“I know how to find the Dream Country now,” Lachlan said, sipping at his coffee, the tendrils of steam rising from the black velvet depths in the broad stoneware bowl someone had the audacity to call a mug. He sat back in the wooden booth polished by age and rested is arm on the high back. Too hot, apparently, to drink. Instead of bringing the cigarette to his mouth with the hand holding it, he leaned toward the hand instead and took a long drag, held it and with a languid ennui, breathed it out.
“Bullshit,” I said in a not-unfriendly way. Lachlan had been talking this crap for years now. Most of his friends, the ones who stayed through this little obsession, well, this was the point in the conversation when they’d walk away, ask for a to-go cup and suddenly find themselves forgetting a previous engagement. Those were the smarter ones, anyway.
No one ever accused me of being smart.
“Nah, man. I’m serious this time,” he insisted, though his body language said everything I needed to know. His eyes averted, looking out the huge glass windows of the warehouse coffee shop, his relaxed demeanor — whether or not it was truth didn’t matter, he had already decided I wouldn’t believe him.
As was typical, I’d arrived well before Lachlan and my own coffee was no longer the molten temperature it had been before he arrived. I took a sip.
“You’ve said that before.”
He waved at me like I was a bothersome fly with his cigarette hand before deciding the less energy-expending option would be to bring his hand to his mouth this time to take a drag. He brushed dark hair out of his eyes with the other hand, hair that fell immediately back into his line of sight.
“I was wrong a few times. A guy can make mistakes now and again, right? Or is that against the rules?”
The Dream Country was a place that Lachlan imagined one could enter, a place where one could walk through all the dreams that hadn’t gotten stuck inside someone’s head yet. He insisted you only had to find the right door, the right shadowed corner, the right —
“You know how I like to explore the skyways, right?” he asked interrupting my train of thought.
“Well,” he said, “I stumbled on one the other day that I’d never been to before. I had gotten turned around in the C&H building and turned right when I should have turned left and I came up to a doorway that looked like it would open up to a stairwell marked Skyway.” He dipped his finger in the ice-water he’d always order with coffee and wrote the word on the table with it.
“Are you yanking my leg, dude? This is the best you can come up with? Skyway spelled with an extra E? Gimme a break.”
He brushed away at my disbelief with his free hand.
“I’m serious man. I know it sounds hokey, but I’m telling the truth.”
“Okay, say you are serious. A misspelling on a door leading to a skyway is hardly proof of –“
“Of course not. I decided if it was a skyway that I hadn’t been on, I needed to remedy that. So I tried opening the door, but it was kinda stuck, so I gave it a good pull, putting my whole body into it and –“
“Out jumped winged succubi offering to service your too–“
“Quit interrupting, man.” He took another pull on his cigarette, the ash getting to the length that might drop of its own accord as it passed over his coffee mug, but miraculously held on until he tapped it off into the ashtray as he exhaled.
“I wretched open that door that screamed like a motherfucker and started to step through until…”
I waited while he found the words he wanted to say.
“…until I saw a skyway that went on. And on. And on.”
“So it was a long skyway? So what?”
“I’ll tell you what. There was no city outside the glass. But there was some weird shit instead. I can’t even begin to tell you what I saw. You wouldn’t believe me anyway. Hell, I don’t believe what I saw and I was there.”
“Maybe it was just a mural instead of glass,” I offered. The science museum had painted murals on the inside of the skyway that lead between their buildings. It seemed reasonable to assume that someone was inspired to do the same elsewhere.
“Murals don’t move, Ben. And only madman would paint the things I saw.”
I still might have blown him off as yanking my chain were it not for the subtle shaking that started as he lifted the mug of coffee to his lips.
I snapped my fingers at his pack of smokes. I’d given up smoking a year before, but felt a need for one. He passed me a cigarette and his Zippo, and I lit it.
A few puffs later, I caught his eye.
“So when are you going to show me this door to the Dream Country?”
“Finish your coffee and let’s go.”
Originally published at sceadugenga.com