“DO APPRENTICES GET TO PICK THE COLOR OF THEIR LEOTARDS?”
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1979
Then white light flashes. I’m spinning and I fall. I should have hit the ground, but I don’t. They are all still chanting, all around me. I’m in the center of it all. I don’t feel right. My arms feel like they’re being pulled out of their sockets. I look up and see that I’m being suspended from some chains around my wrists. Oil and my own sweat coat my bare skin. How did I get here? Arrgh! Slashing pain across my chest. Arrgh! I’m being whipped. What did I do wrong? Who’s doing this to me? I hear laughter. Cruel, sadistic laughter. I can’t speak. I can’t cry out for help. Where did the worshipers go? I’m all alone. I feel so weak. Drained of will and strength. I can’t see the one who is doing this to me, yet I think I know him. I don’t understand how this is possible. A thick sweet smell, incense of some kind rides the air. I can feel a hand, it’s a man’s, touching tenderly my wounds and caressing my bare skin. My unknown assailant is playing with me. I try to scream out for help, but I can’t. I’m trapped and helpless. Hearing the loud whisper of the whip, anticipating the fiery pain it will inflict. The pain of the whip cutting into my body is awful but so is that moment of knowing that the pain will come. Help! Someone, please help me! Suddenly it stops.
I feel like trying to get up out of sand that has been piled around me up to my armpits. My eyelids feel like they are made of lead and I’ve not yet the strength to lift them.
Something’s different. No smell of incense. I’m alone.
Thank God. Where am I?
I’m so confused.
Where am I? Hmm? Why do I think I should be feeling cobblestones?
What is going on? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
I feel something soft and smooth. I’m in a bed, but it’s bigger than my own. Opening my eyes, I see that I’m covered by pink silk sheets. Definitely not my bedroom.
The whipping, it was a damn nightmare. Thank God, it was only a dream. Or was it? It seemed so real. Much too real. That dream left me with a really odd feeling. Don’t want to think about it anymore, it gives me the creeps. Focus on something else.
Wait, wasn’t there more to the dream, beside the torture? I recall an impossibly weird city. There was chanting of some kind. I was the focus of some spell. What does it all mean? The images are slipping like sand through my fingers. I can’t stop the memory from fading. It’s gone.
Great, another mystery. Hmm. Might as well focus on something I can solve. Like, where am I? I’m in someone’s bedroom. The $64 question is whose? The bed appears to be queen sized and has a red canopy. The wallpaper, the carpets, and the drapes continue the red and pink color scheme. On the dresser, amongst a hairbrush and perfume spray bottle, is a small one-foot high statue of a naked woman with a bow and arrow. The pose and the style remind me of the Roman Goddess of the hunt, Diana.
My brain is trying to get across a significant fact that I’m overlooking. The message finally gets through. I’m alive. I remember now, when last I was in Dreamland, I had been stabbed by a parasol/sword. I look at my chest and see the bandages. Hey! I’m bare skinned from the waist up. I thought my leotard was one solid piece, how did it become a top and a bottom? Hmmm? Presumably whoever did the first aid is the owner of this bedroom. My guess is that person is probably female.
The last thing I recall hearing was a woman’s voice. She sounded like she was pretending to be annoyed. Perhaps this is her bedroom.
I should go and thank her. I try to raise myself up, but my body reacting to a wave of wooziness, convinces me to remain horizontal for a while longer. I’ll try my vocal cords.
“Excuse me,” my voice sounds weak and out of practice. “Ah, excuse me, is anyone home?”
My last sentence sounds sort of up to the volume of a normal conversation. I’m about to try again, when in walks a six foot tall, stocky built woman, with short brown hair. She’s wearing a white cotton shirt belted at the waist with a silk scarf over dark blue knee length breeches, and leather sandals. Hmm. From her physique, I believe she was the model for Diana.
“The knight errant awakes. How do you feel?” She asks.
“I believe the technical term for my condition is woozy.” I reply. She smiles back.
“Considering what we pulled out of you,” She remarks, “woozy is pretty damn lucky, actually it’s miraculous. We don’t understand what happened. It makes no sense. Any other Dreamers would have died a Dream death.”
“Yes,” she explains. “And once a Dreamer dies in this realm, she can never return here again.”
“But, I did. I died and came back. Actually, this is possibly the second time this happened. I seem to be making a habit out of dying.”
“All of this isn’t right. You shouldn’t be doing any of this dying and returning. It’s just not done. It can’t be done. It makes no sense.”
“I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time someone attempts to kill
me,” I politely say, “I’ll dutifully inform them of the error of they’re ways. Did I remember to say, thanks?”
“No. But you never got a chance to,” she replies.
“Well then, thanks.”
“A seemingly trivial question, but one whose answer will enlighten me, what happen to my leotard?”
“Meaning what? You’re still wearing it,” she answers.
“Yes, I’m wearing the bottom half, but what happen to the top half?” I ask.
“We took it off you to bandage up your wound,” she explains, “after that it dissolved.”
“Dissolved? It dissolved all by itself? Can this happen at any time?” Images of suddenly being naked in a crowded room, due to unexpectedly dissolving clothing, come quickly to mind.
“I’m sorry,” she says, “I forget that you’re new here. The Dream suit that you are wearing exists because you give it existence. Close your eyes and touch your leg with one hand and your shoulder with the other.”
I do so, I feel a very slight tingling, and then I no longer feel skin. I open my eyes to see that I’m again covered in gray.
“Okay,” she continues her instructions, “now reach around your waist and go to take off the top half of your Dream suit, as if you would a shirt. Don’t think about it just do it. It might help to close your eyes.”
I reach down and do as she says. Hey, it separates!
“Now put the shirt back on,” she instructs.
I do so and it’s again seamless, “Wow!”
“The Dream suit can be molded, cut, shaped, colored endlessly; all it takes is a desire to do so.”
As I lie there, dumbfounded by this revelation, from the other room I hear a familiar second woman’s voice. The voice has the unmistakable tone of playful annoyance.
“Rebecca, is he awake?” The ‘annoyed’ woman asks.
“Yes Sarah,” the woman I’ve been talking to replies.
“Good. Now we can get him out of my bed,” Sarah says to Rebecca as she enters her bedroom.
Sarah is a short slender woman, with long fine brown hair. She is attired in an ankle length burgundy dress with a cinched waist. There is a hint of lace at the sleeves and neck. A pink ribbon secures a cameo brooch tied around her throat. In every way, she is the image of a very proper Victorian woman.
“I hope he appreciates what we have done for him,” Sarah addresses this comment to Rebecca.
“He does,” Rebecca replies for me.
I get the definite impression that my male charm is not having any effect on Sarah and Rebecca. I think they’re more than just friends. Hmm. At the time, Sarah seemed to be in some sort of distress. I wonder if trying to retrieve a parasol would be considered a rescue? Will any of this help me to earn my knight errant merit badge?
“Well Rebecca, since he is clearly not dead, as we feared, what are we going to do with him? Where should we put him?” Sarah asks.
“How about the couch?” Rebecca answers.
I think it’s about time I enter the conversation. “Ah, excuse me.
Ladies, might I venture to say a few words, or is this a private conversation?”
Sarah doesn’t seem to appreciate my humor. “Well, what do you want to say?” Sarah looks in my direction for the first time.
Prudence dictates my next remark. “I would like to thank you both for coming to my aid and ministering to my wounds. As soon as I’m able, I would like to repay your kindness in some manner.”
“I see that your mother taught you manners,” Sarah sarcastically says.
“Yes Ma’am,” I answer, “which leads me to my next question. In your opinion, how long before I can be up and about?”
“I am not really sure,” Sarah imparts, “I have to get over the fact that you’re awake, still here at all, not Dream dead, and you’re recovering, faster than I would have anticipated, and somehow managing to able to ask unending questions. This all isn’t normal. So, I don’t know.”
“Do you have any idea why that is?” I ask.
“In Dreamland,” Rebecca relates, “one’s physical condition is a product of the underlying health and strength of one’s mind, one’s self identity.”
“You mean,” I ask, “the bigger the ego, the stronger the Dream powers?”
“Just like a male,” Sarah says with mock anger, “to reduce a sophisticated psychological phenomenon down to a single simplistic factor: size. Dream abilities can’t be considered a mere matter of size.”
“Of course,” I try to keep a straight face as I create a double entendre, “the secret is knowing how to use what you've got, and not how big it is.”
“That is exactly what I say to my pupils,” Sarah responds, “I always tell them that what one lacks in one area can be compensated for, by many things, even something as simple as sustained effort.”
Rebecca is trying not to laugh as she realizes that Sarah, though continuing on my theme, has done so unintentionally, and has not picked up on the double meaning of the words.
 A line from the movie The Wizard of Oz, 1939, spoken by Judy Garland. Screenplay was written by Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Wolfe and Noel Langley. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations gives credit for the phrase to Noel Langley. The screenplay was based on the writings of Lyman Frank Baum’s Oz books, written in 1900.