who we are:

My Horrible, Horrible Dream
by B. Russell

On Saturday night, right before I fell asleep, I ate some greasy fish and french fries I had bought from a corner store in Spanish Harlem. It gave me a slight stomachache. That night I had a dream -- not a Martin Luther King, Jr. type of dream where people of all races are holding hands singing Kumbaya -- more like a nightmare in the form of a unusually cohesive and detailed story that sprang fully-formed from my subconscious like Athena from Zeus's cracked skull.

- - -

In this dream I am a meek, hard-working bank teller at an unidentifiable branch office remotely resembling the bank I used to pour my allowance money into back in Indiana, before they were bought out by a larger bank in Ohio. My co-worker is an odd creature: fat, balding, shorter than me, about mid-forties, with glasses that always seems to be slipping off his nose. He hates his job and I do too, but unlike me he doesn't even try to make the company happy. He grudgingly does the bare minimum required of his job, gives dirty looks to our manager and spends the rest of the time feeding his disturbing fascination with murder. He likes to carry around a knife that he says is an exact replica of the knife that killed JFK. (Not all of this dream made sense.) He is always bringing in books about Jack the Ripper or the Columbine shootings, and on this particular day he's reading a paperback biography about Charles Manson. He shows me the cover; "Now there was a REAL man," he said. "Charlie wasn't afraid of anything."

Now on this particular day the manager has had it with this man. The manager asks to talk with him outside, and after staring at him for a couple of seconds he complies. I go up to the glass door to watch the encounter, and I can tell that he's getting fired. Something seems to snap in the man's mind; after an uncomfortable pause he suddenly kicks the manager hard in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Then he whips out that knife of his and pins him down and starts stabbing him, over and over. Blood is being splattered everywhere as the helpless mid-level management executive flails under this abnormally ferocious assault. It's the middle of the day and there's people everywhere, including two police officers chatting down the street, and he's killing this man out in the open, screaming madly as he enthusiastically and maniacally pistons his knife into the manager's torso. People don't seem bothered by it at all; rather, they're intrigued by it. It's like the event is so strange in its open brutality that it's become a public spectacle, and a crowd starts to form around the ongoing scene. I walk out of the building and join the men, women, children, police officers and construction workers who are staring in horror and fascination as the man continues with complete abandon to thrust angrily into the straddled, now-silent corpse.

When he finally collapses onto his bloody pincushion, utterly exhausted from his efforts, the police politely lead him away and the crowd slowly disperses, talking amongst themselves. "Wow, that was really something," one woman says. "I've seen better," says another. Something inside my brain is hurting and I don't know what to do. And that's when I start running. I run and run and I can feel my sides start to hurt but I keep running because there's nothing else I can do, and soon the pain in my body begins to equal the pain in my mind. And then the adrenaline and endorphlns finally kick in and I feel it all fade away. I start to feel really good about the whole thlng, and I see that my moral dilemma was not really a dilemma at all, just a momentary awkwardness in time. I realize that all the problems of the world -- right and wrong, good and evil, guilt and innocence -- are simply matters of hormonal imbalance. And I keep running and running and feel the cool air against my face and the rush and exhilaration of life, and know that everything is as it should be.

- - -

Then I awoke. Terrified and exhausted.

I really shouldn't have eaten the fish.



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