Leila Rae

T he dreams started six months after my divorce. They are always the same. Well, almost always. This time, I'm depressed and go for a walk, there is no moon, and the sky is starless but clear. I stop at a neighborhood bar for a drink, order Bombay neat, and sit at a table in the back. Before I take a sip, a man stops at my table, someone I have never dreamed of before, and asks if he can join me. I'm lonely, so I say, "Sure, why not?"
He pulls a chair up to the table and sits down, extending his hands toward me.
Looking me straight in the eye, he says, "You don't need that drink. Here, take this."
He hands me a small wafer of LSD. Well, I'm outraged. I smoked a lot of dope in the sixties, yeah, but I never took acid, and I don't intend to start now. I ask him to leave.
But he just smiles and says, "I understand. You're afraid, but it's ok. Go ahead, take it."
He seems so nice and so certain. I take the wafer, a white square with a blue dot in the center, and place it on my tongue like Communion. Nothing happens.
"Just wait. Be patient," he says, then, gets up and moves away from me on a column of air.
He beckons me. "This way."
I step onto a solid blue ribbon, but find, I am walking on a warm yellowing cloud. The man runs ahead of me and disappears into a tunnel. I'm not afraid because I can hear him singing "Heartbreak Hotel." He sounds like the "King." Inside the tunnel, a mirrored cross hangs from the ceiling by a new rope and sends streaks of yellow light down the tunnel. I turn to my left and climb a red clay bank, but slip back helpless and covered with mud. When I turn to my right, I see only a fall into darkness. Looking behind me, toward the tunnel's entrance, I see Diana, the huntress, stony-cold with an arrow poised.
No, not Diana, I don't want her to find me, so I lean back into the red clay, pressing my body into its softness. It folds around and hides me. From here I watch her. She is so practical; she puts on reflecting sun glasses, and walks toward the cross, looking neither to the left nor the right passing me. The jagged hem of her skirt brushes my ankle, and the aroma of night jasmine fills the air. Her red hair falls loose to her shoulders. For a moment I think she will stop and find me hunched into the bank, but she continues down the path dropping rose petals along the way. The dream ends in my kitchen with a bottle of Bombay unopened on the table.

First published: June 1993