“C’mon, get him!” The voice roared like it had a coupla tear drops tattooed at his eye, ham hocks for forearms and an intense dislike for me. The command was answered by a flurry of footfalls in all directions. Here we go again.
I was standing in the middle of a long alley. With mayhem about to round the corner, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end of the street in time. So instead I ducked into the alcove of a doorway. The door was locked.
Two sets of heavy steel-toes on wet asphalt were running my way. I leaned back into the deep shadow for cover.
As they slowed down, my heart raced faster and the headache pounded louder. It was obvious that my hiding spot, the only break in a long brick wall, would be a point of interest. So much for a fade.
They were creeping up. Two of them. The crowbar felt as light as a feather in my hand. I wish it had more weight. I’d be lucky to clock one, stun the other and make a dash. If I got lucky. No one ever does in these situations.
They were on me; I could hear them breathe. At least I held the element of surprise. I raised my crowbar. A head breached the corner. I brought the bar down--- on his shoulder. He screamed. I screamed…
I wake up screaming.

While the dreams differ in context, location and intensity, they all end the same. I wake up screaming. My throat is dry, my forehead is on fire and the sheets are cold and wet.
I asked for it, for the dreams to invade. The palette is very heavy right now. My superhighway to the universe had gotten bogged down in traffic. I was no longer ‘at one with.’ I wanted liberation. I needed connection.
My bartender is good at short-term solutions. This impasse required bigger ammunition. To cope, I turned to Lilly Larraleaf, my Metaphysicalist. I spoke of my desires, grand designs, fears, heartbreak and backache. Life feels as if I’m towing the Queen Mary with a rowboat and a broken oar.
Sweet Lilly Larraleaf suggested turning ‘down time’ into ‘now time’. The harmony of the universe and the consciousness of a dream state could work for me rather than haunt me. She said I could solve most of my problems while I slept. I liked the idea. Horizontal beats the hell out of vertical; I’d rather lie down than run around.
Using her powers of suggestion as a fast track to the universe, Lilly mantra’d these words into my soul, “…and in your early morning dreams, you will vent the questions and frustrations of the day. Every problem will find its solution in your early morning dreams…”

…It was a lovely day at the beach. We were lulled by the warmth of the sun, the lazy cry of the gulls and the sparkling diamonds on the sea.
Suddenly the idyll ended with cries of alarm that rippled across the long peninsula of sand. I opened my eyes to find beachgoers standing up and pointing seaward.
The horizon was rising. That far line, fuzzy to see, was lifting higher, rather quickly. A big wave was building and moving toward the coast.
Panic convulsed everyone on the shore. Folks were grabbing gear and running over the dunes to the berm of the highway and the safety of their cars. Instinctively, I grabbed my duffel but it slipped from my hand. There was no point.
The shoreline began to recede very quickly, exposing rock and shell never seen. Fish flopped. The roaring surge moved out, massing into a wave that grew ever more rapidly in height and speed. The force of the oncoming wave was shoving the air, creating a wind of increasing velocity.
I looked back. Those running for higher ground stood no chance.
The wave came. I could do nothing but watch. It was magnificent and beautiful, glorious as it rose to block out the sun. It’s wind lifted me off my feet and…
I wake up screaming.

…There are three variations of the artwork, each with a slight difference. The disparity between dull and genius is a hair’s breadth. Slight is the key to sublime. I am devoted, a frantic disciple.
Design C looks good, but a new background develops into D. If I recolor every third horizontal bar in B, I get a new E. There is something about A which is still buggin’ me. My fingers fly over the keyboard. The pressure for perfection has shoved my heart up into my throat, making it hard to breathe. I regret the changes to K and I delete L. Q is interesting but no improvement over B or C. F, H and J are tossed in the trash. Wait. I retrieve J. As always, the original, A, looks best; I’m likin’ it. Yes. No. Hurry. If I can take the bottom half of Q, recolor it like E, then…
I wake up screaming.

…The jungle growth is dense and I’m running as fast as I can. I need both hands out in front of me, to clear a path, to leap a log and to catch a stumble. I need a third hand to keep from choking. Cho-Cho, a chimp, has his arms tight around my neck and I can’t breathe. I know he’s scared. I hear him whimpering. I can’t run as fast as I need to with a cute lil’ monkey on my back. Not so far behind us, the panther sounds like it’s gaining ground…
I wake up screaming.

…It was the easiest studio visit I have ever had. Collectors Bambi and Stanley Throckmorton were standing before a large painting, “No. 43” from my Space’d Series.
“ I can part with it for ten thousand dollars,” I said. And after a pregnant pause, I added quietly, “That’s after the thirty percent collector’s cut and the gallery commission.”
As I turned away, I could see Bambi elbow Stan in the ribs. He coughed. She batted her eyes. Not that she needed to; Bambi was fifty years younger and a lot more fleshy than her spouse. I knew I had the sale.
Through his oxygen mask, Stanley wheezed, “You’ve got a deal.” I was as pleased as spiked punch. I clapped my hands and replied, “Can I offer you folks a glass of wine?”
As I turned there was a loud rrr-ripping sound that ceased all conversation and bonhomie. My enthusiasm and my elbow had pierced the canvas of No. 43…
I wake up screaming.

…Your deadline is in twenty-four hours. We need a thousand words with an illo. Write superlative words.
I wake up screaming.

…I know the city well. For the last two hours I’ve been cutting in and out of buildings, climbing fire escapes and zigzagging alleys with those fukkers on my tail. I think I’ve lost them—I know I have. But now I’m lost.
Nothing looks familiar. I don’t recognize anything. It doesn’t even feel like my city, my home. How could I have gone so far astray?
A right. A left. A block. A plaza. Left again. Nothing. Even the air smells different. The people look different. I am so lost. Panic lost.
And so tired. I’ve been at this—how long? I’ve got to keep going. I want to get home. I need peace, to rest, to sleep. I am so tired. My legs are killing me and I’m starting to stumble and misstep. My eyes are burning; the lids sting red. I just want to rest. To find comfort.
I’ve never been so alone. Alone boring to the core. Never so lost. I keep going. Rounding another corner, hoping to find something familiar, some sort of hope. I keep going, but I start to fear how long I can keep moving. The feeling is desperate; I’ve never felt this desperate; desperate as an absolute.
I turn another corner, into a square. The light is a little brighter and I can hear seagulls somewhere far off. I don’t recognize anything but it feels a little more familiar, a little more at ease, closer to home. I dunno why. I’m still lost, but I welcome the relief.
I follow a short, yet inviting street that leads me to a wide cobblestone promenade lined with art nouveau street lamps. Gulls flock and dive for fish. It’s a harbor, a seaport, partly industrial, mostly recreational. A few palm trees remind me of Spain or Italy but the steep surrounding mountains make me think of Seattle. But it’s older, much older and foreign.
A bray of horns and celebratory huzzahs erupt like an echo and I turn my attention across the harbor. Colored lanterns illuminate a party and a band plays on. A large yacht, a motor sailer, held high on a dry dock, slowly slides into the water. Cheers and bravos cascade once again. It’s such a beautiful ship. With clean lines and a straight bow. I don’t think I’ve seen anything more elegant.
And then I wake up. This time without screaming.

GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at