Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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The rotten stench of dying dreams.

I'm fine, I swear it. Life is good. All is well.

I am at peace, and I stand in the center of the circle--a sense of well-being which spreads to the four corners of the earth. My existence brings joy and contentment to everyone around me, and the world is my friend.

Oops. Pardon me.

I just farted. Loudly. Right in the middle of the public library. It was horrendous. But if any of the people around me noticed, they made no sign of it.

They are more polite than I.

No matter. The spell is broken just the same. The dream has died--died horribly, writhing on the floor in a cloud of noxious fumes, clawing its own neck like a choking victim.

There it goes--my dream. The poor thing. It could have been saved, you know. It's true. I could have done something. I could have tried the Heimlich Maneuver, or attempted a tracheotomy. But I didn't do either of those things. I didn't do anything. I just sat and watched its struggles became weaker. As it gasped its last panic-stricken breaths, the smell of its demise grew stronger, spreading in all directions until everyone around me was forced to flee the area. They gathered up what they wanted to save from contamination and they ran like hares from a hound.

Now I'm sitting here all alone. Just me and my rotting dream. Eventually--I don't know when, but eventually--I'll get up and walk away. I don't know where I'll go. Maybe I'll follow the others. Maybe I'll find a place to go and cleanse myself, wash away the stench of decay and ill-digestion.

But for now I'm going to sit here, right here, and pay my last respects. I'll say all the things I should have said to my dream while it was still alive, when I could have done some good, before it was too late. I'm going to tell my dream that it was a good dream, and that I am proud of it, and that I'm sorry I let it die. It deserved better. It should have been born to someone else, someone stronger and more deserving. Someone who would have taken care of it the way it needed to be taken care of. It would have been a great thing, a beautiful thing. It would have lasted forever.

Oh well. Too late now. The poor son of a bitch died, just like everything does. Frightened and alone. Confused and betrayed. And I'm just sitting here wondering why I feel so fucking good. So joyous and free. So alive.

Maybe something is terribly wrong with me. Then again, maybe something was terribly wrong with me before, but it's not anymore. Now that my dream is dead, I'm free.

Yes, that's right! That's what's wrong with me! I'm free! That explains everything! That's why I've been staying up all night getting hammered on whiskey with the radio blaring at my brain and my heart screaming like a puma until I've had enough--and then out I go, roaring off into the night on a lunatic rampage, challenging all the elements of the world and rubbing my dick up against anything that stands still long enough to let me do it.

Will that not do?

Tell me the truth, now.

Am I free? Or have I simply traded one master for another? The sweetness of my dream for the wretchedness of my demon?

Don't ask me. Ask anyone but me. Ask my friends. Ask my mom. Ask God and ask the Devil.

But don't ask me. I don't have time to talk.