by Randy Weeks
Once upon a dream I was the quiet American, taking a sentimental journey through Italy and France. It was to be the incredible journey I had always dreamed of. Snow was falling on cedars. It was the long winter, but somehow I made it to the Camel Club for a couple of shots of whiskey. A man sat in the shadows, making him almost an invisible man. I asked the bartender, Atlas, about him. Atlas shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Oh, that’s the spy who came in from the cold. He’s here to investigate the murder of Roger Ackroyd, the rainmaker.”
I scanned the room and saw the poisonwood Bible, a Maltese Falcon, and the Indian in the cupboard—the last of the Mohicans. There was but one picture on the wall, the picture of Dorian Gray, a portrait of the artist as a young man. There was one bargirl there, Anna Karenina. She sashayed as one who had a healthy dose of pride and prejudice whose main job seemed to be persuasion.
The door burst open and a heinous looking man came in, demanded a drink at the bar, guzzled it down and ordered more. I watched the metamorphosis, dumbfounded. I was witness to the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was most certainly NOT the Joy Luck club! These two looked more like the hound of the Baskerville’s meets the wolfman.
Suddenly the door that was still open gave way to more and more guests. The sound and the fury of this coven of misfits was something I thought I’d never see this side of paradise, but in remembrance of things past I realized that this was the house of spirits where many had been murdered in cold blood. I hung my head low. This was no house of mirth. To make things worse, I heard the voice of a terrified little girl from behind the bar pray, “Are you there, God? It’s me—Margaret.” A big burly man sat down next to me and said to the girl, “This is the dark end of the street in a wicked city. Some folks go as far as to call it the Devil’s Garden. I’m the White Shadow. I’m the ranger who looks for the innocents—the lost ones with broken places—the forsaken and the fallen who forget about all the redeemers waiting to restore them.
A woman with flying shoes took her place at the bar. At first I thought her to be a beautiful version of Annie Oakley. I thought, “I wouldn’t mind her getting her tender hooks into me,” then I banished the thought. I’d spent my life heating and cooling over beautiful women. In this tilted world one must protect against crooked letters. Ah, the crooked letters and the poachers! They gave me the education of a lifehood. At least it’s always happy hour here. Still I wondered if there was going to be hell to pay.
I went out for some fresh air. It was country dark and I found myself crossing the same river twice before I could come out of the woods. I thought I was on Desperation Road where I’d seen the fall of the house of Zeus. I would have to be the fighter, but then the hands of strangers held me up and guided me back to the bar through the light. “Oh, the places you will go,” they said as the pushed me through to a different world.
I woke in a cold sweat as I left the world of dreams. The cost of the dreams was high, but I had no control over them. What dreams may come I do not know, but I will hope they are those of a fantastic voyage.
…and that’s the View from The Balcony.
Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. Randy may be reached at email@example.com as soon as he wakes from his dream world.