The Dream Protects the Dreamer
The dream protects the dreamerand, in turn, the dreamer protectsthe dream. They keep each othersafe. The dream wets a ragand wipes caked bloodfrom the dreamer's ear.The dreamer stitches up a gashon the dream's thigh with threadhe unwound from an old baseball.They both thought it would bedifferent than this. From their campin the hills, they overlook the city,which is quiet. No neighborhoodson fire. No city blocks reducedto rubble. The dream limpsto its rifle and tells the dreamerthat they need to go higher,find more cover. Somewhere they can'tsee the city. Somewhere they won'tbe found. The dreamer nodsand stirs dirt into the fire's emberswith the toe of his boot. He's thinkingabout how they sleep together each nightin their sleeping bag. How they stripdown to nothing and hold each otherto share the heat. They never talkabout it. Some nights he holds the dreamand others the dream holds him.The dream cups its hand over the dreamer's heart, [End Page 444] and the dreamer hears the faint concertof his heartbeat within his body.They hike farther up into the hills,into fog so thick they can almost partit like drapery. They can't see each other.But each hears the other's breathing.The dreamer wonders if the dreamis reaching out for his handand if he should reach out too.After an hour, he begins to forgetthe dream's face. And the dream beginsto forget his. When the fog lifts,the dream is alone. It listensfor the dreamer's footsteps,but hears nothing. It shouts for him,again and again, though it knowsit shouldn't, but gets no response.So the dream slumps downonto the leaf-softened hillsideand settles the rifle across its lap.It remembers the dreamerwas carrying the sleeping bag.It's near evening, and getting colder.The dream plants the rifle buttinto the ground and hoists itself up again.It wants to make the summit by nightfall.The dreamer could be waiting. [End Page 445]
The Alias Maker
In this dim cubicle, I work each dayon my lonely enterprise. One sad cog:a crafter of ciphers, letter writerin invisible ink, dead-drop artist,
too homely for a honeypot. But look:I have made a man from nothing at all!Hours in the forgery room I spentpainting stamps on his ex nihilo passport,
as if illuminating the Gospels.He is a man, no doubt, papered enoughto run for office. But this man will notbe an alias for me. I know no
wild adventures, no trysts in Gay Paree.I make the men for other men to be.
I make the men for other men to be:send them off to school, choose the date they losetheir virginity. I give their parentsrespectable professions or brand them
criminals or liars or cheats. One needsa watchmaker's touch to set the detailsof a man's history. True, it's an art:the ratio of tragedy to joy, [End Page 446]
nuances like broken bones and the namesof childhood crushes. I spend all morningdebating between Chloe and Sarahfor a high school girlfriend. I have more work
than ten men could do. My skills are esteemed.Every day for lunch I eat ham and cheese.
Every day for lunch I eat ham and cheesein the cafeteria with Amy;she works in the cubicle next to mine.To build a cover takes a steady hand,
and hers is as sure as a safecracker's.She's a Da Vinci with a dossier.Last fall, she made a new identityfor an agent in Mauritania
while drafting a staff memorandum onoffice refrigerator etiquette.What acumen! I'm powerfully in lovewith her: entranced divinely, gothically.
One day I could ask her out for coffee,though I doubt she'd have a dull man like me.
Though I doubt...