Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Presidential Dream

I’m in the military, stationed in a sort of wild west frontier town in a northern climate. It might be Alaska, but I don’t remember. The town is, well, “rustic” would be a polite way to put it; “run-down” is more accurate. Weathered Victorian buildings -- very ornate, but unpainted and in disrepair -- line a single main street. Corrugated tin awnings along the street shelter a sidewalk of rough-sawn wooden planks. It’s late at night and bitterly cold. It’s snowing, hard. Snow is drifting in the street and piling up everywhere.

I’m stationed at an especially run-down building -- a sort of barrack. (Is that a dream pun about the Democratic nominee? Maybe.) Despite the late hour, there’s a lot of activity by lamp light. Twenty or thirty people are rushing around, sweeping snow that’s blown in and setting a long table. We’re preparing for a visit from “General McCain” and my sergeant is barking orders. He’s a gruff, kind old goat who reminds me of the actor, Jack Palance.

He assigns me the job of going to a hotel down the street to collect firewood. “We’re all out and we’ve got to get this room warmed up for the General,” he tells me. “And you need to be quick.”

I’m donning a sort of protective snow suit made of heavily padded blue and white striped cotton. There’s a basket of gloves made of the same fabric by the door, but none of them match. It’s very frustrating. I give up after a few minutes, put on some mismatched gloves and a neon blue ski cap. I head out into the blowing snow and crunch down the sidewalk.

The hotel is very shabby, but one can tell that it was once quite fancy. I suddenly realize that I have nothing to carry firewood and decide to go back for a wheelbarrow. I remember that there’s a rusty old yellow wheelbarrow behind the barracks. Another soldier appears out of the snow with the wheelbarrow and informs me that she too has been assigned to bring firewood.

“It’s for the fireplace in the General’s room,” she announces, “and I have priority.” I suddenly realize it’s Sarah Palin. I don’t like her and I don’t like this situation. She refuses to share the wheelbarrow and this really annoys me because it means I’ll need to make several trips in the blizzard.

“You’re going to regret this,” I say.

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Because some day you’re going to need something and I won’t be there for you.”

She giggles sarcastically and says, “God bless you!”

“Go to hell,” I reply.

The firewood is stored by a stone fireplace in a mezzanine restaurant on the second floor. The carpet on the stairs is red, dirty and threadbare. There’s a bar next to the fireplace, tended by a tall African American guy (not you-know-who, but with a similar build).

“My boss told me you have some firewood you can spare,” I tell him.

“Help yourself,” he says flatly and turns away to wipe down some dirty beer glasses.

I drag firewood to a window, open it and start tossing it to the street below, one log at a time. It thuds into the blowing snow and disappears. I’m thinking that this is going to take forever and I’m rather ticked off.

“The General should get his own damn firewood,” I announce to no one in particular. A few diners look up blankly, but no one helps.


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