Tuesday began like any other day, except for the dream and the wound. I woke up in my bed, though it took a minute to discern. Stripes of sun shone brightly through the blinds and my head ached. My bed. My blinds. My head. I was sure of all this. Damn sure. As sure as I could be. The corners of the room held the color of a darkening sky lit by the moon; the aura of my dream:
I’m in a house that smells of age and wood. There’s a deck on top but I won’t go up there. I’m waiting out a storm. Objects fly through the yard like a tornado is moving them, and wind chimes clamor as if they’re fighting each other. I call my mom to make sure she’s okay. I’m fine, I tell her. I hang up. There’s a table where I’m sitting, talking, and one person keeps cutting me off. I don’t know these people. The house morphs into a restaurant with tables full of other people I don’t know. Someone speaks of a man named John Fisher from McLean, VA. Someone from another table says, oh, we know a John Fisher from Washington, DC, but he is not the same John Fisher from McLean. The maître d’ turns slowly and says, there are five John Fishers in the phone book and I know them all. I can’t make out his face. I leave the restaurant and drive until the road ends. I get out and walk down a path in the woods where shadow figures peek out from behind the Willows. They are warning me about the light. I notice a newspaper in my left hand that smells of ink, and I think, why didn’t I bring a gun? I cross a bridge with water surging underneath, but still, I can hear whispers in the distance. A man stands on the bridge, fishing for bowfin (Amia calva). He catches them and throws them back in. Is it a man (Homo sapiens)? I ask myself. And then the light comes.
In my room under the light of the sun, I recalled this dream in the way one remembers being a child; through a lens that is out of focus. Aside from the headache, my navel hurt, and there was a crust of plasma inside it that resembled the color of the sunlight pushing through the blinds. My surgery was scheduled for Friday – a laparoscopy. The incision would be made through my navel. I called the surgeon immediately.
In the examination room, Dr. McKay, with a look of bewilderment, asked, what did you do? I told him I hadn’t done anything. I went to bed and woke up with this condition, I told him. Concerned that an infection might interfere with my surgery, I’d made the appointment. Clearly, he said, this was made by a hypodermic needle. He cleaned it up and assured me it wouldn’t interfere with my surgery. See you Friday, was the only other thing we spoke of. Eye contact ceased. I turned and looked back on my way out of the room and noted the look of distress on his face. I felt it too.
While checking out at the front-office desk, a nurse opened the door to the back rooms and called, John Fisher? John Fisher? Dr. McKay is ready for you. I didn’t look.
The night before my surgery, mom made a new dish, Tim T’s Buttermilk Bowfin. We ate early. I couldn’t have anything after 8:00 p.m. It stormed heavily during the night, waking me repeatedly. I didn’t mind not sleeping. I would sleep enough tomorrow and the next day. It was the wind chimes that kept me up, mostly, but there was something else. Clearly, Dr. McKay had said, this was made by a hypodermic needle. This was the thought that kept me awake. And then the light came.