FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #3

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living …
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living,
So different now from what it seemed.
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
— Fantine in “Les Miserables”

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• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 1Part 2

While I was at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series, I fell asleep moments before the first pitch — and soon I started to dream. This is what I dreamed …

… a parade is just beginning, and now I see where I am: in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes, along Broadway. The list of those who have been honored here includes Nelson Mandela and the Yankees in the 1990s (three times for the Yanks, who were World Series champs in 1996, ’98 and ’99).

Makes me wonder: Why hasn’t Mandela been honored with three parades? What he’s accomplished warrants 30-plus parades compared to winning three World Series, it seems to me.

A familiar voice gate-crashes my thoughts: “HEY! What about me?”

The voice shouts again, sounding as if it’s coming from a cavernous place: “What about me?”

It’s Billy Crystal. I think. Or someone whose voice sounds like him. But I can’t see him.

I hear him again: “Hey! What about ME?” And then I see him. It’s Miracle Max from “The Princess Bride,” one of Crystal’s classic characters. He has emerged from an underground stairway about 30 feet up the street. A magical staircase? Nope, a subway stop. I hadn’t noticed it before.

Crystal — or, more accurately, Miracle Max as portrayed by Crystal — says to no one in particular, “What about me? How about a parade for me?”

Looking up and down the street, I see not another living soul — strange attendance for a parade. So, as the only person there, I feel obligated to attempt to answer his question. And my answer begins with another question: “Do you mean a parade for Miracle Max or Billy Crystal?”

He looks at me, incredulous. “For me, of course — me, Miracle Max! I deserve a parade. Look, if I don’t bring that Westley kid back to life, ‘The Princess Bride’ goes south faster than you can say ‘I hate when that happens.’ If I don’t work my magic, that story becomes a tragedy of unimaginable and epic proportions. True, that kid was only mostly dead — but I resuscitated him, for cryin’ out loud. I deserve a parade.”

I reply, “Billy—” (at this he glares at me) “—excuse me, Mr. Crystal—” (he scowls at me) “—oh, I mean Max — Mr. Miracle Max!”

He says, “No ‘Mr.’ — just Miracle Max. Or Max is fine, too. If you call me ‘Mr.’ I start feeling really old.” A breeze ruffles Max’s white hair, and his furrowed, mountain-ancient face is recognizable in the streetlights.

“Max,” I say, “I love ‘The Princess Bride’ — two thumbs-up, absolutely — and your importance in the story is indisputable. But I have no jurisdiction over New York City parades. Sorry I can’t help. I’m not even sure who you should appeal to.”

Miracle Max begins to say something, but I see the parade is starting to go by. Once I turn toward the street and view the first float, I’m transfixed like a child who happens upon a carnival — and whatever Max is saying becomes unintelligible background noise.

There isn’t much visually on the first float to arrest my attention: simply a light-colored placard with dark block lettering, facing my side of the street (clearly parade-planning genius, since I’m the only person there). Wait, I’m not the only person here … but when I look for Miracle Max, he’s nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he’s seeking an audience with the mayor to make a case for a Miracle Max Day parade.

As I scan the placard and its lettering, I get the impression that I’m reading headlines, which are coupled with various years — and each year is in the future. Just as the float has nearly passed, I notice a smallish sign above the placard that reads: PARADE FLOATS. For a moment, I envision a parade floating down the East River … oh, wrong float — now I gather that this means each headline corresponds to one of the parade floats.

Glancing down the street at the rest of the parade, I see that this first display is actually a mini-float — the approaching floats appear to be two or three times the size of this first one.

These six headlines are on the placard (remember, I’m dreaming this dream in October 2000):

Terrorist attacks rock NYC; Twin Towers reduced to rubble — 2001

Red Sox rout Yankees in Game 7, complete historic comeback — 2004

Katrina floods New Orleans as levees fail; Superdome converted to shelter — 2005

Obama wins election, becomes America’s first black president — 2008

Freak October nor’easter hits Connecticut, knocks out power across state — 2011

Superstorm Sandy wreaks havoc across Northeast; death toll at 50, damage estimated at $50 billion — 2012

What could all this mean? Are these headlines of actual events? Will all this come true?

As the mini-float passes by, I peer at the next float — and its first visible element is a handmade sign, with jagged edges on one side, bearing numbers that appear to have been hastily scrawled: 9/11. I wonder what the numbers signify — maybe it’s a variation of calling 911 for an emergency?

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2013

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