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The Whiskey Dreams


Sometimes I dream vivid. Sometimes I dream clean. There are dreams which come to me, with stories and dialogues in tow. These are the dreams that are the consequence of the night before. They are strange, yet vivid. They are not the clean dreams. They could be called the beer dreams. I can’t quite put my finger on what, if anything, the beer dreams mean. I just know that, when I awake in a sweat, perhaps I shouldn’t have drunk my way into them. The beer dreams aren’t so much mysterious as they are strange. They are the reaction of my body to the night before and the nonsenses that play themselves out in the beer dreams are as clear as day for what they are. Irrelevances, interludes, nothings. They are chemical, nothing more. There’s not much to think about with the beer dreams, not much worth talking about save to say that they are a fool’s reward for an evening’s leisure. But then there are the whiskey dreams. Now, the whiskey dreams, they’re worth some mulling over.

The minutiae of the dream are the key to the unreality. Always,


always, it is minor details which bring me to an unconscious consciousness, which awaken my slumbering soul, which tell the dreaming me that something isn’t quite as it seems. I remain asleep and yet I know, if not that I’m awake, that at the very least I am asleep. Her. It’s always her. What we talk about, I can never remember. I’m told that those brief moments could in fact be hours, such is the nature of dreams. But it’s immaterial, for those seconds feel like seconds, not hours, and as such that’s all they are. I can’t recall a single word she or I say. At times like that it doesn’t seem so unreal because, let’s face the fact, me and her never did all that much talking anyway. I work myself into the dreams, I set aside time to find my way into them. And yet, within them, there are lines which remain uncrossed, there are strictures, rules and impediments. And that I can’t understand. Surely sleep would free me of the chains of the waking world, surely? The outstretched hand should be met, my smile reciprocated, my heart beaten with in time. They don’t help, these whiskey dreams, yet I plough through the daylight hours, waiting patiently for the night, when


I can do it all again. Because the more I see this dream, and it is, more or less, one dream, the closer I will come to controlling it. I enter each night with a renewed determination, with conviction. Doubtless, there are others like me. There must be men and women (though I’d hazard a guess as to say it’s at least four fifths men) like me, who make projects of the unreal, because it’s all they can possibly change. I draw no comfort from that. I wish to be individual, to be different; but I am not. But hell, whiskey wasn’t made to be drunk alone, even if it often is. These are our whiskey dreams.

I sat in a bar, the warmth in my feet grateful for to be away from the bitter cold outside. I curled my toes, surprised that the circulation had almost fully returned, what with my blood flow. I thought back to Sunday night, when I’d crawled into bed. The coldness of my feet, the tightness in my chest, the desire for nine pm to hit so I could justify sleep. I supped on the tumbler in front of me. Thank god it’s winter, I thought. There are fewer strangers around in winter. I wrote another sentence but what came out sounded bad, even for the first sentence of a first page of a first draft of a story, it sounded really bad.


Had it not been for the people around, I might have scrunched up the paper and thrown it. It would have intrigued them, at least. Pathetic, I thought, this need to be intriguing. I took another sip, opened a fresh page and thought for a couple of moments before laying the pen flat on the table. I took out my book and read a while, though the font was small and my eyesight, though near perfect, wasn’t up to the job today. I took another sip and continued to read, lest I look like I was there for nothing but the drink I was supping on.

I’m in her hometown, a town I’ve never been to nor even seen, save for some pictures of a castle and a pub thrown up by Google. I’m wandering around the town but not trying to find her. All I’m thinking of is what a shame, what a pity. Even in the unconscious I live in the real world. It’s odd, because I’m a fantasist. I always have been, perhaps always will. Yet my dreams fall cruelly in line with the land of the living, they recognise what is from what’s not; and though some of the images I see stray far from what is possible, the words and the actions within do not. The town is not what I expected. For one, it’s on a hill,


several hills, with winding streets. It looks more like a French or Italian country village than a Czech border town. I’m quietly confident the town she comes from is nothing like this. I pictured it as dull, bleak, not quite western. I wanted to see that place. What I get is a picaresque village. I decide to walk around a while. There’s a fountain. I look to the skies. They are grey and though I can’t feel the cold, I feel the cold, or tell myself that I’m cold. I imagine it must be winter; but the fountain is running. This doesn’t happen in the Czech Republic during winter; but I remain convinced this is her hometown and I’m there. I walk further on. A stucco white building stands out amongst the multicoloured houses. It looks like a town hall. I freeze. I’m in the centre, out in the open, in the centre. I should have realised further back, near the fountain. I don’t know what day of the week it is, or why I’m here, yet I’m sure I shouldn’t be. What if I’m caught? I walk away from the centre and what follows becomes unclear and unimportant. I do, I believe, leave her hometown, or what I’ve imagined, falsely, to be her hometown. I believe I dream of something else but as it’s not the dream, I forget it. There was a time when I would dream of things unreal; that is to say, when my dreams had no link with everyday life, when they were fanciful, vivid, utterly absurd.


Most often, they would involve the characters of films or people I’d not seen in years, rather than those around me. A child I was at school with would pop up for no apparent reason and I wouldn’t think of him again the next day except to think, briefly, how strange it was for him to appear after all these years. I would think nothing much of it. A film I had recently seen might play a role. It was nice, looking back. I miss those dreams, those vivid dreams of which I thought nothing. I had another recurring dream once. It only went on for four or five nights but it was almost the same each time. Only the locations changed. The dream ended, without fail, with me screwing my girlfriend’s best friend. This seemed odd, given how deeply and foolishly in love I was at the time; and how I was not attracted to her friend, who was, in one way or another, a friend of mine too. Even my girlfriend found our friendship platonic and unthreatening. I won’t go into it but, believe me, this was a rarity. All in all, these dreams were strange. Yet they were the clean dreams. They came from nothing. I discarded them as mere dreams, slightly embarrassing even, but altogether innocent. They preyed on my mind for a few moments each time I saw the girl but I knew them for what they were. Weird, meaningless, intriguing yet inconsequential.


Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed them. But why do I now dream of things which are real? Is it not unfair, to see your daylight in your sleep?

And the band played. I walked over to the window, looking out onto the street. The window ledges of the gothic style flats were covered in snow, the windows were frosted and the tops of cars covered. The road itself was clear but the pavements were long perilous ice sheets the danger of which I would need to heed were I to leave the flat. It was just gone five and cold, in that Central European way. And the band played. There were women in these songs, women who left through the back door. Perhaps that explained the allure of their stories. I looked at the coat hanging on the half open cupboard door. I took a sip. It was going to be cold tonight. I changed the song and poured myself another drink. I opened the window and felt the air. It was freezing. But it was a no smoking flat. I braved the cold and went outside for a smoke. The air was still and crisp, the night quiet, though I could hear cars floating down the main street nearby. I took another sip. I knew it wouldn’t warm me up in reality; but I felt warmer for the sip and told myself that perhaps


accepted medicine had got it wrong, after all. The goose bumps on my forearms suggested otherwise but again, I took a sip, the concentration of the liquor briefly sparing me from the chattering of teeth and the shivering of limb. I had craved the company of others earlier in the day, but now I craved only sleep. The whiskey helped me sleep; but when I slept I saw her. Enough whiskey helped me sleep without dreams, however. So I drank so as not to dream and slept so as not to see the day. Beautiful, black, dreamless nights, to be replaced by a single digit time in the pm, a headache and a mouth like sandpaper. Much as I tried, I never could avoid the dreams. I might postpone them for days at a time; but avoiding them was impossible. They returned, always more vivid than ever, like punishments for my attempted evasion. Increasingly so, the things that had existed only in mind and not in matter were becoming unclear. I was forgetting words that had been said in the waking hours, mixing them with those imaginings I saw in the nighttime. I walked back upstairs, taking a large gulp from a plastic water bottle in my room. I’d been clean since breakfast. I have to find a better way to fill my time, I thought. But the mind would race when clean.


I walk into the classroom. I know I’m twenty-five, I know I have not only A-levels but two degrees behind me. So it is strange, I think, to be taking A-levels again, after all these years. It’s not even a retake, I haven’t failed. I’m just twenty five, back at school, doing yet more A-levels, seven years after I finished the first lot. I’m back at my unmistakable Catholic high school, aware I’ve got four A-grade A-levels already in my locker. And yet I am, for unexplained reasons, doing three more, one of which is Economics, which I did at the time. What good are two Economics A-levels to anyone? The whole thing seems a waste, yet I’m stressed because I have just three weeks before I need to hand in three essays for each subject which will make up a fair chunk of my overall mark. And I’ve forgotten everything I learnt at the time and I haven’t read any of the materials I should’ve read by now. Why two Economics A-levels? Perhaps the test was too easy the first time. This dream has come back to me a lot recently. It’s my one and only other recurrent dream. Sometimes it comes before seeing her, sometimes afterwards, sometimes the two recurrences are intermingled in a night; but I never remember the chronology or the reason, if there is any, for the overlap. I can’t recall when this dream started. I think it was before her or during our time together, but I’m unsure. I believe I told her about it once, which would fit, because she would always tell


me about her dreams, in which I often played a role. Though they sounded strange and at times ridiculous, I was glad to be in them. Regardless, the dream is always more or less the same. At some point I’m back at school. My classmates are the way I remember them at seventeen, or they are my age and in the same confused boat as myself. It changes; but the pattern remains the same. I fuck around, I avoid work and get into trouble in a way I never did in reality. Perhaps this is important, I think, perhaps that’s relevant, the Freud in me wonders. At some point I realise just how much work I have to do, just how far behind I am, in every respect. I realise how much I have to do before the end of term and come to the conclusion that I am, to put a long story short, fucked. Yet I always believe I can do it. It is the one grain of confidence, resilience and determination amidst dreams of fear and paranoia and worry. Today’s dream is more realistic, or based on the real past than most. I get into an argument with several guys in the year below. There is a strong correlation between what is happening now and what really occurred. I’m also doing Geography, which I never did after GCSE level. This seems unrealistic because I never for a moment considered Geography at A-level. After five years of Ms Schultz,


my terrifying form tutor and Geography teacher, I was done. I doubt she’s mellowed with age and I approach her class with trepidation.

‘Another one?’ I offered. She smiled and nodded. ‘Another beer, please,’ I said to the waitress. ‘And another Jameson,’ I said, winking at her, beside me. I tried to remember how much had been in my wallet at the start and how much would be left at the end. Still, an expensive woman was better company than cheap booze and free porn. A shot was missed. A bar was delighted, save for myself and my friends. She covered her ears, unused to the roar of football fans. I appreciated her presence. It’s about six or so months later and I’m in another bar in another part of town. The waitress brings Tyler his soup and she puts it on the table and the mannerless fucker doesn’t say thank you and I chide him for it openly in front of her, half playful, half serious. The whiskey woman never did say thank you all that much either. Such an easy pair of words, such a nice pair of words. Still, as the waitress walks away smiling and Tyler shakes his head and tells me he’s got manners but just chooses when to use them, I can’t help but think I would take all the absent thank


yous over the empty bottle caps and pizza boxes on the floor, and the porn and the blankets wrapped around myself for comfort more than warmth in the night. Tyler carries on talking about Hiss Golden Messenger and I am listening, because he’s got me onto them and it’s great stuff. I am listening. But in my mind’s eye I see her squinting as me and my friends roar with joy, as that third goal goes in. I clasp my arms around her, stopping my celebrations short, protecting her from my two friends behind who are determined to embrace me, and consequently her, in a bear hug. Well, who can blame them? We haven’t one at United since the eighties. I don’t think she understands the relevance of that. I offer her another one. She jokes that she’ll need ten and I’ll pay for ten if need be because I’m happy and the bill doesn’t mean shit compared to that happiness.

I tied up the plastic bag, the bottle caps rattling inside but out of sight. Once the papers were sorted I would hang up the clothes scattered on the floor, and fold the trackies and put them on the sofa cushion I used for a makeshift table. Once I had hung up the clothes scattered on the floor, I would mop the floor, which was sorely in need of it. And once I had mopped the floor, which was sorely in need of it, I might


strip the bed and put the sheets in the wash and then I’d realise I should’ve done that before the floor. Regardless, once it was stripped, I would put new sheets on and change my socks because they would be wet now. Once the floor was dry, I would transfer everything from the desk onto the bed and polish the desk, which had not been cleaned for months. And with all this cleaning done, I might feel like I’d acheived something with the day, that I’d started a process of some sort. I’d probably need to do it all again in the morning, or most of it, because I was going out tonight and there would of course be the small matter of the aftermath to deal with. That started to be the clearest thing about the waking hours. Cleaning, not speaking to another soul, perhaps listening to a little bit of Hiss or Alabama Shakes. I would feel better about myself because I was the only one up. My housemates would all be asleep. Even with the hangover I was up and once the floor was clean and the desk polished and the papers re-ordered and put somewhere getting to be where they should be I would think well at least I’m awake. Even with the hangover.


Strange as it might sound to say, I shouldn’t have got up on those days, because they were Saturdays and Saturdays were long when you were at the beck and call of the Whiskey Dreams. Saturdays reminded you that the Whiskey Dreams were where you wanted to be. They were long, you weren’t working, you had hours and silences to fill. It wouldn’t start off so bad. After that cleaning I’d make a coffee or two and have a menthol downstairs, outside the building, because ours was a no smoking flat. I’d be looking across at the Gothic style red building opposite, thinking about her, wondering if she was in her home town, the one without the winding streets and the hills or the fountain in November. I’d think to myself that I wasn’t doing so good because I knew I wouldn’t have that little bit of grit today, the little bit of defiance to get on with things. Still, I’d usually get a bit of work done in the morning, to try and make sure I was ready for Monday. I felt like I was slipping at work and I didn’t want to be letting on that I was losing it. I wouldn’t write on such days because, like I said, I didn’t have that little bit of grit due to the night before. At the very least I needed a clear head in the morning to write and that was sorely missing. All I had to be thankful for was the night’s blackness, the absence of dreams. But I had Saturday rolling out ahead of me and I knew more or less how it would pan out. The football would start around quarter to two and I’d sit in


front of the screen with a few beers, telling myself that football was a nice comfort in her absence. The big mistake was not sticking to the beer. That would have been alright. But I tended to mix things up a little in the evening; and somehow when I passed out there we’d be, myself and her, in those dreams, there we’d be. • I dreamt of something last night, something I can’t remember what, exactly. It was vivid and strange. It might even have been approaching a nightmare, or what we usually tell children a nightmare is. We tell them it’s something monstrous, unfamiliar, unfathomable. But I can handle the strange and unfathomable. When it’s like that, it’s just a story. It’s the familiar that’s been bothering me. I can’t remember what I dreamt of last night. I just remember one thing. It was different. She was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t dream of being back at school. Why now? What have I done to be granted this favour? I’ve changed nothing in my patterns, in my behaviour, why has she suddenly left the dreams? And is that what I wanted? I feel cheated. I wanted to control them, not be rid of them. This change might be temporary, but it feels undeserved. Do I want to be haunted?


• It seems like a carefree time now, the summer. I was drinking then, as I do now. But it was different. The truth is, the sad truth, I love it. Every second, every sip. It’s the bits in between I’m not so fussed about. The worry, the boredom. The summer, before her, was easy, or easier. I took trips, I saw things. Did it on a train one time. Seems idyllic, now. Not the last bit but well, no, even that seems idyllic now, in its way. Did it on a train. It’s hard to feel blue when you’ve done it on a train. Only downside was us not getting caught. That would’ve made the story. Funny, that girl never entered my dreams, after all the time we spent, limb locked, loose tongued and something approaching love, her end at least. I would’ve loved her if I could. I swear to that. I haven’t been up to the park in a long time. I wasted a lot of my summer there, on Sunday afternoon drinks. Heavy days those were, too heavy. But there was football and tennis on the big screens and there didn’t seem to be anything better to do with a Sunday afternoon, not at the time. I hadn’t seen Tyler for a while back then either. I can’t even remember if he was still in the country. I avoided our place as much as I could. I can’t remember any of the dreams I had back


then, I don’t think they were very interesting, I don’t think they were anything much to talk of. I don’t know if that means my mind was clearer or too muddied. It’s hard to remember whether you were better or worse off in hindsight. Maybe these days will seem halcyon sometime. • I can’t remember what I said that made her laugh. Sitting in a bar, passing the time before they could go in and watch the previews, I said something that made her laugh. It wasn’t unusual, I’m a funny guy. If there was one thing I was good at, it was making her laugh. It came easy to me. Getting laughter from her wasn’t hard, it was warmth that was hard, and love impossible. I’ve tried many times to relive the scene. The customers around us, the passers-by outside the window. I was facing the window, she the bar. Why do I need to know what I said? Surely it doesn’t matter now that she’s gone? It’s not like I could repeat it to her and make everything the way it was again. But when I see her in the sleeping hours, it might matter. If I remembered the words, I could say them, I could change her mind in the dreams, I could stop them from reoccurring, or, if they must reoccur, they would do so in my favour. It wasn’t a language thing. I’m sure of that. It was easy in


those early days to make her smile with my affected, bad Czech. But it wore thin quick as I knew it would. Still, it was enjoyable to be enjoyed like that for a time. Maybe she thought I was a clown. Never mind. It was something about……. I give up. I can’t even begin to imagine exactly what it was. But I wish I could because the way she reacted was different to all the other times she laughed. She was amused in a way that suggested a desire for longevity. It wasn’t just laughter. There was a look in her eyes, a mix of hilarity and affection, a look that told me she was glad to have me. I give up. I take a sip. I think about the film we went to see and the interlinked arms, hers wrapping tightly around mine as Javier Bardem revealed a set of prosthetic, rotting dentures. I remember the tram home and how she held my head to her breast, telling me I was going straight to bed when we got back because I was sick. I remember the sweetness of it and her promise to visit on Saturday, which never happened. I remember thinking it might be mutual after all. And now I’m glad I never said the words I was going to, which I had to stop myself from saying. I don’t think I’d even dare say them in the Whiskey Dreams, not now. •


I’m going home. Give me thirty minutes and I’ll be sick of it, but I’ll be home. I’ll be back where I came from. No one will laugh when I order a drink. I might even be able to elaborate for a change. If I could change for a change for a change. I dreamt last night that I was in Zimbabwe. I enjoyed the dream because it was vivid, it was clean; it made no sense whatsoever. I’ve never been to Zimbabwe but I’m fairly sure what I saw wasn’t what’s there. I even remember thinking, in the dream, isn’t this the place Mugabe runs? Doesn’t look so bad. Its streets resembled NW1 more than they did southern Africa. We were getting a bus. The bus was taking me all the way to the Midlands town in England, where I’m heading now, on a train I’ve been what seems like a thousand times before, a familiar train I enjoy because it moves forward, at a steady, purposeful pace. It moves forward and I’m always glad to be on it, on the way to Leamington. I’m out of the Czech Republic a while, for Christmas; and it’s nice to be heading home, or to my home from home, where I learnt how to be a man. It’ll be nice to see my people again. Out of the city, I haven’t seen her, in my dreams or otherwise. The bus from Zimbabwe, it turned out, was going directly


to Leamington, via Africa and, I imagine, mainland Europe. I remember Dusseldorf being there somewhere. See what I mean about this being vivid, about this being clean? It was nonsense, pure nonsense. London wasn’t even on the timetable. Twenty stops and Leamington was one of them. Nonsense, beautiful nonsense. You could read nonsense from reality in this dream. You could wake up thinking that was an odden, that was strange. You could enjoy a dream like that. Maybe when I go back there’ll be more of those, maybe I might have left the whiskey dreams behind. • I am a footballer and a musician. And then I am a runner, a marathon winner. And then I am the life and the soul. And then I am a lover. Always something, I am, in my mind. An achiever. I watch men playing football in the park and imagine myself lifting the FA Cup; through some dent in the balance of the universe I will become wonderful things. I can’t accept myself for who and what I am. I can’t accept things for what they are in the waking hours and what they are in the Whiskey Dreams. I’m a boy. It drives me to the brink of insanity. I stood in front of a crowd once. Two hundred eyes watching as I used only my voice and my eyes to tell them a


story. And I felt invincible there. Fucking invincible, in front of those people. I told them of my grandfather, the greatest man who ever lived. I told them of love and goodness. My mother cried, as did my aunt and sister. My uncle said, quietly, it was good; and this I treasured. I was something then. I was promise. But now I float, from one day to the next, unsure of things which are true and things which are not. I have grown destructive and dangerous and the fantasies I was warned of have returned because I am dissatisfied. When I left home I was ready and happy in myself. I must be cured of my habits and my malaise. I’ll never win the FA Cup. I am a teacher of the English language, yet with each passing day I learn less and less and repeat my errors. When I go back, when Christmas is done, I fear the Whiskey Dreams will return, fear they’ll be just like they were before. • I saw her a few days ago; but I don’t know if I told her that her hair looked nice. I’d found a book of hers on my shelf. I thought perhaps she didn’t want to ask for it back. She didn’t seem all that keen on


talking but still, I figured she might need it. I’m sure I went into the office and handed her the book. I hadn’t slipped so far as to blur all things real from things not. She said thank you, though she looked a little taken aback that I’d walked up to speak to her, instead of making my usual, hasty retreat from the office. That definitely happened. In the Whiskey Dreams I never dreamed of her doing or saying the things I wish she had. Like I said, I wanted to control the Whiskey Dreams. But it didn’t work out that way. Still, I wasn’t sure if I really had said it. It seemed too bold. Your hair looks nice. She’d dyed it; and it did look nice. I wasn’t trying to flirt, it was just an observation. Unfortunately, she had also dyed her hair later that night, in my dream, after I had left O’Connor’s with the water of life swimming through me. I was at a train station. I can remember the platform clearly and the grey skies above. I couldn’t tell if it was Britain or the Czech Republic. Perhaps it was neither. I stand on the platform in nothing but a t-shirt and jeans. It’s winter, somehow I know it’s winter and people are heading home for Christmas. It hits me as incongruous because somehow I’m aware that Christmas has recently come and gone: I was in England. I guess that it must be in the city and I gather that city to be Prague. The people are leaving the capital, going back to their towns, cities and villages, to see their families for a few days.


Christmas is gone but they’re still heading home for Christmas, which strikes me as strange. I run into her, just as I did in the office a few days ago, when I asked how the festivities had been for her, when she gave me a curt reply. To be fair, she’d been ill the whole time, she said. I almost get away with just running near to her. I try to avoid her if possible and in this respect, things become blurred because, cowardly as it might be, this is much the same as what I would do in the waking hours. I asked her how Christmas was; but I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to do so. She’d bumped into me. She catches my eye. She’s with someone: a tall, black American fella. I get confused because I’d made peace with the idea that our cultures had clashed and for that reason things hadn’t quite worked out, so it seems weird to me that she’s with an American and it gets me to thinking that maybe I’m in a Whiskey Dream again. I even remember, there in the dream that I was in O’Connor’s earlier. I might do or say something. But I don’t want to be rude to the guy. He seems amiable, standing a few metres away, pretending to check their bags whilst glancing over to see why she has stopped for so long to talk to this man, me, this awkward and uncomfortable man who would so desperately like to flee. I tell her that her dyed red hair looks nice but that’s as far as I go. And then I’m no longer sure of myself because surely, in a dream, you’d be bold, you’d say the things you were too callow and passive to say in the waking hours, surely?


I don’t do anything, and the next day I regret it because I can’t be sure if I did or did not say that thing in the waking hours or the dream alone; and all I have a is a dull, earthy headache from O’Connor’s. • Two days later I knew it wasn’t in a dream because it was deep, darkest, coldest winter; and there was no mistaking it for anything else. I was listening to Hiss, the sound of country and western strange in my English ears, with my English feet trudging through the central European snow. She muttered a hello as I walked past her in the office and even if I hadn’t known it was the waking hours out there in the snow, I would have now, because she was colder than the outdoors. I never got round to finding out why she’d just upped and left without a word. Had more pride than that, I suppose, or at least the lack of gumption. Like the dreams, it was and is open to interpretation. I got lucky that night. No, not like that. I mean dream wise. It was a Friday and because it was a Friday me and Tyler went to Bukowski’s and I couldn’t remember a thing in the


morning, let alone dreams. Of course, it left me with a Saturday to deal with; but again me and Tyler found a novel way of doing that. It was yellow and hoppy. • The winter months passed, though they clung on long to the Czech Republic, right up into April. Gradually, she evaporated from the dreams and I started to listen to new things and stopped going round in circles; or started not going around in circles completely at least. Gradually I swapped my tumblers for pint glasses and my solitude for friends and for a while the Whiskey Dreams all but disappeared. • I bumped into her again about a year after we’d met, about a year and, well, I’ll just say a bit, since she left. If you knew the numbers you might not think my Whiskey Dreams justified. It was just a few days ago. She was friendly. I was awkward and eager to leave. It was similar to the one with that American guy, which hit me and for a moment I thought I was back in the sleeping hours. After walking in and mouthing that she would come over to


say hello, I sunk my wine and tried to pay as quickly as possible, in the hope of cowardly sneaking out and away. I still wasn’t brave enough to face reality dead on. But I failed and she caught me. After a few polite inquiries, one of us made to end the conversation. I think it was me, letting her get back to whoever he was, so I could get home and to bed, even if it wasn’t yet nine. Sad, yes; but it was either that or go back to the old system. I knew Tyler was just a green button’s press away. Me and Tyler had agreed that our mid-week methods of dealing with things, (he had his own shit, just like I had mine) had not been the smartest of methods. Fun but not smart. I don’t know what I dreamt that night. I don’t know if it was vivid or clean or black and deep and nothingy. All I know is that it wasn’t a Whiskey Dream. I was glad for that. I thought that part of my life was gone; but I was in for a surprise. She came back, her and the Whiskey Dreams. But there was no whiskey, yet she was still there. The dreams were like those of before, bright and desperate and repetitive. I knew I was in them, I knew something was incongruous and as always, I was powerless to control them, though now I made no effort to do so. Sometimes she was alone, with me; and the conversations were as stilted and undesired as that which we had shared recently in my favourite cafe.


Sometimes she was with someone else and I would hope to slink away, just like I had in the cafe, though I would find myself unable to, for one reason or another. As these dreams came thick and fast each night, I found myself increasingly wanting out of them, yet once again unable. I knew now, there was nothing I could do to change and control what happened. All I could do was wake up, though I was never able to force myself into doing so. Things were better in the waking hours these days, or they had been. Seeing her again put me a little off kilter but still, I seemed to have found some of the grit I needed. Why had she been returning? I hadn’t drunk whiskey in a long time. I put a stop to that, why, I’m not sure. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I could never truly control the Whiskey Dreams, that there was only an awareness of my place there, with nothing I could do. Perhaps it was the end of winter when I came out from my hovel and began to see people again. Perhaps it was just that the shop down the street hiked the price and I stopped buying it so much. But she was still back. These were whiskey free, usually alcohol free dreams, yet she was back. Why? I felt a little cheated by the gods. If my dreams were not to be governed by spirits, then surely I’d dream about the things I wanted. If she were to be there, surely the dreams would be clean and in being clean she would wrap her arms around me, or smile, or not tell me the things I didn’t want her to that she never did


say to my face, things which I would like to have been told in the waking hours; but no, not in my dreams. I’ve begun to think that maybe there never were any Whiskey Dreams. Perhaps they would have been there, whiskey or none, whatever I did, or did not drink. Maybe it was just fate; and my weak willed way of handling it was the whiskey and I blamed the dreams on that. I could have called them the moody dreams, the blue dreams, the winter dreams, the green Marlborough menthol dreams. I could have called them the Game of Thrones dreams for Christ’s sake, because looking back I probably spent as much time watching that as I did drinking whiskey. She was in them and I sought them out as my only opportunity of moulding events in my favour. Maybe I was just sad. Yeah, I suppose that might have been it; but it sounded a lot nicer and less pathetic to call it the Whiskey Dreams and to blame my confused daylight and night time hours on these dreams. She left again after a week or two. I went back to dreaming all sorts of other things. Food dreams, beer dreams, fucking kite dreams you could call them for all it meant. I saw old friends and enemies; I told my best friend I was in love with her even though I’m not. I played to a large crowd in an indistinct club, I went to and recognised Vietnam, though I’ve never been to or seen Vietnam in my life. It was pleasant to be back in those dreams, because they


were vivid and they were absurd. I guess I know now that the Whiskey Dreams, or whatever they are, could come back; and I’ll just have to live with them and not try and control them. Most of all I’ll have to try not to get into them. I’ll have to spend the waking hours with my eyes open, dark or light as that may be. I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for her, in case she returns, in the waking hours or otherwise. Still, there’s a benefit to all this I suppose. I guess I can drink whiskey again, safe in the knowledge it won’t make a damn bit of difference to what’s in those dreams. I guess I’ve got that.

The Whiskey Dreams  

An extended short story, set in the Prague winter of 2012

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