By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume 1I: Tests of Fire and Blood

Chapter 38




          I wrote the flash-dream of Kief’s viewpoint because I always know, in the background of my various dreams about him, that he thinks precisely this way.  He never mourns because he never ceases to feel in contact with his dead.  Nor does he expect an exemption from mortality, nor fears death at all, with so many of his loved ones on the other side.  And all he knows is war.

          I also wrote of Jake and Zanne in the tobacconist’s shop.  I meant to write something else, but got swept into this, instead.  You know, sometimes I think a dissociative disorder’s good for creativity!

          Sort of like Fritz Leiber saying that science fiction is the only field where senility might actually help.  In words, he always told me that a writer does not need to have lots of experiences to write, but by his actions he taught me that no matter what you live through, it’s all grist for the mill.  I take a great deal of comfort from this attitude. 

          I think he feared that if I sought out “experience”, in the middle of the Drug Revolution, I might wind up tangled in addictions like him, poor man.  I was just a kid, and I looked up to him, and he felt responsible if anything happened to me by way of his example.  But I’m not easily led; I felt quite content to grill druggies on their experiences without partaking, myself.

          Yet his example did stand me in good stead whenever awful things happened to me, though different from the awful things that happened to him.  I saw him, time and again, compost the rottenest moments of his life, with a courage few writers could match, transform them, and grow from their fertility bright and often humorous storytelling.  I wish, in fact, that I could match the joie de vrie with which he infused his writing, no matter what the source.  But I know that I will never be his equal.  God rest his kindly soul.

          The truth, I think, lies somewhere in between.  Experience does feed writing.  But you don’t have to court disaster.  Talking to others, and reading or watching their accounts of their experiences, counts as well, if pursued with empathy.  And dreams offer experience, too, of a kind I won’t take lightly.

In a dream I walked the decaying dockside community, with all its boarded-up buildings along a deserted street, and I smoked with my pals while we waited with subversive intent.  And then I and my companions met up with Lucinda and the rest, including an alarmingly stoned Kief.  I remember that clench in my gut, thinking, “Ohhhh no–he didn't!”  I felt humor mixed in with the fear, though.  Some moments I was Kief, too, obliviously enjoying every minute of it.

I have never smoked marijuana, but I have smelled it too often.  Suffice that the odor has, for me, connotations of violence.  (Not all experiences can be avoided—much has happened that I wish I’d only read about in books!)  When I smell it I tense up, ready for defense.  In my dreams it gives me warning.

As for the symbolism of the decaying dock, it’s where movement and exchange ought to happen, but doesn’t.  Something needs to unblock that energy, something explosive--like revolution!  Revolution, perhaps, against the trauma-induced wariness that limited my life at the time.  Which might explain why sometimes I also saw from Kief’s eyes.  But not too much; some wariness does us good.  Hence the warning, perhaps.

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