by Christopher David DiCicco
I had this dream the other night where I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t even me. I was an Indian. A North American Indian.
You would call me a Native American because you’re not Indian. Not like me, who is Indian, in my dream.
Crazy Eight my brother came to visit me. He came to visit Indian me in my Native American dream—and it had been a God awful long time since anyone on the reservation had seen him. Though we don’t believe in my God in the dream. We don’t even capitalize his name when we write it—especially not Crazy Eight.
We’d all thought he’d been dead—that my brother, Crazy Eight, had some kind of nightmare of a death out in Texas.
But no, there he was, drinking and shifting his belt buckle back and forth. He always did that when he drank in my dreams.
He must have been one hell of something because everyone missed my brother. The whole place—even my Indian children. Is that Uncle Eight? Was that his wagon with the dust and the smoke and the missing wheel? Yes. Now go away and play with your sisters and brothers on top of that building. We’ll be over on this one. We have to catch up, your uncle and I. Crazy Eight and father have things to talk about, to drink about.
The thing about this dream was where it took place.
On the tops of office buildings, we were Indians.
On the roof I was on with my brother, there was an entire reservation and we all wanted down.
But at the same time, in my dream, it seemed like Crazy Eight and I were the only Indians there, the only ones standing on the concrete roof of a Verizon Wireless office building.
I had no idea how Crazy Eight had left in the first place, but now he was back, and back was good.
Only, in my dream, Crazy Eight wore dirty denim jeans that he must have been working in all over the United States. His shirt was red or maybe plaid, tucked in as if he were a cowboy, exposing that big belt buckle of his. It might as well have had a bronco on it. Matter of fact, it was a bucking bronco with a cowboy holding on for dear life. Bronze.
My brother in my dream walked around the top of the building, doing pointless circles that doubled up every so often. It didn’t take him long to start making those eights he loved so much. He talked the whole time too, but I can’t remember what he said. In my dreams, it’s not fair. There is no sound, but I know what is being said. I know we were talking, but waking up from one of my dreams is hard enough. I can’t be explaining telepathic Indian language. Imagine little puffs of smoke instead.
And besides—it would probably wake me up, the sound, if suddenly I heard a voice, and the voice actually belonged to someone in my dream, and the dream person looked at me and opened his mouth, well, I’m not sure what I would do.
And if he said, “What are you dreaming about?”
Well, I might wake up and never sleep again. Not as an Indian.
Crazy Eight stopped his talking that I understood, but couldn’t hear. He leaned over the edge of the building ever so slightly. You know, to catch a glimpse of what was happening down below.
And he fell.
He fell and it seemed the most natural and ridiculous fall that a man could take. As if, why wouldn’t a man leaning over the edge of some building’s roof expect anything less than to peer over a ledge and fall a little forward. There’s nothing to stop him. There is nothing to stop me from looking down below.
Crazy Eight fell just like that. He hit the ground and I watched him jump right up and begin to run. He ran about ten feet and collapsed to the ground. He was dead and I woke up.
I’m not an Indian. Not even Native American. And before I startled my wife and told her I had a nightmare that might have been a dream, before I shared with her that I had been an Indian and that I had a brother who had fallen to his death, before I told her about another one of my silent dreams, I thought about that last second or so, about the part where Crazy Eight had sprung up from the ground and ran. He had ran as soon as he hit the bottom and he had looked crazy, popping up immediately from where he had fallen. He looked so crazy running to his death only ten feet away that I couldn’t even focus on his fall. As he lied there on the ground, sprawled out dead, broken from the inside out, Indians started to run over to him and look up at me. They were sizing up the fall—how hard, how far, who was to blame, where he had fallen from—those sort of things.
The thing I was still thinking when I heard my wife ask me what was wrong, was how did all those other Indians get down there without me?
And if I asked them, would they wake up too?