|As I stare at the computer screen, fingers poised above the keyboard, the room crumbles around me. Sunlight eats away the overhead lamp. That morning, dew laden mist pushes away the cigarette smoke. Tufts of green sprout from the coffee stains on the carpet. I find myself surrounded on all sides by a rolling sea of grass. I’m not quite sure where West Palm Beach is, but then, I really don’t care. I lean back in my chair to enjoy the dream.
It’s a nice little dream I’ve designed for myself. Nice to step away for a bit from the bills and the job search. The routine was beginning to get to me.
Sunlight flashes off a distant piece of metal. At first just a single glint, then sporadic hits, and finally, when shadows are chased completely from the meadow, a rainbow of white lights arch at me.
Cool dream, I think to myself, as I sit up a little bit straighter. The row of cavalry is two miles distant. Full, heavy cavalry: shields, armor, breast plates for the horses. Still can’t do a picture like that with my thousands of dollars in computer software and hardware. Can’t really do too much with it except play computer games these days. Aye, I’ve been on the move, settling in, found a new home, did grocery shopping. Not really too much freedom to be a writer.
A trumpet sounds, and a row of slender saplings with iron tips rise like a forest above the horse. A second trumpet blast, and the horses begin to advance in a walk. A vanguard forms in the center, a tight spearhead.
Do you know how hard it is to get back into the swing of things? I needed a vacation, a break, to distance myself from things. I’ve only been down here for six months. I fish now. Bought a pair of rollerblades, even used them a couple times. Organizing a private scuba diving class now for me and my friends. Know something? Screw credibility. My bills are paid. I’m even going to begin taking chomps out of my student loans.
The desk starts to shake as the horses break into a canter. I ease out of the wobbly chair to cup my hand over my eyes for a better look at my first charge. Just a lot of flat green land between me and them. Must be at least 100 horse out there. I sit back down and look behind me. To each side. Looking for the opposing charge. And then light up another cigarette. Damn: Nope, no opposing charge.
I was in a car wreck once. She didn’t listen when I told her to take the hill and curve slowly, that wet leaves were plastering the road. She never really listened to any advice that I had to give. And then in the second curve, the Jetta started to spin. That’s when I shut my eyes and just allowed things to happen. It was so damn easy. The impact with the guard rail. The exploding air bag. The spin-slide into the ditch. So damn easy.
From a quick trot to I believe what is called a charge gait, midway between a easy canter and a full out run. I wonder if it is true that you can feel the ground tremble from a cavalry charge six miles away. Whenever I had read about them in books, I always imagined waves of crushing sound undulating through the plains. It’s not like that from my point of view, a couple hundreds yards in front of them. Just a constant “you are the one who is completely screwed” coming right at you. The imagery of the wave comes from the lances: a crashing wave of lances being lowered.
I crashed. What the hell of it? I deserved to crash. Earned it. Even paid for it with blood (yet another metaphor that is all you will get). It was my friggin’ right to shrug off winter, get blinding drunk, get a bit freaky, and play stupid computer games for days straight. IT IS MY…and that’s when the vanguard broke into me.
Nope, no avoiding it. I crashed, and stopped being a writer a long time ago. I wonder what Freud would say of the significance of the horses? Hours wasted? Talent wasted? Futures dying? Ghosts of Christmas Past? Too many tequila nights at college? Or maybe “shoulds.” Each horse a “should of” or “should have.” Yeah, I should have done a lot of things.
I limp across the broken field, dust settling around me and even the occasional mud splatter falling from the sky. I think that pile was once a computer and desk. I fall over when I attempt to bend down and pick up my Flyers cap. Damn that hurt.
Okay, okay, I traded my wings for excuses. Romanticism for illusion. The quasi-respectability of journalism for the safe and steady job that allows me to be lazy at night.
The Flyers cap is back on, a bit torn, but still wearable. The sun is bright overhead, and the piece of turf I have my head on surprisingly soft. I just need to get up and make that stand. The Stand, or chuck it all away, turn away from that bridge and dreams of cavalry charges, and wings, and wolves, and dancing through an evening in a way that would humble Fred Astaire, and get on with it. I’m just torturing myself. And it hurts.
I clamber into a sitting position when I begin to hear a new rumble. Nothing more coming from in front of me. Behind me, all I see are horse’s rumps. Then I remember the old cavalry tactic: break’em with the frontal heavy charge, and then send in the light cavalry on the flanks to mop up what’s left. Here they come.
Sleep well, my reader. Until the next time the music plays…