but didn’t think to ask. Another needed brakes. Still another wanted to buy books, lots of books. The same book. My book. Naturally, I wanted to help, but I had no wallet.

One night, homeless people—I assumed they were homeless because of the cardboard boxes and shopping carts—tried to catch salmon as they swam upstream to spawn. The shopping carts lined the opposite bank of the stream, snaked out of sight into the thick woods beyond the rushing water. The people used the cardboard boxes to catch the fish when they leaped, then dumped them into the nearest cart, where the salmon flipped and flopped until they escaped and slid back into the water, only to be caught again. I thought of Sisyphus, then got up to pee. I got up a lot that night. My subconscious apparently has a twisted sense of humor, offering up all that rushing water.

The best one, I had a couple of times. I stood in line at a Bojangles restaurant. It was a long line and it stretched behind me, out the door, and down the street. You’d’ve thought the Fundamentalist had heard Foghorn Leghorn was gay and Bojangles supported his coming out, there were so many people. I carried a sign, but it had a huge picture of broccoli on one side and a peace sign on the other. The line moved forward, one person at a time. When I could see behind the counter, I recognized Willie Nelson. He’d nod and smile at each customer, then turn and pick up a piece of chicken and a biscuit, drop them in a box and send them on their way.

Needless to say, the closer I got, the more excited I became. It was Willie, after all, the Red Headed Stranger himself. When my turn arrived, I moved up and Willie turned his back to me, going for the chicken. I reached forward, but when he turned back around, it was Ric Ocasek from the Cars. Trust me, that was not “just what I needed.”

What does it mean when Willie Nelson shows up in your dreams? More importantly, what does it mean when Willie’s replaced by Ric Ocasek in that dream? I don’t know, but for some reason I’ve been considering the possibility of writing a YA vampire, S&M book that first appears as fiction but ultimately morphs into a biography that unveils Justin Beiber as the main character.

Kevin Winchester