Archive for the ‘FAST Fiction’ Category

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #10

10/31/2015

To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream — ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…
— Hamlet (via Shakespeare)

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 123456789

Once upon a couch, I fell asleep watching the pregame show before the final game of the 2000 World Series (the Mets-Yankees Subway Series). Soon I descended into dreamland and learned of the soon-to-be events of September 11, 2001. Now, some dream friends and I hope to help Flight 93 above western Pennsylvania…

… Iron Man soars beside us, coming from the other side of the zooming plane. He nods to our right, toward the cabin: “It’s clearly a hijack situation, Max. Your intel was correct. I could see four hijackers in the cockpit, and they’re in control of the flight. I believe the pilots are dead — there were bodies on the cockpit floor.”

Ashen-faced, Miracle Max says, “It’s just as we feared. What can we do to help?”

Iron Man looks at Max and says, “Like I said, I could—”

“I know, I know,” Max interrupts, presumably referring to a previous discussion I wasn’t privy to. “But Iron Man, if you break into the cockpit and puncture the exterior of that plane at this altitude and speed, you’ll risk the lives of everyone on board. Yes, there’s that true story about an explosion that tore a hole in a big jet plane, and the plane was able to fly for miles and land safely — but those were different circumstances. It’s like I said before: If you break into the cockpit and kill the hijackers, you’d surely doom the passengers and crew too.”

“Hold on,” Iron Man says.

“We’re already holding on,” Max replies, exasperated. “Not everyone can fly as fast as you, pal.” Max and I are tightly grasping the airliner’s left wing or else we’d be left behind. His flowing white hair is shining in the sun like a crown.

“No, I mean wait a minute — I’m picking up phone transmissions from the plane,” Iron Man says, his computer in high gear. “It’s a passenger speaking with his wife on the ground. She’s telling him about the terrorists who crashed the other jets into the Twin Towers — listen to this.”

We hear a man’s voice emanating from the speakers in Iron Man’s high-tech metallic suit:

“We’re going to rush the hijackers,” the voice says. “We’re going to attack. I’m going to put the phone down. I love you. I’ll be right back.”

A different man’s voice comes from a different phone conversation as he talks with his wife many miles away: “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.”

A moment ago, the sun was radiant, brighter than a million lit-up Christmas trees. But now it has ducked behind some clouds, and glancing far below I see shadows from high billows that darken the patchwork farms-and-fields quilt like stains on a comforter.

Then we hear another man’s voice on another phone line — can’t tell who he’s speaking with, but soon he pauses and apparently turns to some fellow passengers: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

Next we hear a woman’s voice on yet another phone call. She’s talking with a man who must be a loved one somewhere on terra firma. She says she’s filling pitchers with boiling water — it sounds as if she’s a flight attendant. She concludes abruptly: “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

“I’ve got to go too,” Iron Man says. “Got to take some action. Wait — I’m picking up some transmissions from inside the cockpit. It’s the hijackers. They’re speaking Arabic, so I won’t put on speaker but will translate for you.”

So Iron Man translates what the terrorists are saying to each other: “They’re trying to get in here. Hold, hold from the inside. Hold.”

“Some men are there.”

“Trust in Allah.”

“Is that it? Shall we finish it off?”

“No. Not yet.”

“When they all come, we finish it off.”

As Iron Man translates, the airliner rolls violently from side to side, then up and down. Max and I barely maintain our grasp of the left wing as we ride this insane, fiendish roller coaster.

Iron Man continues translating: “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.”

“Is that it? I mean, shall we pull it down?”

“Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.”

Iron Man shouts, “I can’t stay here with you — time for Plan B, Max. Farewell, my friend, and I’ll see you on the flip side.”

Max and I let go of the wing as Iron Man rushes to the front of the plane. Suddenly, Flight 93 nosedives toward earth at an unimaginable speed, and Iron Man holds on to the jet’s nose, trying to prevent the descent.

“He ain’t the captain, kid,” Miracle Max says softly, “but he’ll go down with this ship if he can’t save it.”

Max reflexively reaches into his pocket, perhaps searching for a magic pill or elixir to save the day. His hand comes out empty — and United Flight 93 plummets, and plummets, and plummets … and crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Blood stains the comforter.

We had begun our aerial journey like three kings, beckoned from afar, apprehensive yet hopeful that we would somehow assist the safe advent of this fragile flight. Now we are like deposed monarchs — powerless, empty, brokenhearted.

In front of me, in midair, flashes a blue sign (with a gold border) that I’d never seen before. These words stand out to me:

Welcome to SHANKSVILLE
‘A Friendly Little Town’
Shanksville Honors the Heroes of Flight 93

(I’m not sure whether I’m seeing the actual sign — perhaps an image of the sign is being broadcast to my eyes.)

Later, I learn that a field in the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, became a makeshift graveyard for the people of Flight 93. A shank to the heart and soul, indeed. But the heroic actions of the passengers prevented the plane from being used as a missile in the manner of the planes that hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Their bravery saved many lives that day.

The blue Shanksville sign fades and blends into another blue sign — namely, the bold blue sky that Miracle Max and Iron Man and I have been soaring through. Now, though, Iron Man has perished trying to rescue Flight 93. And Max and I are slowly losing altitude.

Then a rush of rage — at the terrorists — surges through my heart and mind. In my next breath, the rage is followed by familiar questions and sentiments that, often enough, attend such a tragedy, like fans at a brutal mixed-martial arts spectacle: How could God allow another horrific event like this? Why didn’t He do something to help these people? And actually, is God even there?

Typhoon waves of despair engulf my soul. An abject sense of meaninglessness mangles my vision. Doubt wraps around me like a python and begins to squeeze.

Miracle Max and I are descending, yet for some reason the descent is slow — but Miracle Max? An acid steam of bitterness rises in me … what a joke of a name! Max had no miracles for these people. He should be stripped of that moniker. But I don’t voice this. For one, Iron Man was also unable to stem the terrorist tide. And after all, it was Max who enabled me to glide through the air (along with himself) and get to Flight 93, to give us at least a chance to help.

“Max,” I say, before pausing hesitantly: “Do you believe in God?”

“Yes, I do,” he replies, though now I notice a nuanced change in Miracle Max — he still looks and sounds like Max, but it seems that perhaps someone else is talking to me. “It’s tough not to when you look at the design of everything from the stars to the human body and psyche. You really think the universe happened by random chance?”

“But even after senseless tragedies like this?” I counter — I, who have grown up in the church and believed in God since childhood. “How do you explain that and make it fit the paradigm of a loving God?” I quickly add: “I mean, I have some thoughts, but I’m wondering what you think.”

Paradigm — look who’s using the fancy words,” Max says. “Well, kid, presuming God does exist, He gives people choice, right? And the key to choice is love — God wants people to love Him. For that to really happen, they gotta have the power to choose. You know, that free will thing. Love from a puppet or a robot — obviously, that’s not true love. By the way, my friend Westley — my buddy from ‘The Princess Bride’ — he knows something about true love: ‘As you wish.’ I think that’s exactly what God says to people. And God wants people to say to Him: ‘As you wish.’ That’s true love. But it means people are able to choose harmful wishes and actions.”

I protest, “But why does free will automatically mean some choices will be harmful? Why can’t everybody just make good choices with their choice?”

“I don’t know for 100 percent sure, kid,” Max admits. “But I think it’s ’cause human beings can choose what they wanna choose. Being able to choose only good wouldn’t really be a choice, now would it?”

I start to say something, but Max looks up and continues: “Plus, there’s this: God gets harmed too. He hurts too. Yes, we human beings know a thing or two about suffering, but God? We can’t pretend to know what His suffering is like. Whether you’re talking Jewish theism or Christian theism, God grieves, hurts, suffers like no other. And why? It comes back to true love. God wants our love, kid. Look, here’s a scene from the best movie of all time — yeah, of course, ‘The Princess Bride’ — and it sums up what I’m trying to say about how God hurts as it pertains to the humans he loves.”

A large, dark screen appears in the sky — looks like a movie screen — and from it emanates a piercing, anguished cry. Now we see Inigo Montoya and Fezzik, and Inigo says, “Do you hear that, Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Rugen slaughtered my father. The Man in Black makes it now.”

Fezzik says quizzically, “The Man in Black?”

Inigo replies, “His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?” Then the screen vanishes.

“True love,” Max says. “It’s the best, and it’s the worst.”

The golden-and-green fields and farms below get closer as we drift downward.

“The other thing I wonder about,” I observe, “is that they say God is omnipresent, everywhere at the same time. But maybe we misunderstand what that means. Maybe it means He’s everywhere by His Spirit, but He also has a — a locational presence. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, God sometimes speaks to people in a certain place, and then He leaves that place. So maybe God is everywhere by His Spirit, but His distinct presence isn’t everywhere simultaneously—”

“I hear you, kid,” Max interjects.

“—and maybe that’s why He doesn’t intervene more often. Because He isn’t everywhere locationally. Of course, that’s a lot of maybes.”

“I got one more for you: Maybe all these maybes are all we got, when you boil it down,” Max says wistfully. “But some maybes are better than others: Give me the maybes that are true, kid.”

Suddenly, a specter floats toward us, appearing out of the sky. It resembles Max, actually — ancient face, wild white hair, frail frame.

“It’s my alter ego,” Max says matter-of-factly. Turning toward the phantom, Max shouts like a New York cabbie, “Hey, whaddaya doin’ here?”

The specter of Miracle Max points into the sky and an image appears. A family opening presents around a Christmas tree. A Mom, a Dad and three children. Laughs, smiles, an occasional hug.

Smoke obscures and dissipates, and we see another image: the same family around a Christmas tree. The Mom and the three children — but the Dad is missing. Faint smiles followed by quivering, heartbroken faces.

Max — the real one, not the specter of Christmas future — says quietly, “If those heroes on Flight 93 hadn’t taken action, this family would have lost a husband and Dad. Maybe, my friend, that’s the best answer to these questions.”

I object reflexively, “But why did it have to happen at all? Why couldn’t everyone survive?”

“Can’t really answer that — I just don’t know.”

“And anyway,” I resume, “maybe this family would still be together regardless. How do you know this guy is still alive because the passengers on Flight 93 fought back against those terrorists?”

Miracle Max replies, “Trust me, kid — I got a good source.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

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FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #9

10/02/2015

To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream…
— Hamlet (via Shakespeare)

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 12345678

Once upon a couch, I was home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series. But I fell asleep just before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… We continue our aerial journey, heading west above Pennsylvania — amazingly without the assistance of any aircraft or hot-air balloon or the like. We’re seeking Flight 93. Above and behind us, the sun is climbing high in a clear September sky. Below us, a city bustles with Matchbox cars and minute pedestrians.

The city is far smaller than the one where I was recently parade-going in the Canyon of Heroes in the dead of night. If New York City is the Himalayan mountains, this city we’re soaring above is Jersey’s Kittatinny Ridge. A river runs southeast through the metropolis.

“That’s Harrisburg, the capital of good ol’ PA,” says Miracle Max (of “Princess Bride” fame) as he gestures downward, reprising his role as aeronautical tour guide. “And that is the Susquehanna River.”

I peer down again, as does Iron Man, the newest addition to our expedition.

“Did you know this little factoid?” Max intones. “The Susquehanna River is the longest river on the East Coast of the United States that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Bet you didn’t know that.”

“You’re right, I did not know that,” I say.

Max smiles. “You know where I learned that? Google. Such a perky search tool.”

“I did know that,” Iron Man says in what seems a bored tone. “I can access Google as I fly, you know — and a whole lot more — on my high-octane onboard computer.”

“Of course I knew you knew, Iron Man,” Max replies, his white hair catching the sun’s brightness. “I was talking to this kid over here. He’s from Connecticut and grew up in New Jersey. I don’t think he’s been in this neck of the woods before.”

Am I dreaming? I must be … no human can soar like an eagle in waking life, and the presence of Miracle Max and Iron Man bear a distinct resemblance to characters in dream land. According to the information I gleaned at the bizarre parade in NYC, it is nearly a year after I fell asleep before World Series Game 5 in October 2000. To be specific, it is September 11, 2001 — and following Miracle Max’s lead, we’re heading toward United Flight 93, which he claims is winging over western Pennsylvania.

As we fly west of Harrisburg, we essentially follow a highway, though we take a more direct course than the interstate’s natural loops and contours.

“That’s the Pennsylvania Turnpike, kid,” Max says, anticipating my question. Iron Man nods in geographic agreement.

The blue-stained sky is resplendent. The sun is radiant. My colleagues reflect the brightness in their distinct ways — one via ancient hair, the other via modern red-and-gold armor. What awaits when we reach Flight 93?

“My intel has informed me,” Miracle Max says, as if on cue, “that Flight 93 has been hijacked, just as the other planes were — the ones that hit the Twin Towers earlier this morning. We’re going to do all we can to help the passengers and crew of United 93.”

Iron Man interjects, “I’m picking up an airliner on radar. It’s coming our way at 477.3 miles per hour.” It occurs to me that we must be flying (or gliding) at a much slower speed.

Without warning, Iron Man races toward the unseen plane, jetting ahead of me and Max. “Hey, what’s going on?” I ask. “Why’d he take off?”

“He’s following orders,” Max replies. “It’s the emergency plan we discussed earlier — before you were in the picture. He’s no stranger to hijacking and terrorist attacks. And he can fly like a rocket — just a bit faster than me, kid. Iron Man will scout the situation and do what he can until we join him, and then he’ll give us the lowdown on what exactly is going on.”

I stare ahead into the sky, the roaring sun behind me. No plane, nothing. Nothing visible to the naked eye, anyway.

By the way, the fact that we’re airborne has nothing to do with my skill and everything to do with Max’s astonishing ability to catch wind currents and take flight (which he is somehow transferring to me).

Then I see it — an airliner in the distance, rushing toward us like a relentless bird of prey.

“Listen carefully, kid, “ Max says with greater urgency. “You need to stick with me, ’cause that’s how you’re flying — but you already know that. I can’t glide nearly as fast as a jetliner, but we’ve gotta be able to keep up with Flight 93. So when we meet the plane, you and I are gonna grab one of the wings — but make sure you don’t get too close to the engines!”

My eyebrows rise involuntarily — in this case, a kneejerk terror reflex.

“Don’t worry, partner, stick with me,” Max reassures. “I can’t fly that fast, but remember, I’m a miracle man extraordinaire. You stick with me, and we’ll both be able to hold on to that wing and ascertain the best course of action.”

I nod, getting tenser now that Flight 93 is an imminent reality. The airplane is getting larger by the moment.

“Get ready, kid,” Max says. “Follow my lead. If anything happens—”

And then, suddenly, United Airlines Flight 93 is upon us, speeding east.

After some intense aerial gymnastics, Miracle Max and I are able to grab hold of the jetliner’s left wing. I’ve heeded Max’s sage advice, with his help, avoiding the engine on the wing with its cuts-both-ways power.

Iron Man soars beside us, appearing to come from the other side of the plane. He nods to our right, toward the cabin: “It’s clearly a hijack situation, Max. Your intel was correct. I could see four hijackers in the cockpit, and they’re in control of the flight. I believe the pilots are dead — there were bodies on the cockpit floor.”

Ashen-faced, Max says, “It’s just as we feared. What can we do to help?”

Iron Man looks at Max and says, “Like I said, I could—”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #8

09/11/2015

Look at these eyes
They’ve never seen what mattered
Look at these dreams
So beaten and so battered
— “Don’t Know Much” (sung by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt)

To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream…
— Hamlet (via Shakespeare)

Am I only dreaming?
Or is this burning an eternal flame?
— “Eternal Flame” (sung by The Bangles)

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 1234567

Once upon a couch, I was home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series. But I fell asleep just before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… Here I am, airborne, soaring like Superman above New Jersey with the one and only Miracle Max (yes, the guy from “The Princess Bride”). Except he’s the true superhero, and I’m the sidekick benefiting from his mysterious ability to fly and catch air currents like a hawk.

“There’s the Delaware River,” Max says, pointing below as if he’s a tour guide. We fly over the dark ribbon and cross into Pennsylvania airspace.

Until now, nighttime reigned — but suddenly, it seems, the day is here. Dawn must have staged a sneak attack … like the planes I saw smash into the Twin Towers on the huge video screen in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes. Moments ago, Max said another plane en route over Pennsylvania needs help, and that’s where we’re heading — to Flight 93.

“Max, how do you know that’s the Delaware River down there?” I ask, incredulous. “You’re from the country of — it’s called Florin in ‘Princess Bride,’ right? And it’s a fictional country, to boot. Have you ever been to the United States before? It’s a massive nation, you know. So how on earth could you know that’s the Delaware?”

Perhaps I doth protest too much … in embarrassment. Because I didn’t realize it was the Delaware River until he said so — and I grew up in Jersey.

Max glares at me: “Fictional! Florin is a fictional country, you say? Look who thinks he knows so much. I’ll have you know that Florin is as real as the good ol’ US of A.” He winks as he says this — or something got caught in his eye as we fly.

“Anyway,” Max continues, “I’ve been to your country before. You have no idea how many times I’ve been here, making miracles happen left and right, pal. I’ll tell you — American history wouldn’t be the same without me. That crossing of the Delaware, by that George Washington character? All me. You think he could’ve made it across in that nasty weather without a major assist from someone who knows how to pull a miracle or two out of his pocket?”

“Wait,” I say with far more incredulity, “are you really saying you were there with George Washington when he led his troops across the Delaware River — in, what was it, 1776?”

Just then, something (or someone) buzzes by us in a blur. At first I wonder whether the Wicked Witch of the West has caught up with us. Her nefarious skullduggery nearly killed me when she used her wicked breath to sweep me up into the sky above a New York City street — and then I dropped like an anvil … or like a person without a parachute. But Miracle Max saved the day. More accurately, he saved me.

But when the blur whizzes by us again, it’s clear it is not the Wicked Witch — not even close. Then it settles in next to us on the airstream. As we soar together, Max is in the middle, I’m on his left, and the newcomer is on Max’s right. I glance over and see a metallic-looking, robotic something. Bearing a human-like form, its torso and forearms and lower legs are red, but its thighs and upper arms and head appear to be gold.

This thing seems familiar, but I can’t quite place it — until Max says nonchalantly, “Iron Man, my main man! Glad you got my call. Thanks for coming, kid!”

Iron Man nods. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Miracle Max — and you’re my main man. You know that, don’t you, old man?”

For a moment, Max’s face beams like a high-powered beacon, but then he catches himself — and his pseudo-friendly scowl clouds his visage again.

“Are you telling me,” I say to Max, “that Robert Downey Jr. is in that full-body armor?”

“Robert Downey who?” Max retorts. “That, my friend, is the real Iron Man — no Marvel Comics, no movie special effects. He’s the real deal.”

“How did you meet the real Iron Man?” I ask.

“At the superhero convention in Toledo last year,” Max replies with a tone that oozes how-could-you-not-know-that (you knucklehead).

Iron Man interjects: “Wasn’t it at that high-powered business meeting in Florin City?”

“Could be, kid,” Max says. “I guess I don’t quite remember. But we really hit it off — we have so much in common!”

I look at Miracle Max, with his white hair and lines like crevices on his face, and then at Iron Man, with his shiny high-tech suit. So much in common?

“I can see your wheels spinning,” Max observes, anticipating my comment. “It might not seem that Iron Man and I have much in common, but we do — especially, we both try to help people in need, and there are some people in need on Flight 93 just west of here.”

Glancing down as we continue our hard-to-conceive flight, I see the rolling farms and fields of Pennsylvania, featuring graph-paper green and tan and gold of varying degree. Wait a minute: What’s going on with Flight 93, I wonder? This airborne adventure has been so mind-boggling that it’s swept away any further consideration of the airplane Max has mentioned.

Then it hits me: The video I saw on Broadway in New York City, after the parade stopped, showed jetliners incomprehensibly crashing into the Twin Towers — and the headline from the future that I saw at the same parade referred to a terrorist attack.

This Flight 93 must be connected to that horrific event.

Peering below, I notice that we’ve been following a straight-shooting highway via the air.

“Max, is that I-78 below us?”

“You got it, kid — it’s a great way to go west across this great state, whether you’re driving or flying.” Nodding toward Iron Man, Miracle Max adds, “And that Iron Man, he’s a great guy to have on your side at a time like this.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #7

02/23/2015

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. — Proverbs 13:12

What happens to a dream deferred?
— Langston Hughes

Here in my heart there’s a dream that’s unbroken
And it gets in my way, but it won’t be denied…
— Chicago (the band)

+++

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 123456

Once upon a couch, I was home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series. But I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… At this outlandish nighttime parade, my eyes have been fixed on the first float, the one bearing the scrawled numbers 9/11 — which, as I’ve come to see, refers to an event that will supposedly occur on September 11, 2001.

The parade stopped soon after it began, when the 9/11 float was directly in front of me here on Broadway in the Canyon of Heroes. I’ve watched video on a gargantuan screen that was on this grotesque float: images of planes crashing into the Twin Towers, which became towering infernos. But then the screen disappeared, and as I peered into the darkness across lower Manhattan, I saw the Towers collapse as if they were made with a diabolical erector set. The skyscrapers imploded in a maniacal rush of severed steel and fractured concrete and shattered glass.

So now, adjacent to New York City’s Canyon of Heroes, the Crater of Broken Hearts, the Chasm of Crippled Hope. An unplanned cemetery and a makeshift memorial, right next door to the roadway where the renowned living have been honored with parades for decades.

As I ponder this, a parachutist descends and lands on the 9/11 float … it appears to be Denis Leary, the actor and comedian. When he unhooks his parachute gear, I can see he’s wearing a firefighter’s jacket emblazoned with the words “Rescue Me.” Behind him is a two-story building that seems to be a firehouse — I hadn’t noticed it before — and both garage doors are wide open. The garage bays are full of a cavernous emptiness. The fire trucks are out on call, apparently. Then it hits me: They must have gone to the Twin Towers.

Now I see a newspaper, floating in the air in front of Leary and to his right, too far away for me to see. Yet somehow I can read this headline: “Final episode of ‘Rescue Me’ to air tonight.” The date on the post: September 7, 2011.

As I read the headline silently, Leary says softly, “It’s really a hole that never goes away.”

Another voice — whose, I’m not sure, and from where, I can’t tell — echoes Leary’s last word: “away” … in a mocking tone, it seems, and again, “away” … now the voice sounds menacing … and a third time, viciously, “away!”

A rushing wind carrying thick dust and debris sweeps across the 9/11 parade float, and before I can react, it envelops me. I instinctively shut my eyes for protection — and without warning, the powerful wind sweeps me up, off the sidewalk! Opening my eyes, I can’t see anything in the hazy dust cloud, but I sense that I’m rising rather than falling, as I did earlier from the top of the Empire State Building. That recollection relieves my anxiety briefly — I somehow landed safely on a pole vaulter’s cushion here on Broadway — yet I’m still … terrified.

This vast dust cloud, I surmise, is the last exhaled breath of the dying Twin Towers. I don’t know why its spread was delayed, since the towers imploded some time earlier.

As I continue to ascend in the obscured night sky, something flies past me in a blur. What was that? Or who was that?

I hear the voice again, with the same mocking, menacing tone — and this time I discern that it’s distinctly a woman’s voice: “Away!” As I keep rising, the dust cloud is slowly receding and the sky becomes clearer. She rushes toward me again, and now I can see the unmistakable form of someone with a greenish face, a pointed black hat and a black robe covering all but her green hands — yes, it must be: the Wicked Witch of The West, flying on her broomstick, far from the merry old land of Oz.

“Away!” she cries. “Away, I say!” As she rushes past me, I’m swirled around in midair and a vortex pushes me higher in the night sky. I’m caught in a mini-tornado. Soaring west, the Wicked Witch glares down at Manhattan and shrieks, “I’ll get you, my city — and your little god too!” (Or she may have meant uppercase “God” — tough to tell.)

Then she turns her hideous head back toward me and screams once more, “Away!” As she speaks that one word, a forceful gale issues from her mouth and I spin and catapult and tumble uncontrollably, rising even farther above the city.

As quickly as I rose into the sky, I begin to descend — I’m plummeting in a free fall far more terrifying than the ascent, with no guarantee of a cushioned landing this time. The asphalt is rushing at me like an angry pit bull.

But just as I brace for impact, choking on my regrets, another voice calls out — “Hey! What ya got here that’s worth livin’ for?” — and a different gust of wind forcefully catches hold of me, propelling my still-airborne body west. In a flash I’ve regained altitude and jetted across the Hudson River, passing the Wicked Witch as if she’s on a bicycle to my Volvo S60, and I cross over the Jersey state line (airspace-wise, that is). I look down, half-expecting to see a “barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge” … but no, apparently this dream doesn’t include Springsteen’s “Jungleland” coming to life.

The owner of the other voice, who has apparently saved me from a fatal descent onto a lower Manhattan street, speaks again: “And hey, what about a parade for me?”

I look to my left and there, soaring beside me, is Miracle Max!

My previous parade-going companion, of “The Princess Bride” fame, has returned in style.

“That was a close call, kid,” he tells me (as if I didn’t know). “I’ve dealt with some witches in my neck of the woods. But oh my, the bad breath on that one — I was about to lose my lunch. And you were about to lose a lot more than that. Glad I showed up when I did. Hey, they don’t call me Miracle Max for nothin’!”

“Thanks, Max — impeccable timing,” I reply. “But where did you go before? We were at the parade together, and then you vanished.”

“Listen, I can’t give away my secrets,” Max says. “I gotta make a living, you know — if I told you how I disappeared so quickly and quietly, maybe you’ll put out a shingle as a Miracle Man, and then what happens to me? I’ll tell you what — I’m on the unemployment line faster than you can say Prince Humperdinck. And he’s how I got fired in the first place.”

“Yes, I remember — I’m a big fan of ‘The Princess Bride,’” I say. “But I don’t need to know how you disappeared — I’d just like to know where you went.”

“OK, fair enough: I went to look for the mayor of New York.”

“Why the mayor? Did you find him?”

“So many questions!” Max says. “No, I did not find him, and if you must know, I wanted to tell him to throw a parade for me in the Canyon of Heroes. ‘Hero’ is my middle name— just ask that Westley kid I brought back to life.”

Miracle Max’s lined face and white hair are illumined by the light of a half-moon, which I can see clearly now that I’m free of the horrific dust cloud. As we keep gliding on this mini-jet stream that’s carrying us west high above New Jersey, I’m overcome with emotion in the wake of my near-death experience — and the tears flow.

Glancing at me, Max says, “What’s the matter?”

“Just … thank you, Max — thank you.”

“Don’t mention it, kid. All in a day’s work.”

“So Max, I can’t help but notice that we’re still, you know, up here in the sky.”

“Can’t put anything past you, pal,” Max says.

As I gaze at the stars — there’s Orion — I ask: “Where are we going?”

“Again with the questions,” Max says good-naturedly (sort of). “I heard there’s an airplane over Pennsylvania that needs help, so that’s where we’re going — to Flight 93.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #6

09/18/2014

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
— John Mayer

+++

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 12345

Once upon a couch, I was home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series — but I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… This mystifying parade along Broadway in New York City has only just begun, yet it seems it’s been going on forever. Actually, the parade halted when the very first float — the one that bears the handmade sign with the scrawled numbers 9/11 — stopped in front of me. But the stoppage appears to be by design, and I’ve been watching video footage, on the float’s huge screen, of events that are ominous and incomprehensible.

Planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Perverse smoke piercing a beautiful blue sky. Stunned witnesses recounting unimaginable sights.

I’m the sole spectator at this strange dead-of-night spectacle — though for a moment I had been joined by Miracle Max (of “Princess Bride” fame) and then Timon (from “The Lion King”).

Miracle Max left earlier, before the 9/11 float appeared. I thought Timon was still with me, but he has inexplicably disappeared.

I turn from the immense video screen and glance west across lower Manhattan — and in the night air I see the Twin Towers burning. What is going on…? This scene was on a video on a parade float, but now it’s happening right before me, a nightmare on Church Street and West Street and Vesey Street and Liberty Street.

I glance toward the first parade float again, and on the huge video screen is a different scene. Gone are the images of the Twin Towers bleeding flames and dark smoke. Instead, there’s a scene I recognize: the Giants celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Such a jarring juxtaposition of images — I wonder who’s in charge of the video content. My mind harks back to the two Super Bowls the Giants won in 1987 and ’91, and I look for coach Bill Parcells amid the celebration. But wait — that looks like Tom Coughlin in the Giants’ locker room … the same Tom Coughlin who’s the coach of the Jaguars.

Suddenly I recall again: I’m dreaming (or at least I think I am) — so perhaps this scene is also from the future, as I presume is the case with the previous video of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center.

And if that’s true, Coughlin will become coach of the Giants and lead them to a Super Bowl victory.

Then the huge video screen abruptly vanishes … but Tom Coughlin is still there. He appears to be actually there, in the flesh, standing alone on that parade float, peering into the darkness toward the World Trade Center, where the crippled Twin Towers still smolder. He is holding a phone (cell or landline, I can’t tell) and somehow I know he’s talking to his son — who is in one of the Twin Towers.

“Do you know what’s going on?” Coughlin says. “Do whatever you have to do to get out of there right now.”

Now I can hear his son’s side of the conversation: “Dad, can you believe what you’re seeing?”

Coughlin stays on point and tells his son to get out of the skyscraper as fast as he can.

Now another man has appeared next to Tom Coughlin. They embrace, and Coughlin speaks one word: “Tim.” Again, somehow I know this is Coughlin’s son. Tim turns toward me — I’m still the only visible spectator at this odd parade — and says, “Looking back on that conversation, I think that was largely responsible for me kind of picking up my step and realizing that the important thing was to get out of there and get as far away from that place as possible.”

As I turn my gaze from the Coughlins to the World Trade Center, one tower suddenly collapses in a heap of deadly debris and unyielding rubble. Moments later, the other tower does the same.

But I surmise that Tim survived the collapse of the Towers — he was able to make it out alive.

As if reading my mind, Tim says, “It’s not something I really like to bring up. We like to stay quiet and in the background, because we know how lucky we were and that there are so many people who weren’t as fortunate as we were.”

Tom Coughlin looks at me and says, “The Holy Spirit went into that inferno, took Tim by the hand and walked him out of there. … I’m very, very grateful for that, and I’ll be thankful for that for the rest of my life. But I don’t tend to want to dwell on that story. What I want to dwell on is the incredible number of American heroes that died on that day, and I don’t ever want the people of this great country to forget that. No matter how forgiving and moving-forward we are, let’s not forget the tremendous price that was paid on that day for our freedom.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2014

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #5

03/31/2014

What happens to a dream deferred?
… Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
— Langston Hughes

+++

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 1234

Once upon a couch, I was at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series — but I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… The parade that’s underway in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes is, shall we say, bizarre — because it’s at night, and because I’m the sole spectator (as far as I can see), and because most parades are upbeat celebrations while this one so far is a direct hit to the heart.

I don’t love this parade.

I’ve just watched a CNN video, apparently from some affiliate station called YouTube, on a huge movie-like screen that dominates the lead parade float. The video has shown the Twin Towers being rocked by fiery explosions. The devastating impact came from — you’ll never guess it — two jet airliners. Not bombs, not missiles, but ordinary airplanes.

Instinctively glancing across lower Manhattan, I half-expect to see the torn Twin Towers smoldering and bleeding dark blood up into the bright blue September sky, as the CNN video showed moments ago. Instead, the Towers are still standing — resolute, brooding in the night air, reigning over New York City.

So this video on the parade float is either fabricated, or it’s accurate but will occur in the future. (I see no other possible options.)

As I consider further, I recall what I had momentarily forgotten — the handmade “9/11” sign on the float and the headline on the video that read: “Terrorist attacks rock NYC ; Twin Towers reduced to rubble — 2001.”

So if my dream-like calculations are correct, this horrific event will occur less than a year from the 2000 World Series: on September 11, 2001.

In the CNN/YouTube report, the news anchor said, “We have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”

The phrase “unconfirmed reports” jumps out at me like a blinking neon sign, or like a hyena, or like the image of a leaping hyena on a blinking neon sign — and sets my mind wondering and my heart pondering life-and-faith issues, philosophy, theology, belief systems, worldview wrangles, journalism, history, 2+2=4 … and, in particular, the birth, death and resurrection accounts of Jesus of Nazareth.

How does one confirm a report? How does one confirm truth?

I remember that two eyewitness accounts of the planes hitting the Twin Towers were featured in the CNN video report. Eyewitnesses are good, last I checked. Any court of law can tell you that. Yet how can a court be sure if an eyewitness is lying or mistaken?

And after a report is confirmed … how does one know it has actually been confirmed?

There on Broadway, in the City That Never Sleeps, I muse: Perhaps we humans cannot know. Perhaps we humans must instead believe. Perhaps we humans must trust, based on the evidence, as best we can tell.

I say aloud, to no one in particular — which is fitting, since no one is there:

“When we boil life down, perhaps we all have no choice but to rely on another’s word, coupled with our own observations — whether you’re an atheist, theist, agnostic, polytheist or pantheist.”

And the best eyewitness account to trust, naturally, is the one that is accurate — the one that is true to life (and death).

It appears that we cannot know. Wait, no — that’s too nihilistic.

It appears that in order to know anything, we must have faith in someone.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”

The voice sounds familiar, though it seems far away, echoing as if in a cavernous place.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”

The voice gets closer … and louder. You know, it sounds as if this might be Miracle Max from “The Princess Bride” — I’d met him earlier at this strange parade. But he disappeared sometime before the 9/11 float appeared.

“HEY, WHAT’S GOIN’ ON HERE?”

Then, emerging from under the sidewalk about 30 feet down the street, I see the owner of the voice — I sort of see him … he’s small.

He saunters toward me and asks again, “Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”

It’s not Miracle Max — it’s Timon the meerkat from “The Lion King”! He emerged from the same subway stop Max had used.

“Timon, welcome to New York City,” I say. “Wow, you’ve had a long journey from Africa.”

“Tell me about it,” he replies. “A crazy-long flight, and sure, all the ginger ale I wanted, but not a single grub. Those airline cutbacks are for the birds — in this case, the vultures.” He laughs at his own joke.

“Where’s your buddy Pumbaa?” I ask.

Somebody had to stay home with Simba,” he shoots back, his tone dripping “duh,” and then he queries me. “What’s all this about having no choice but to rely on someone’s word? Hey, nobody has to rely on anyone’s word. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for it — look at me, I rely on myself. Here, just watch this scene from that movie I starred in, ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King.’”

Puzzled, I say, “You mean ‘The Lion King,’ right?”

Timon snorted, “Everybody gets the name of that movie wrong. I told you the right title.”

“Why don’t any of the movie references I’ve seen call it ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King’? It’s always listed as ‘The Lion King.’”

Timon pauses, scrunches his face, and says, “That’s because ‘How Timon Saved’ is in really fine print before ‘The Lion King’ — I agreed to that so the Simba kid thinks the movie is about him. You know what, maybe it’s invisible ink instead of fine print, but it’s one or the other.”

“So if it’s invisible ink, how can people know the movie is really called ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King’?”

Exasperated, Timon replies, “Because I said so — and I’m a really truthful guy!”

“So,” I intone, “we have to take your word for it.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2014

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #4

02/28/2014

What happens to a dream deferred?
— Langston Hughes

+++

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 123

Once upon a couch, I was at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — but I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… The nighttime parade in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes — with me as the only spectator, as far as I can see — has begun. On the first main parade float 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?

The float stops abruptly in front of me, and a device similar to a TV remote floats toward me in midair from the heart of the float. Then I notice a large rectangular object on the float — I’d missed it at first partly because the object is dark and blends into the night, and partly because it is so large (at least the size of a movie screen) that it engulfs the float and is thus tough to see. Too large to see? Counterintuitive, yes, but it does make sense — like the elephant to the ant, I suppose.

Plucking the remote-like device out of the air, I see that its design is simple enough for a kindergartner, or even a toddler: It has only one button. I press it, and a single email fills the expansive movie-like screen.

The email’s subject line reads: Plane crashes into World Trade Center.

The body of the email, where the message normally goes, is as blank as a beggar’s bank account. Speculating that perhaps there is an invisible-ink element to the empty email, I click on it with the remote — but nothing.

While I can’t quite be sure, it appears this email has been sent from the news desk of a major media company to some of its editorial employees. But in this sometimes foggy dream state, I can’t tell which company.

I read the subject line again: Plane crashes into World Trade Center.

I reckon that a small single-engine plane, the kind that makes its home at a humble municipal airport, must have malfunctioned and hit one of the Twin Towers.

Then I remember the headlines that had appeared on the mini-float preceding this parade float — especially the first headline, something about the Twin Towers being destroyed. Baffled — and sensing, for some reason, a growing dread — I wonder how a single-engine plane could destroy the Twin Towers.

Clicking the remote again, I see a videotape replace the email on the massive screen, and above the videotape is the headline I’d seen before:

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

In the upper left corner, the videotape bears the name YouTube, with a red background behind Tube. I have no idea what YouTube is — maybe a new cable TV station in the future? As I ponder, the video rolls and I watch a sizable plane — it looks like a jetliner — crash right into one of the Twin Towers. The CNN logo is at the bottom right of the videotape, where it would normally be on a TV screen. I don’t know the connection between CNN and YouTube.

My mind reels — I fell asleep during the World Series telecast in October 2000, and this CNN videotape is apparently from 2001, according to the headline. Will this actually happen?

Wait … 9/11 — apparently, if this dream is accurate, these events will happen less than a year from now … on 9/11 — or September 11, 2001.

On the videotape, the news anchor says: “This just in — you’re looking at, obviously, a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”

The CNN video keeps playing, and out of the bright blue sky another airliner careens toward the other Twin Tower — another direct hit, another inferno of an explosion.

The voice of an eyewitness speaks on the videotape as the camera fixes on the burning towers, with smoke billowing as if someone was sending a perpetual SOS from a desolate island.

The eyewitness says: “The plane was coming in — I noticed it a second before it hit the building. It looked like it was moving slowly, and it lined itself up to hit the building directly.”

Another eyewitness says: “The doorman goes to me, ‘Wow, I never seen a plane flying so low.’ And — and we looked out at it, and all of a sudden, boom — it seemed like it wasn’t even real.”

I understand what he’s saying — as I watch the Twin Towers smolder, it seems unreal, inconceivable, surreal, a dream turned to nightmare. Still, I can’t imagine they’ll be reduced to rubble.

I look up and down Broadway, this Canyon of Heroes, to locate Miracle Max of “The Princess Bride” — or Billy Crystal as Miracle Max — who I had encountered earlier in my dream journey. He’s nowhere to be seen.

That’s a shame, because if it’s possible, the people in those Twin Towers could use a miracle.

But then I hear Princess Buttercup, the title character from “Princess Bride” — and see her too, on a small screen that appears, like a star in the night sky, above the massive movie-like screen that’s still playing the CNN video.

She’s arguing with Westley, as the Towers burn on the screen below her, but he’s wearing a mask and she doesn’t recognize him yet after a lengthy separation. I hear the Princess cry out:

“You mocked me once, never do it again — I died that day!”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2014

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #3

01/31/2013

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”

+++

• 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

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #2

01/21/2013

“I still have a dream … I have a dream today.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

+++

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 1

On this late October evening, I’m at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the first Yankees-Mets Subway Series. If the Yanks win tonight, they’ll capture their third straight championship.

Moments before the first pitch, I fall asleep … and soon I start to dream.

The dream is at turns haunting and hopeful. And while it tends to be jumbled — like a toddler’s toy box, post-playday or post-tantrum — the dream resonates in my psyche as vividly as a December rose or the springtime sun or a tranquil mountain lake. Consequently, I don’t realize I’m dreaming … until I wake up and write down as much as I can remember (and as much as time allows).

On occasion, I awaken during the dream — or at least I recall returning to that semi-aware place between waking thought and a dream state. And then I go back to sleep-land like a child on the playground slide.

This is what I dreamed…

I’m in New York City. More accurately, I’m above the city at night. I am a human hot-air balloon, with a bird’s-eye view of the five boroughs. But then I realize I’m not suspended in midair. Instead, I’m on the observation deck of a skyscraper — the iconic Empire State Building.

The first landmark I see is the unmistakable World Trade Center, with its mammoth Twin Towers that dominate lower Manhattan.

I see the George Washington Bridge, with its own twin towers, resolute in its continuing conquest of the Hudson River. I see Times Square, Central Park and the Chrysler Building.

Then I see Shea Stadium — and instantly I have an up-close view of the field, as if through a high-powered telescope. Mets pitcher Al Leiter winds up and delivers to Derek Jeter, who strikes out swinging. I know intuitively that this is no regular-season interleague game. Then I recall: Jeter was slated to bat No. 2 for the Yankees tonight, and Leiter was the Mets’ scheduled starter. So this is World Series Game 5! The scoreboard shows it’s the first inning. I missed the first pitch, but not the second batter.

Without warning, the telescope malfunctions and I lose sight of the field. Yes, I’m annoyed. Instinctively, I reach for a TV remote but find only frustration and air — and suddenly lose my balance. I begin to fall from the skyscraper, plummeting like a rapidly deflating balloon.

Terror-stricken, I hear Bill Cosby’s voice. He’s telling the story of being terrified on a roller coaster in his youth and crying out for help — but when he tried to shout “Mother,” the rushing wind caused by the coaster kept blowing his distressed shouting back into his mouth. I smile. And then I think: Why am I smiling when I’m about to die?

But I don’t die. I drop, dream-like, on a pole vaulter’s landing cushion. When I arise, uninjured, another voice is sounding — this time emanating from the south. I look that way, toward lower Manhattan, and the voice is recalling a time when he drove along the road and saw a sign that read “Blasting Zone.” Now I recognize who it is — yes, it’s Brian Regan, or someone who impersonates the comedian impeccably. After seeing the sign, he says that several blasts shook his car, prompting him to ask this question: Shouldn’t that sign back there read “Road Closed”?

I see that the pole vaulter’s cushion is on a sidewalk next to a city street — I can’t tell which street at first, but I can tell that a parade is under way. Actually, the parade is just beginning, and now I see where I am: in New York’s Canyon of Heroes, along Broadway.

The list of those who have been honored here is as long as the Hudson River — from Amelia Earhart and Jesse Owens in the 1930s, to French president Charles de Gaulle and the Apollo 11 astronauts in the 1960s, to 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?”

To be continued…

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 3

© Bruce William Deckert 2013

FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #1

08/27/2012

“I still have a dream … I have a dream today.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
— Joel (the Old Testament prophet)

Here in my heart there’s a dream that’s unbroken
And it gets in my way, but it won’t be denied.
Oh, here in my heart, the door is still open
Waiting for you to walk into my life.
— Chicago (the band)

+++

OCTOBER IS MAKING ITS WAY toward the exit.

The woods of Connecticut have already witnessed (and experienced) the force of autumn’s fiery splendor. Flickers and embers remain but will soon be replaced by ashen barrenness.

And on this evening — Thursday, October 26, 2000 — Game 5 of the World Series is about to begin.

The New York Yankees hold a three-games-to-one lead over the crosstown Mets. These clubs are meeting in a Subway Series for the first time — and it’s been 44 years since the last Subway Series. The Yankees are aiming to win three straight Fall Classics (the last franchise to do so: the 1972-74 Oakland A’s).

I lean back on the couch in the mostly finished rec-room basement, watching the Sharp TV that’s contained in the oak entertainment center my wife and I paid a carpenter friend to build with some of my Dad’s life-insurance money. Glancing at the top of the entertainment center, I notice a photo album my Mom gave us from the family reunion on the Cape in July. Somehow I’d forgotten it was there.

Heading into Game 5, I’m prepared for the worst … and the best … or both at the same time. My baseball emotions are as conflicted as a thunderstorm on a steamy summer day. If the Yankees win tonight, they will claim their 26th World Series championship. But, if I’m calculating correctly, that means the Mets will have lost. Hence my conflicted-ness.

See, I grew up as a fan of both teams. I cheered for the Yankees more than the Mets, though that might be because the Yanks won more often when I was growing up. Some say you absolutely cannot root for both New York baseball teams — but, well, they aren’t me. My dual fandom had always been safe, since the Yankees and Mets were never good enough at the same time to face each other in the postseason … that is, until the 2000 World Series.

As I watch the pregame show, fatigue sneaks up and sits beside me, murmuring something I can’t quite hear. Not surprising, since I’d been up late the previous two nights watching Games 3 and 4. Meanwhile, broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are discussing the impending game, its historical significance, yada-yada-yada.

As best I can tell, that’s when I fell asleep … yes, before the first pitch — a first for me in the dozing-off department.

And soon I started to dream …

To be continued …

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 2

© Bruce William Deckert 2012