Our sleep is full of dreams of our lost friend. He appears at night, when we close our eyes. Sometimes he fades away. Then we call out his name. Sometimes he comes back again. Other times he is simply gone. These nights . . . they never seem to end.
Those are not my words; I found them somewhere.
Last night he was talking to me on the telephone. His voice is low and gravelly; there’s no mistaking it for anyone else’s. I had other dreams as well, but can’t remember them. Nevertheless, I awoke frequently throughout the night, feeling uneasy.
Trucks roll by my apartment day and night, so I live with the windows shut. In the summer I keep two electrical fans going to cool the place down. The building trembles but at least things are relatively quiet.
I awaken every morning at four a.m. like clockwork, lie awake for a half hour or forty minutes, then go back to sleep until about six. Then I get up, put on the coffee, feed the cat, and take a couple of pills. When the coffee’s ready, I sit with a cup and stare out the closed window. Beyond the trucks are tall trees full of starlings and sparrows. I try to keep my gaze turned upward, but once in a while I’m distracted by a truck with an interesting-looking logo. Sometimes there will be a mockingbird.
We are riding in my car, my lost friend and I. The sun is shining – it’s a warm and pleasant day. I am behind the wheel, which can only happen in a dream. In real life, I don’t drive. I once was able to, but something happened. That was over 20 years ago.
He doesn’t drive anymore either, but for a different reason. Nonetheless, today he wants to look at cars. If he could, he would collect them. Unlike myself, he sorely misses the feeling of power one gets out on the highway, pushing down on the accelerator. So we stop at one car lot after another, walking around, looking at shiny, expensive sports cars that neither one of us will ever drive or be able to afford.
Sometimes I go to work and other times I stay home. It doesn’t make any difference. Either way, the sun sinks at the end of the day and leaves me sitting in the dark.
We are sitting in airports, standing at bus stops, stopping until the light turns from red to green – all places and situations where you are waiting for the next thing to happen – killing time. I wonder if we could get a refund on all of that killed time . . . when a love affair is ending, when you’re late for an important engagement, when your team is losing by 17 points with a third down and 30 at their own eight-yard line and 12 seconds to play . . . why couldn’t we have banked some of that time we killed, and why can’t we now make a withdrawal?
Our lost friend . . . I sat beside him on the bed. He was beginning to get cold. The police were on their way and his brother was on the phone, making arrangements with the undertaker. I touched his forehead and said goodbye. I don’t recall if I had ever touched him in life. But dreams are more real than life. . . .