I was to give a reading, presumably from my novel The Piano Teacher, though I don’t know if that was ever confirmed. It was to happen at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, which is a big venue so this was not small potatoes.
It was all arranged by a woman whom I seemed to know more from Facebook than anywhere else. I don’t believe I ever knew her name and I certainly didn’t have her phone number.
I’m not the sort of person who is ever late for anything, ever. I boarded a bus with plenty of time to get to the hall, even though I easily could have walked there or ridden my bike in only a few minutes.
The minute I got on the bus, things started to go wrong. At no point did we go down any streets that were at all familiar to me at all. At first it was all right as I had plenty of time. (For some reason the reading was to take place at 6:30 PM. When does anything ever start at 6:30???)
And so the bus made its way down unfamiliar streets. But before you knew it, we were waiting at the entrance of a Mr. Lube shop – worse, even, the driver backed up to the doors so we were going to back up into the service bay.
Once the doors opened, the bus shot right through the bay into the back which was mostly a sea of mud and rusting hulks of old cars and various pieces of machinery lying around. It didn’t seem possible we could get through the mud but the driver gunned it and before long we had come out onto another street which was totally unfamiliar to me.
That street led onto a freeway and soon the bus was out on the freeway, going at a good clip, taking me further and further away from anything that was familiar to me. I checked my watch and it was slightly after 6, but I had no way of contacting the woman who had arranged the reading to tell her I might be late.
There was still time. We were running out of time, but there was still time.
When we finally turned off the freeway, the bus deposited me in a very bad neighbourhood which seemed decidedly more like new York or Chicago than Calgary. On leaving the bus, I was shaken down by two serious dudes, one with his face painted mint green. I told them I had no time for their bullshit, I was on my way to a reading, a hall full of people was waiting for me, I couldn’t let them down, they didn’t want to be a party to all those people being let down, so the two thugs led me to a bodega/lunch counter where it was thought I could get directions back downtown.
There was a swarthy man behind the cash register and a slim blonde waitress who wore nothing under her tiny apron. She wasn’t immediately attractive to me, but she soon grew on me. I bought a pack of Camel Lights and got directions to the subway.
Their directions took me into the bowels of a large theatre complex. The stairs took me into an actual theatre. Patrons were waiting for a play to begin. I had to jump over people waiting for the play to begin to make any progress to where I thought I could catch a train back to more familiar terrain.
I finally found an elevator but it wouldn’t go anywhere. I pushed the buttons but nothing happened. At first I was alone, but suddenly the elevator was packed. There was a tall blond Norwegian guy who didn’t speak any English standing in front of the control panel. I felt incredible rage towards him.
It turned out that we had to go up but I had been trying to go down. To activate the elevator, a special chip was needed and everyone but me had one, including the Norwegian guy.
Finally we got to the street and then all of us who had been in the elevator ended up in the cab, about ten of us. We were driving though a town I didn’t recognize. I checked my watch: 6:25. There was still time, but hope was fading fast.
I asked where we had been because it seemed like a funky part of town that I would like to visit again. Someone said it was Indian Road and that it was chaotic because Indiana had won the big game today. And that’s why everyone was dressed in red. (Though I hadn’t realized everyone was dressed in red.)
The lady beside me in the cab said, “You know, if you ever decide to write a novel, I can get you a good book deal.”
I say, “I’VE WRITTEN A NOVEL, I’M SUPPOSED TO BE READING IT AT THE JACK SINGER CONCERT HALL RIGHT THIS MOMENT! IN FACT NOW I’M LATE!!!!”
Then I realized I didn’t even have a copy of the book and that I would have to go home before I could go to the hall, making me ever later. I checked my watch: 6:35. I imagined the Jack full of people waiting for me, but me nowhere to be seen. If only I could have called that woman whose name I never knew!
Looking out the window of the cab, I saw we were now on a street called Quebec Avenue and I realized that we were in Montreal, even though I knew this street didn’t exist in Montreal or anywhere else, still the architecture was interesting.
And then I woke up all in a panic. I realized I was in my bed and breathed a sigh of relief. It was just a dream. I wouldn’t be late for my reading after all.
And then I realized that I have no reading to do tonight.
That was my dream.
Thanks for reading.