A Dreamer's Realm (Part 1)

A Dreamer's Realm
Chapter 1


"Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be."
- Don Quixote

There is no other place as exciting to be at after midnight than this one, where the neon lights make the streets alive and the old vampires cannot tell if it’s still daylight outside. People move around with their shinny cell phones over their ears and their rusted souls beneath the Armani and Prada suits and dresses. High heels are heard through the wet surface of the upper world, a world when everything seems to be in a daze – half dreaming, half sleeping.

It is well after the devil’s hour when the slim figure of the twenty-five year old man jumps over the bench that’s lit by the dim lights of the street corner, and hunches down like a bird that stalks a prey. He dresses in black and wears a worn-out leather jacket, trying to muster balance - writing in a little, leather covered book while smoking a cigarette. There is an old phone booth at that corner that seems to have been abandoned by the phone company a long time ago, much like the rest of the city’s streets seem to have been forgotten by the rest of the world. The sounds of the shopping cart being dragged across the street by an old bum seem to be getting closer, and the young man turns around to see him walking behind him.

“Good morning,” the homeless says, waving his gloved hand in a very polite manner. The young man gives him a nod and returns to his book. “Is it that time of the year again?” he asks. The young man doesn’t turn to see him, he just simply replies with a soft “yes”, without losing a beat on whatever he is writing. The man walks by, patting him on the shoulder. “I oughta figure that - I rarely get to see you outside on a full moon. Say hi for me if he asks.”

“I will,” the young man replies half pretending to be smiling, half still concentrating on his book. He hears the man and his shopping cart roll away. He is certain the man is headed to the shelter just a couple of blocks away, and he resists the urge to follow him and make sure he gets there okay because he knows that the old phone will be ringing any minute now.

He throws away the last of the cigarette just as the phone rings. He lets it ring a couple of more moments before standing up and entering the phone booth, picking up the line as the door closes behind him. There is a little bit of static, yet he has come accustomed to it over the years. He draws a smile on his face as soon as he hears the all-too well-known “Hello?” from the male voice on the other end, in a language he knows only a few speak it in that angel town.

If anyone asks, his name is Connor Hayden. He owns and works at the bar known as The Lighthouse, just a few blocks from the old town district. His driver’s license says he was born somewhere in the south part of the States, that he’s an organ donor, and that he needs to wear glasses when driving. The twisted part of it is that he’s never owned a car nor he cared for one at any point in his life. And if we make a list of his “outside features”, we can say that he never takes a day off, never gets sick, and is always there when the bar is opening and when the bar is closing, mainly because he owns the building where the bar is at and has his own. He usually keeps the details of his private life as they are – private. Sticks to business and treats his staff fairly well; they all agree that they feel strangely safe even though the work environment isn’t always a peaceful one and the neighborhood is not all that glamorous either. None of them have ever thought about quitting, maybe because the pay is good, or maybe because humans tend to stop looking for something better when “better” seems to be present at all times. Not even the staff can tell why.

Connor is very well known in the underworld. Most of his long-time customers know him by the nickname of “Hard Rock”. He doesn’t like it and scolds whoever calls him that with a dirty look that usually does the trick, only for the offence to be repeated once or twice before the offender gets the “real message” and never does it again. The origins of the nickname are probably because he plays in a Rock band named “The League” and the stage is usually the Lighthouse’s. But sometimes they like to participate in the local band’s talent shows, in which they are frequent winners. It’s a talent, some may say – a wasted talent since they mostly play songs from more popular, more famous bands (yet most people can swear on their mother’s grave that they play them ten times better than the original artists). They don’t seem to mind, however, and are quite contempt with the crowd they can draw whenever their name happens to appear at some local radio station or the little warn down marquee sign on top of the Lighthouse’s entrance.

He’s got a sister – her name is Samantha. He visits her every day at the hospital because Samantha has been comatose for the last five or six years. All they know is that it happened because of a car accident, but no one can remember why or how it happened… and he had never talked about her before it happened. It was like, one day he was an only child and the next day he had a sister whom he never had talked about, nor did he ever introduced her – to anyone. “The next thing you know, he’ll have a mother, and a father, and a dog, and a cat, and the obnoxious cousin who married his sister and lives in a bunker somewhere in Somalia!” Sarah, the head waitress said once. She is the oldest member of the staff at the Lighthouse and she says that she got hired the moment she walked into the bar. “It’s the skill,” she says. “I’ve gots TWO of them…”

Back to Connor and his sister, Samantha. As I’ve said, he visits every day and knows the nurses by name and birthday after all this time. He stops by the nurse’s station to talk to the ones who are there, asks about the ones he doesn’t see, talks to Sam’s doctors, and then he spends the rest of the visiting hours with his sister, mostly talking to her about his day. Sometimes he sings to her and it’s like the entire floor comes to life. He sometimes even sings at the children’s ward. The kids like it when he sings.

If you ask around, most doctors would say that even though she’s not on life support, Connor does not like the idea of taking her home with him because by now he’s too used to living alone. Very few would realize that the main reason he keeps showing up at the hospital is because the idea of having someone close to him gives Connor something that he thought was long gone before Samantha appeared in his life. The second part of that something is the phone call he gets every year, around September, on the old phone booth he is at right now. He doesn’t want to admit it, but that phone call fills the empty space he feels inside his soul ever since he moved into town (about ten years ago, maybe more than that). The call from home – the voice that keeps him up-to-date on everything and everyone he left behind; his best friend since he was a child and the only true link he has of his past. The “something” that the voices on the other line and the visits to Samantha have brought to Connor’s life is resumed in one simple yet so complex word:

"Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired."

- Erik H. Erikson


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