An Accidental Dream

I’m not sure why I ended up in the hospital. I was riding my bike, either going down a straight, steep road or standing up on the main horizontal frame of the bike or maybe I was doing my most daring trick: speeding straight as an arrow and ignoring a stop sign to cross the widest boulevard in my small town. I only perform this trick at night when there’s not a lot of traffic. I have fun taking risks, but I’m not stupid.

My entire body hurts, according to the level of pain I’m feeling, I was probably run over by an eighteen-wheeler. I can’t move. My body feels numb, including my brain. My body’s in shock. My thoughts are not clear at all. I can’t even remember my name but that doesn’t worry me a great deal. I’m alive and complete, I think.

I wonder how many people have died in this bed. I don’t have any experience with this, but I hope it’s not my turn yet. I can barely move but I have enough energy to bend my head and see if I still have my four extremities. I just found out another thing, a hospital is a good place to start believing in God because I want to make sure I end up in a peaceful place when I die.

The room is cool and clean but not very comfy. 

I must have lost a million brain cells when hit my head. I hope I still have some left. I don’t remember my age either. This is so absurd and confusing.

The nurse hasn’t noticed that I’m back. My guess is that she’s Hispanic. She’s young and cute. She’s checking some plastic bags hanging from a metal stand next to the bed. I was going to say “next to my bed”, but it isn’t mine. Then, a person wearing a white robe opens the door. I guess he’s the doctor. He begins to talk to the nurse and tries to convince her to give him a kiss. He now chases the nurse around the bed. Typical. But they ignore the most important person in the room, which is me, the patient. I don’t have the time to watch a silly romantic soap opera. My mind decides to leave the room and I fall asleep.

My confusion increases when I find myself in another world. I guess this is the real world, but I don’t like it either. Somebody is chasing me. It feels unreal like I’m part of a story inside a book, or like I’m in somebody’s dream. It could be my own dream.

After the fall from my bike, the asphalt road turned into a jungle. And someone who seems to be a Spanish conqueror is chasing me. He doesn’t seem to have good intentions. It appears that for some reason he’s trying to kill me, and if he’s a Spanish conqueror, I might be an Aztec warrior. I decide to call him Cortez. And if he’s Cortez, I might be Moctezuma. And I like the idea. As soon as I decide to be Moctezuma my fears disappear. Cortez, despite his name, is not polite, and also despite his cannons, his soldiers, and guns, he will not conquer me because this is my jungle, my Empire, and my dream.

Back in the hospital, the doctor, who by the way has a nice red beard, asks me to tell him, from one to ten, what level of pain I’m feeling. I say seven because I prefer to be sedated and remain here, instead of being chased by Cortez and his horses. Then, the doctor increases the painkiller dosage, or whatever it is that keeps me unconscious and sends me to dreamland. The liquid runs straight from the plastic bag to my weak and vulnerable brain and immediately gives me more hallucinating images.

Then, as if somebody pressed the pause button, I got transferred to la-la land and found Cortez behind my tail.

If I remember the story right, according to the Spanish conquerors Moctezuma was killed, stoned by his own people on a balcony in his palace. On the other hand, the indigenous accounts claim that he was killed by the Spanish soldiers, but not by Cortez. Now that I remembered that, I feel less worried but just in case, I pick some coca leaves and place them in my mouth and keep running to put more distance between Cortez and me. If I’m carrying the effects of the morphine or hallucinatory drugs from the hospital bed to my dream, I might be also able to carry the effects of the coca leaves from the jungle to my hospital room. I wish I could remember the whole thing and be able to write it all down when this is over.

I only hear growling, howling, cooing, and other animal noises in the jungle. I think I lost Cortez. The chase was in my favor from the beginning. Cortez didn’t have any advantage riding his mighty horse in this thick vegetation. I don’t know why Cortez is so persistent in his desire to kill me. We already gave him most of our gold, which is useless to us. In exchange, they gave us some cheap trinkets and mirrors, which are also useless to us. But I wish I could keep this beautiful medallion hanging from my neck. It feels good bouncing on my chest. It seems that my heart and the medallion are having a conversation while I try to escape from the villain in my dream.

I wonder if my temporarily demented mind is confounding the reality with the dream. Could it be that the jungle is real and the hospital bed is my dream? But it can’t be because if I’m Moctezuma, I can’t have any knowledge about hospitals and hallucinatory drugs. But I’ve read the Aztecs did have these two things too. Can you hallucinate about things that don’t exist? I guess you can. But can you imagine an Aztec warrior riding a bike? I need to discard these absurd thoughts. They’re too bizarre, even for a nightmare.

Within my confusion, I thought my mind was more alert than my body. Even though it was working overtime and on drugs.

I must thank Grandma for giving me all those books about Aztecs and conquistadors. Searching for information in the back of my mind I try to refresh my memory about Cortez and Moctezuma, when another character shows up, “La Malinche”. I think that by thinking about my dreams when I’m not dreaming I’m feeding more material to my brain to continue dreaming. If I’m not wrong, La Malinche was an indigenous native who acted as an interpreter, advisor, and lover to Cortez. She was also known as Doña Marina.

The chase ended abruptly when I reached the end of the Jungle at the shore of the lake. I wasn’t so afraid because I knew that wasn’t the place where I would die. But I wished that nobody would change the history. Because Cortez died before Moctezuma.

Conquerors and villains are never alone. Cortez had many men with him and I was alone. But I knew that if the fight would be between him and me, I would destroy him.

The Empire had prospered for centuries mainly because of the advice of the high priests and wise war strategists, which the Spanish invaders killed as soon as they arrived. For a foreigner sailing from a strange land, Cortez displayed some master evil trickery.

He brought me back to Tenochtitlan, to my palace and my people. Along the way I kept hearing voices from the hospital, mixing the dream with the reality, unable to concentrate on either of them. I could hear the doctor and the nurse while at the same time I was listening to Cortez leading me to my palace. Cortez was trying to persuade me to talk to my people and convince them to give up our arms to avoid more bloodshed. While on the other scene the doctor was on his knees offering a ring to the nurse. She finally accepted a kiss from him.  

It was hard to concentrate. I was fighting for my life on two fronts at the same time. Without knowing which one was my real life. If I had a choice, I would have chosen to be left alone.

Having the ability to jump from one place to the other was out of this world. Even though it was hard to distinguish between fiction and reality, both situations gave me a huge amount of anxiety. If I was in pain I could medicate myself and go back to the jungle. If the drug wore off, I could return for more. I didn’t have any idea how long I had been there. I had no notion of time or space.

I returned chained and ashamed to my palace and my people. I was ashamed because I was captured without a fight. La Malinche bowed to Cortez and ignored me. That made me feel miserable and abandoned. When Cortez pushed me to the main balcony of my palace, I knew the end was getting near. The pain was too painful.

I felt the sharp point of a knife on my left side. On my right side, La Malinche secretly slid a knife in my hand.

Cortez kept putting pressure on his knife. I remained static and unafraid. I knew I would never surrender to his demands. I would never, for any reason betray my people. I’d rather die.

Back in the hospital, Dr. Cortez was lying and bleeding to death over my body. Our blood getting mixed on the bed sheets.

Marina, the nurse, was in shock, crying and in profound pain.

Before my last breath, I thought how good it was to be able to change history in my dreams.

Edmundo Barraza

Lancaster, Ca. 01-14-2015

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