Monday, January 19, 2009

Nonsensical Dream #226

I am walking through a high school that I have never been to and for some reason I know that it is 1992. However I am not 12 years old, I am present age. The halls are completely empty save for a couple sheets of wide-ruled paper fluttering around. I am strolling up and down the hallways, making lefts and rights with a wayward sense of detachment. I am there, but I am not there. For a moment I imagine I am the ghost of a kid who drowned at the school 20 years ago. I decide that should the bell ring and the halls flood with teenagers, they won't be able to see me. And if they do see me, I would probably appear dripping wet and pale in swim trunks, possibly with X's in place of eyeballs. I pass my reflection in a trophy case and am both disappointed and relieved to see that I am really just wearing khaki shorts and a dry white t-shirt. Still reasonably pale though.



The bell rings and the halls flood with teenagers. Three young boys run past me, laughing wildly. Their voices haven't changed yet. An older girl wearing a way-too-short-for-school skirt walks slowly from one classroom to another directly across the hall. I think, "I bet she wishes she had to walk further." An awkward boy with the scraggly beginnings of a chinstrap beard bumps into a teacher and his trapper keeper explodes. I consider stopping to help him gather up all the papers and pencils, but I don't. I realize that thus far, no one has looked at me. Either I really am a ghost, or I am dreaming. The traffic begins to dissipate and after a couple minutes I am walking alone again through quiet corridors. I think, "I really don't miss high school."



I keep walking until DeVotchka's "How It Ends" begins playing over the PA system. I am not certain why this is in my dream, but possibly because I have seen that "Gears of War 2" video game commercial about 900 times this month on ESPN. I enjoy the ESPN family of networks, and DeVotchka, but I do not play video games. Just as the song begins, I notice a man standing about 100 yards down the hallway. I know he sees me because he begins walking briskly toward me. I remain standing in the middle of the hallway, jamming out to DeVotchka, waiting for this teacher to come kick me out of the school. For some reason I feel certain that is what is about to happen.



As he approaches me, I think that he looks an awful lot like Alec Baldwin's character in the film "Beetlejuice," complete with glasses and a black and white checkered flannel shirt (tucked into jeans). He stops three feet away from me, cocks his head, and squints over the rims of his glasses. In fact, it just might be Alec Baldwin from "Beetlejuice" because when he starts to speak he sounds just like him.



"What are you doing here?" he demands, arms akimbo.

"Hi. To be honest I really don't know," arms at my sides, palms open.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. If I'm not, I am a ghost, possibly one that drowned here in the 70's."

"Oh and what would you know about that?"

"About what?"

"About ghosts," he snaps.

"Maybe not as much as you…were you in Beetlejuice?"

"What?"

"Nothing."

"Don't say that word again."

He removes his glasses and slides them into his breast pocket. Warily looking me over he leans back and taps his chin with his finger.

"What's your name?"

"Michael Ricketts. Or Mike."

"That's a stupid last name."

"I know."

"Good. How did you get here?"

"I don't know that either. It's all pretty silly. I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. So you can't really be mad at me. None of this is happening."

"Yes it is. You have someplace to be you idiot."

"I do?"

"Yes. You do."

"Where?"

"Binion's," he snaps, becoming increasingly irritated with me.

"Binion's Horseshoe Casino? In Vegas?"

Turning away from me, he closes his eyes and rubs his temples slowly. He explains that I am supposed to be at the final table of the 1992 World Series of Poker 'Main Event.' I try to assure him that he is mistaken but he persists. I remind him that I do not know where I am, or how I got there, and that I have no memory of playing through the Main Event up to the final table. I also note that unless I am dreaming, I would not have had an extra ten thousand dollars to buy into the tournament.

"I BOUGHT YOU IN, YOU IDIOT!"

"Hold up, just a minute ago you didn't even know who I was. Now you're telling me that you staked me ten grand to win the WSOP Main Event?"

"There's no time. You have to go. They started playing 20 minutes ago."

He takes me by the arm and ushers me to the stairwell.

"Go. Now. We split the winnings. Don't fuck up."

"Whatever, bra. Say hello to Geena Davis for me."



"Shut up!" he shrieks as I begin down the staircase, not quite sure what I am supposed to do now. I do not think I am anywhere near Las Vegas, as when I look out the windows of the stairwell I see giant oak and maple trees looming. I continue down the stairs trying to make sense of the conversation and also trying to decide if that really was a young Alec Baldwin circa 1988. At the bottom of the stairwell I reach a set of double doors and proceed through.



I am taken aback by what I find on the other side. Instead of seeing bike racks and teenagers, I have stumbled into what looks like the lobby of a magnificent hotel. It is definitely not Binion's. Ornate chandeliers hover over a wide expanse of bellboys and tourists. They are hustling in every direction, bumping into each other and off of pillars like some giant-sized fantastic pinball game. I can see on the horizon that the lobby opens up into some sort of open air pavillion where daylight is pouring into the hotel. I begin to stroll in that direction, pausing at a bank of big screens broadcasting the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" dominating some poor crew of gangly Europeans. As I get closer to the pavillion I can see that there is a fairly large crowd gathered around a huge circular railing. I make my way to the railing, and once my eyes adjust to what must be the oppressive Vegas sun I can see that the railing encircles an opening in the ground where you can see down to the casino floor below. It feels like a zoo enclosure that should be filled with rocks and polar bears, but it is not. Centered on the floor below is a poker table with six players and a dealer. Nearby there is a table with stacks of cash on it, flanked by guards with shotguns. "Holy shit," I think, "this really is the 1992 Main Event." I notice that there is one empty seat at the table and a flood of memories hit my brain all at once. I suddenly realize that I was, in fact, playing this tournament for the last three days, and I am, in fact, supposed to be in that seat.



"OMG," I gasp.



Without pausing to rationalize all this I start sprinting around the enclosure looking for a staircase, an escalator, a firemen's pole, anything. There is nothing. I know that if I have to enter the hotel again and search for a staircase and find my way to the table that way I will miss at least a couple more hands. "Dammit!" On the opposite side of the enclosure I see a spot where the crowd is not as thick around the rail and I begin running for it. I feel like Ferris Bueller sprinting from Sloane's house to beat his parents home, leaping over fences and darting through backyards. As I approach the exposed length of rail, without slowing down, I lean forward, grip it with both hands, springboard myself over, do two somersaults in the air and land directly in the open seat at the final table one floor below.

Then for some reason I look over the other players and declare, "Now you guys are fucked."

This provokes a couple chuckles as well as some dirty looks, and the dealer says, "Welcome, sir. Glad you could make it. You are in the big blind for 6000."

I look down at my chips and am pleased to see that I have an average stack. I look over the rest of the table, and despite having allegedly played the through the field up to this point, I only recognize Hamid Dastmalchi. Possibly because he is the only player from that table that I would recognize outside of the dream world. In addition to Hamid, I am seated with Tom Jacobs, Hans Lund, Mike Alsaadi, Dave Crunkleton, and Clyde Coleman. Play resumes and I fold for the next half hour. Hamid and Clyde control most of the action, picking up many pots on the flop. I finally get AQ offsuit a couple times and take some chips off of Crunkleton. I tell him that I love his name, but he ignores me.



After about four hours of play we are down to just four players: myself, Hamid, Crunkleton, and Hans. The sun has drifted past the roof of the hotel forty stories above and things have cooled off quite a bit in this pit within a pavillion within a hotel. I am in the small blind and 3rd in chips when I look down and see QQ. The action has folded around to me and I have Hamid on my left in the big blind. I raise it up to 70,000. He thinks for a minute and reraises to 200,000. I insta-call, hoping to appear weak. The flop comes out 57Q, rainbow. Jackpot. I check it to Hamid, who immediately shoves all in. I can not call quickly enough and shove my chips into the middle as I leap from my seat and flip the queens over all in one motion. I back up a few feet from the table, pumping my fist, ecstatic at the fact that I am about to become the chip leader at the WSOP Main Event final table. One million dollars and the bacelet are oh so close. Hamid chuckles at my excitement and dejectedly tosses KK face up into the middle. The dealer arranges the pot and gets ready to deal the turn.

Five of diamonds.

Hamid says, "Nice hand, man," and reaches to shake my hand but I jump backwards, waving him off.

"Not yet, my friend!" as I still have two outs to dodge.

The dealer knocks the table and rolls off the river card. Sure as shit, it is the king of spades and I am eliminated from the Main Event in 4th place, netting $101,000.



Hamid jumps up from the table shaking his fists in the air, and I can not help but feel excited for him. His friends and family up on the rail are going nuts. I think that in real life I would go crawl into a hole and die if that happened, however I still feel barely aware that this must be a dream, and I am wrapped up in the energy of the moment. Hamid now has a giant chip lead over Hans and Crunkleton, and right then I realize that in real life I know that Hamid wins the bracelet and the million dollars. We shake hands, I wave to the rail of spectators above, and make my way over to Hans and Crunkleton.

"Good game, Dave, good luck."

"Thanks, " he replies. "Beetlejuice."

"What?"

Before he can reply, Hans gets up from the table and shakes my hand.

"Was fun, Mike. Good game."

"Thanks, good luck to you."

"Thanks, Mike. Beetlejuice."

As soon as the word leaves his lips, I wake up.






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