And now, finally, is the end of chapter 3 from The Book of Seasons. The previous dream was so scary that the narrator does indeed wake up. Yes, he does, no kidding. Just read it and see…
The Book of Seasons
chapter three, conclusion
And I awoke for sure, with a start, but silent. I was clutching the book maniacally, twisted in both hands. The night was dark outside the window. Rain was pouring in great gouts thunderously through the blackness.
The old man lay quiet on the bed. My back ached.
I felt exhausted. It was 2:30. I rose and switched off the lights at long last. Then I retired once more to my chair to sleep uncomfortably again, the book on my lap.
I sat quietly listening to the heavy rhythm of the rain droning onto the mud of the parking lot, drumming the city in the darkness. Eventually the rainsound beat my scattered thoughts to sleep.
And I dreamed the last dream:
I was reclined in my less-than-cozy red armchair, snoozing placidly, a buffoon becalmed. My chair had been transported, though, so it seemed, on angel wings elsewhere. Into a clearing within a forest. I slept surrounded by big, tall shapes, lumpy with leaves: slender firs, oval yews and irregularly spherical elms and oaks. Coniferous and deciduous trees mixed.
In the clearing, sprawled in my chair, I was asleep. But I could still observe somehow both myself and my surroundings.
I recognized the scene. It was the forest pictured on the plastic paperback’s rear cover. The fire was burning in the center of the clearing, a perfect boy scout pyramid of thirteen upright shafts all flickering and licked about with evanescent flames. My chair, and I, rested about a meter from the fire. Across the blaze, where in the painting the shaman squatted, lay the aged intruder on the ground, asleep or unconscious. A quiet wind, scented with foliage and sap, blew across the clearing.
Then, incredibly slowly, a thin pale yellow fog seemed to be early coalesced out of the air above the old man, undisturbed by the soft passage of the wind. So slowly that its gathering presence was imperceptible. Its gradual accumulation indiscernible, observed only through retrospective comparison. Slowly, slowly the yellow wisp condensed, Gradually thickening, acquiring, perhaps only suggesting, at first just not quite hinting, a certain shape, inspiring form, an asymmetrical pillar somewhat less than two meters tall and about fifty centimeters in diameter. Faint traces of other hues began to become vaguely apparent — light veins of red, overtones of ochre, lavenders and embers, traces of a lost celestial blue. And the cylinder painstakingly became a cloudy ghost, a shadow, anthropomorphic, and through several eternities that shadow became bones and organs, finally hair and flesh — or was it imagination? — until at last on man stood naked, feet wide spread over the old man, staring with sharp, very green, extremely animated eyes directly at me.
He noticed the book on my lap and laughed.
He was the shaman from the picture, six feet tall, slenderly well-built, although a trifle flabby at the waist, wearing his dark hair long to his shoulders. I recognized him as a considerably younger edition of the old man; his face, even laughing, had the same grim intensity.
I realized that the moon had appeared, a pale half, huge, pocked with purple.
The apparition knelt by the fire and gestured in a complicated graceful pattern over the flames. The wind became suddenly much stronger, and the trees sighed and moaned. He spoke a word, two syllables, and ceased his ritual.
Then rising swiftly he crossed to me, peering intently into my face. His expression was puzzled, but after a few moments’ observation he seemed somehow satisfied. He moved behind me and placed a hand on each side of my head, carefully locating each finger.
“This is going to hurt me a lot more than it is you,” he said. I remembered those words clearly; everything else he said seemed one with the wind to me. “Some things are necessary… to simplify matters. That is why we have come here. You must trust me.” He paused. The moon seemed much brighter, much whiter. The fingers of his left hand were very cold, the right warm. “You can trust Wakdjunkaga.” I knew that of course I could not. “Of course you can trust me.” I suppose I did. “Then we may begin.”
His fingers seemed to press tighter against my head: above my ears, on my temples, my cheekbones, my jaw, and beside the tendons in my neck — harder and harder, colder and warmer, pressing ever more firmly, and the wind wailed more and more loudly, until, as the moon screamed whiter than paper, apparently his fingers were sliding, melting, passing through flesh and skull into my brain.
And the terrible moon rushed right down from the sky and swallowed me then in a brilliant white iciness.
Eventually I was aware of the stars, in constant tiny jewels rarely eluding certainty, and the night sky was quite lavender eastward. Then Wakdjunkaga walked into my perception. He took the book off my lap and walked over to the old man, replacing the volume in the correct pocket. He straightened up and looked at me again, from across the fire, still burning strongly. “You understand?”
I had no idea what he meant.
He nodded and stepped into the fire. Rapidly he was reduced to smoke and the fire to ash.
I believe the sun sent a faint tendril of golden roseate above the trees, making intricate silhouettes against the lavender and amber sky. Then, gracefully, it began to rain, with a spit of blue-white lightning which flashed down agonizingly upon a tall oak at the edge of the clearing. That was the only violence, however; the rain was warm and gentle, and the sunlight continued to coyly warm the east with pastel watercolors.
Imperceptibly the edges of the dream blurred away, and the softly descending rain washed me back into the Allison, as gradually as the ghost form had first appeared, until I was no longer asleep but groggily awakening to a brightish morning as mild rain quietly beat the ground and buildings outside.
The book was gone. With reluctant concern I looked for it on the floor, but it was not there. Then I glanced at the bed.
The old man was sitting at the foot, facing me, reading from the book. He appeared perfectly at home, and in fact I felt myself that nothing was amiss. I realized that everything was all right; I was relaxed.
He must have noticed my movement searching for the book, because he looked up.
“Oh, you’re awake,” he croaked. “Sleep well? — I suppose not, in that chair. Sorry to deprive you, but circumstances were slightly out of control last evening. I’m not sure exactly what has happened here, but apparently I’ve twisted, possibly sprained my ankle from my ill-considered arrival. And I’m more than a trifle exhausted otherwise, but, actually, the best that I can tell, all is adequately perfect.”
And he was, of course, correct. Everything was fine. I sensed it in the rain pattering, in the ache in my back and shoulders, in everything. All was fine.
“I suppose,” he said, holding the book open, “you’re wondering who I am. My name is Durwood Wakdjunkaga, and I’m afraid I’ll have to impose on you a bit longer yet.” And, of course, that was all right as well.
Beginning with that moment, we two became the most excellent good friends, without any further thought on my part about it.
I have never kept a journal (until now, as this entire blog reminds me powerfully of the journal assignment I used to impose on juniors and seniors in English III, American Literature/Advanced Composition and Advanced English—once upon a time English IV, but we have the Department of Ed and UNI to blame for the later godawful course titles; probably some readers remember) nor a dream journal. Although I was trying hard to copy many sensations my own dreams gave me with these inventions, they are imaginary.