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E30. The Third Dream of Lou Reed’s Nephew’s Narrator
I feel free, as free as I’ve ever felt, though I had not been aware of feeling less than free before.
Ulugbek and I sit close together, like astronauts.
“Back-to-back,” I say. “Isn’t it funny?”
“What’s so funny?” he says. “Like Soyuz.”
“Union,” he says. “U.S./Soviet joint mission.”
The police arrive to clear out Astor Place. Usually there are only some homeless people and a drunken student or two. Today there is a crowd, I see as we sweep up Lafayette like a weightless parade float. There are signs and people with bullhorns. A protest.
“Not clear,” Ulugbek says. “Can’t sweep.”
“Put in ticket,” I say to kid him, though I know he can’t be kidded.
We sit and watch. The protestors have not seen us—they are transfixed by the people with bullhorns, on the one hand, and by the police, on the other, though it is clear they are protesting us.
They do not want Astor Place to be cleaned.
“Clean is mean,” read some of their signs. “Trash = Treasure,” read others. They will not be moved. The police have given up and are manning the perimeter, letting things run their course, at least today. Suddenly, one of the people with a bullhorn spots our little craft and points.
All eyes turn toward us.
“We must go,” Ulugbek says, rotating the craft back down Lafayette, not waiting for a ticket.
“Wait,” I hear myself say. I swing myself to the ground. The crowd rushes around me like water. Ulugbek glides away at top speed, trailed by only the angriest, who throw cups and bottles, which disappear into thin air as they approach the anti-matter brushes.
Now I am the crowd. Two of its eyes. We face the speakers and cheer. I feel free, as free as I’ve ever felt, though I had not been aware of feeling less than free before. I scream at the top of my lungs against anti-matter and against Ulugbek. Against myself. I yell until I am hoarse, until I think I might become nothing, zapped through a wormhole I barely understand. I don’t want it to end—this self-evacuation, this asymptotic curve toward wholeness and nothingness—when Renata wakes me up. She is whispering in her sleep. In her dreams, she says, these eerie mumbles sound like screams. I try to make out words for as long as I can stand the spookiness before I shake her awake.
“Amaryllis,” she whispers.