I pulled the car into a parking spot and turned off the ignition. Steve and Kally climbed out of the back and walked off along the shopping mall strip in front of us.
I glanced to my left, and saw a truck loading-and-unloading lane, and saw cracks in the foundation of the wall. I imagined, briefly, that trucks were backing into those docks at 30+ MPH and that was causing the cracks.
I got out of the car, and noticed a very small puppy. It was a few weeks old; maybe 6. Eyes open, able to run around on its own. Colored to look like an Australian Sheppard. It was cute and rambunctious, but I wasn’t there to get a puppy for me, so I ignored the strange dog and went walking after Steve and Kally.
To my left there were several store fronts. Electronics, Yoga, Martial Arts. Steve and Kally were at the end, a Dojang where TKD was taught. They were sitting on the ground with a puppy between them. Steve said, “I’m tired of him not taking responsibility. The dog should know better than to lay on clothing, Kally.”
The dog in question was a tiny brown and black rottweiler-looking puppy that was laying on a stack of jeans. Kally replied with, “Well he’s just a boy; he doesn’t know how to train him yet.” That was when the owner of the Dojang walked out and looked at Steve and Kally, who turned into Eric and Jesse just then. “Your son,” he started, before glaring at the dog. “He should know better than to bring that animal here. It’s against the rules.” Jesse started to apologize as Eric picked up the dog. It was Steve who said, “Yeah, that’s why we’re here to get him. Did he tear anything up?”
Confused by what I was seeing, I glanced to my left and saw the small dog that I’d seen earlier hiking up a leg near a stack of yoga mats. I walked over, grabbed it by the scruff of the neck, and moved it off the ledge to urinate on the ground. When I looked up, I was sitting up in my bedroom, rubbing my eyes, and saying, “Alexa, what time is it?” and heard back, “12:02AM”. Swearing, I got up, and urinated, then climbed back into bed.
Standing in the middle of a convenience store, a pretty young woman was sitting on a bench. Draped across her lap, around her left arm, and laying with its head pointed between her cleavage was a rather large snake. Python, probably, based on the colors. She was just sitting there with her snake pet, ignoring the world around her.
I grabbed a bottle of soda from the cooler, and started to head to the counter in order to pay for it. Laying on the floor in front of me was a man with a rather large snake laying across his right leg. It wasn’t constricting, or moving, but the man seemed as though his leg had been crushed. He was crying, pleading with the snake to move, but when I took a step towards him, he waved me away.
So I went up the aisle to the left, and saw a man baseball slide down the aisle. Apparently, a snake, dark black with beady green glowing eyes, was rearing up to eat a child. Suddenly, I was seeing the world through that guy’s eyes, and I watched as I lifted my foot and planted it right on the nose of the snake, breaking dozens of teeth as the snake faded to vapor.
The last thing I saw was a snake sliding through a hole in the side of the convenience store, a camera attached to its back half. From within the camera, I could see the green/purple spines on its back waving in the wind as we made our escape into the night world, looking for food. Hungry, in need of sustenance, the world faded to black as I sat up, and said “Alexa, what time is it?” The prompt response was, “1:07AM”. Groaning, I got up, wandered to the bathroom and tried to urinate. I failed to squeeze out more than a few drops, before stumbling back to my bed, and returning to the darkness of sleep.
My aunt and uncle’s house will forever by my grandmother and grandfather’s house in my mind. The blue exterior, the garage, the stairway – they all remind me of my grandfather, even if they don’t look anywhere near like they did when he lived there. So even though I was sitting on the coffee-colored leather sofa that belongs to my uncle, I immediately thought of my Grandfather. He walked up the stairs a moment later, and I told him that I wanted to repair the old house.
He seemed pleased.
We walked outside, and a thin blanket of snow layered the ground. Everything was bright, but it was late night. My uncle got out of his car, walked up, shook my hand, then my grandfather’s, and then stared out over the landscape. Just the three of us, overlooking a snow-covered field.
The next thing I knew, it was morning. I was down at the old house, looking at it. Larger in my mind than it was in real life, it had none of the characteristics of the trailer I spent my high school years living in. There was a section of the house that was built on a concrete foundation. There were sections where it looked like something was supposed to join in to the house, making it complete. Two air vents for moving hot air through the rest of the house were built into the stone, and I had decided to take my great grandfather’s old house and combine it with the old house I’d lived in as a teenager.
They fit together like two jigsaw puzzle pieces. After I’d got them situated, my uncle walked through the house with me. It was decorated in old, rustic furniture that would seem classic for a contemporary guy like me. He pointed out the joints, and gave me advice on how to seal them. He, and Grandpa, both seemed pleased that I’d gotten everything to fit together so well. To tell the truth, I was too.
We walked into the kitchen, where the wood stove was. In my youth, we kept the wood stove next to the cooking stove; but it was a rectangle with a pipe coming out of it. This wood stove was different, and I didn’t understand it. But my uncle did, and he told me all about it.
The stove looked like a tree, of sorts, standing in the middle of the room with several slanted-down bowls. Some slanted out, others slanted in. Bill told me that you put a log in at the top, burn it, and then the embers roll down as they get smaller. A fan radiates the heat out through the house, and it self-cleaned while heating the home. It worked on dream logic, but it was cool. An antique; something he wished he’d had in his home. (But refused to take from me when I offered it; he said that it was mine, and I earned it.)
After that, we each grabbed a rifle and walked off into the woods. We went down into the bottom, which was directly behind my old home. The landscape never seems different when I dream about Bolivar, but that home is never what I actually lived in, despite Grandpa’s house always seeming to be the exact same as it always was. We ended up circling around the property, back up to the driveway, where we looked out over more snow-covered ground.
That’s when I opened my eyes, and the bright white snow turned into the corner of my bedroom, bathed in yellow light. “Alexa,” I grumbled. “What time is it?” But this time, there was no response. I sat up, turned around, and looked at the device – no blue light was around the ring. “Alexa”, I said again, and it still wouldn’t light up. Frustrated, half-asleep, I practically shouted, “ALEXA”. This time, the blue light sprang to life, and I asked, “What time is it?”
“5:34AM”, she said, unaware that I had just shouted at her.
I threw my head back into the corner where my bed met the wall, and tried to return to sleep.
“Time for lunch. Have a good day,” I said, as the students stood up from their desks and filed out of the room. Teenagers annoy me – I understand fully why adults were annoyed with me at that age. I assume I thought of myself as a teacher because my girlfriend is a teacher; she talks regularly about what her students are doing.
I walked to the cafeteria, putting an apron on while I walked. The minute I got behind the register, I was 16 again, and this was my first job. Standing behind a nacho stand, telling people that they could get Nachos for $0.50 a plate. Additional toppings, (guacamole, onions, different cheeses, jalepenos, etc. were each an extra $0.25) I sold a few plates of nachos, and that’s when Matthew Dickensheet walked up. He was a friend in High School that talked to me about religion. He was in my grade, and a generally decent dude.
He handed me a dollar, requesting two nacho plates and some guac. I handed him the two nacho plates, but told him the guac was an extra $0.25. Someone behind me handed him the guac, and he looked really awkward at me. I took some money out of my pocket, and tried to put it in the register for him; I figured it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to spend a quarter on a friend. One quarter made it into the till, the other fell on the floor.
As I was trying to grab the quarter off the floor, a former teacher named Theresa Holt showed up, telling a girl named Rodeo that she needed to show up to work on time. I was on time, Rodeo was there before I was. (Rodeo was a girl that my uncle swore I had a crush on when I was five. She lived in Forsyth. Why she was hanging around the Bolivar cafeteria getting yelled at for being late is beyond me.) I started to defend her, but then Holt turned to me and said, “I had such a great vacation! It was fantastic. Chevy drivers are great!”
My mind was instantly transported to the front seat of a Chevrolet truck that was pointed nose-down at a dirt hill. I was covered in off-road protective gear that you’d see on an off-road motorcyclist, and my hands were not on the wheel. An alarm went off in the cab, so I sat up and said, “Alexa. Cancel.” The alarm stopped, I opened my eyes, and could see light streaming in from the windows outside. “Alexa, what time is it?”
Time to get ready for work.