In 1994, while living in the Chicago area, I started keeping a journal. I forced myself to write a new entry every day, usually capturing the details of some experience I found interesting. I wrote on a laptop, in many places: on the train to and from my clients in the Chicago Loop, in the car parked somewhere (the I-294 tollway oasis was a favorite spot), or at home late at night or early in the morning. I found, after doing this every single day for a few months, that remembering the details of events is a skill that you can develop, a mental muscle that gets in better shape the more you use it.
It was fun and satisfying, and I felt like I was improving as a writer, but it was also extremely time-consuming. As life got busier, my journal habit steadily tapered off, and the last of my hundreds of journal entries is from 1998. I got a Nikon SLR that year, and since then I’ve been inclined to spend my time recording experiences with photos rather than words.
I haven’t looked at my journal entries for years, but yesterday while grabbing something else off a backup drive I took the time to re-read a few. Most of them I’d not be inclined to share publicly (too many personal details, mine or others), but this one is just a recap of a vivid dream.
I walked into a diner, on a street corner in a big city, probably the diner from Pulp Fiction. The entire front of the diner was a large window, and you could see the tables inside from the sidewalk. Norma and Carmen (from Chicago Data) were working in the diner, Norma behind the cash register and Carmen waiting tables. They both wore blue dresses with white belts and collars.
I stopped to talk to Norma at the counter, and then we heard some yelling out on the street. I looked out the window, and two men were fighting in the middle of the street. One guy was sitting on top of the other one, beating him with his right hand while he held a revolver in his left hand, pointed at the sky.
I stepped out on the sidewalk, and the guy with the gun threw it aside and pulled a pair of handcuffs from the back of his belt. The gun landed on the sidewalk near me in a doorway, and I picked it up. Then I stepped back into the diner, because I wasn’t sure whether this guy was really a cop or what was going on. Through the window, I could see him trying to put the handcuffs on the other man.
I asked Norma where the phone was, and she pointed to the back of the diner. I walked through a door, down a hallway, to a deserted room with a phone on a desk. I called the police, and explained that I had a gun I had picked up on the street, and wanted to give it to a police officer, but I wasn’t sure whether the guy who had tossed the gun was a cop or not. The woman on the phone was very confused and gave me a hard time, but eventually she understood and said that an officer would come to the diner to see me. After I hung up with her, I opened the revolver and saw that it had two bullets in adjacent slots. I spun these bullets out of the way, so that there was no live bullet in the chamber, to eliminate any chance of an accidental discharge.
I walked back out into the diner, and everyone turned to look at me. Then I realized that this was because I had a gun in my hand. Carmen asked me why I had a gun, and I walked to the window with her to explain. Out on the street, however, everything was different. The two fighting men were gone, and instead the entire street was covered with red roses, spaced a few feet apart. In the middle of the roses a woman was kneeling and carefully arranging them in a spiral pattern around the place where the guys had been fighting. Carmen and I decided that this was some type of protest against police brutality.
To avoid the stares of customers, I walked back outside with the gun to wait on the sidewalk. No cars drove past, nobody else was on the sidewalk, the cops didn’t show up, and then I woke up.