'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Dream Day

The cold weather seems determined to last longer than the wet weather that preceded it. I've been doing my best to feed the birds in the garden, but the partridge in the pear tree is giving me malevolent looks.

My cousin Jane and her best friend, Claudia, were walking down a quiet country road one day when a dog ran past them. He had something in his mouth. A few seconds later a group of over twenty people ran by, chasing the dog. One of them told Jane and Claudia that the dog had taken a diamond necklace. Jane and Claudia joined the chase because it looked like fun.

The dog led them through fields and down narrow lanes. More people joined the chase. Claudia was enjoying it, but Jane was becoming increasingly concerned. It reminded her of a dream she had. The dream started with a fancy dress party at a house in the country. Jane went to the party as a tree. The people who had come as kitchen utensils were congregating in a corner of the kitchen. A nurse was giving first-aid to aliens. In the dream it didn't matter if she was a real nurse or if they were real aliens. The gorilla in the drawing room was probably just someone inhabiting a costume because he was holding a cocktail and telling someone about the Napoleonic wars. Napoleon was with the other guests, dancing to records played on an old gramophone. A dog with a gold watch in his mouth ran around the room. He was closely followed by a man dressed as a penguin. Everyone joined the chase because it looked like fun. They followed the dog outside. He led them through the moonlit fields, and their laughter never stopped until they arrived at the ruins of a castle, where they were confronted by a terrifying hound who was surrounded by people who looked even more vicious than he did.

She had seen the hound at the castle in a horror film. In the film, a woman had followed her dog to the ruins, and there she had seen the hound and his intimidating handlers. They took the woman into the dungeon, where they performed a Satanic ceremony. The film wasn't very realistic. Jane had found it funny rather than frightening, but her nightmare augmented the menace and she woke up screaming when she saw the hound in her head.

As she ran after the dog with the necklace she wondered if her dream had been a premonition. She had a sense of something bad ahead. Or was this just a dream? She didn't recognise her surroundings, and she felt an air of unreality. The sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze seemed eerie. A young girl kept rising over the top of a hedge and disappearing beneath it again. The cause of this could have been a trampoline, but Jane had a feeling that it was due to some sinister device that projected children into the air against their will.

Jane stopped running in the middle of a field when a woman asked her what type of sleep she wore. Claudia stopped as well. "What's wrong?" she said.

"I don't know," Jane said. "But something is definitely wrong."

After the dog and the chasing pack disappeared over the top of a hill, Claudia said, "Do you have any idea where we are?"

"No. We're lost. That's one thing I know is wrong."

They walked to the edge of the field. At the other side of the ditch was a narrow road lined with trees. They walked down the road until they came to a woman who was sitting on a suitcase and crying. Jane asked her what was wrong and she said, "Nothing's wrong. I can cry!"

"Right. Congratulations."

"Thanks. For decades I was unable to cry, but thanks to a psychiatrist I've regained the ability. Now I cry as often as possible to make up for lost time. I cry in happiness at being able to cry."

She told them that her suitcase was full of broken vases. They were broken before she put them into the suitcase. She was very keen to emphasise this point. She wouldn't want people thinking that she was careless with vases in her suitcase, but she didn't mind them thinking that she travelled with broken vases, and that she was very careful with the broken pieces.

Claudia said, "We really need to go now. We have to be... somewhere else. Goodbye."

Claudia walked away. Jane said goodbye and followed her. Claudia said, "Something is definitely wrong alright. I have a recurring dream in which a woman ferociously beats a rug that's hanging outside the back door of a house. That woman is my grandmother. She always frightened me, and not just because of the way she beat rugs. She exuded an aura that was strong enough to touch, if you were stupid enough to touch it. My brother used to do impressions of her, despite a fear that part of her aura had left her and had seeped in under the door to see what we were up to. He enjoys experiencing fear, as long as the feeling isn't too intense. He saw her ghost after she died. Or maybe it was just her aura. Either way, it was too much fear for him.

"In my dream I try to give as wide a berth as possible to the woman beating the rug. I go in through the back door. I meet a nice old woman in a kitchen with vases, teacups, saucers and plates on the shelves. She offers me some tea, and when I say I'd like a cup she turns into my grandmother and she starts ferociously beating the things on the shelves with a stick, smashing everything to pieces. I had a feeling that the woman we just met was getting ready to turn into my grandmother."

They walked on quickly.

"So whose dream is it?" Jane said.

"If you've dragged me into one of your dreams I'll be really annoyed."

"If it's my dream you don't need to worry about anything. You're safe and well somewhere else."

"So are you, if it's just a dream. You're in bed, or else you're pretending to listen to your brother talk about his latest fishing trip."

"I don't feel safe and well."

"Neither do I."

Safety seemed a long way away when a huge dog came running around a corner, followed by a group of dishevelled people who looked as if they'd just been dragged through the undergrowth in a forest.

Jane screamed. The dog was baring terrifying teeth that glinted in the sun, but just before he reached Jane and Claudia he dropped some of his teeth. He jumped up on Jane and started licking her face. Claudia noticed that the teeth on the ground were actually diamonds.

The woman who owned the necklace gave them fifty euros each as a reward. They went to a cafe for coffee and cheesecake to convince themselves that they weren't dreaming. Dogs stared at them through the window of the cafe, but there was nothing unusual in that.

The moose's head over the fireplace enjoyed our New Year's Eve fancy dress party. Two people came as Sylvester Stallone from Rocky. They were frozen when they arrived in their boxing shorts, but at least their hands were warm in the gloves. It was no surprise when they had a fight, but no one would have predicted that the source of their dispute would be a peanut.