A Waste of Good Brandy

A Waste of Good Brandy

by Joyce Melton


I got up because I want to write this down.

I had a weird dream last night. It was like a movie about a guy who was the night guard in a jail where he also ran an all night radio program. The jail was for criminals so dangerous that you could only communicate with them in poetry. Which is why this English major had got the job.


It was also very high up in a tower and the guy, I think he was played by Jim Carrey, would sometimes climb out of the window and leap across a little gap to another wall where he would sit and wait for inspiration for his poetry. The wall was so high up that the cars down below looked like beetles whether they were Volkswagens or not. The semi-tractor-trailers looked like earwigs; you get the idea, he was really high.


When he did this, a little grey-haired nun dressed in a rainbow-colored habit would follow him, leaping across the gap carrying a tray from which she served him hot chocolate laced with pear brandy. Then she would fall asleep and start to slide off the wall but she would wake up just in time to save herself. He would always lunge to grab her and spill his hot chocolate but she didn't need saving so it was just a waste.


One night he got bored after working with some of the prisoners an an epic poem about the Chinese emperor's problems installing eunuchs in his harem. While he was doing his DJ bit on the radio, one of the prisoners made up a cruel haiku about how no one actually listened to poor Jim. So he offers on the radio to give a free towel to anyone who shows up at the door. He waves around his own fluffy red towel while he's saying this.


People start showing up at the door which oddly, opens on the street even though the window is really high. At first it looks like just one or two but then people lean sideways and you see that there are hundreds of them. So he gives them each one of the white prison towels. The prisoners all complain that he's giving away their towels in iambic pentameter.


Estelle Getty is waiting in the line outside and she says that she wants a red towel like the one he promised everyone on the radio. He tells her that she couldn't have known it was red because it was radio, not television but she says, was it red? He admits that it was so he gives her his soft, fluffy red towel and keeps one of the scratchy, flat white ones that he rubs his face on.


The prisoners make fun of him for having given away his nice towel and they do it in doggerel so he escapes out of the window to stand up high above everything on the wall and argue with himself. The little rainbow colored nun comes out and leaps across and serves him his hot chocolate but admits that she drank all the pear brandy.


He's standing there drinking his chocolate when he notices that the nun has gone to sleep again. A wind comes up and the nun starts to slip off the wall. He knows she usually wakes up just in time to save herself and make him look like an idiot for spilling his chocolate on himself so he starts to put the cup down before grabbing for her.


But this time she doesn't wake up and the wind blows her off the wall and he lunges for her but misses. She falls and he watches her spin down toward the beetles and earwigs.


And that's when I woke up.


Calling dreams surreal is kinda redundant, and I find almost all accounts of dreams interesting, but this one was pure absurdist magic (as you've noted Joyce, our unconsciouses seem to share certain peculiar tendancies). The telling was good too. I wonder what removing all references to this having been a dream might do for this tale. It would make a strange, strange fable...
~~~hugs, Laika

I thought of that...

...trying to tell this as just a story. I wrote it down as quickly as I could but some of the parts faded away before I could get to them. There were stories of some of the prisoners hinted at in the dream. One guy was in there for having drunk someone's head.

Do you remember the comic, Heavy Metal (or Metal Hurlant) in the 70s? A lot of the stories in that had dreamlike qualities. The visual imagery in this dream was so intense that the action tended to fade while I tried to figure out words for the images. The gigantic walls of other buildings with people standing on ledges watching, or smoking cigars, or arguing with each other; the leaf-like fall of the little nun.

I may come back to this and try to make more out of it. Fragments of other dreams may serve for missing details.

Thanks for commenting,

Sheer testament to the power of the subconcious

I was intrigued by this, I have spent some time re-reading it seems to remind me of a flashback; but I am completely drawn into your whole dreamworld: I think Burroughs, Vonnegut and Ryman would've struggled to envisage this world! I really like it; some dream worlds can make you annoyed about waking up[sometimes!] Also, I think a relative of mine use to own Heavy Metal mags and he did have - they're pretty rotted now - editions of New Worlds and things like that, too. They really are a different world now. It was an interesting read - have you had it dream-read by a dream reading pro?


My dreams, the ones like this, are mostly just the story engine on idle. I don't think they mean much, except maybe as commentary on whatever has been occupying my mind at the time.

I've turned several dreams into stories and sometimes stories I have written reappear as fragments in my dreams. It's all vapor, mist on the water, smoke on the wind.

- Joyce

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