I dream of Pierre

Vieques, Isla Nena
Puerto Rico 
1 April 1997


Last night we had torrential rains; almost as if it were a monsoon, which had a couple of immediate consequences. First, the rains drove the cockroaches out from their hiding places in the three room cabana where we are staying at the moment. We are waiting for Bobby Getz (Bobby gets whatever he wants) and family to end their stay and move out of the top floor apartment with the balcony terrace. Meanwhile, the roaches are terrorizing us. Each seems bigger than the last, and the smallest is nearly two inches long, with tentacle-like antennae. 

The rain was very unexpected. The days have been clear with unrelenting sunshine; the nights have been clear skies, thick with stars and very distinct views of Mars and the comet, Hale-Bopp. We have just retired for the night, after salving Lydiaís sunburned cheeks and arms. The rain comes out of nowhere. Suddenly, water is crashing down on the roof and cascading from the gutter in a great stream. 

Lydia is screaming in her room. I open her door and she points to the ceiling, where water is pouring in from the roof onto the floor in the center of the room and down onto her dresser. I tell her to get out of bed and come into our room. Just as she steps off the bed, two of the killer roaches come out from beneath her bed. Lydia starts to scream again. I pick her up and wade across the room, trying to avoid the floating roaches.

 I put Lydia down on our bed and go back to her room to see what I can do about the flood and the pestilence. "Donít worry", I say, "Iíll take care of it". First to contain the water. I find the two largest pans in the kitchenette and the wastebasket from the bathroom. I dump the roach thatís in the wastebasket into the toilet, leaving him swimming, and put the pans and basket under the largest leaks. I grab all the towels in the house and use them to mop up the biggest puddles on the floor, pushing roaches out of the way as I do. 

Itís still raining buckets, but the leaks are going into our buckets. Now to contain the roach problem. I have moved the mattress from Lydiaís room into the kitchenette, where I plan to sleep. Using one of Lydiaís sand-buckets and a sheet of watercolor paper, I set about trapping the roaches, one-at-a-time. After some careful stalking and lightning-quick thrusts, I have captured and subdued all that I can find. Lydia is still occassionaly screaming that she sees roaches climbing the walls, but it is just shadows on the wall. Lillian works hard to calm her, putting more ointment on her sunburn and reminding her that we will not wash away in the flood and that there is a finite number of roaches that can attack us.

 To sleep. I leave the light on in Lydiaís room, close the door, and put a rolled-up towel on the doorjamb to keep any flooding in her room. I turn on the light in the bathroom and leave the door slightly ajar. The lights should keep the roaches at bay, I think. The theory is that they will stay put, and not venture into the light, I hope. I wish we had some boric powder or Arm&Hammer baking soda. Then I would put a ring around the one-inch-thick mattress on the floor of the kitchenette where I am about to be sleeping, and across the doorjam of the room where Lillian and Lydia are lying in a bed which sits a good three feet off of the floor.

 Lacking any magic powders, I roll up tightly in the sheet on my mattress, cover my head with my arms, and fall into a fitful sleep. Soon I am dreaming. The three of us are living in a three room apartment in Manhatten or Montreal. We have gone out for the day, and when I return with Lydia after picking her up from school, riding a bicycle, a bus, a train, and hitch-hiking the last 50 miles; the apartment door is wide-open and a young Korean guy is coming out of our house. "Hey, whatís going on?", I demand. "Nothing.", he says, and walks away. I rush into the apartment and find that all of our important things are gone, and everything has been picked over and tossed about the rooms. I know it wasnít the Korean guy, because his hands were empty. I start to run back down the stairs to find the manager, or call the police, yelling to Lydia, to go in and check her room. I realize that I donít want her to have the trauma of finding her things missing, by herself, so I turn around and go back into her room with her. Itís true, most of her things are gone as well. I try to console her.

 Iím trying to remember the exact order of the edits for a film-video project I am working on, but I canít get the sequences to come out correctly. Some-thing is always out of synch. Pierre Joris walks into the room and asks what am I doing?

I explain to Pierre about the problems editing my film and he says that he was almost on the Ed Sullivan Show once, back in the 50ís. Clayton Eschelman had been invited to read his poetry on the show and Pierre was asked by Clayton to accompany him on tambourine. Pierre then shows me a kinescope of the segment that never aired. In it you can see both of them dressed in a combination of beat-costume mixed with workmenís clothing, plaid shirts and flowered neckerchiefs. Clayton is playing the flute and Pierre is beating on a bongo-drum. Both of them are wearing elaborate head-dresses, like tribal chieftans might wear somewhere on the islands. 

The hats are not made of straw and plants, but are made of plastic and electronic parts, wires, and other paraphenalia. Both of them are playing like crazy and laughing continuously. The kinescope unfortunately does not have sound, so it is impossible to know what they are singing or saying. The kinescope is filled with a lot of tight, close-up shots of their faces, alternating back and forth from Clayton to Pierre, intercut with overhead shots of the two of them and an occassional long shot of the entire stage from the back of the auditorium.

 I wake up with a wet cockroach, crawling across my arm.

 Next: I Dream My Movie 


Copyright 1998

Jan Galligan
All Rights Reserved
Last modified Aug. 8, 1998