this prescribed nonsense

It’s a stack of photographs, and on the top one, the only one accessible, is an image of a man walking. The artist had blanked out the man’s face and drawn wings attached to the man’s back. A hybrid Icarus, if you will. The wings are downward, at rest, and the man looks like he’s crossing the road.

Days later, I was in that photo. I was standing in the middle of the road in bright sunlight, looking all around me. The world felt empty, but people were walking past me, people with sketched on appendages. I wasn’t one of them, and they ignored me as I stared at them. I could hear the wind, but no mechanical noises. All the buildings around me felt deserted, and I knew there were no cars around either.

pseudo-Icarus walked towards me, deliberately. In my dream, he had the face of someone I knew, but not too well. A man in his mid-40s who looked like a smaller Kurt Russell, that I had met a long time ago. Sideburns, and Teddyboy-meets-greaser style. I don’t remember what the man in the artwork was wearing. pseudo-Icarus spoke down to me, knowing something I didn’t. His tone was a blend of chauvinistic mechanic (you know, the kind that calls you little lady) and old school sailor, and although I couldn’t see it, I’d bet there was a comb in his pocket.

He ignored the people walking past us, either looking directly at me, or off into the distance, almost expectantly. I don’t remember what he said, but he was warning me in a non-threatening, and somewhat amused, tone. Like I shouldn’t be where I was, but that ultimately didn’t matter, because something was going to happen to me.

I’m not too sure of my feelings toward pseudo-Icarus. I wanted to trust him, have him be my friend, but there was something about him. He seemed friendly enough, like he was talking to me out of genuine concern. But he also appeared to be the kind of person who, should anything bad have happened to me, I got the feeling that he would have watched, maybe shrugged. Not a hero, nor an anti-hero. After he spoke to me, he walked off and stood in a huddle with two other men who had the same style wings drawn onto their backs and sketched cigarettes between their lips. As they talked to each other, they didn’t try to hide the fact that they were talking about me, and stared directly at me, squinting at the sunlight.

At this point, the camera angle on my dream changed to a rotating pullout of the scene, with myself at the centre. No closure, no sense of processing, no feeling that my subconscious was trying to send me a message. Just a vignette, a mash-up of various images I’ve stored in my mind, filmed starring myself.

***

Title reference: Karen Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) in Donnie Darko (2001).

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