Setting: A tightly packed town square at the top of a big hill. Shops are stacked on top of each other and have small and dusty display windows. Everyone is gathered around the streets to watch a parade of the town’s gangs on different floats and vehicles. Candy rains down on all of the children and parade attendees.
I was sitting on the curb enjoying the parade when suddenly I got an uneasy feeling. It almost felt like I was being watched even though I knew absolutely no one from this side of town. Although I was unaware of the source of the feeling, it still triggered my fight or flight response and I instantly got up and started walking inconspicuously through the crowds. They thinned as I neared the edge of the parade route and I finally broke through to a comparably empty side street lined with shops. One particular shop said: VACANCY in bright yellow circus letters. Apparently just the thing I was looking for, I stepped right in. A small silver bell hanging above the doorway rang as the door closed behind me. A fat man in a black suit vest and pants with small white stripes stood up to great me and as he did the wooden chair groaned in the relief from his weight. I noticed the gold pocket watch chain hanging from his vest and thought it an odd accessory for 2016.
The shop was one large area with a few sheer curtains separating several day beds. In essence it was a mini hotel for travelers to stop and sleep. Everything was red. The walls were a deep red, the beds were covered in velvet red blankets, the curtains were tinted red, and the shag carpet was a very rich maroon, a shade darker than the walls. The fat man with a bald head and a scruffy white beard demanded $300 for the night and I paid him like that was a reasonable price. There was a blonde in the bed nearest to the wall so I chose the one right next to her. As soon as I sat on the day bed she pulled back the curtain to look at me.
“I can’t believe it’s you!” she exclaimed in a whisper. “I’m your mother. Your father runs a big gang in this town and he won’t stop until you join in. You have to run!” I was overwhelmed at the sight of my mother – even if she looked like she was only 18 – and gave her a long hug before leaving the room of red.
I stepped out into the sunlight and the streets were filled with people on their way home after the parade. I looked to my right and saw the huge hill that led back to downtown. I joined the throng of people and began my descent.
After a little walking, someone grabbed my hand. I looked over and saw a Mexican man walking next to me. When he turned to look back at me I noticed it was my co-worker. Without a word, we both kept walking hand in hand. We took many different paths and passed through different city scenes. At one point, in an alley, my co-worker said “Let’s just sit here a bit,” and promptly sat on a fence board where a picket was missing. I had just joined him when suddenly the pickets became like a sliding barn door, and a Mexican farmer shut it on us. A dust cloud poofed as we fell out of the way into the dirt alley. My co-worker helped me to my feet and brushed me off. I looked down the alley and froze. An Asian man stood in a black wife beater and pants with a backwards red baseball hat. Somehow I knew this was my father and that he was here to force me into his gang. Before he could take a step closer, my fight or flight response kicked in and I broke into a dead sprint. My co-worker stayed right on my heels.
At this point in my dream the mood shifted. I no longer felt like I was on the run. Instead I just felt lost. I had no idea in what direction my house and my husband were. My co-worker and I somehow ended up in a run-down hall of mirrors that doubled as a maze. After wandering around for a bit, we turned a corner and ran straight into my husband. He threw up his hands and said “Where in the world have you been?” I ran up to hug him but he jumped on top of the wall to the maze and I ended up with a face full of thin air. The walls now stopped about two feet from the ceiling, and my husband leaped from side to side, leading me out of the maze. (It was oddly similar to the scene in The Lion King where Simba is led by Rafiki through crazy terrain).
We were quickly out of the maze and ended up on a small, quiet street like the one we live on. The first house we passed had a huge, chocolate, mastiff dog with cropped ears. It didn’t bark or even move, it just stared at us and waited. He was so big that the white picket fence only came to his chest, but he stayed behind it. My husband pulled a dog treat out of his sweatshirt pocket and handed it to the mastiff.
Then my brain hit the fast forward button and we fed every dog, from every house, treats as we went by. I felt like a paper boy for dogs, handing treats into open and waiting mouths as I skipped down the street. What a great spot to wake up in!