While I Slept - Dreams

While I Slept - Dreams

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© David Louis Harter 2007 - 1315 Solano Street, Suite A, Corning, CA 96021

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David Louis Harter has asserted his rights to be identified as author of this work in accordance with the Copyright Act 1994. This work has been created solely by David Louis Harter.

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Bahia, the Crumbsnatcher

I was seated in the outdoor-dining area of a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, conversing with a group of people who were sharing my table. I had just met them, and we were sharing our backgrounds. I felt something brush against my leg and looked down to see a small gnome-like boy crouching beneath the table. I remarked upon this, and a young woman seated to my right said, "Oh, that's just Bahia—Bahia the Crumbsnatcher. He spends his days scuttling about beneath the tables here in search of fallen morsels. Ignore him, and whatever you do, do not feed him."

I thought her warning odd, took pity on young Bahia, and secretly handed him a warm tortilla. He took it and devoured it greedily. I reached down to hand him another tortilla and felt great pain in my hand. I quickly brought my hand up from beneath the table and held it high, displaying to all a large Gila monster dangling therefrom, its sharp teeth tearing into the flesh of my hand. I screamed in pain and flailed my hand about.

The young woman sitting next to me grabbed my flailing hand and pierced the Gila monster's neck with a bamboo skewer. The Gila monster released its grip upon my hand. The young woman held the Gila monster for a moment, suspended by the skewer, then shook him loose from the skewer. It fell to the floor and scurried away.

"I cautioned you against feeding Bahia," she said, as she poured tequila on my wound and bound it with a linen napkin.

Carmelita, the Frog-faced Girl

I spent the day fishing on a guide boat in the Sea of Cortez. The fishing guide deposited me at the dock, and I took a taxi to my hotel in Santa Maria, Baja. The fishing had been good. The guide was to deliver a few select fish to my hotel for consumption that evening by me and my guests, and I directed him to distribute the balance of the day's catch among the needy who gathered at the dock.

I showered, changed clothes, and went to the hotel lounge to enjoy a frosty margarita and await my guests. Soon, my guests arrived. They were locals I had met on a prior fishing adventure and with whom I had formed friendships.

The previous evening, we had all gathered at the house of one of these guests and enjoyed a sumptuous meal. Tonight, it was my turn to provide food and drink. We had a few drinks in the lounge, and a young waiter appeared and announced that our dinner was ready. We adjourned to the dining room and found a feast laid out before us, featuring the fish I had caught earlier, prepared several ways, along with warm tortillas and several vegetable dishes.

Following dinner, we gathered in the lounge for an after-dinner drink, following which, my guests thanked me and departed, and I went up to my room. As I prepared to enter my room, I saw a young girl furtively moving about the hallway, avoiding my glance. I thought her actions odd and mentioned this to a maid who was pushing her cart down the hallway. She said, "Oh, that's Carmelita, the Frog-faced Girl. She helps me clean. She is shy because of her face. It embarrasses her." The girl appeared again, and I saw that she had a severe overbite, which did, in fact, give her face the appearance of that of a frog. The maid called Carmelita to her and said, "Say hello to Señor David, Carmelita." Carmelita avoided eye contact and said, "Hello." Save for the overbite, Carmelita was a beautiful young woman. She disappeared into a nearby room, pushing the maid's cart, and the maid said, "It is a sad story, Señor David. Years ago, Carmelita was savaged by a drunken uncle, and she now bears the effects of that attack." Carmelita's visage, I realized, was not the result of overbite but was evidently a result of an attack that must have displaced her jaw. "Cannot a doctor repair the damage?" I asked. "Carmelita's family is very poor," she said and entered the room into which Carmelita had gone.

That night, I prayed for Carmelita. The following morning, there was a knock at the door. I said, "Yes?" and Carmelita opened the door and, looking down, said, "You are leaving today. I was sent to take your bags downstairs." A thought came to mind. I said, "Carmelita, would you be willing to try an experiment?" She looked at me with a very puzzled expression and said, "An experiment?" "Yes," I said. "Perhaps I can mend your face." "Please," she answered. I asked her to sit on the bed, took her face in my hands, and said, "This will hurt, but only for a brief while." "I don't mind," she replied. I held her lower jaw firmly with my right hand, grasped her forehead with my left hand, and quickly and with great force twisted and pulled back on her forehead. There was a very audible "snap," and Carmelita cried out in pain. Her face, however, was mended. She was beautiful. Tears streamed down her face as she looked at herself in the mirror. "Oh, Señor David. How can I repay you for your great kindness?" "Your lovely smile is sufficient payment, Carmelita. Have a wonderful life."

Storm, the Vigilante Leopard - Dream 1

I attended a rock concert with friends. When the concert ended, I excused myself to use the restroom. When I returned to where I had left my friends, they were gone. I walked out of the building and to the spot where the car in which we had traveled to the concert had been parked, and it was gone. I looked around, and the street was dark and void of cars and people. I saw a telephone booth in the distance and began walking to it.

Suddenly, from an alleyway, three scofflaws emerged, descended upon me, and demanded my money. Instinctively, I reached for my Sig Sauer P229 and quickly realized I had left it at home due to restrictions imposed by the concert venue. There was no place near to which I could run to safety, and their number did not invite refusal of their demands.

Just as I was about to reach into my pocket and proffer my wallet to the miscreants, a large female leopard emerged from the darkness, came quickly to my side, stood next to me, and growled fiercely. One of the hoodlums produced a large knife and advanced, menacingly, toward the leopard.

It happened so quickly that what took place did not immediately register in my mind: With an incredible display of power and speed, the leopard swiped the would-be robber’s neck with her massive paw—claws outstretched. The gash that appeared in the assailant’s neck was so deep and large, his head was nearly separated from his body. His lifeless corpse fell at the feet of his companions.

Before the others could gather their wits and retreat, the leopard was upon them. She quickly dispatched both of them, walked to me, sat and began cleaning the blood from her paws with her large tongue.

I thanked the leopard and told her that I wished to name her and that I would name her Storm. She seemed pleased with her new name and purred loudly. When I began walking to the telephone booth, Storm sat up and followed me. I decided to walk home, rather than take a cab. It was a warm night, it would be a pleasant walk, and with Storm at my side, I need fear nothing.

Storm followed me all the way to my home. I lived in the country and had several acres of trees, gardens, outbuildings, and a small pond. I sat on the front porch of my house and stroked Storm and thanked her again. I grew tired. I walked Storm to the small barn, made a nice bed for her of straw in the barn, and brought her a bowl of spring water and a bowl of leftover grilled chicken. As she ate and drank, I stroked her massive body and said, “Good night, Storm. I shall see you in the morning.”

Upon arising, I dressed quickly and rushed to the barn to greet Storm. She was not there. My immediate thought was this had all been a dream. Then, I saw the proof that Storm had been real: The water bowl and food bowl lay there, empty, and the imprint of Storm's massive body could be seen in the hay.

Storm, the Vigilante Leopard - Dream 2

I awakened, feeling thirsty, and walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water. As I walked toward the kitchen, my attention was drawn to the large window in the adjacent dining room. The moon lighted the yard beyond the window and made the outdoors appear very inviting. As I gazed at this scene, I noticed movement near the barn. The barn shaded this area from moonlight, and, in the shadows, I saw a large form moving toward the barn. I decided to investigate.

I armed myself with a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which I kept in the pantry. I took a large Maglite from a shelf in the pantry, attached it to the rifle, turned it on, and walked to the barn. As I entered the barn, I heard the sound of heavy breathing and slipped the AR-15 into the firing position. I probed the darkness with the Maglite. There, lying on a bed of hay, was Storm! I engaged the safety on my rifle, walked to Storm, knelt by her side, and began stroking her massive frame. Storm purred deeply and contentedly. "Welcome back, my friend," I said. Storm fixed her gaze upon me and purred even more loudly. "Wait here and rest, Storm," I said. "I shall return quickly with food and water for you."

I walked to the house, prepared a bowl of leftover roast beef and a bowl of spring water, removed the Maglite from the rifle, and walked back to the barn, the Maglite clasped between my left arm and rib cage and a bowl in each hand. Storm rose as I walked to her and ate and drank with great relish. I sat with Storm for nearly two hours. When I prepared to return to the house to continue my sleep, I told Storm, "Storm, please stay here, and I shall return in the morning." She appeared to understand, reclined on the hay, and held out her right paw toward me. I took her massive leopard paw in my right hand and squeezed it, smiling at her. I returned to the house and quickly fell asleep.

In the morning, I awakened, dressed quickly, and walked to the barn with a large bottle of water and some leftover grilled chicken breast. Storm was there! I was overjoyed to see that she had remained through the night. I filled her water bowl and put the chicken in her food bowl. I stroked her beautiful fur as she ate and drank.

After she had eaten, I told her, "Come to the house with me, Storm. I must eat something, and then we shall go on an adventure!" She seemed to understand and followed me to the house. I gave Storm a small bowl of milk. She lapped at it with her huge tongue while I prepared myself a spinach, bacon, cheese, and mushroom omelet. After I had eaten, I strapped on a black ballistic nylon holster, inserted a Sig Sauer P229 semi-automatic pistol into the holster, and beckoned Storm to follow me.

Together, we walked the perimeter of my property, pausing at one point so that Storm could drink from the small creek that fed the pond. It was a beautiful day-warm but not yet unpleasantly so-the sky was blue, and the birds were singing. We walked about my property for several hours. We stopped at the pond, and I caught several nice trout for our dinner.

At dusk, I prepared the trout, some poached asparagus, and some brown rice with celery, red onion, and mushrooms. Storm lay on the tile floor in the kitchen and watched me as I cooked. She seemed to enjoy watching me prepare our meal. I deboned the trout and prepared plates of food for us and set them on the dining room table. I placed a bowl of water and a small bowl of milk at Storm's place at the table and poured some Chablis for myself. Storm appeared to be waiting for me to start eating, as she had made no move toward her food. I said a prayer-thanking God for the bounty we were about to enjoy and for Storm and her great friendship-and we began eating. Storm was so large that she sat on her haunches and easily reached her food. The dinner was delightful. Storm watched me wash the dishes and bowls.

We went into the den and watched Animal Planet. Storm sat near me and seemed to enjoy watching all the animals on television. She was close enough that I was able to reach out and stroke her massive back. In time, Storm grew tired. She lay on the floor of the den and yawned-her huge mouth opening incredibly widely, exposing large, sharp teeth. "Storm," I thought to myself, "I am certainly glad we are friends!"

I was tired, also, and I rose from my chair and said, "Come, Storm. You need not sleep in the barn." Storm followed me to the bedroom. She fell asleep on the floor at the foot of the bed. I fell asleep while delighting in the sound of her breathing.

Renée, the Girl Who Hid in the Strawberry Tree

It was a Saturday morning, just after 8 AM. There was a knock at my door. It was my friend, Renée. After a brief greeting, she invited me to accompany her to her sister's wedding. I had never met Renée's sister. I knew that I would recognize her if I were to meet her, however, since Renée and her sister, Andréa, were identical twins. "I would enjoy that," I said. "I would like to see the two of you together. That would be interesting. When is the wedding, and where will it take place?" I knew that Andréa lived somewhere in Southern Oregon, but I did not know the name of the city in which she lived. "She lives in Southern Oregon," Renée replied. "I'm sure I've told you that." "You have mentioned that she lives in Southern Oregon, but you have never said in what city she lives." "She lives in a forest," Renée replied. "It is a distance from the nearest city, but there is no need for you to worry about directions, because I will drive." I had been a passenger in Renée's Chrysler 300C several times and knew her to be a safe and competent driver. "That sounds good," I said. "When is the wedding?" "It is tomorrow afternoon," she replied. "We must leave now." While the immediacy of the journey seemed odd, I did not protest. "Pack whatever you wish," Renée said. "I will return in an hour."

An hour later, Renée returned, and we began the journey. Two steaming mugs sat in the cup holders of her car. She had made hot tea with honey and lemon. It was a cool fall morning, and the tea was delicious and warming. Soon, I was asleep.

I awakened and saw by the clock on the Chrysler's dash that it was nearly 5 PM! I had slept for almost eight hours! I apologized to Renée for falling asleep. "I am sorry," I said. "I have no idea why I fell asleep. I cannot imagine why I did so and how I slept so long." "That's no problem," she said. "I have made this trip by myself many times, so it doesn't matter that you were asleep." "Well," I said, "it is a long journey, and I should have helped with the driving or-at the very least-kept you company." "It's fine," she said. I noticed the surroundings for the first time. I had been to Southern Oregon many times and did not recognize the area through which we were passing. "Where are we?" I asked. "We are in the forest, only a few miles from my sister's. Relax, and we will be there in no time."

I fell asleep again. Later, I was being awakened by Renée. She said, "We're here!" I rubbed my eyes and saw a large house. We were parked in a circular driveway. There were three other cars parked there. The area was beautiful, but it looked considerably more like a jungle than a forest. Instead of the pine and redwood trees I expected to see, the trees were coconut palm, banana, and other tropical trees. I prepared to ask Renée where we were, but she was no longer in the car. I saw her on the front porch of the house, talking to a girl who could only be her sister, Andréa, since-with the exception of attire-the girls were identical. It was an interesting scene. I had to recall what Renée had been wearing in order to tell which girl she was!

There were several couples in the house. I was introduced to everyone by Andréa. Renée appeared to know everyone. They were friendly. We exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed wine and canapés. It was becoming dark as I took my gear into the large house and followed Andréa to what was to be my room during our stay. "I'll leave you to unpack," she said. "Dinner will be in an hour. I shall see you then." She smiled and walked out of the room.

Dinner was simple yet delicious: Grilled beef tenderloin, steamed asparagus, roasted baby red potatoes, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Soon, it was late. People were saying goodbye to Andréa and telling her they would see her the following day. I was feeling sleepy-despite my long nap during the journey-and I said, "Goodnight, ladies," to Andréa and Renée-realizing that I had no idea who was Andréa and who was Renée, since the girls had changed clothing while I unpacked. I fell asleep while wondering why Andréa's fiancé had not been present.

I felt someone gently shaking me awake. "Dress and come downstairs," Renée-or, perhaps, Andréa-said. "Andréa has brunch ready." It was Renée. The table was set for three. Andréa and Renée were seated. There were platters of sausage, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes. Andréa filled plates for each of us, and Renée filled our glasses with mimosa. We finished our meal, and the girls cleared the table. Wedding guests began to arrive. The people from the previous day were there-as well as several new people, to whom Andréa introduced me. We had champagne and migrated into the backyard-a beautiful area with incredible tropical flowers and plants, a large swimming pool, and a lovely white gazebo-festively adorned with flowers and containing an altar and dozens of white chairs. On the altar sat two tall, white candles in gold candle holders and an open Bible. I walked to the altar and looked at the Bible. It was leather-bound and appeared very old.

I was thirsty and wished to have more champagne. I realized I had not seen the twins for some time. I had been engaged in conversation with a man and his wife-discussing general issues. I walked to the house, filled my glass, and looked for the girls. I found them in the library. Andréa was painting Renée's fingernails a very bright red. Renée's toenails were already painted this color-as were Andréa's fingernails and toenails. I was surprised-since I had never seen Renée's nails painted previously-and it showed, apparently, since Renée said, to Andréa, "David's surprised. He's never seen my nails painted before." "Really?" Andréa said. "David, when we were little girls, we used to paint our nails red and hide in the strawberry tree!" "What?" I said. "Surely you realize strawberries do not grow on trees." "Not in California," the girls said, in unison, "but here they do." The girls laughed. "Go back to the party," Renée said. "We'll be right out."

I returned to the party and chatted idly with various guests. Bottles of champagne sat in silver buckets on a long table, in the shade provided by tropical plants and flowers, near the gazebo. I filled my glass again. Soon, the wedding ceremony began. I thought it odd that I had not met the bridegroom. The man standing at Andréa's side during the ceremony seemed oddly familiar, but I was certain we had not been introduced. Following the ceremony, the bride and groom walked through the house and into a waiting limousine. The limousine disappeared, as the wedding guests waved at the departing couple.

I looked for Renée and did not see her among the guests. Everyone moved to the backyard and filled their champagne glasses. I continued to look for Renée but did not see her. A girl approached me. She had been a bridesmaid, and Renée had introduced us, but I could not recall her name. "David," she said, "you must be looking for Renée. Follow me." She took me by the hand and led me around the swimming pool and down a narrow path. Soon, we were in a small grove of trees. "These are strawberry trees," the girl said. "Renée is probably hiding in one of them. She and her sister often did that as children." I looked closely, and the trees were indeed strawberry trees. There were dozens of them.

"In which tree will I find Renée?" I asked. "I have no idea," the girl replied. "She's hiding!"

You Can Call Me 'Triple Digit'

A knocking at the door roused me from my attention to a crossword puzzle I was completing online. I rose and walked to the door. A beautiful, young lady stood there. “Hello,” she said, “I am Rosanne, and this is my daughter, Lucy. We have fresh tamales for sale. Would you like some fresh tamales?” “One moment, please,” I replied. I called Laura at her office and asked her whether she desired some fresh tamales for dinner. She said that sounded wonderful. “Come in, please,” I said to Rosanne and her lovely daughter. They entered the house, and I asked them to be seated, pointing to the sofa. They sat, and my cat, Zeus, appeared, walked to Lucy, and began rubbing against her legs. “Hi, kitty,” Lucy said. She appeared to be approximately 10 years of age. “What’s your name?” To my great surprise, Zeus answered! “My name is Zeus. But you can call me ‘Triple Digit,’ ‘cause I’m hawt!” “I’ll call you ‘Triple D’ for short,” Lucy said, and she began petting Zeus.

The Silver Machine

It is a warm summer evening. I am walking in a meadow. The moon is full and very bright, and all about me is shimmering moonlight. The grass is very tall and comes almost to my knees. I feel as though I have been walking for some time. I feel physically tired, yet I feel very anticipatory and excited.

I walk for several more minutes and come upon a fallen tree. It is a very large tree, and it blocks the path. I cannot climb over the tree, since it is so large, so I begin to walk around it. As I near the base of the tree, I see that it appears to be hollow. There is a large opening in the tree trunk, near the base.

Without consciously making the decision to do so, I climb into the hole. It is very spacious inside, and I find that I can move about freely. I walk for several minutes then suddenly realize that something is wrong, because the tree cannot possibly be as tall as it would need to be for me to have walked as far as I did.

It is very dark, and I cannot see anything but a very faint light, far off in the distance. I am very confused and decide to retrace my steps and leave the tree. When I am turning around, I step on something which causes me to lose my balance. I grasp at what I expect to be the inside of the tree and find that I am touching a rock wall.

I walk in the direction from which I came for several minutes. I reach the end of the tunnel and find myself at a large opening in a mountainside. I am high above the raging surf of a sea, and there is no visible descent from this spot. I am very confused. I turn around and walk back into the tunnel.

After several minutes of walking, I begin to see the light far ahead which I had seen previously. I realize that I must be approximately where I had been before turning back. I decide to rest here for a few minutes and consider my situation.

After resting for a few minutes, I rise and continue walking toward the light. I become aware of a faint, low-pitched humming sound. It appears to be increasing in loudness as I approach the source of the light.

The light is becoming very bright. I can clearly see the walls of the tunnel. The humming sound is so loud that the tunnel vibrates from the sound. I am very puzzled by this sound. I have never heard anything similar. I continue walking toward the light.

I suddenly find myself in a large cavern. There is a very large silver machine against the far wall of the cavern. This is apparently the source of the humming sound. I imagine it to be a power-generating device, judging from the many wires extending from it. There is a catwalk which runs around the top of the machine, some twenty or more feet above the cavern floor.

There is a procession of several dozen creatures on the catwalk. They look human in their posture and walk erect. Their heads are like the heads of bees; however, they wear no clothing, and their bodies are covered with multi-colored hairs.

There is an opening in the top of the silver machine, and as each bee creature in turn reaches this opening, it regurgitates voluminously into the opening and walks away. Whatever is in the systems of these bee creatures is evidently being used as a source of fuel by the silver machine.

Suddenly, I am discovered by several of the bee creatures, who look at me and point. A very large bee creature appears and grasps me and carries me into a small cavern and bars my escape with a huge boulder which he rolls up to the entrance of the cavern. It is cold and damp and dark in this cavern. There is little air, and I find it difficult to breathe. As the minutes pass, my breathing becomes more and more labored, and I lose consciousness.

I awaken, shivering, although it is a warm night.

The AC/DC Spider

Cynthia called and asked whether I would like to go to the park with her and have a picnic. I said that sounded entertaining and would, indeed, like to do so. She suggested that we meet at her house and travel to the park in her vehicle. I agreed and said that I had a few chores to do and would meet her in an hour. She said that would be fine.

I spent the next hour tending to my chores: I watered the houseplants, took out the garbage and rolled the dumpster to the street for the following day's pickup, fed the tropical fish in my large salt-water aquarium, and showered. I dressed in shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and sandals, dried my hair, and began the drive to Cynthia's house.

As I drove, I was suddenly aware that I could not recall where Cynthia lived. I consulted my Pocket PC and quickly found Cynthia's address. I was, however, unfamiliar with the street and had no idea how to reach Cynthia's house. I checked my cell phone and determined there was no listing for Cynthia. I consulted my Pocket PC again and found that Cynthia's listing showed only her email address, street address, and work telephone number. There was no entry for her home telephone number. I returned to my house, got Cynthia's home telephone number from the Caller ID on my home telephone, and entered this into my Pocket PC and cell phone. I returned to my red Dodge Charger R/T and called Cynthia using the hands-free UConnect feature as I drove. When she answered, I told her I needed directions to her house, and she laughed and said, "You're kidding, right?" I assured her I was serious, and she gave me directions-speaking in a flat tone that indicated she was displeased that I could not recall where she lived.

As I followed Cynthia's directions and drove toward her house, I found myself in an area of the city with which I was unfamiliar. I was certain I had never been here previously. Soon, I was at Cynthia's house. It did not look familiar. The white Chevrolet Tahoe in the driveway did look familiar, however. It had distinctive aftermarket wheels and tires, and the rear license plate looked particularly familiar and said, "CYNDY 1." Obviously, I was at Cynthia's house.

I rang the doorbell, and Cynthia quickly answered the door. At least, I assumed it was Cynthia, since I suddenly realized that I had no recollection of what Cynthia looked like or any details about her life! I felt very confused and attempted to hide my confusion with a friendly smile. "Great!" she said. "You made it. I wasn't sure if you could follow my directions or not." "The directions were good," I said. "So you really don't remember being here before?" she asked, as she motioned me to enter.

I decided to be completely honest: "Cynthia," I said, "not only do I not recall having been here, I do not recall you at all. I do not recognize you as someone whom I know." "Well," she said, "that's sure flattering." She was obviously upset. I rued having upset her but did not regret my honesty. "Cynthia," I said, "you are a particularly lovely young lady, and I am certain that had we met previously, I would not forget you!" This softened Cynthia's tone and facial expression, and she said, "Well, let's write it off to too much wine and not enough sleep-on your part, k? I sure remember you. You charmed me totally and made my friend, Heather, green with envy when you played that song I wrote on a napkin and had the cocktail waitress give to you and you pointed right at me and smiled and read my name on the napkin and said, 'Cynthia, this song's for you.'" My head began to spin. I had not performed on stage for over ten years! I felt dizzy and walked to a sofa and sat. "How about some Chablis?" she asked. "We don't need to leave for a while. I'm still getting the picnic stuff ready." "That sounds great," I said, relieved by the notion that Cynthia would be occupied in the kitchen, and I would have time to gather my thoughts. She quickly brought me a glass of Chablis and disappeared. I sipped the wine and relaxed and thought.

As I sipped the wine and mused about what Cynthia had said, my eyes fell upon a large tarantula, sitting on the nearby coffee table. It did not move, and I wondered whether it were alive. My curiosity bade me to investigate: I reached out and prodded the creature gently with the forefinger of my right hand. It did not react. "Ah," I thought to myself, "it is either the product of taxidermy or a particularly realistic ersatz tarantula."

Cynthia entered the room, carrying a picnic basket in one hand and an ice chest in the other, and said, "I see you've met Howard." "Howard?" I replied. "The tarantula? Is it real and stuffed, or is it just a really detailed toy spider?" "Howard isn't either one! He's an AC/DC spider!" "An AC/DC spider? What in the world is an 'AC/DC spider.'" I asked. Cynthia gave me a puzzled look and said, "Are you serious? You don't know?" I assured her that I had no knowledge of AC/DC spiders. "Oh, but they're so popular these days, it's amazing you haven't seen one before." She continued, still looking puzzled, "Howard is a robotic spider. He eats flies, and when he eats flies, he recharges his system from the power in the flies." "Oh, I see," I said. It must have been obvious that I did not "see" at all. "Right now," she said, "Howard is discharged, because there aren't enough flies in here. I'll have to plug him in and recharge him." She put down the ice chest and picnic basket, removed a cable from her purse, connected one end of the cable to Howard's rear and the other to a nearby wall socket, and said, "This should only take a couple of minutes. Let's stow the picnic stuff in my Tahoe while Howard recharges." Off we went to stow the picnic basket and ice chest in Cynthia's Tahoe.

When we returned to the living room, Howard's eyes were glowing bright red. "Good," Cynthia said, "Howard's all charged up and ready to go with us to the park!" "Great," I answered. Just as Cynthia unplugged Howard and reached to pick him up, a fly buzzed near him. Howard quickly leaped into the air, caught the fly on his tongue, and noisily devoured it! As he devoured the fly, Howard's body shook, the hairs on his body vibrated, and his eyes glowed and pulsated-alternating from bright to dim several times. After a few moments, the shaking ceased, and his eyes turned black. Cynthia placed Howard in her purse, and we departed for the park.

The park was lovely. Massive oak trees shaded the picnic table at which we sat. We feasted upon the various delicacies Cynthia took from the picnic basket, sipped Chablis, and enjoyed the sounds of the gentle breeze in the trees, the water in a nearby stream, and birds singing. A fly buzzed near Howard. Howard ignored it. Cynthia saw this and said, "Oh, poor Howard. He's all run down again!" She took a car adapter from her purse and charged Howard in her Tahoe. A few minutes later, she returned Howard to the picnic table. I had my camera and took dozens of photographs of the park, Cynthia, and Howard.

We continued to enjoy the food and wine and the various sounds of the park. Nearby, a small girl chased after a small puppy. They appeared to be alone. I saw no sign of the girl's guardian. I turned to remark to Cynthia that the little girl seemed to be alone, and Cynthia was not there. I turned a bit more and saw her walking toward the restrooms. I turned back to see the little girl and the puppy, but they had disappeared. A familiar sound drew my attention to Howard. He was greedily devouring large flies. His eyes glowed bright red and pulsated, and his body shook greatly.

When Cynthia had not returned after several minutes, I walked to the restrooms and called her name. The little girl I had seen previously exited the women's restroom, followed by the puppy. "Are you looking for someone?" she asked. "I am looking for my friend, Cynthia," I replied. "She must be inside." "There's no one in there," the little girl said. She and her puppy walked away.

I returned to the picnic table. The ice chest and picnic basket were gone. Cynthia's Tahoe was gone. Howard was gone. My camera bag was the only item on the table! I picked up my camera bag and walked toward the entrance to the park. Along the way, I encountered friends. They appeared to be preparing to leave. I asked them for a ride and gave them directions to Cynthia's house.

When we arrived at Cynthia's house, my Charger was there, but Cynthia's Tahoe was not. In the driveway was an older Jeep Cherokee. I thanked my friends for the ride and walked to the door. A gentleman answered the door and said there was no one there named Cynthia. He asked me whether the Charger were mine, and when I replied that it was, he asked me why I had parked it in front of his house. "I have no idea," I said. I walked to my car and drove home.

I downloaded the photographs from my camera onto my laptop. When I viewed them, there were images of the park, the little girl, and the puppy. There were no images of Cynthia or Howard, although I had taken several photographs of them! I sat in my recliner and thought about the day's events. Soon, I was asleep.

When I awakened, it was dark. The blinking light on the answering machine attracted my attention. I walked to the machine and pressed "Play." "Hi! This is Cynthia. I just wanted to say I had a great time today, and I hope you won't forget me again!"

I awakened. It was morning. I was in bed. I realized, with great relief, that it had all been a dream.

The telephone rang. I answered it. It was Cynthia. She asked whether I would like to go to the park with her and have a picnic.

The Lagoon

I received a telephone call from a client who said that her husband had been transferred to the San Diego office of the company for which he works, and she and her son and daughter would be moving to San Diego to unite with him as soon as their house is sold. She asked me to photograph her house so that she could provide the real estate office with high-quality images of the house to help expedite the sale. I agreed. It was decided that I would meet with her at 3 PM the following day to photograph the house.

When I arrived at the house, the woman greeted me and said that all the furniture was being sold with the house and she wished the furniture to appear prominently in the photographs. The house was a large, two-story structure, and the furniture was elegant and pristine. The house was immaculate—appearing to have been very recently dusted and vacuumed. There were no signs in any of the rooms of personal effects as I followed my client through the house and photographed it. It was is if no one lived there.

When I completed photographing the interior of the house, I photographed the landscaping and exterior at the front of the house. I then walked through the house and onto the patio at the rear of the house. The patio was large and immaculate. It featured a retractable awning, a spacious dining area, and full outdoor kitchen with large stainless-steel barbecue and matching sink, counter, and refrigerator. Beyond the patio was a beautiful garden area with cobblestone paths, wrought-iron benches, ornate bird baths, and exotic flowers, plants, and trees. I took a great many photographs of the garden.

As I was photographing the garden area, I heard the sound of laughter and splashing water. I walked along one of the cobblestone paths and came upon a beautiful pool. It was made to look like a lagoon—with rock formations at the rear and sides and a lovely white-sand beach at the front. Children were at play in the pool, and other children were at play on the beach. One child—a young girl of perhaps 10 years of age—was petting a large egret. Several other egrets walked about on the sand. I took dozens of photographs of this beautiful area and the children. Interestingly, none of the children seemed to notice that I was there, photographing them.

I returned to the house and told my client that I was done and would return to my office and put the photographs onto a DVD and give it to the real estate office. I said, "Your house is beautiful, and I should think it will sell quickly." "Thank you," she said. "I hope so." "The garden and pool area are particularly beautiful," I said. "They are truly amazing." My client gave me a questioning glance and said, "You're joking, right? We don't have a pool." I looked beyond her, through the sliding glass door at the rear of the house, and saw that there was little in the rear yard other than a small barbecue, a wooden picnic table, and a few trees. The yard was small, and a fence bordered the limits of the yard. I departed.

When I arrived at my office and viewed the photographs I had taken, the photographs of the rear yard showed only the small barbecue, the picnic table, and the scattered trees. There was no garden, no cobblestone paths, no bird baths, no exotic flora, no lagoon, and no children!

Terrance the Tortoise

Upon arriving at my office, I unlocked the front door, stepped inside and disarmed the alarm, prayed over the office and its contents, turned on the three computer monitors, started the ISpy Web cam software, and opened Microsoft Outlook 2007. As the email downloaded, I turned on the television and satellite receiver and tuned the receiver to the Fox News Channel. I then turned on the florescent lights, unlocked and opened the central interior door, walked to the rear door, and unlocked and opened the rear door.

To my great surprise, a large tortoise sat upon the concrete in front of the rear door! Its legs and head were drawn inside its shell, and it appeared to be enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun. I did not disturb the tortoise. I thought about it, as I went about my morning routine, and I checked several times during the next few hours and found the tortoise reposed as I had found him initially.

It was a Monday, and the waste management truck comes to empty my dumpster each Monday-generally in the last hour or so of the morning. I walked to the rear of my office to push the dumpster to the alley, where it would be emptied by the waste management truck. As I walked through the rear door, I looked to the spot where the tortoise had rested and saw that he was gone. I felt a bit sad but imagined that the tortoise had moved to a more welcome environment. I pushed the dumpster to the alley and returned to my office.

As I settled into my chair and reached for my mouse, I felt something brush against my left foot. I looked down and saw the tortoise! At first, I imagined that the tortoise simply looked larger inside my office, but as I regarded him more closely, it was apparent that he was, in fact, substantially larger than he had been less than an hour before! In fact, he was so significantly larger that my initial observation was he must not be the same tortoise I had seen earlier. Yet, a tortoise of any dimensions in the city, certainly, and this tortoise was unlikely to be a mere companion of the original tortoise. It must be, I thought, the same tortoise-somehow nearly doubled in size since first I viewed him!

I imagined that the tortoise must be someone's pet and that someone was, no doubt, looking for him. I determined to care for the tortoise until his owner came to claim him. I could not, however, continue to call the tortoise using pronouns, and I decided to name him Terrance-at least for his tenure in my care.

As I went about my day, Terrance followed me about the office-slowly. I had the remnants of a salad left over from the previous week. It had no dressing on it and was still relatively fresh. I placed the salad on a paper plate and offered it to Terrance. He ate greedily. I filled a plastic bowl with spring water from the water cooler and placed it beside the salad. Terrance ate and drank without stopping. When the salad and water were gone, Terrance crept to a corner of the office and appeared to nap.

A few hours later, I felt a nudging against my left foot. I looked down and saw Terrance. He was apparently hungry and thirsty once again-due, no doubt, to a great extent because he had once again nearly doubled in size! Terrance needed more food, and there was none at my office. I backed my Nitro R/T up to the rear of my office and opened the rear gate. With considerable effort, I hoisted Terrance and placed him inside the vehicle. He only barely fit! I locked my office and took Terrance to my house. At the house, I placed Terrance on the rear lawn. There, he would have plenty of grass upon which to feed. I took a stainless-steel bowl from the kitchen, filled it with spring water, and placed it in the shade at the rear of the house. Terrance ceased eating grass and strutted to the water. He drank thirstily. Once again, he had very nearly doubled in size since our journey to the house. I estimated him at 5 feet in circumference and well over 150 pounds!

I left Terrance and walked to the house. I called the local news services and informed them of Terrance and his mysterious growth cycles, and I said that I intended to tend to his needs until his rightful owner came to claim him.

I returned to the rear yard to check on Terrance. Once again, he had doubled in size. Soon, he would be too large for the yard! In preparation for his next growth spurt, I led Terrance down the alley and across the street, to a large field near my house. There, Terrance would have sufficient grass upon which to feed and sufficient water to drink, there being a small creek running through the field.

Suddenly, the street was filled with vehicles bearing the logos of news media, and the sky was filled with helicopters that were similarly identified. One of the helicopters-bearing the logo of the Fox News Channel-landed near me, where I stood, watching over Terrance. From the helicopter, Laurie Dhue appeared, with camera crew in tow. Laurie began interviewing me. She showed great interest in the story and considerable concern for Terrance-who doubled in size during the interview!

An enormous helicopter-bearing the insignia of PETA-hovered over us and landed nearby. A spokesperson appeared and confronted me, saying that I had no right whatever to "the creature," as she called Terrance, and that she would now see that "the best interests of the creature" were served! Laurie Dhue was visibly disturbed, and I loudly protested the removal of Terrance from my care. Armed guards from the PETA helicopter appeared, and a team carrying a large stainless-steel cage accompanied them. All appeared to be lost!

Laurie Dhue whispered to me, "You should not give up hope. I am going to make a call. Please trust me. All will be well." I took solace from her words, yet I feared the worst. The men with the cage were descending upon Terrance!

Suddenly, a S.W.A.T. team from the local police department appeared and forced the PETA personnel away from Terrance. The S.W.A.T. team leader held forth a court order, signed by a local judge, that gave temporary custody of Terrance to me. The PETA spokesperson argued that a local judge had no say in the matter and that she would soon have this court order rescinded. I felt saddened by what seemed to be a harsh reality.

Suddenly, another helicopter appeared and landed. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared, followed by a large contingent from the California National Guard. The Governor posed with me and Terrance, the media photographers converged and greedily photographed us, and the crowd that had gathered cheered loudly.

The Cat Burglar

I arrived home from my office and was greeted by my cat, Zeus. He generally greets me by rubbing against my legs as I walk into the house and leaping onto the dining room table as I near it, where he then positions himself to receive petting. He did not do this, however. He pressed himself tightly against my leg and would not move. His body shook. At first, I imagined that he was ill, but touching his nose indicated that he was not. I looked into his eyes and saw fear! Zeus had been frightened by something! "Zeus," I said, "what has frightened you?" Zeus lifted his paw and pointed at the monitor for Laura's computer. Onscreen was a local news story with the headline, "Cat Burglar Strikes Again!" I bent down, took Zeus into my arms, stroked his soft fur, and said, "Zeus, fear not! A cat burglar is a thief who uses stealth while stealing. It is not someone who steals cats!" Zeus looked up at me and meowed. The fear was gone from his eyes!

The Parade

It was Tuesday, November 11, 2008—Veterans Day. I arrived at my office at 7 AM and began the day as usual. I had Outlook 2007 set to alert me at 10:45 AM that it was time to prepare for photographing the Veterans Day parade, which would take place on Solano Street—passing in front of my office. I intended to exit the front door of my office, walk to the edge of the sidewalk, and photograph the parade as I have done when photographing parades for the last ten years.

I continued about my day as I usually do. I completed the blog post for the day, responded to emails, read the news, prepared a quotation for a client who was scheduled to come to my office that afternoon, and listened to Sirius Satellite Radio via the Internet.

At 10:45 AM, Outlook 2007 alerted me that the parade would begin in 15 minutes. I opened my camera bag and took out my Nikon D3 and removed the lens cap and affixed the lens hood to the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I walked to the front door, and I was unable to open the door, because someone had set up a booth directly in front of the door and sufficiently close to the door that it was not possible to open the door. The door opens outward, and in the past, it has been blocked by people who have set up booths there. When this has happened, I have successfully got the attention of these people by rapping on the glass of the door and indicating that I required use of the door. Rapping on the glass was ineffective, and the doorway remained blocked. I determined that I would exit the rear door and walk down the alley and around the corner of the block to my usual shooting position at the edge of the sidewalk in front of my office.

When I reached the back door and attempted to open it, I found it blocked by a large truck that had backed into my parking spot sufficiently close to the rear door of my office that I was unable to open it. [In reality, the rear door of my office opens inward, so it would not be possible to block it in this fashion.] I walked to the front door and rapped upon the glass once again. There was no response, and the time for the parade to begin was drawing near.

I noticed a sign on the booth that was blocking my doorway. It read, “Rita’s Carnitas” and listed a telephone number. I called the number and reached someone who apparently spoke no English. I attempted to communicate the situation, using the few Spanish words at my command, but I was unable to do so.

I walked to the rear of my office, stood on a step ladder [I have no such ladder.], and opened an entryway in the ceiling. [There is no such entryway in the ceiling.] I entered this and found myself in the area between the ceiling and roof. I located an exit to the roof, took it, and found myself on the roof of my office. I found that it was a good vantage point for photographing the parade. I saw that the parade was just beginning to form in preparation for beginning. I put my camera down and returned to my office. I took a folding chair from the storage area of my office [There are actually two such chairs there.] and returned with it to the roof. I sat in the chair and photographed the parade.

When the parade ended, I returned to my office and began downloading the photographs I had taken. At this point, I awakened.

The Seismic Research Facility

I attended a Microsoft seminar in San Francisco. Following the seminar, I recalled that my friend, Frank, was working on a job site (Frank is a master tile setter) in Berkeley. I called his cell phone and suggested to him that we meet. He agreed, we met, and he suggested we visit the Seismic Research Facility at the University of California at Berkley. He said the facility was open to the public this week and said it should prove to be an interesting adventure. When we reached the facility, we were greeted by a young male tour guide. He guided us through the facility, explaining the functions of the equipment we encountered. Suddenly, we were in a large room that contained only a small domestic cat—suspended upside-down by a cord, from the ceiling. The cat dangled approximately 6 feet from the floor, and on the floor beneath the cat was an intricate pattern of intersecting lines, numbers, and scientific symbols. "Why is this cat suspended thusly?" I said. "Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways," he answered. "Get him down from there at once!" The tour guide shrugged his shoulders and made no verbal response. I advanced toward the cat. The tour guide gave a signal with his right hand, and several armed guards approached me. I quickly took my Spyderco knife from my pocket, cut the cord holding the cat, clasped the cat to my chest, and ran! Soon, I was seated in an outdoor café. I was enjoying a glass of Pinot blanc, and the cat was lapping with great abandon at a saucer of non-fat milk.