Monday, April 4, 2016

Dispatch #50: Dream Trap

Fifteen Miles Across Los Angeles
by Lupe Fernandez

I am trapped in Downtown Los Angeles; I know I'm dreaming, but I can't walk myself up. I can't find the subway; I decide to walk out.

I worked in Downtown LA for twenty-two years; I moved to Northern California four years ago.

I am trapped in Downtown Los Angeles near the financial district. I know I'm dreaming. The Pershing Square Metro Red Line stop isn't available; I decide to walk out. There's a woman walking next to me. I can walk out; It's a dream, I can do anything. It's fifteen miles from downtown to my apartment in North Hollywood located in the San Fernando Valley.

It's a long walk; I decide to fly. I spread my arms, lift my feet and fall face flat on the pavement.

I walk up in a panic, bed sheets up to my chin. I reassure myself the dream isn't real. I'm not stranded in Downtown Los Angeles. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is not an alternative reality.

Or is it?

When I'm 102, will I be able to tell the difference?

Not to worry. The differences are sensory details.

Eye-burning car exhaust. Onions sizzled on aluminum trays heated by propane tanks, mounted in grocery shopping carts. Squeal of Metro bus brakes. Random shout of a wandering man. Burble of suited men discussing the Lakers. Crunch of fractured walk under my shoes. Throp, throp of an LAPD helicopter overhead. Greasy touch of a revolving office building entrance.

Protestors chanting.

I am trapped downtown, but it's not real. I wake up the next morning shaken. I tell myself I don't have to go back there. I look out my bedroom window at soft rolling hills surrounding Mt. Diablo.

I write. My daytime preoccupation is imagining places I've never been and describing them in detail.

When I'm 102 years old, will I be able to tell the difference? How about tonight?

Next time I get stuck downtown, I'll seek out someone with rank body odor. If I recoil, I'll know the difference.


  1. Why does downtown LA always sound like a dystopian novel, O Lord and master of Description?

    1. If I had lots of dinero, I could live in a lofty loft above the smog and smell line. Fear not, a great book store is open on Spring Street.
      Downtown Dreamer


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