Who forgets you? After these many years, you still crawl around in my head, don't know why. You must have really made an impression upon me, for you coalesce in my dreams with surprising regularity; I run into you all over the weird little hometown I frequently dwell in while sleeping. Usually and wonderfully, I travel only the same small city in my dreams all the time, with such frequency that I have a mental map of the place and come awake knowing exactly which section of the infernal town I was visiting that night.
Welcome to San Barcelonio, the dream-polis of my sleeping existence. It is here on these slanted streets and busy back alleyways that I have spent innummerably endless night and days. The entire city is built into a bowl-shaped valley which slopes downward to the sea, where islands of small buildings and tremendous caissons rise up in the green water of the freezing, boated bay. I've yet to make it all the way down to the beach. The university, in which I have countenanced a myriad of failed assignations, is located at the peaks of the valley top, high-rise dormitories jutting green-windowed story after story into the sky, accessible only via the lofted aerial freeways that curve to the stilted and terraced grounds. The upper reaches of the hills just below the college are laid with an array of parallel one-way streets running straight downward, crammed with staid and monied brownstones, until you reach the mid-town area, a vast shopping district of antiques stores, junk bazaares, self-assembling periodic flea markets, and random decapitating exploding automobile accidents. The sidewalks here are covered by construction scaffolding and multiple levels of grey, featureless awnings that grow to occlude all sunlight and sky, and add a intimidating aire of sadness to the drab storefronts.
But inside those stores, what treasures! Unfound until now, they wait, trinkets, trifles and objects of insatiable lust and greed, the ultimate look but don't touch, for the shopkeep is always missing, or the hour is too late, or I never have enough money, having just spent it on hurriedly hidden bags of dope, or lost it down an insect-riddled drain grating back on the street, or left my wallet at the scene of another interrupted tryst.
The street, the street - you can see all the way to the bay's tangled freeways, sinuous, in long swooping arcs across the skyscrapered lines of the city's silhouettes. The parties they have in those tangled buildings' downtown interiors! Every celebrity and lost acquaintance, every dead relative and ruined romance makes their unannounced entrance with a bland aplomb, then - gone again, and always with a threat or a promise. All the jeweled and filthy rooms stand maze-like and interconnected, yet blithely stare at me, pointlessly meandering, sometimes causing this wanderer to cleave near windows and doorways to look for undulating landmarks in vain, forcing me once again to the take to the dangerous streets in pursuit of...
I'll be walking down the street, or attending a party of some kind, or on the run from some faceless pursuer, and there you are,
usually wearing that goddam white dress, looking amused and fantastic. We begin some vague and fluidly metamorphasizing adventure; I get momentarily distracted and then, of course, you characteristically vanish, leaving me to search for you everywhere, only to see you walking away far down the street while I am looking out a fifth floor window, continually buttonholed by flagrant timewasters always successfully bent upon interrupting my attempts to catch up with you. But not to fret! the denoument is fine, for as I run down the street to intercept you and accompany you home, somehow my feet take longer and longer to reach the ground after each stride. I quickly find that I am, at least, able (by a technique in which I bend my knees and pull my feet away from the approaching earth, thus delaying my landing) to maintain a prodigeous hang-time as I run, and the sheer exhilarative quality of this amazing ballon
lasts until I hit the ground too hard, from too high, and the concussion shocks me awake with a slight gasp and a dazed smile, my hair gathered in the unexpected calligraphic shapes apparently favored by the dream-stylists. Remember you? Didn't we see Sinatra together? Who forgets that?
I'll see you there tonight. I am a local in this catchbasin of tears and cat-cries. Won't you come and stay, for once?
The most dangerous traps are the ones you set for yourself. - Phillip Marlowe