Chapter four- labyrinths*
“WHAT SCARED YOU ALL INTO TIME? WHAT SCARED YOU ALL INTO YOUR BODIES? INTO SHIT FOREVER?”- The Yage Letters- William S. Burroughs (for Hassan Sabbah) and Allen Ginsberg
If we have been scared into our bodies from some other state of existence then perhaps we remain connected to that other place and return to it when we sleep. Perhaps dreams are what frighten us back into our wakefulness and our bodies each day. Perhaps dreams are our enemies, keeping us tapped forever in our bodies.
What we know is that we need sleep. Without it we cannot develop, we cannot learn and we cannot live. Most of us will spend thirty-two years asleep if we are lucky. There have been those who have fought the battle against sleep. They have used drugs to push the boundaries of their wakefulness as far as possible… as far as maybe three of four whole days. In the end that may simply be an attempt to merge the worlds of sleep and waking together, to bring the dreams into our waking lives.
To stay awake beyond a couple of days requires the use of drugs and the state induced by lack of sleep is somewhat similar to that induced by ingesting certain natural or synthetic chemicals, the one cascading into the other and leaving us just as confused.
That night Connor dreamt the dream that he had been dreaming for years, the dream that he had never been consciously aware of, that he could never have recounted, the tiny parasite in the pea pod at the centre of his being that had been running things for years…
He was a young Garda again, not long qualified, and he was doing a night shift walking the beat in the city centre. He was a little nervous and very sincere, his uniform very well ironed.
Off O’Connell Street he heard an alarm, this was when people still paid attention to alarms, and he went to investigate.
He found a man attempting to break into a small shop.
Maybe he approached a bit too aggressively, he was inexperienced then and a bit scared.
The man ran.
So they were running and it was exciting. They ran through the smaller streets, he caught a glimpse of a sign advertising a sale in Arnott’s Department Store. When they reached the quays the man turned left heading towards O’Connell Bridge. The man was tiring. Connor could sense it. He was catching up to him. It wouldn’t be long.
There was scaffolding covering the front of the Ormond Hotel and Connor was surprised to see the man he was chasing stop and begin to climb it. He wasn’t crazy about heights but he started after the man who reached the top first and disappeared over the top and out of sight onto the roof. Connor was pleased to think he could tackle the man on the roof rather than on the scaffolding.
As Connor’s head reached the top the first blow fell. It hit him on his left shoulder just missing his head. Through misty vision he saw the blank of wood in the man’s hand. The need to hold onto the scaffolding, to get to the roof, filled his mind. He clawed and crawled his way onto the roof as the blows continued to fall on his back and shoulders.
Connor got to his feet and found his baton in his hand. He felt very little pain but he was sick and dizzy. His vision was blurred and his throat was so dry. He swung the baton hard and felt the vibration through his whole arm, an electric shock in his shoulder. The baton fell from his hand. He had made contact though and as the other man fell back he swung low and landed a crashing blow to Connor’s hip sweeping him off his feet.
Connor reached for his baton and stood. He was up just before the man and he swung the baton in a big overhand arc. This time it caught the man behind the ear and he held onto it. As the man folded he hit him again.
He could never honestly remember how many more times he hit the man before he stopped and sat down exhausted on the roof. There was so much blood- his and the other man’s. Much of the surface of his baton, which was formally black, was chipped to a dull white.
He felt exhausted, deep down. He didn’t think much for a few minutes but he did think about what an ineffective weapon his old style mahogany truncheon was, force travelled right through it and into your arm making it nearly impossible to keep a hold of.
Then he had to find his way down off the roof with his suspect.
He had dreamed about that night every night since, it had warped his jaw with tension and further twisted and tightened his hip little by little, and though he had never once been consciously aware of the dream this was the last night he would ever have it.
Something new was about to take root in him.
*with thanks to J L Borges