By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume 1I: Tests of Fire and Blood

Chapter 29




        I invented this around several things known from other dreams—that Merrill and Zanne went on separate missions at this time, that Lisa excelled at knife-throwing even before the Black Clam change, that Don harbors a fondness for South-Southampton, that Gaziley would want eyeliner and that Lucinda’s soft spot in her heart for the beauty of others would cause her to budget for it, and other matters in the next chapter.

          I have vaguely dreamed of The Rat’s Nest a number of times, but could never remember what went on there.  Perhaps there’s a reason for this.  I just recall the look, sound, and feel of some of the theme bars, like Biker, or Bowery.  It crops up in condemned or abandoned buildings, or buildings under construction or renovation, as mobile as a rave.

          I suppose, symbolically, it represents the rebellion necessary to change things, and so The Rat’s Nest shows up in places where something needs torn down and/or built up.  The decision to alter one’s course often does feel antisocial, because one has woven all manner of social connections around the course that one chose before, and all those people to whom one has connected naturally develop certain expectations of one, based upon the assumption that one will continue.  Even the negative choices develop a support-network; I remember, for instance, talking with a homeless alcoholic about his guilt at the prospect of abandoning his wino friends, should he seek sobriety.  Life often demands that we change courses, but we cannot do that without letting somebody down, and that makes us feel, for the interim, like an outlaw.

          My association with the phrase “rat’s nest” begins with Grandma combing my hair, the day after I came to live with her.  As she combed, she talked about all of the “rat’s nests” in my hair that needed untangled.  I had never heard the phrase before (at two I had not heard much!) and I pictured the eviction of all those rats (for some reason I imagined them colorfully attired in cavalier garb, led by a rat in a crimson jacket, bowing with his broad, plumed hat before departing.)  I felt safe with Grandma, come to a harbor at last, and yet guilty about those feelings, betraying old allegiances by accepting this new family.  This became my first experience of outlawry, of not just doing something that somebody might not like (even a baby has experience of that!) but of making a lifestyle of it.  I made my choice, bore the guilt of it, and moved on.

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