"In the land of the green-brown
garage, oh yeah...
In the land of the green-brown
Down at the bottom on the hill towards the East, but farther away than Stanley's, is a tidy garage ringed with a brown fence, and lots of green grass, and inside is where I've found a place for the red truck to stay, and be repaired. Its engine has been taken apart, and shows small pistons — not the large ones you would expect; the ragged holes once torn in the truck's flash metal mud guard have apparently been repaired.
Farther still towards the East the land mounts quickly again, showing a hillside dotted with houses. The houses are far off, and glimmer across the valley with tiny porch lights left on for some reason by their owners, even during the day. I've never seen them before, these houses, or never noticed them before, or something.
"Where am I?"
I've never been down into the valley and into the green-brown garage before either, but I go there and find upon arrival that the general area is infested with a clan of hippies who know about Long View — my home the recording studio — which you can now see back high up on the hill, towards the West. The red barn is the structure most easily seen. The Farmhouse is confused with other white structures also visible off in this direction. The hippies live in small houses which one discovers once the trip down the hill is made. A number of womenfolk and children mill about.
I'm beginning to think that something is unreal about all this. I recall having been fooled like this before... many times before.
Although I arrive with a companion, I quickly find myself in the company of a black woman of some thirty years of age, and very attractive — island-looking. Like a young, female, Harry Belafonte. Lovely to look at in the face.
She has a loose-fitting sleeveless blouse which now and again reveals, through the arm-holes, pert, black shiny breasts capped with tiny nipples. I find my hand buried in the soft folds of her neck, under her chin, taken there around the back of her neck by her own hand, and now rubbed backwards and forwards against her warm skin.
There is music in the air, and enchantment.
I soon notice that her skirt has fallen aside and that she is otherwise naked. We are shortly on the ground together, in loving postures which I find myself resisting, since others are present, and watching. I contemplate bringing her back up the hill to the Farm, in order to consummate this moment of joy, and point the place out to her in the midst of an embrace, lying on the grass.
There is another woman present, who is black herself, and she too shows interest in the Farm, and in me. She sees that I have no pants on, and that I have an erection. I attempt to cover myself, but the attempt fails, granted the extremity of my condition. The second woman remarks on the state of my arousal, with obvious interest and deep, staring eyes. She is perhaps Nancy, the mother of my children, in black. I have become a sought-after commodity here in the land of the green-brown garage, and the air smells of sex, and intrigue.
But wait! It is in at least two worlds that I am sexually aroused — not just in this one. I am now aware that this is a dream, and that it is almost daybreak, in Rome, Italy, and that my morning libido is fully intact.
But, Helas! is there still time to get back to that wonderful place down at the foot of the hill? Twist, turn, and pound the pillow. We're not through with this one yet! Let's see now, where were we...
A young man passing behind me scratches my tanned — no, black(!) — wrist with a nail. My skin shows white and flaky dry where the nail was drawn. There is the feeling of danger and of male rivalry in the air. He is perhaps retarded, this fellow, but seems to know who I am. He disappears.
Others mill about, poking their faces into my consciousness, by turns. One asks me who is at the Farm now, recording. I see the red barn far off, high on the hill, and abruptly receive two pink slips with messages on them, taken by a Farm staffer — probably Karen George — somehow sent down to me.
But the pink vibrates in the manner of a psychedelic hallucination, announcing itself and the telephone messages from Karen George and something more.
It's the call. The tug. The pull back to the real world.
Beguiling trace quantities of duty, obligation, ambition, guilt, melancholy, a world of things in relation — all sensed faintly but unambiguously above the regular, sing-song sound of the waves. I cannot ignore these siren calls. They will reclaim me in the end, and the realm of the green-brown garage will shatter into shards and be gone.
I conclude with a heavy heart that I must soon return, up the hill, and leave this colony of hippies. I contemplate, in my resignation, taking one or both black women along, who are sure to serve and service me endlessly if I do. I imagine them tidying about in the spacious Farmhouse kitchen. I imagine them in my bedroom.
Whoops! Caveman alert! I have been marked by other males as a rival and interloper who would take off the womenfolk of this colony if given the chance. I become both defensive and apprehensive — looking around myself, shrinking inside myself, expecting to sustain a blow of some sort.
"Been up there on hill for 12 years," one gnarled old man says of me, in a spirit of mocking disrespect.
"Just making records," a Downe's Syndrome woman of 25 years chimes in. She has thin white socks rolled down around her ankles. She knows not whereof she speaks, but she speaks loudly.
The others are circling about me as well. Mumbling and fumbling and gathering for some sort of coordinated action. Dancing now, around me, arms linked. A Fellini film, this is. A very peculiar café.
Their eyes are drilling into me as they circle, now more tightly. Things are heating up.
Wait a minute! I know this dream. It's become an old standby — none other than Griddle Frenzy.
The torment arising out of a lack of options. Thrown as a rag doll between strong men and freaks gathered in a circle. Teased and driven onwards from one bad solution to the next, discovering each catastrophic outcome not once, but repeatedly, as we cycle from one bad alternative to the next. Cornered. Caught as an animal, shorn of options and places to hide. Dancing nude on a hot plate, with the burner turned up higher and higher beneath one's feet, one notch at a time.
Time is one's enemy in Griddle Frenzy. The longer one goes without a solution, the fewer options one enjoys. It gets worse. Hotter. More intense. There is less and less relief. Diminishing respite. Until finally each instant becomes a hell in which catastrophe alone is seen, in a horrifying and ever-changing rainbow of ugly colors. Flames. Loud sounds. Bankruptcy.
Default of a tour operator.
I have played a game and lost. The winners will now seek me out, and demand that I offer up tribute of the highest order. I have but a few minutes more to dance, and then it will be over. Milked to the fine wire.
This is clearly the moment to return from the land of the green-brown garage. And I do, flying on Gossamer wings, and putting a definitive end to this strange adventure.
It's 10:30 in the morning, in Rome, and I'm quite awake, and scribbling these recollections into my notebook. If I don't do so right away, I forget the content of the dream, and am invariably angry with myself. I've pulled on the cord and drawn the gold curtains aside. Children's chatter floats up from the pool below; so do the faint thwock... thwocks coming from the tennis courts. It's hazy sunshine and the beginning of another hot day here in Italy. Sergio may call at any moment with business ultimata cloaked in fast talk about ordinary things. I remind myself that I'm in this country on serious business — not as an extra-terrestial traveler between logical spaces. Not as a dreamer.
The doorbell rings, and it's my breakfast on a tray. I could be wrong, but isn't that the gnarled old man from the dream carrying the tray? "Where do I want it," he asks me in Italian? "Out here, on the terrace, please."
I wonder if I should return to the USA tomorrow, Friday, or stay the weekend. I wonder if traveling on the Concorde makes one's brain soggy, or less rooted in one particular space-time continuum. The door slams as the old man exits. The curtains breath out momentarily into the fresh air and fall back into their vertical positions, and I am alone again.
I am still fond of the first black woman in my dream, and remember the sense of arousal which she created, and, lo, is still creating in me. I imagine her sex — pink and buried within curls of short black hair... calling to me. Winking at me. Why didn't we get to that in the dream? The morning sun feels warm between my legs.
This Italian coffee is rich in caffeine, and will make my chest and heart palpitate in a way which occasionally worries me, and which causes great concern to my physicians. I may be too old and no longer man enough for such a woman. I wonder what it was she saw in me. I wonder who she was.
The phone rings. It's Sergio. Sergio is in Mike Eizenberg's camp — part of the plot. But I'm not afraid of Sergio, am I!
"Ciao, Gil! Sorry things a-going so badda for you."
Will I present myself for a motorcycle ride, Sergio goes on to ask... He has a proposal for me. So did she, I reflect.
"Yes, of course."
(How does he know things a-going so badda for me? Are things a-going so badda for me?)
Sergio is here on the phone, talking at a rapid pace, but I am smelling the scent of a black woman, and remember the way my hand felt, nestled under the soft skin of her chin, rubbing and being rubbed, her leg snaking around my naked thigh, and my breath coming in ever shorter and more powerful events.
I make an arrangement to meet Sergio downstairs at 5 PM this afternoon for a ride on his motorcycle, and to hear his business proposal.
I must be fondling myself. I am fondling myself.
"Ciao, Gilberto," I hear from another world.
"Ciao, Sergio," I reply.
My chest is now pounding with the caffeine, and with a longing for her — my mahogany princess. I forget to hang up the phone, which falls not quite to the floor.
It jerks to a halt at the end of its wire, swinging back and forth and banging rhythmically against my leg — a pendulum pumping in time — as I stare through the wall, straight into her eyes, in the land of the green-brown garage.
This is the Hotel Villa Pamphili. It's July, 1978. I'm Gil Markle, I think, and these are The Pamphili Papers.
I will leave Rome, and return to the United States in order to confront Mike Eizenberg. He should simply tell me out front what he wants to do, and forget the intrigue. I'm an easy guy to deal with, after all. A man of principle too, damn it.
Then I'm going on a vacation. My dreams are driving me crazy.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.