“THE SOUND OF THE DREAM”
By Jason Andrew
She first came to him cloaked in a wet dream. Jordan could not remember her face or her name, but he knew that he loved her and would do anything to be with her. Her soft, olive skin was pleasantly warm and when he kissed her she tasted like strawberries. Her voice was muffled and distance, but he could hear soft, rhythmic fluttering. It was the first time he felt a sense of unity with the universe; it was the first time he felt unalone. At the moment of his climax, the reality of his sweat drenched sheets left him cold despite the hot summer night. Wiping himself clean, Jordan was surprised to discover that he was still hard, like a bar of iron, and for a brief moment he could have sworn he heard the soft sound of wings flapping.
Cleaning the bed with a towel, he tried to dry the wet-spot without waking his two foster brothers. If his foster mother Bertha found wet sheets again, she swore that she’d pull down his pants and paddle him in front of the entire family. Jordon had to secretly admit that the idea did have some appeal, but he mostly enjoyed living with the Darling family and didn’t want to jeopardize his stay. Jim and Bertha Darling were actually decent foster parents. They took care of three boys and provided them with all of the comforts of a real home. Of course, they dragged the boys to church every Sunday, but Jordan considered it a fair price. He was almost eighteen and wouldn’t have to go to many before his birthday. Besides, he didn’t blame Bertha for being angry as he had peed on his bed for three nights in a row.
The nightmares had been a regular occurrence as far as he could remember. Sometimes, he felt trapped in a loop repeating the same steps over and over. Others, he was falling. This dream was different. Jordan knew it was special somehow.
It was only days later walking home in the California sunlight that he realized that in the dream she had long, leathery wings. The dream weighed in his mind a great deal, but did not return. He tried to sketch her, but all he could conjure with the pencil was a set of bat-like wings. A week later, Jordan bought his first tattoo on his left shoulder. The artist used Jordan’s sketches as a basis and charged him two hundred thirty six dollars. The fee had doubled because Jordan was under-aged and desperate. Having surrendered a piece of his flesh, the dream returned seemingly appeased.
He kept the tattoo a secret from his foster family. Jim and Bertha were too conservative to appreciate its beauty, and his two foster brothers might hit him on the shoulder if they knew it was sore. Jake and Weston were twins, a year younger than Jordan, and enjoyed physical displays of affection.
Jordan’s eyes were gray, like an overcast sky. His pale frame was thin and gangly; like an adolescent girl about to enter puberty. His hair was mousy brown and as long as the Darlings would allow. The twins often referred to Jordan as their foster-sister.
Despite their occasional playful rough-housing and games of “Smear the Queer,” Jordan enjoyed spending time with the twins and watching them wrestle like Greek gods. At sixteen, they looked like a model for a Hitler youth propaganda poster. Jordan couldn’t figure out why someone would abandon such beautiful, blue-eyed boys in a mall. They never talked about their parents. That suited Jordan just fine as he was abandoned as a baby.
The emotional high from the tattoo lasted almost a month, but Jordan knew that it was incomplete. Jordan knew that he was incomplete. He began scraping his forearm with a thin silver-plated razor that he stole from the master bathroom. The slow buildup of pain fascinated him. His skin tingled with life. The endorphins produced a soothing high that drugs couldn’t match. The next couple nights after a cutting session, the nightmares faded and Jordan dreamed of her and the wings.
As the weeks passed, his arms healed into a symphony of scars. At first, the Darlings ignored Jordan’s new hobby and mentally explained away the scars. Boys will be boys, they said to themselves. Later, the scars and the cuts were too noticeable and wearing long sleeves couldn’t hide the blood. Worried, the Darlings changed their strategy.
Jordan suspected that it was Bertha’s plan. She once told him that there were no bad boys, only bad parents. The intervention began on a Friday. Jim, Bertha, Pastor Ronald, and a couple of the church deacons took turns praying over Jordan as though he were possessed. Perhaps I am possessed, Jordan thought. As they prayed over him, occasionally they would hug him or pat his back. It was a little like being worshiped, he imagined. The last prayer ended shortly after midnight on Sunday and Jordan quit cutting himself for three months. The dream faded into a fond memory.
Slowly, his skin began to itch without cause. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Without even realizing it, Jordan began to pierce the tips of his fingers with a sewing needle. It became a game to try to pierce the skin without drawing blood. That night, the dream returned. The sound of the dream rattled his soul.
A few weeks later, Jordan decided to switch to branding after watching an old Western on television. His first was the metal Mercedes ornament stolen from a teacher’s car. With a Bic lighter and a pair of rusty old pliers, he heated the ornament until it glowed with a soft orange light. Then, he pressed the metal into his thigh. His entire body froze, unable to move for a moment, as the metal seared his flesh. His first instinct was to curl into a fetal position, but the afterglow of the pain aroused him. As the first of his blisters began to form on his skin, he spread his semen over the wound.
Three minutes into his eighteenth birthday, Jordan had both nipples pierced. The owner of the shop, a leatherman from named Snake, felt an odd kinship with Jordan. Since Jordan had been hanging around the shop for years, Snake decided to make him his lover and put him to work.
Snake was a large, hairy walrus of a man with a bushy mustache. He towered over the thin, waif-like Jordan, yet touched him with a passionate gentleness. Jordan had lived an asexual life for so long that the touch of another triggered deep memories he fought to access. He had the sense that something was blocking him from remembering the dream.
It was with Snake that Jordan broke down the first wall. He flipped Jordan onto his back, spread the boy’s legs over his shoulders, and penetrated his tight ass with his cock while running his hands over Jordan’s thin dick. It was then that he first glimpsed another side of her. Her face was still hidden by her hair, but Jordan was pleased to discover that she had horns. Beautiful white bone horns. The dream filled them with sexually energy that neither Jordan nor Snake had ever felt before.
Jordan was glad to move out of the Darling’s house and into the back of Snake’s Tattoo Parlor. It was a good life, but Jordan knew there was something more. He was a fair tattoo artist, but didn’t have the special flair that belonged only to Snake, so he moved to body piercing. Jordan discovered that he had natural talent and within six months had a cult following among the body piercers. By then, Jordan had pierced his nose (three times), his ears, his eye-brow, his tongue, and on a lonely night his cock with a Prince Albert. It was his first taste of happiness and yet he wanted more.
It was a lazy, scorching LA afternoon looking through magazines on the Sunset Strip when Jordan had found what he was looking for. The ad called it three-dimensional piercing. Anton Morgan was turning men and women into forms of the fantastic. The magazine profiled several men and women who had altered their bodies. A man with a nail Mohawk kissed a woman with a forked tongue.
That night, Jordan kissed Snake good-bye, packed all of his clothes into an old ’87 Geo-Metro, and drove straight to Seattle and to find Anton Morgan.
* * * *
The Zephyr Café was a small coffee house that served the local fetish community. Most of the servers were pierced and during the weekly play parties, they would serve drinks naked with glee. It was decorated with erotic artwork and black and white photographs. Jordan sipped his double mocha as he waited. Anton was almost an hour late. The anticipation was stifling. Jordan was frantic with worry that he wouldn’t come.
He walked in the café as though he owned the place. Later, Jordan would discover that he did indeed own the café and almost every tattoo parlor in town. Jordan had never seen a face filled with such chilling kindness. Although Anton was almost fifty, he had the face of a boy who had suddenly turned thirty and was oddly surprised that time had not stood still for him. After serving twenty years in the Navy, he had grown accustomed to a clean-shaven head. Three years ago, he allowed himself the luxury of a beard; a decision he later began to regret when it started turning gray. He was a large, beefy man who looked dangerous.
Anton nodded his head. Jordan found himself falling in love with him instantly. “You came a long way to see me. Snake called me a few days ago to tell me about you.”
Jordan swallowed his spit. “I see.”
Anton sat down. He politely ordered tea from the waitress, who moved extra quickly to serve him. Jordan could see that this was a man who was used to getting what he wanted. “Snake is a good friend of mine. We served together for ten years. Once you’ve waded through shit with a man, you become his brother.”
Jordan blushed. “Yes, Sir.”
You broke his heart you know. He’s rather devastated. I’ve never heard him cry before.”
“I had to come. Only you can help me.”
Anton scratched his beard as though thinking about Jordan’s words. “And so you decided to crush Snake and come running here hoping I’ll help you.”
“I don’t know what to say. I have to be changed. I don’t know why. I dream about it. Somehow I know when I’m changed everything will be better. I’m not right. There’s something inside me I can fix. A hole. I didn’t mean to hurt Snake. He’s the best. The only one who’s ever cared.”
Anton quietly sipped his tea. “Yes, I know. Snake told me everything. He knew you would leave. He just didn’t know when.”
Jordan was surprised. “He knew I was going to leave him?”
Anton laughed. “Straight people feel their age when their kids leave for college. I suppose gay men feel it when young ones like you want to call them Daddy and then later leave them. This isn’t the first time this has happened.”
“Will you help me?”
“It will be expensive.”
Jordan smiled nervously. “I don’t have much money. But I’ll work for you. I’ll do anything I have to.”
“Money isn’t an issue. Resources is. I’m trying to decide if I want to bother with you.”
“I wish there was something I could say to you to convince you. My skin is itching, and I can’t scratch it. If I don’t do this, I’ll die. I know it.”
Anton smiled. “Perhaps that won’t be necessary.”
He started with the horns. He shaped two small stainless steel rods into small horns. Using a surgical scalpel, he cut into the base of the skull, just above the eyebrows. He slipped the horns under the skin, stretching his organic matter over the small mounds of metal, and then butterfly-sutured the skin closed the wound. A few weeks later, once the skin had been properly stretched and the metal settled into the skull, Anton reopened the wounded and replaced the metal with larger pieced of formed metal. By the fifth run of the cycle, Jordan’s skin molded around the metal perfectly, locking them into place and then Anton cauterized the wound.
The first few sets of horns attracted little attention. By the fourth cycle, people stared a little. By the fifth cycle, even the Modern Primitives with their pierced noses gawked with open jaws. Once Jordan smiled at a little girl in the grocery store and she cried. While walking his dog, an older Italian woman fell to her knees and starting praying. During his strolls down Capital Hill, homeless teenagers used to accost him demanding change. By the fifth cycle, they refused to look him in the eyes and often changed directions when they saw him. Jordan appreciated the attention and revealed in this new power.
The dream gradually shifted into focus as though it were a movie and the projector had been finally been adjusted. For the first time, he saw her ageless, crying face. As she cried, her gleaming fangs called to him. She beckoned him with claws of bone. Jordan knew that soon he would find her and would never be alone again.
“And now dear boy, its time for the fangs,” Anton informed Jordan on a clear Seattle winter night.
Lovingly, Anton Morgan strapped Jordan into an old dentist chair. The morphine caused strange dreams of the desert. He could vaguely feel Anton applying weight to his mouth. His head was bound by several leather straps so that his head would not jerk or move. The large florescent light bulb that hung from the ceiling covered Anton with a halo so that he looked like an angelic Mr. Clean.
Jordan awoke several hours later. His mouth felt dry and yet new as though he had been changed. He smiled as he felt his new teeth with the tip of his tongue. Anton had filled and shaped them into sharp canine fangs. Jordan would have to live off of soup until the enamel and fillings set in a few weeks, but he was one step closer to home. Jordan had his fangs.
“How do you feel?” Anton asked, curious.
“Dizzy. I feel like my teeth are moving.”
Anton wrinkled his brow. “That would be your nerves adjusting.”
Jordan managed a weak smile in response. Anton handed him a glass of water with a straw. Jordan took a small slurp. “Why?”
“What are you helping me do this? You’ve never even touched me.”
Anton’s entire head seemed to turn crimson. His eyes turned cold and angry. “You think I’m helping you just to turn you into my little whore!”
Confused, Jordan raised his hands to protect his face. “I didn’t mean. . .”
“Of course you did. You think I’m helping you because I’m going to fuck you.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“When I was a little older than you are now, this country choose to become involved in a little police action in a country called Vietnam. I was from a small town from Montana that consisted of a truck stop, a post office, and three stop lights. We still believed in the America Dream, as though you could order it from a Sears catalog. I enlisted. I saw things that would make you shit your pants, boy. And I’m talking about the normal life and death shit, you know the casual loss of life, raping the villagers, and smoking dope.”
“What happened?” Jordan asked.
“I could deal with the normal fucked up shit. Hell, I expected nothing less. I grew up on John Wayne movies. It was that night we patrolled the Ho Chi Minh trail that got me. It was summer and we were waist deep in the brush. That was when Charlie decided to pay us a visit. We were caught with our pants down. Dyer, Benjamin, and Tanner were killed in the first couple of shots. The rest of ducked under cover. Something wasn’t right though.”
“What?” Jordan asked.
“Tanner got back up. His fucking eye was hanging out its socket like a yo-yo. He was moving like he wasn’t hurt or hadn’t been shot. He walked into the bush like he was strolling down Easy Street. The rest of us got away, but we never talked about Tanner. We heard stories about monsters hiding as men in the bush.
So when I was cashiered out of the army in ‘71, I ended up in Fresno. The army taught me jack shit, so I was picking oranges trying to figure out what to do with my life. That’s when I met Sheldon at one of the Hell’s Angels parties. As first, I thought he was just another one of those hippies I’d heard about. He had the usual long hair and beard, you know the Jesus motif. Sheldon was a traveling tattoo man who worked in little rat holes all across the Golden State.
I woke up the next day with a sore back and didn’t know why. I look off my shirt and saw this tattoo.”
Quietly, Anton slipped off his shirt and Jordan gasped. Someone had tattooed Anton’s back with the image of Tanner and his dangling eye and the jungle. “Sheldon did this?” Jordan asked.
“I asked him about it and he said that I needed to own the situation. I was pissed at first and then I realized that he was right. Something happened back there in ‘Nam. I don’t know what, maybe it was acid we were doing. It did something to me. It took a piece of me. This tattoo let me buy it back. I figure something happened to you and this is your way of buying it back.”
“How did he know?” Jordan asked.
Anton looked frightened for a moment. “I don’t know. He wasn’t there. No one else talked. Somehow he knew. It’s like your dream. Some things can’t be explained. You just have to deal with them.”
Jordan didn’t want to cry in from of Anton, but he couldn’t help it. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. You’re still coming off the morphine. It makes you a little emotional. Hell, I shouldn’t have told you that story. Wouldn’t be surprised if you have some really fucked up dreams tonight.”
Jordan chuckled. It was a weak attempt at humor. All he had were fucked-up dreams. “I’ll be fine.”
That night Jordan’s dreams were empty and echoing as though he were trapped inside a cave and had no light.
* * * *
“This will be quite painful. Are you certain you don’t want the morphine afterwards?” Anton asked.
Jordan shook his head. “The last time I took it my dreams were stolen from me.”
“We’ve never done this before. When we put you under, the doctor from China will do the work, but he thinks you have a good chance of getting your fingers infected.”
“I want to buy that piece of me back.”
Jordan gradually became aware of the pain as though the tips of his fingers were dipped in low-grade acid. He could hear Anton and the doctor talking in Chinese. Anton seemed to be concerned. Slowly, Jordan opened his eyes. His hands were wrapped in white plaster. Confused for a moment, Jordan tried to pull of the cast. “Jordan! Stop it! You have to wait until your fingers heal. Remember?”
Jordan remembered. He also remembered her. She was warning him. Pleading with him. “When can I taken them off?”
Anton smiled. “Two or three weeks. The doctor thinks that the metal bonded with the bone well and the probability of rejection is low. In the next two months, the bones will strengthen and mend and you’ll forget that you never had them.”
“Have you thought about the wings?”
The smile died on Anton’s face. “I can’t figure out how to do it. Even if I did, you wouldn’t be able to fly.”
“I don’t need to fly. I just need the wings. I need to own the situation.”
“I’ll think about it,” Anton promised.
As the weeks passed, Jordan’s bones became stronger and the pain lessened. Like the pain in his mouth, the pain of the claws never died. Anton removed the cast three days late, just to make certain the bones had time to mend. Joyfully, Jordan wiggled his fingers, marveling at his new metal claws.
Most of the clubs refused to let him inside. They told him the claws were dangerous. Jordan took to modeling for the art students on the University campus. The dreams continued more potent than ever. He could hear her pleading with him, but didn’t understand the language. It was a though he were watching a foreign movie without the subtitles.
“It’s like trying to move an arm you don’t have anymore,” he tried to explain to Anton.
“Wait a few years. We don’t have the technology. We can do skin grafts, but it wouldn’t work the same.”
“If it’s the money, I’ve been earning a ton through modeling,” Jordan replied.
Anton’s face turned red as though he was mildly offended. “It’s not the money. You know that. We can’t do it yet. Not safely. And I’m rather fond of you, boy, even when you are pissy.”
“You don’t understand.” Jordan complained, “I need this.”
“Jordan, I love you like you were my own, but I think you’re pushing me too far here. Go home early. We won’t need you for a while.”
Jordan left without another word. He was so close to home that he could smell her, but Anton was right. The will was there, but not the technology. He walked along Denny Way watching the ladies of the night ply their services. He thought about renting one of them, but his new appearance would frighten them. Since his change, Jordan had been intimate with exactly three people.
Bob, who by day was Robert the owner of a small computer company in Bellevue, was a dominant leatherman. Bob tied Jordan to his Saint Andrew’s cross and flogged him until that both achieved orgasm. Neither had removed their pants.
Tiffany was a thin woman with a Mohawk and perky breasts. Later, Jordan had learned that she had once been a cheerleader in high school with long blond hair. She understood Jordan because she too had a special fetish. In her sparsely furnished living room, she stripped for Jordan and then slipped on her harness. The harness was a series leather straps that bound tightly as though she were a horse or a mule. She slipped on a special headdress that masked her face and gave her the largest set of antlers he had ever seen. Tiffany slipped outside of her humanity; she embraced the beast. Jordan stripped naked and dominated her; wrestling her to the ground and penetrating her from behind.
Victoria was a creative writing professor at the university. She was young; not yet thirty. She worked late and then forgot to call campus security. She walked along the path to Red Square. As they planned, Jordan watched and followed her. Victoria loved horror movies and she wanted to be stalked and hunted.
In the end, he felt empty. They were not her. He would never find her. Frustrated, he took the bus to Green Lake, and walked along the shores of the lake. Maybe in the next life, he would find her.
“You know, it would all be a lot easier if you would have patience, Samuel.”
Surprised, Jordan looked away from the water to see her. She wore a thin, white, silk dress that looked as though it had been made from spider webs. Everything from the dream was real. She had the horns, the claws, the fangs, and the wings. It was terrifying and painfully beautiful.
“You! I’ve finally found you.”
“You always find me. We’re bound together, Samuel.”
“I don’t understand. Why are you calling me Samuel? Who are you?” Jordan asked.
She smiled, sadly. “My name is Isabelle. Your true name is Samuel. A long time ago, we broke King Auberon’s rules. You were curious about the mortals. You wanted to be one so you made a deal with the Dark One. You were never happy with what we had so you caused the first crack in the Great Barrier that protects this world. I lied to protect you. So you’ve been cursed to live out a complete lifetime as a mortal.”
“Does this mean that you’re going to take me home?” Jordan asked, hopeful.
“Five times you’ve been reincarnated. And each time, the spark that remembers Arcadia drives you to the madness and you kill yourself.”
“But I’m alive now,” Jordan protested.
“You were going to drown yourself this evening.”
“And you stopped me,” Jordan added.
“No. You see I was punished too. If one of us dies here alone, the Great Barrier would crack and shatter. That was the Dark One’s plan all along. You see, I loved you so much I lied to protect you so you’d escape the punishment. I didn’t want to take the responsibility. And now, responsibility is all I have. You see, you were going to end you life and I have to help you.”
Jordan’s heart felt as though it had been frozen. “Help me?”
Isabelle held out her hands so that Jordan could see the hideous claws she possessed. Jordan’s will was gone. He knelt before her, offering his throat. “Until you are content with humanity, you can never return. Perhaps in your next life you will be,” Isabelle explained just before slitting his throat. “Hurry home, I love you.”