a rude awakening

Some nights it is as if I do not so much sleep as dream I am sleeping: like being adrift on a lake of dark water, which is a lake of dreams, into which sometimes I can sink and sometimes not. Often I know I am dreaming, which is not to say that I am lucid dreaming: the flow of images is involuntary as ever, but I seem to have some awareness of the nature of the flow, even if I cannot control it. Occasionally, too, I feel as if delayed at some interface between thinking and dreaming, only halfway through the elastic meniscus of that dark lake water. It's not necessarily unpleasant, it can even be quite illuminating. Writing problems might find sudden solutions, or new directions, in the watery transparent lens of that meniscus. Last night was like that, lord knows why; but in the middle of that broken image stream a rude awakening came. I heard a voice cry inarticulately out and, in the dream, wondered if I had really heard it or if it was just some ghostly intrusion on the reverie (which I do not otherwise remember). Anyway. The next thing I heard was the sound of someone pissing, quite loudly, nearby. And then I thought (in the dream): this is no dream! And woke up. And someone was indeed pissing, loudly, down beneath my bedroom window - I live on the top floor of a two storey building. Not just that, he was talking on his mobile phone. I heard him say: She wanted to fuck in the taxi! Can you believe that, mate? Then laughed. In a Bristol accent, so I knew it was my next door neighbour. He's a young bloke, harmless, quite pleasant really; lives there with his girlfriend who I think may be Thai. She's nice enough too, though both of them, as young people do, don't really notice an old bloke like me. Anyway. I heard him zip up, cut the connection (possibly the other way round) then leap the stairs to their apartment. Rat-tat-tat ... on the door; then silence. This young couple often go out on a Friday or a Saturday night and come home quite late. Dancing, clubbing, whatever. A bit drunk perhaps. I don't care; they're otherwise benign, as I say, and the woman who lived there before went out of her way to make everybody's life a misery, especially mine - she'd hammer on the door if I played my stereo, got her lawyer to send me threatening letters, even called the cops on me once. As long as these two don't mind my music, or my kids kicking up a racket, I'm happy to let them do whatever they like. But this incident intrigued me: why didn't he wait until he went inside to pee? Was it so he could call his mate and tell him that fascinating bit of information? Was the she in the taxi the woman upstairs or another? Who knows? By the time I'd rattled through these possibilities, the way back to the dreamy dark waters was lost for the moment; so I flicked on the light, checked the time (3.30 am), made a cup of chamomile tea and read for a bit while I drank it ... later slipping slowly back into quasi-insensibility. Wondering ... is it true that my grandfather painted railway stations (the real thing, not pictures of them)? Any of the ones that I've stood and waited at? Was it his mother or his grandmother who had second sight? And, in either case, was it thus he who carried the schizophrenic gene, if indeed there is such a thing? Did he really believe every word of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion that my mother said he owned and read? Why didn't she go to his funeral? This gentle, unassuming man, with his passion for compost and for Douglas Social Credit? How is it that, every time I go back to her autobiography looking for answers, all I end up with is more questions? And then for some reason, just before I sank into true insensibility, I remembered the floor of the house at Pukapuka Road ... and drifted uneasily off into depthless black and suddenly perilous waters.

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