Last night I dreamed of Mandalay—that is Mandalay, Mississippi. Such a vivid dream. The year was 1972. The president was Richard Nixon and he was running for re-election against George McGovern. Nixon had begun the Paris Peace Talks that year in an attempt to end the Vietnam War. I dreamed about my parents who lived in that little Mississippi town. In my dream, I remembered them so clearly. All seemed to be well in the country.
Last night I also dreamed of Paris, France, where I was living in 1972. I was working there as a teacher of English. I was hoping this wonderful city, which had been the home to so many famous authors, would help me become a successful writer too.
In my dream, my mind went back to a day in the teachers’ lounge at the school where I taught. A new ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher by the name of Abby cornered me with a big smile. I could tell she was hungry for talk. She quickly seated herself next to me and before even saying hello, she asked me what had brought me to Paris. I could tell that this young lady had a dozen new questions for each one I answered. I thought it didn’t make any difference what I said, she was going to run me nuts with questions.
I told her I was a writer. She then wanted to know if I had written anything she had heard of. I said no. I was a beginning writer. She gave me a big smile as if she had it all figured out: I was a nobody and probably would remain that way. Even so, she was a serial poser of questions and I quickly decided I had to find some way to escape from her.
“What are you writing on at the moment?” she asked.
“A novel,” I replied.
“You know” she remarked with a self-satisfied smile, “you have an accent.”
She was referring to my southern accent and so defensively I retorted, “You have a definite New Jersey accent.”
She didn’t like that remark one bit so she went back to my novel. “What’s your book about?”
I am not a person who likes to discuss my personal life with strangers. She had me cornered so to speak and I felt like jumping up and running away. However, I rationalized that maybe I’d better get used to inquiring minds in case I had to pitch one of my projects to somebody like an agent one of these days. I looked at her as professionally as I could and said I was working on a novel called HAROLD’S WAY. It was set in the year 2016.
“Oh”, she remarked, “that’s futuristic science fiction.”
She was so pushy I just had to take her down a notch by saying, “No. It is social projection fiction.”
She looked at me as though I was a bit bonkers and continued,
“Like what’s your plot?”
I waited a long moment as though I were thinking. I cleared my throat and began speaking:
“HAROLD’S WAY is set 44 years in the future and deals with the presidential election that year.”
“And who are the candidates?” she inquired.
I cleared my throat again and countered,
“Buzz Cornet and Loretta Busby. He’s one of the riches men in America. He own casinos and hotels and is a super business man.”
“He doesn’t sound like much fun,” Abby smiled.
“Oh, but he is,” I said. “He is also a TV star and he’s great with the one liners. He charms the pants off the public with his proclamations of what a great life we will all have once he’s president. He says we’re going to be winning so much that we’re going to get tired of so much good fortune. He brags on how much we love him. and how much he loves us.. He has an orange colored, cotton-candy hair do that could more likely be called a hair don’t. It makes him stand out though. He’s always putting people down and his groupies love that. He says he’s going to expel all eleven million illegals living in the USA. He’s also going to build a gigantic barricade along the Mexican border. It will be on the order of The Great Wall Of China and will keep out trash and terrorists from other countries—and he’s going to make Mexico pay for it. Everyone will have a job and health care will be free for all. He is taking back America from its first black president whom he is hoping to replace. He is for keeping women in their place . He’s kind of like the Klu Klux Klan’s poster boy. He’s their type of guy.”
Abby looked shock and said, “You’ve got to be kidding. He sounds like a playboy jerk pretending to be president.”
“Yep,” I replied. “”But that’s his charm. That’s why everybody has gone ape over him. He’s 2016’s Peter Pan. The guy who never grew up. People just can’t get enough of him. ”
“And you say a woman would be his opponent in this election? You’ve got to realize that sounds a little far fetched. Who could she possibly be?”
“Loretta Busby. She is a former senator from New York and was Secretary of State under the black guy.’”
“Oh, please,” said Abby. “She sounds like she ought to be his mother.”
“In a way, that’s it. He’s a spoiled teenager and she’s his strict mother,” I remarked. “She is a former teacher—an intellectual type who knows her stuff. People don’t like her because she’s so strict. See, everybody knows she is the best qualified to be president but she doesn’t seem like much fun. She is the teacher you remember from high school who wasn’t very much liked but she taught you more than the rest of your teachers put together.”
“I don’t know what you call all of this,” Abby frowned, “but I call it a horror story. In fact, I’d say it’s impossible fiction. No one would believe any of this for a second. I think you had better get another story line going. ”
With this, she quickly got up, excused herself and left the teachers’ lounge. I smiled after she was gone and really had a good laugh. I was pleased with myself that I had come up with something so weird that it would send her fleeing. She for sure thought me crazy and unstable for dreaming up such a ridiculous story. I guess I would be the master of Looney Tunes if I actually wrote such a book. At least it served its purpose of getting rid of Abby.
Then I woke up and it is 2016.