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Dream-Sequence Excerpt from my Prison Memoir

This dream sequence occurs after I’ve been in prison for about 9 months, from my memoir-in-progress, REBEL HELL: DOIN’ TIME FOR BARELY A CRIME.

I’m back home in California, the only place I ever belong to live. No—not back home—I never left in the first place! The whole incarceration-thing was just a terrible, and terribly vivid, dream. A nightmare that went on for an absurd length of time. But now it’s over. I’ve told Rebecca about it, and now the three of us—Rebecca, Rikki, and I—are running along a path through the towering old-growth redwoods of Humboldt County. We’re laughing at the idea that I’d ever go to prison. And yet there’s immense relief there in the laughter—relief that I’m not in prison, that it was just a terrible nightmare. Rikki’s running around joyously. Being Forest-Rikki, as we say. She’s bolting in and out of the thick vegetation, appearing for a second on the path and then disappearing again into the bush. A fog bank is rolling slowly into the forest and it brings with it the smell of the nearby Pacific. The air is so clean, fresh, moist, invigorating, life-giving. I close my eyes and hold out my arms as the fog swirls around me and breathe deeply, so deeply, inhaling hard and long enough that it brings a spike of pressure into my chest—but it’s good, oh so good, everything’s good, it’s perfect. I’m with my two favorite people in the wide world, in my favorite place. I’m smiling so much it’s starting to ache, my lips are, but I can’t stop. To stop would infringe on the magic of this moment.

Rebecca comes to me, wraps her arms around my back and presses her body to mine. Our faces are inches apart. She’s smiling, too, that amazing toothy grin of perfect, pure happiness that just lights up her face with an almost-visible aura, a ghostly reflection of her inner state, like she’s encased in it, like the whiteness of a fresh Polaroid that’s just starting to reveal its subject. She kisses me. Then she’s saying something, but I can’t hear her. I can’t hear anything anymore.

Because I’m coming out of the dream.

And I realize it, there with her arms around me and her smile and the fog and the redwoods and the palpable earthy fecundity of the moistened woods, I realize that I’m just dreaming. Everything begins to fade, to drop away, the finished Polaroid in reverse. I try to hold onto the image, the smells, the soft soil under my shoes, the feel of her body’s weight against mine. But I can’t make it stay, no matter how hard I try. I’m shackled, powerless—a slave to reality.

And then I’m awake and the dream’s over, it’s all gone except in flashes that I have to willingly conjure instead of just being there; my eyes are still closed, but the sensations and images appear only in brief flitting pops, like the white veneer over everything in sight that pulses on and off and on in your vision after a bright camera’s flash.

Now I know it was just a dream, that I am in prison, that I won’t be with Rebecca and Rikki again for another year, 52 weeks. But I refuse to accept it. I haven’t opened my eyes yet. I keep them closed tight. I’m willing reality to change; why not? There’s no sense behind any of this. Maybe I’ve awoken in a parallel world, where the threat of prison was real, but where true justice was the norm rather than an aberration, and where Judge Hamer didn’t pretend to believe Trooper Marlow’s blatant lies, where the judge decided that the Fourth Amendment and my life and the truth was more important than political gain and money, a world where I dodged the prison-bullet and I am free, and I’ll open my eyes and see Rebecca’s sleeping face, and Rikki splayed out at her feet. That’s what will happen. If I just want it bad enough, and will it hard enough, reality will realign itself into something sensible and just. Still my eyes are closed. I have to give it just a few more seconds for the shift to occur. And then I’ll open my eyes and everything will be right again—I’ll be free, and we can collect the shattered fragments of our lives and put them back together and move on….