I try to keep things upbeat on here (well for the most part), but part of my work, I feel, is to write out the significant things that occur to me. I’ve had some very trying times in the last few months: discouragement, another unplanned move, and a return to staying at my in-laws. I haven’t shared the ghastly details here and I still won’t. Nonetheless I had a nightmare last night which I wish to write out. It is not explicitly violent or gruesome, nonetheless, troubling, at least to my mind. And not in the usual vein of what I share here. Now you’ve had fair warning. I do sometimes have nightmares that the mountain where I worked had changed, gotten resort-touristy and bad. This one is slightly different.
I made some plans. School, I think. A graduate studies program. All seemed well and then I decided to go back to the mountain. One more time, one more season.
Outside, the faces were more sheer than I remembered them. I tossed some loose rocks over the edge to see how they might fall. I recalled the hundreds of times I asked children not to do this: an animal, or a hiker, might be below. I had checked first. And, I was bored.
The visitor center seemed much grander than before and I had to learn how to operate the film portion again. My feet itched to be outside, leading a walk. Operating the movie was my least favorite part of the job, and I was running late.
There seemed to be at least 10 volunteers around. Why hadn’t one of them started the movie? The center was packed; there must’ve been three hundred people in the movie theater alone and one thousand more milling around. This is it, I was thinking, last summer. I won’t do this anymore.
I had to crawl around backstage and there were some strange slap-dash government housing situations going on there. Things were downhill, I thought, for the staff. Still, I needed some equipment to start the film (I don’t know why), and it must be retrieved from somewhere back there. My old superintendent from another job was there too. “You don’t belong here.” he said. “I know.” I said.
I was aware that I was in my uniform but my feet were bare. I’d had to change in someone’s car on the way to work. My shoes were somewhere, there, at work, but I had to get the movie started first. I went back to the front desk with my equipment, where a volunteer stood. “I know,’ I said, “I’m over fifteen minutes late starting the film. Were you about to start it?”
“That’s not it,” she said, and then, “I think I’m going to have to call the police.” WHAT?
I turned and looked to the security camera to which she was point, and saw a man aiming a gun. Directly at me. I hit the deck, action-hero style, with a light leap in the air first. I remembered thinking, as I always do when watching stupid movies, that this is a terrible way to fall. You put yourself directly in the line of fire.
I felt the warmth of the bullet hit just above my hip and the warmth of my blood as it spilled down my leg. I woke up.