Fools, Friends, and the Great Beyond
Tom Jolu
Tour Journal: The Dream

Tour Journal: The Dream

I wake up with the book, “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse on my chest. The lights are still on and my music is still playing, quiet and mellow in the background.  I check the clock and it says 3AM. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes I realize something: I had a dream last night…

I’m in my kitchen, nervous and anticipating something, but what it is I don’t know. It’s larger than me, larger than anything I could conceive. It’s life altering. I open the cupboard and push back a collection of dusty glassware, and pull out a bottle of whiskey, brushing off the cobwebs. I scramble through the drawers to find a pack of matches. There’s a noise and I look up. I hesitate like a child when they’re cleaning up a mess they made and failing. 

Nothing. 

Looking at my collection of odds and ends I pull out a brand new dime and flip it. As it tumbles in the air, it slows and I make eye contact with the stern face on the coin. I catch it and anxiety fills me. I shake as I stare at my hand. I pull it away and once again, I see the still stern face of the coin, but as I look into its eyes, I see an almost disapproving look on its face.
“I’m sorry”, I say. I twist the cap and take a swig of whiskey. “But, it has to be done”.
I put the rest of the odds and ends into my jacket pockets, but before I leave my apartment I grab an old rag off the kitchen counter. I’ll be needing that.

It’s raining and as I walk through the darkened streets, fog rises from the ground. As I walk through the streets I’ve grown to know, my hand touches the dog-eared pamphlet an old man gave me weeks ago. I don’t remember much besides his eyes. They were the eyes of someone who was on the verge of giving up.

A few more blocks pass until I see my bar In the distance. The neon signs are unfamiliar and glowing unearthly colors. I slow to see that the crowd of regulars who smoke and bullshit in front of the bar are nowhere to be found. I look inside, thinking maybe they’re listening to a band, but no one is there.

I continue down a few more blocks past the abandoned church, trying my best to ignore the uneasy feeling growing inside until I feel I’m where I need to be. I turn to my right to find a stairwell, the steps crumbling and the corners covered in moss. They lead down to a small hallway. As I descend the staircase I spot a sign just above the doorway. Though the metal door is covered in rust, bubbling away the dull, yellow paint, the sign looks brand new. It even looks like it’s glowing red and gold. It says “Madmen Only” just like the pamphlet that crumpled man gave me. I stand at the bottom of the steps, waiting.
“Are you ready?” A voice says.
I nod my head.
The door opens and the warmth from the room brushes past my face. I take a few steps in and see a crowd of people, some standing by the bar, others talking loudly at the drink-covered tables. As I scan the crowd I see faces of people strange and unfamiliar but some were the faces of people I thought long dead. Mozart sat, loudly speaking, laughing at Gandhi shaking his head with a smirk on his face.
The voices grow louder now, though nothing has changed. Colors flood my vision – blue, yellow, purple light floods the room, though no one but me seems to notice. The voices distort, the light splits, shifts, changes. My head swims through a myriad of futures, all uncertain, splayed out before me.
The room catches fire, while at the same time staying completely untouched. The crowd scrambles, while continuing to drink and talk. The crowd notices me and turns to a mob, ripping the bottle from my hand. They beat me to a pulp, while they throw me into a cold, dark room.
I’m split into two, three, four, seven pieces all at once. I don’t know what to do, or what to choose, or where to go, or what to think. Everything is melting together, laying on top of each other like double-exposed film. In desperation, I pull out the bottle of whiskey, the rag ready to be lit. I strike the match, but before I can light my makeshift Molotov cocktail, a voice, different from the cold, surgical one that greeted me at the door, speaks. In a warm, welcoming tone it says:
“Hello. How are you?”
I turn towards the voice and the same crumpled man who gave me the pamphlet stands, smiling. But something is different. His eyes once tired and broken are bright and full of life.
“Harry Haller?” I ask.
“The same, my friend.”
“So this means I’m at”
“The Magical Theater, yes.” He looks down at my hand, and with a laugh says, “You should put that out. You don’t want to burn yourself, now.”
I look down, embarrassed. “Sorry about that.”
“It happens to the best of us. Here, let me take that for you.” He grabs the bottle. “Come with me. I have something to show you.”
We walk through a long, winding hallway and we stop at a door. “This is where I leave you.”
I look at the tall, thin door, no wider than my shoulders. “What do I do?”
“Open it, of course.” He chuckles and walks away.

I turn back to the door and again anxiety fills me. But the more I focus on the door, the details, the grain of the wood, the patterns swirling upwards, the worn brass of the doorknob, the more I, despite my growing anxiety, want to open the door. I close my eyes and open the door. As I open my eyes a mirror image of myself stands in front of me. I began to laugh…