Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Bloodied Hedgehog: Dream as Flash Fiction


I decide to swim the lake from bottom to top. It’s a hundred miles, I figure. I manage the distance, but there’s no way I can swim back without stopping. So I get out and find a bicycle. It must have a motor, because now I can thread the traffic on a busy road, following the median. There is a big American flag up ahead, so I think Canada must be that way, beyond a border post. I am not planning to go there today, so I find another form of transportation.
     I’m now in a huge gasoline tanker with a double cabin. I park it on a side road in the middle of the night to catch a nap. When I wake, I’m concerned maybe I don’t have enough gas to get where I want to go in the tanker. I don’t notice the irony of driving a gas tanker that is running low on gas until I look back on this. I could do with some help. I can say I just happened on the tanker and was trying to do the right thing with it.
    To support this story I paint my face to look like an American Indian from a tribe I know only by name. I come to a family farm where a father is giving instructions to his grown sons. He looks like a decent sort so I present myself to him. He’s no hayseed. He has a lawyer’s wits and he sees through my disguise. He tells me it’s the last day of a big native powwow and if I can get in there they will give me the right cover, but to do this I must stop pretending to be the wrong kind of Indian and present myself as the kind I truly am.
    So I wipe off the paint and enter a general store full of Indians where they have big pots of soup and corn mush on the cookers. A broad, flat-faced woman sizes me up, says she knows me. I tell her I often feel I have met people before, somewhere out of this time. It’s like opening a top drawer in a chest and having a bottom drawer fly open.
    She talks about someone she thinks I must know. “When other people bring a bottle of wine or a six-pack to a party, he shows up with a bloodied hedgehog.”
    “Don’t you mean a porcupine?”
    “No. A porcupine has quills you can pull out and wear. A hedgehog doesn’t.”
    “Hedgehogs are cute.”
    “Not this one.”
    No bloody use for a bloodied hedgehog, we agree. I realize that I am speaking without closing my lips, the way her people speak. We don't say “porcupine” because there is no P in Kanienka talk. We say it their way. Anen:taks.
     I guess I’m in.


Sometimes all I want to do with a dream is tell its story. The shifting modes of transportation here are fascinating to me as symbols. I am intrigued by the irony of driving a gas tanker that may be running low on gas. I am excited by the prompt to recall my connections with a Native American people whose language and customs I was led to study by big dreams many years ago. I remember once having to slam on the brakes when I was driving a Mohawk family in northern Ontario because they had spotted roadkill, a dead porcupine, and wanted to harvest the quills for jewelry. But first and last, with this report of a dream from last night, I want the satisfaction of serving up flash fiction like hot soup from that country stove.

Drawing (c) Robert Moss

8 comments:

nanette davis said...

Robert, If it was my dream I might think it is referring to my work of offering sustenance to my students (the truck carrying gas) and yet it would seem that maybe I am running low on gas. (Maybe in need of some rest?)
I wonder if I was feeling a bit beat up (the bloodied hedgehog).

Robert Moss said...

Nanette, my intention here is not to submit this dream report for interpretation but simply to enjoy - and demonstrate - how easily a dream can become a story worth reading for its own sake.In any event, I rose juiced and full of creative energy from this dream, with feelings utterly different from the ones you project.

nanette davis said...

I stand corrected, and I am glad my projection is not your reality:)

Kathy said...

Do all dreams have deeper meaning or should some be appreciated simply for their entertainment value? If I understand correctly, you are suggesting the latter. Certainly, I have had dreams that reeled out like movies. But, if this were my dream, I would want to do more with it than simply tell its story. To my inexperienced eye, it is so full of symbols that it cries out for interpretation, while as a story it has a pretty disjointed plot. If I had this dream, the first thing I would think when I woke up is "What the heck is this trying to tell me?" So, I understand completely Nanette's urge to interpret it whatever your intention. You have said more than once in your books that we ignore what our dreams are trying to tell us to our peril. How do we know which dreams to treat as messengers and which as flash fiction?

Robert Moss said...

Kathy, we must trust our feelings and follow the energy! You know that I work and play with dreams in many ways - I have now published ten nonfiction books on this - and am rather unlikely to ignore messages that seem to be coming with urgency. On this morning, I just wanted to have fun, and write rather than reason.

Kathy said...

Okay. Upon reflection, perhaps it was a silly -- or at least misguided -- question. Dreams are so personal and their meaning so dependent upon context that I suppose there could be no more exacting test to determine their importance than to follow one's instincts, and instincts are honed by experience over time. Still, I have always thought it would be nice if dreams had to carry passports that one could check to see which are stamped "Gate of Horn." I should probably get out of my left brain more often. Just call me Grasshopper.

By the way, I have read most of those ten books and find them very interesting. It won't surprise you that I particularly enjoyed "The Secret History of Dreaming."

Savita Maria said...

Appreciated the cadence of your flash fiction - halted by a hedgehog!

Isabell K. Gabriel said...

I absolutely love the hedgehog drawing! I have a little wooden fetish that stands on my piano with a few frogs and raven. Funny combination, but it makes me laugh each time I look at the combo.