i was with Loren, and we were with a larger group that seems very indistinct now. there was a dark-haired girl there, someone who’d done Loren a serious wrong. we three seemed to separate from a larger group. Loren was concentrating on how to punish the girl, working out how to carry out a confrontation that seemed inevitable. he was going to kill her. she was never far from us, moving around, seeming to busy herself with small tasks, at a refrigerator, and moving from this room to that. she kept a sort of respectful distance while remaining close enough to eavesdrop. she was fully aware of the wrong she’d done, of Loren’s plan to confront her, of me; she was aware of everything. resigned to meeting whatever destiny Loren chose- to dealing with the consequences of her mistake- she seemed both curious to learn what would happen next and indifferent to what was happening.
Loren seemed inclined to confront her with a knife. as this became clear to me, it seemed a previously unperceived element of “support” for the girl sprang into action. there was a bustle in the household, which now seemed to be the girl’s territory, as people prepared for the coming confrontation. i moved through the house, watching these preparations. someone produced a small handgun. i found myself beside a headless, female-proportioned mannequin, very like the ones dressmakers use, which wore a set of Japanese-looking bamboo body armor. each of the stalks was very thin- larger than a pencil but smaller than a pinky finger. the assembly of them was painted, mostly black with green highlights. someone test-fired the gun at the mannequin. i was certain the armor would fail in a burst of splinters, but the bullets- three of the them- did less damage than i expected. each left a neat, round impact “crater”. the girl’s “staff” seemed to conclude that the armor would barely suffice. the armor seemed to be intended for the girl in the coming confrontation.
moving to find Loren, i saw the girl, sitting sprawled on the floor in a small, square kitchen, her legs an improbable tangle, her back against plain wooden cupboards, below a white porcelain sink. above the sink was an uncovered window, through which twilight gave the room a low, blue glow. the girl’s position seemed awkward, but she made no effort to move. i noticed she wore only a plain, thin shift. continuing on, i brought news of the gun and the bamboo armor to Loren, who was now working out his plan on paper, in a sort of storyboard. i stood over the table he worked at, and discussed how this change in circumstances required rethinking his plan. i erased, somewhat ineffectively, what he had on the page, as i explained the circumstances to him. i did so plainly but also gently, trying to break news i judged to be problematic and unwelcome. i left the outer box he’d drawn around his plan- literally the “outline”, and surrendered the pencil back to him, and i watched him, interested to see how he’d proceed.
then Loren’s mother was there. she inserted herself into the situation bluntly, her loud entrance drawing Loren’s attention, as intended. she approached him, moving behind his chair, grasped his shoulders and leaned in close, addressing him directly. she’d obviously assimilated the new information i brought, and her words to Loren pressured him in no uncertain terms to proceed along a course she thought best. i was disheartened by her approach, but didn’t interfere, choosing to hold my tongue while Loren contemplated how to move forward. all this took only a few seconds, and Loren seemed to take it all in quietly, taking no action immediately, not even looking up from his plan. as his mother spoke, his attention seemed focused on me, as if he heard what she said, but hadn’t finished the train of thought from the last change in circumstance. halfheartedly, he redrew some of the lines he’d drawn previously, reluctant to change course, and knowing he must. he drew a “thought bubble” around the entire box, and looked up at me, indicating- first to himself and then to me- that he would continue to think about his previous plan, that he reserved the right to revisit it later.
the scene changed. i was outside in a hilly field on what seemed like a game preserve. it was evident to me that the place was undergoing a change- the animals could not stay. three animals seemed particularly important to me. they were quite varied in anatomy, and all a bit different than anything i’ve seen before, but they seemed quite normal to me at the time. most striking about them was their coloring. each of them was spotted haphazardly, like a cheetah or leopard, black spots on white. strangely, every irregular black spot was surrounded by a ring of lime green. the animals seemed rare, possibly endangered, and the question of what to do with them occupied others present as well.
i stood beside a cart, sort of a cross between a jeep and a golf cart, which was colored like the odd animals. one of the three animals, very dog-like, sat on the ground next to me, and i scratched it behind the ears, while interacting with various people. they asked me questions, and i pointed them off in one direction or another, but whatever was actually going on, i was involved, but not in charge.
i was approached by a girl who was looking for Yogi Bear. people were calling out for him. turning around, facing in the general direction they were calling, where a low hill obscured my view to the left. the base of the hill became a small grassy area, ending at the bank of a stream, which wound from right to left, disappearing behind the hill. as i watched, Yogi skipped out from behind the hill, fully cartoon-like amid a perfectly real-looking landscape. he was in a good mood, and- strangely- as he bounced toward those looking for him, the pupils of his eyes spun around the whites randomly, a cartoon representation of the eyes sometimes seen on stuffed animals, the ones with a little black ball free to move inside a rounded, hollow disk.
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