past the Port of Chicago with its sucker-punch alewives stench,
fumes funnel the sky, smoke signals admonishing passersby.
In the dream, I am ambulance chasing with Gandhi, which is even weirder than it sounds, because I am not now nor have I ever been nor would I ever want to become a lawyer, and even the friends I've known who were, or are, or studied to be lawyers I had to pretend weren't, or aren't, and watch my words around so as not to discourage their career paths,
because I just don't respect the law, the inflexibility of it, which is part of why this dream is especially off-putting, because if I had to be a lawyer I wouldn't be the personal injury type, it's so counterintuitive to what I'm all about; but then I take a good, hard look and realize
it's actually Roger Gandhi, not Mohandas, commonly known as Mahatma, second cousin twice removed of the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British- ruled India, who is with me, and as I pause and squint, aside from glasses and a mustache he looks nothing like his famous cousin, having a full head of bushy black hair
and not once smiling that enlightened and enigmatic smile the Mahatma is usually shown with in photographs; in fact, he is rather dour and out of breath, which is when I realize we are literally chasing ambulances, not metaphorically, which explains the whole lawyer mis-
understanding but doesn't explain why we are in hot pursuit of a bevvy of emergency vehicles which could very well, ironically, injure us because we are running in the street, chasing taillights like cliched stray dogs as wailing sirens fade the further away they get, which is perfectly natural since
they are vehicles while we're on foot, though, again ironically, the term ambulance comes from the Latin word, ambulare, meaning to walk or move about; it is then I look sideways at Roger's face and although it's not a race I feel compelled to pull ahead of him if not impelled to catch up with the rotating red lights getting farther and farther
away, and I think, in his pancha, or traditional Indian men's garment, he must be more comfortable than I am in a tuxedo and Crocs which, while comfy and colorful, with each leg extension threaten to fly off my feet and slow me down, if not cause us both to stumble and fall as they bounce and tumble in the distance, electric blue obstructions on an obstacle course,
but through some miracle they remain on my feet, and I'm not complaining, because even at a garb disadvantage we're neck and neck and I'm suddenly very proud which gives me an adrenaline rush not unlike adding fuel to the proverbial fire; but this is not about me, nor is it about Roger, or even the ambulances, it's about living
in the moment, which we simultaneously arrive at as a conclusion telepathically, since neither of us has said anything, coming to a halt and doing that hands-on-hips-walking-in-a-circle thing marathon runners do upon crossing the finish line, and I undo my bow tie, cursing my impetuousness only briefly because knotting one is a complicated business,
using it to mop my sweaty forehead like a handkerchief because I forgot mine on top of the bureau this morning, cleaned and folded neatly and ready to go, with the monogrammed initials G-O-D in gold, not L-O-D, which I never noticed before now, or didn't want to notice, not because it scares or unnerves me
but because I like being in charge and think maybe this is some kind of a sign, albeit from the dry cleaners but a sign nonetheless, if only a sign of their ineptitude, or their business outgrowing itself way too quickly to keep up their top-notch fluff-and-fold service; and then I wake up.
-- Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His numerous books include Activities of Daily Living (forthcoming, 2017), Brief Nudity (2013), Basic Cable Couplets (2012), abbrev (2011), About the Author (2011), and I Am Spam (2004). He is also an acclaimed singer-songwriter whose latest solo album is Good Grief (2015). The sophomore album from his band, The Injured Parties, is due in 2016. For more info, go to larryodean.com