I found Jimmy Todd’s office in an aging strip mall out in Woodstock wedged between Carol’s Cut-Rate Daycare and Bobbie Abandando’s Wonderful World of Wigs.
I’d been told Dr. Todd is the man when it comes to interpreting dreams, and I hoped he might shine some light into the darker recesses of my shopworn psyche, put a sock on the colorific menagerie of images and intrigue currently crowding my nightly REMs.
The old standards were back in all their glory– dreams I’ve lived with for ages and experience in clusters– smart-aleck midgets with duplicitous intentions and sorry one-liners, gigantic orange dinosaurs chomping on lush foliage along the river in Chattanooga, ill-tempered Sisters of Mercy with their malt liquor and fast cars.
Every night I host a weird assortment of walk-ons, dilettantes, rubber-neckers, pimp daddies, exhibitionists, arsonists, moonshiners, morons, ‘ner-do-wells, pinheads and posers who show up unannounced to run roughshod through my dreamsleep like a busload of juvenile delinquents at a Chuck E. Cheese. Who are these interlopers and what do they want from me?
Dr. Todd is himself an odd duck– a twitchy little guy, serious and guarded. He looks a bit like the actor John Cusack, if John Cusack were to age 20 years, lose 40 pounds, crawl across the Sahara desert without water and tumble down an elevator shaft. You can have your $300.00 an hour Buckhead shrinks with their hyphenated surnames and fancy diplomas. Give me a guy in Hush Puppies with a boatload of facial tics and a few issues of his own. He’ll pay attention.
“Tell me what my dreams mean, Doc.”
He cocked his ballpoint, readied a legal pad, “Fire away!”
“The first one I call That’s Show Biz! It’s early in the twentieth century, and I’m part of a vaudeville act known as Billy and Skeets. I’m onstage before an audience of non-English speaking immigrants. My partner, Billy, juggles a pair of crimson bowling balls and plays Yankee Doodle on a kazoo while peddling a unicycle across a tightrope. Down below, I, Skeets, circle the stage on rocket propelled roller skates, my hair ablaze, hurling knives at an enraged monkey…”
“… and in the wings, the world’s tallest man arm wrestles a not unattractive bearded lady while an albino midget leers at me from beneath the brocade curtain.”
“Wow… are there others?”
“There’s the one I call The Birdman of Shady Acres. I’m flying stark naked over my subdivision as the board of directors of our homeowner’s association fires on me from down below with BB guns and bottle rockets. It’s about my refusal to mulch.”
“There’s Hey, I Just Work Here! I’m at my desk when a new guy asks me what’s on the other side of my cubicle. I realize I’ve never bothered to look! I’m mortified, make a feeble attempt to switch the discussion to Olympic equestrian– but it’s immediately evident I know nothing about horses! I’m led to the elevator in handcuffs.”
“It goes on all night long, doc.”
Dr. Todd scratched his chin, scanned his notes. “Most of us wonder, occasionally, if there isn’t something… bigger, more colorful, more important that we ought to be doing with ourselves,” he said. “We imagine a higher calling, but never pull it together enough to define what that calling might be. Dreams can reflect the chagrin we sometimes feel in our subconcious. It’s embarrassing to miss destiny by a country mile, no?
“Dreams relieve frustration and help us cope. Besides, who wouldn’t like to toss darts at a monkey or stick it to the neighbors? No worries, Tim. Get some exercise, take your wife on vacation. You’re fine.”
I felt refreshed.
But, as luck would have it, I stopped for gas on the way home and the kid behind the cash register really creeped me out. He had this great shock of green hair and a really huge gold earring and a horrible scar under his left eye. He looked like some kind of futuristic space hooligan… and, sure enough, later that night he took me hostage aboard a galactic cruiser bound for the notorious Korova gulag out near the Carpheidian sapphire mines on ZTON-999, and all I had was this giant flyswatter, see, and some kind of alien goo was dripping off the walls…and there was this monkey… and… well, … it was an arduous journey… and another long night.