The Dream Eater December 22, 2012Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
The city swallows dreams as it does the cars of the morning commute. Approaching from the east barricaded exits to nowhere stand as monuments to the vanity of speculators imagining hydrologically impossible towns, an endless extension of the city’s fringes farther into the dissolving marsh. The closer you approach, the towers of downtown bathed in a damp haze, the city appears like Atlantis ascending to reveal itself to a new age but this is just another soluble delusion. The exits to nowhere, the road collapsing into the soft earth which rolls the car like a small boat or drums a rattling tattoo, are reminders that the waters are gradually reclaiming the black muck bottom of forgotten dinosaur oceans, washed down by continental rivers, returning itself to the sea.
Every boarded corner barroom with its murals for Regal Beer is a dream. Canal Street with its tourist streetcars and its empty sailor’s stores is a dream. The mansions of forgotten cotton along St. Charles Avenue are a dream. The Lakefront shuttered at dusk against the predation of old fishermen and young lovers is a dream. The swallowed dreams confront us everywhere like empty bowls with the crazed scrapings of forgotten suppers, rattle in our ears like a bottle tree. They suck at our ankles like quicksand but the natives know the trick of crossing. We quicken our steps toward the corner spilling music and beer into the street, moving toward gumbo and corner smokers and everywhere the brass alleluia and the African drum. We move beneath the notice of the Manhattan-fashioned condos of the New Americans. Their dreams of bringing us the Anglo-Saxon gospel is another morsel for the hungry city.
Only those who willingly surrender their dreams to the city will see the windows of heaven opened and poured down upon them a blessing of dreams until there is no need. Sure its the old Malachi racket of every UHF messiah but just ask any oilman banished to Houston perdition contemplating the ex-wife bedrooms of his empty mansion as he puts the revolver to his lips. Look in the sunken, shadowed eyes of the skeleton woman backing her pearlescent Escalade into the shopping mall parking space. What use is an immortal soul without a guitar? What good is prosperity without a bar-tab entry to balance the books? What is the reason for a dream if you will not place it on the table and spin the wheel? Only the broken angels of St. Claude understand the bargain and make it freely and wear their dreams like ink in the skin. A terrible light pours out of their eyes like tears and bathes the city in dreams.