Saturday, January 22, 2005

Endless Rooms

Bad flu fever dream...

I was at a party or some sort of gathering at a fancy mansion owned by a family I knew - or maybe it was my family, but not the family from my waking life. It was nighttime and the mansion was brightly lit.

The place was immense... impossibly so. The rooms went on and on... endless rooms. I didn’t much care for the style. It was that cluttered, busy, gilt, baroque stuff that some wealthy people seem to favor. Acres of flocked wallpaper, heavily carved furniture in dark woods, gold leaf everywhere, gold colored carpet. A little threadbare, but clean. I found the whole place rather bloated, cold, and pretentious.

At one point we were all supposed to do something important... find something. I can’t remember exactly what. It had to do with a daughter in this family who had been recently murdered. I set off alone to look for whatever we were all looking for.

I wandered and wondered. It would take hours to write what all the rooms looked like, but I remember one suite that was very nice. Comfortable. Lots of windows and light; nice postmodern design. I remember thinking J would love to live here... it was just his style... except for the kitchen, which was crumbling, dark, and much too small for a good cook to spread out and really work.

I was in a high sort of attic or loft space where I found one more of many bedrooms and suites. It was dark here and I fumbled for a light switch.

This room was different. The decor was retro 1950s atomic age modern. The colors were simpler, mostly tans and beige with darker accents in warm browns and black. The furniture was spare and geometric. The carpet was off-white and the whole effect was almost Japanese.

I rounded a corner, walked down a short hallway, found some stairs, and climbed them. I was in another sort of loft above the main suite. It was the only room that wasn’t kept clean by the staff. It was dusty and smelled closed and stuffy... like rooms smell when you’ve been away for a long time. There was some clothing tossed on a chair that was upholstered in a simple tan and white striped fabric - just tossed there - and a pair of silk stockings on the floor at the foot of the chair - as though a woman had undressed and tossed them there, knowing the staff would take care of them later.

I suddenly realized that these rooms belonged to the dead girl - the murdered girl - and I wondered if the staff had been instructed not to move anything... you know, the “leave it just as it was” thing cops do at a crime scene. This loft was the girl’s private sanctuary - a place where she could escape the heavy decoration and formality of the other rooms. There was a real good stereo, some books, trinkets and remembrances - two caged love birds in a corner. I was surprised that they were alive, but noticed they had fresh water and seeds - I figured somebody was still taking care of them and thought, “these birds shouldn’t be left alone up here... they need to be around people and activity or they’ll go nuts.”

I found a plate or platter on a coffee table. It was in black enameled metal, covered with a classical Greek motif of men having sex. I decided to steal it. I had been carrying my portfolio with me the whole time, but it wasn’t my regular portfolio... it was made of tattered white cardboard, held together with masking tape (in the waking world, I keep my larger artwork in a fairly nice black portfolio). I slipped the plate into the portfolio and quickly left these rooms.

On my way back down to the main rooms, I got completely lost. I was in a long, windowless, unlit hallway with red flocked wallpaper and rough wooden plank flooring (hmmm... walking the plank). I was beginning to panic. I called out for help over and over, but the house was so big, and I was so far off the beaten trail, that nobody could hear me. At one point, I left my artwork and my stolen treasure behind as I fumbled around looking for a way out.

Eventually I found a little stairway that led down to a main upstairs hallway. There were five men doing restoration work in a side room - shirtless carpenters with tool belts, wearing jeans. I had seen them earlier and they didn’t like me, so I didn’t speak to them. I found the head housekeeper walking down the hall toward me. She was a matronly woman who had been in service at this house for years. Everybody respected her and some family members even loved her. I was so glad to see her, I literally fell to me knees.

“I got lost!” I cried. “I was upstairs and I found her [the dead girl's] rooms and then I got lost and couldn’t get back! I have to go back for my art.” I didn’t mention my theft.

We walked to a sort of linen or storage closet, because the housekeeper wanted to give me a flashlight stored there. We couldn’t find it, but we did find one of those emergency lights you see sometimes... the ones with a battery pack that you plug into a wall outlet so there’s a light source if the power fails.

I took it and returned up some rickety stairs to the red hallway. It was even more immense than before - in the feeble glow of this emergency light, I could see that it stretched away for what seemed like forever. There was carpet on the floor this time, dark red with gold speckles in it that glittered off into the distance.

I woke up.


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