You Dream of Jail

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You Dream of Jail

A horror story 

by Michael Botur


You wake and the room is blue and your knuckles are pressed into your skull.


Kasey is bunched away from you. Her body is trying to escape your gravitational pull. You're a giant unit, glued to the mattress with sweat. A fat dugong in pyjama pants, twice the size of your wife. Your so-called half of the bed is really two thirds.

'Kase, I dreamed about jail again. Wake up.'

You shake her shoulder. Her nightie is silk, thin and papery. You tug the duvet back. The nightie reaches her hips only. You don't remember her buying it. You don't remember falling asleep five hours ago, either. You haven't been mindful, lately. You nearly fucked up the conference you've been producing. The Biotech Canadians threatened to pull out. You had to beg them to remain committed. Had to prove your mind was focused. The problem is dreams have been leaking into your day. You're becoming paranoid, flinching. You drank chardonnay from the bottle on the drive home this evening... last night? Fuck.

You sit up and blink into the thin darkness.

'KASE. I have to tell you. I was in this, like, cage – is that what you call it?'

'Cell, Tim. Cell. You know I've done time.' She smacks her lips, buries her shoulders under the blanket, snuggles into her marginal slice of mattress. 'Back to sleepy.'

'Be serious.' You jostle her shoulder blade. These prison dreams are getting scary. You need her support. 'Like, so I'm in this, well it was like worse than even that shitty hospital we went to that time in Colombo, you know how you got Delhi Belly when we went to Sri Lanka? So I'm in the sick bay in some kind of jail, a real prison, y'know, and these two, like, goons, these ape-men are howling around the doors. Calling, hooting, sorta like, I dunno, howler monkeys? They wanted to beat me up. Smash me, kill me, hurt me for something. I don't know what I've done, though.'

'Well it must've been something. Fess up.'

You put your feet on the carpet, release the covers, ease out of bed and stand front of the full-length mirror.

You jiggle the blubber around your big hips. Six feet and three inches, towering over most folks in the office – except every day, smaller people push you around. Their criticisms carve scars. The company is going corrupt, accepting money from dirtier and dirtier partners. Tobacco makers, arms manufacturers, bankers from Panama City. Climate change denial outfits. Multi-level marketing. Loans leeches. Dirty biotech.

'Urgh. I seriously don't have time to solve your problems at – what time is, 4.30 in the friggin... ' Kase has been shielding her eyes with a pillow. Now she hurls it at the curtains, gets up, crawls behind your expansive back, massages your shoulders like she's rubbing seasoning into your flesh. 'Get this month's project done then bail. You can line up other work, right? You can get out of there?'

'I don't... I'm not positive. I'd need a letter of recommendation, I suppose, and I can't get one of those unless I... I just need to think on it.'

Kase goes cold. You're looking at one another in the mirror opposite the foot of the bed. She's giving you a hard verdict, a test result. 'Our insurance comes out this month. It's eight hundred dollars. So you need to think real quick. This isn't a game.'

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