Under the table...quick, quick, she'll see you.
Rebekah slipped on the tiles; she had to hurry and get under the table or the witch would see her. They could her the cackling voice approaching from the next room.
"Ha, my dear little children, just wait until I get my claws on you... I've always wanted some little-kid stew..." she was coming closer, slowly, but still, if Rebekah wasn't here in time, if the witch saw her, that would be it.
"Come on, Rebekah, under here, under here"
Rebekah slid herself under the table just as the tip on the witch's nose hove into view around the kitchen door. The witch was the quintessential witch-type...green, warty skin, black hat, evil cackle, and an appetite for children. She also had an interesting disability.
Jacob breathed softly, and motioned for Rebekah to do the same. Come on, he thought, look at the table look at the table.
"Where are those yummy little children? Could they be by my cabinets? How about in the microwave? I know, the table..."
Finally, thought Jacob, and he peered from under the table as the witch's voice died away. You see, if her quarry were hidden, when she looked at the object they were hiding behind, she would go blind and wander away. As Jacob saw her stumble out of the door, he realized it was time to wake up, no more dreams for today.
Sitting up in bed, Jacob took a peek at the alarm clock. 10 am! on Saturday! Well, there was no point in going back to sleep, he'd just have to go through the stupid witch dream again. It was annoying that he was a lucid dreamer in all respects but this one -- every night, he started with the witch dream, which always ran the same way, which always had the same rules. Witch chases him and Rebekah, they hide under table, witch goes blind. Never allowed to mess with that. Once the witch went away, he could dream as he pleased, able to change action, character, temperature... he controlled the horizontal and the vertical...
But he couldn't control the witch.
Feh. In any case, he had to meet everyone else at 3 at Blue Ridge, which meant alot of time to waste. Well, thought Jacob, since I'm going to have to be over there anyway, I might as well spend some time at the flea market. I could park at the theater and walk over there and back. Just another lazy Saturday marred by getting up too early.
Jacob looked over her wares -- much too expensive, he thought, but considering how slowly she works, not too surprising. These flea market stalls must be cheap to lease -- at these prices -- and these designs! Sure, some of the stoner kids or adolescent mopers might like the bizarre themes, but those types would rather spend their money on CDs and clothes... What the hell?
An odd heap of color, a kind of spider web spread over an old metal hoop, caught his eye.
"Excuse me, ma'am, but what is this?"
The old lady, not looking up, said, "Just wait a stitch -- I can't drop it now -- oh shit, I skipped a row." Her latest cherub would have to wait. "Which one? Oh yeah, well, really, it's really just my leftover thread. Lots of times when I finish a piece there's lots of scraps, but not enough to incorporate into another design. It'd be a pity to let all that gorgeous color go to waste."
"For some reason it kind of looks familiar," replied Jacob, slowly turning the thing over in his hands.
"Yeah, I know -- I was kind of thinking of those Indian dreamcatchers you see around -- American Indian, I mean, not Asian Indian. You know, up in Canada they call them the First Peoples? or is it First Nations? Kind of odd, to think about it -- did they really think of themselves as Nations... well, I know about the Iroquois..."
She talked like she sewed, or knitted, or whatever it was -- Jacob saw he had better cut her off.
"What are dreamcatchers supposed to do?"
"Well, give your home a primitive feel, I think. You know how everyone round here likes to say they're part Cherokee? If I were Cherokee, I'd be offended, kind of the way the British like to say their ancestors came over with William the Conqueror..."
"I meant what did the Native Americans expect them to do?" cut in Jacob as she was taking a breath.
"Catch dreams," she continued, as if that's what she had always intended to say next, "bad dreams, mostly, or so I hear. Though why they should be called Native Americans I don't know -- I mean, I was born here, ain't that native? Even their ancestors came from a different land, though that reminds me that I've heard maybe life came from another planet and DNA came over on asteroids from a planet or sun that blew up"
"How much is this?"
"I'm not crazy and making that up either I read it in Scientific American [he could hear the italics] though they've had some majot bullshit there"
"HOW MUCH IS THIS THING?"
"What?" She looked at the dreamcatcher for a moment. "Oh, I've never been expecting to sell that, it's kind of like my big ball of string for leftovers, I just like the play of color.."
"Will you sell it to me? I'd like to have it."
"Well, let's see, these things are a bitch to start, and I'll have to find another metal hoop but I saw some lampshades in the dump the other day-"
"20 dollars." Uncharacteristically, that was all. No comments on the meaningless of a economics and its bogus mathematical underpinnings, no talk on the beauty of the number 20. "20 bucks."
Shee, he though, 20 dollars? But if he haggled he might be there another half hour, and by that time she'd probably get into the dialectic of paper currency...
"Ok, here you go..."
"Thank you, sir."
He twisted around and rapidly paced away. But, then a question stopped him -- he had to check really quickly -- "Does it work... catching bad dreams, that is?"
"Depends on the dreamer, don't you think?" She had already picked up her expressionless angel, picking out the stitches one-by-one. "I've never had a bad dream, though I remember a dream about boiled-alive kittens, didn't bother me much...those kittens didn't seem in pain, just like those pictures of the human musculature..."
"Never mind, thank you..." heard enough, but at least it couldn't hurt to try...
Under the table.. quick quick she'll see you.
Well, the dreamcatcher was a crock, it seemed, though Jacob had to admit that there had been some different elements tonight. For example, the airplane full of women in labor on its way to Kentucky Fry going by outside the window (and it wasn't clear if it was flying or taxiing) -- or the dogs jumping through the mirror... then there was that red-hatted short guy in a handlebar moustache who kept running behind Rebekah, holes opening at his feet, holes that this little guy never was able to clear.. and the walls were caving in due to colored bricks accumulating on the edges (though he had to admit that when it looked the worst, the colored walls would retreat a couple of steps.) These seemed to have no origin in Jacob's own mind, so, out of curiousity he decided not to play around with the dream as of yet.
But here was the witch again, and this time she looked like that odd woman from the flea market.
"Hello kiddies, wouldn't you like a cream cheese brownie? Try it... you'll like it..."
That was different, he had to admit -- normally she didn't pretend to be nice... Rebekah had made it under the table long ago and he waited for the witch to go blind as usual... But she still seemed to be looking. Maybe she hadn't looked at the table yet...
"Oh there you are, pretty pretty. Didn't you know that an angel is love? And I love my pretty pretty..."
What?! Maybe this was a new trick, getting them to stick their heads out and then she really would see them...He had not much time to think on this, for two women in black robes rushed by on a train track that burst out of the fridge...and right then, the witch clamped down on his arm.
"Shut up! We wanna watch the nums!" came a faraway voice, with a gently wafting scent of frying beef.
"I see my pretty pretty has my pretty pretty toy... give me back my toy, pretty pretty and I'll give you something better to play with," cackled the witch, though not menacingly as before... she was still acting nice. Jacob wasn't buying it. What had happened to the rules? He tried changing it, he tried to get it to start over again. All that happened was that the black-robed women and the red-hatted man ran through the kitchen again, dropping into a large pit where the train tracks ran.
I'm not much of a lucid dreamer, thought Jacob. He looked around -- where was Rebekah?
"Well, my pretty pretty, you won't have a brownie, but your friend likes the new playmates I brought for you. Don't you want to play with the kitties?"
He couldn't look. He knew what was there.
"Shut up, dumbass, why don't you use the damn dreamcatcher?" Again came the voice from far away. Jacob squinted, seeing in the dark of another room a row of seats and a burning grill...Was that where the kittens...wait, the dreamcatcher?
All this time, the witch still had her hands clamped around Jacob's left arm. But his right arm was free -- and looking at it, he noticed he had the dreamcatcher firmly in his grasp. But what to do with it? It was supposed to catch things? So far, it had drawn stray bits of other dreams into his primary one... but how to get rid of it? He looked back up at the witch.
"Yes, pretty pretty, you brought my toy back to me, won't you give me the toy? Then you can play with the kitties and the doggies all you want." She smiled, and between her teeth Jacob could see little doggie heads sticking out... the dogs looked half-chewed... He turned his head awa, and looked down at his arm. He saw knitting needles and crochet hooks extending from the witch's knuckles, curving down, wrapping themselves around his left arm. What to do with this damn dreamcatcher?
All right, thought Jacob, and punched his right arm, still holding the dreamcatcher, through the witch's body. There was a crisp resistance, like cutting paper, but the cut wasn't clean - the witch was being torn to tatters and the witch-bits were winding around the strings of the dreamcatcher.
And he saw no more, just a bright blue thread attached to the old ones on the dreamcatcher.
"About time, man, get your ass over here," said the voice from the other room, and Jacob followed the voice into the darkness. There was Rebekah and some random guy (his hands didn't match, he legs were different lengths...you really don't want to know what this guy looked like) sitting on some theater seats, munching on Steakums.
"Come on, Jacob, have a sit," said Rebekah as she motioned to the seat next to her.
"If I were you, man, I'd get rid of that dreamcatcher," said the patchwork man, staring at Jacob with his green, round eye (and winking at Rebekah with his brown, cloudy, and squinty one), "It's just bad news. Look what it did to me. You need to get a real one, made of leather and feathers, not made of scraps. You'll just end up with bits and pieces of dreams, never a full one. But before you throw it away, do you think you could run those nums by here again?"
Jacob sunk into the red velvet, and grabbed a Steakum.
"Sit back and relax, folks, the show is about to begin."
on his birthday
7 July 2000