The Dreamer – By Luke Mason
Ron slipped into another fantasy. This one was familiar to him; but couldn’t remember every detail of it; he felt a sense of familiarity with this world and its environment. That warm and bubbly feeling when you slip into a dreamy and comfortable state. This was home for him, a place where he could control and manipulate.
In Ron’s world, people were under his control; he could choose who did do what, where and when. Ron was in a state of bliss. He worked out that he was somewhere between heaven and ecstasy. But the cloudiness was still there; like a smoke machine extinguishing a dreary haze. It was a comforting haze not malevolent or cruel. Ron looked down at his hands to get his bearings. He was in a dining area of some sort.
Ron noticed that he was sitting on a thrown in front of a beautiful looking dining table; it sounded absurd to him but there were worse places to be – he accepted it. He enjoyed the regale feeling. A man in a tuxedo approached him; the man was holding a dish. Ron noticed that the man was wearing white gloves, and a very nice looking tuxedo. He assumed that it must have been the butler. He served Ron a fine some roast chicken –a slight feeling of slight malevolency crept into Ron; the butler had no face – no nose, no eyes, and no mouth – just skin. Ron closed his eyes, shook his head and looked up at the butler again and still no face.
There were two other people: a young lady and a bald man were also sitting at the elegant dining table; to Ron’s left side was an attractive young woman wearing a blue ball gown and tiara. To Ron’s right was a bald man who wore a tuxedo; unlike the faceless butler; the bald man’s suit was a pin-striped tuxedo – he had a tulip hanging from his breast pocket. Ron thought this was peculiar because he hadn’t seen anyone wearing tulips as décor for a garment. He thought that it perhaps may be something that posh middle-aged men are doing at the moment.
The bald man and the young lady were also eating and drinking merrily. Ron could feel that they were all enjoying each other’s company. The bald man, put his fork down and looked at Ron, he started to say something. Ron looked on curiously.
‘Oh I do hope the stock market won’t crash again, it nearly ruined me in the 80s’ the bald man exclaimed.
Ron agreed; and relieved that they were on the same wave length.
‘I know what you mean; I nearly had to sell my yacht. Fortunately though, I was clever enough to move stock around and save it.’ Ron responded understandingly.
Suddenly, to his left the young lady interrupted.
‘Ronny darling’ the young lady asked. Ron responded.
‘Not now twiddles, Can’t you see that I’m in the middle of something? Anyway I got my yacht back and invested the rest in property.’
The young lady wouldn’t take no for an answer.
‘Ronny, I need to talk to you.’ She insisted.
Ron couldn’t take anymore of her insolence.
‘What is it?’ Ron asked in a belligerent manner.
‘Do you want to have an orgasm?’
Ron choked on his cigarette. The young lady continued from where she left off.
‘That’s what the bastard asked me, I couldn’t believe it.’ She exclaimed.
Ron noticed however, that the young lady wasn’t talking to him; but instead to a group of people sitting in a semi-circle facing a bald councilor holding a clip-board. Reality had kicked in.
The group sat on some cheap plastic seats in a big room surrounded by tall windows. The bald councilor kept-on listening to the young lady talking about her dilemma and so did the rest of the group sitting in the semi-circle. Ron gathered his thoughts; he saw himself sitting far away from the group, smoking a cigarette and staring into space. He looked back over to the group and then back out the window again. Ron then thought about what had got him in there in the first place. He closed his eyes and remembered, remembered through all that fury haze, through all the anxiety and all the fear, and then he remembered, Suzanne – his mother. The last time he saw her was at his Great Aunt’s funeral.
Great Aunt Joy died in the Spring, early September. She had a good life, never married but had two sisters and one brother who did. They all had children so Joy was never short of family visiting and nor short of the love and affection of the Wood family. She was what some would call a ‘spinster’.
Joy wouldn’t have agreed; she would just say that she hadn’t found the right man. Ron hadn’t met anyone up to be 25 years on this planet; but some would say that he has his own activities and amusements have kept him busy.
The funeral was at St. Stephen’s Chapel in Auckland’s Parnell. The day was dreary but promised to warm up later. That promise was kept at the Wake, which was held at her old resident’s in Herne Bay. Uncle Ben, Joy’s nephew was staying at her house ensuring that all her affairs were sorted. Ron’s parents: Suzanne, a short thin woman (she looks like Ron but healthier) and her husband Rick who was balding, fifty years of age. They were both at the Wake; there were a lot of guests, and a lot of food. Rick and Suzanne were talking.
‘The funeral was nice; a good turnout.’ Suzanne said.
‘Ben did a good job.’ Rick observed.
Suzanne stared over at Ben who was standing across the room laughing. She was not impressed.
To change the subject, Rick walked over to the front window.
‘Where’s Ron? I hope he’s not bullshitting anyone.’ He muttered.
Rick saw his son standing in the garden talking to some family friends; he seemed to be enjoying himself. Ron then saw his father peering through the window; Ron waved to him and then ran up to the front-door and rang the bell. An elderly lady answered the door. Ron walked straight in where his parents were situated in total disregard. Ron approached his mum and greeted her.
‘Hi Mum.’ He kissed her on the cheek.
Ron looked over to Rick.
‘Hey Dad, how’ve you been?’ Ron asked.
‘Good son, considering.’ Rick responded.
Ron was very happy to see his folks, it had been a while since he saw them last. Like his mother; Ron was awkward at somber occasions; he always sought to fill in the silences. Ron surveyed the room; he noticed a group of relatives standing by the buffet table.
‘I’m just going over to say hello to the rest of the family.’ Ron assured.
‘Ron, please don’t cause any trouble’. Rick insisted
‘Dad, I’m just going to say hello.’ Ron reassured again; Rick thought otherwise.
Ron strode over to the buffet table, stopped and surveyed the appetizers. He knew that he may be hungry later; he looked at the assortment of sausage rolls, muffins and cakes. Ron covertly sneaked some of the food into his jacket and under his shirt.
The elderly lady who answered the door walked over and greeted Ron.
‘Hello Ronny. How are you love’ she asked.
‘Good thanks’ Ron responded hesitantly.
He had forgotten her name. There was another awkward silence, until the elderly lady spoke up again.
‘How’s that yacht of yours Ronny? I heard that you sailed round the harbour recently.’ She asked.
Ron paused, he was usually quicker in his responses, but he had to think, think something up.
‘Yes, that’s right. I sailed all around the harbour. You should have seen my guests, they were all there!’ Ron exclaimed.
He couldn’t believe what he was saying; he wished he had his notebook.
Suzanne and Rick overheard what Ron was saying, and were not impressed. They had seen this behavior before, and felt personally responsible for Ron fantastical flights of fancy, they were embarrassed. Ben was also watching from the other side of the room. More people joined Ron and the elderly lady. They seem transfixed by the conversation.
An elderly man interrupted the conversation; it was Uncle Clifford, Joy’s cousin.
‘How about you take this old man round on the harbour one day, what’d you say?’ Clifford asked.
Ron didn’t know how to respond, he was gob-smacked.
‘Oh yeah’, Ron was stressing.
Ron felt his stomach tighten and every single moment he was getting more anxious. His lie was getting bigger, and Ron could feel the walls closing in. The elderly lady didn’t want to take “No” for an answer; she persisted.
‘No, no, the ladies first. We’d love to sail with you Ronny.’ She asked.
The elderly group bickered; Ron could feel all eyes on him from all corners of the room. His parents watched on; Ben too had enough of the histrionics, he’d seen it before.
Just like the elderly lady, Clifford too persisted the questioning.
‘Take me out Ron my boy.’ Clifford commanded.
‘No ladies first. The elderly lady demanded.
The voices became muffled. Ron was blocking them out, that was his coping mechanism. Ron could also hear was is his heart beating faster and faster as the room began to spin. Ron saw his mother walking towards him. He was gasping for air, hyperventilating.
Suddenly, an arm dragged Ron over to his left, it was Ben.
‘Hey Ron, good to see you.’ Ben said.
‘Oh hey Uncle Ben. Yeah you too.’ Ron responded.
Ron tried to change the subject, but couldn’t help himself, his illness wouldn’t allow it.
‘I wonder what Great Aunt Joy would have thought of her funeral? I bet she would have wanted a fancier wake.’
‘Oh yeah.’ Ben responded incredulously.
Ron kept talking.
‘She’ll probably leave us a sizable sum, not that I need it. I’m doing really well for myself.’ He said.
Clifford, who didn’t pick up on Ben’s ironic manner, asked Ron again.
‘Perhaps we could all go out on the yacht together, Ronny; how many can you fit on the vessel?’ Ben interrupted.
‘What yacht? You don’t even know how to sail.’ He declared.
Clifford looked confused, and so did the rest of the elderly group.
Ron smiled nervously. From the corner of his eye he noticed Suzanne watching. Suzanne had seen enough and handed her champagne glass to Rick and walked over.
Meanwhile, Ben took Ron aside.
‘Look Ron, your great aunt’s died. She loved you like she loved all her family; I think it’s really unhealthy that you’re talking in this way.’
All Ron could think about was hiding behind the couch, or maybe his yacht.
Suzanne approached Ron and Ben; she interrupted Ben’s lecture.
‘Excuse me’ Suzanne demanded.
Suzanne grabbed Ron by the arm and lead him into one of the bedrooms and shut the door behind her.
‘Why do you do this?’ Suzanne demanded.
‘Was testing their pacemakers.’ Ron responded in a rather droll manner.
‘Stop it’, demanded Suzanne.
‘Stop what?’ Ron was trying to be cute, but his mother had had enough.
‘This morbid fascination’ Suzanne responded.
Ron turned his back and stared at some silverware on the bedside table. Suzanne couldn’t hold back the tears any longer, she had reached breaking point. She tried so many times to restrain Ron, to make sure he was ok, to make sure he remained lucid long enough to determine between fantasy and reality. But she knew, no matter how many coping mechanisms she could teach her son, she had no control over him. Suzanne stormed out of the room. Ron stood still, trying to rationalize what had happened, but all he could do was stare at his distorted reflection in the silverware.
Everyone had left except for a few remaining people. This included Rick and Suzanne, Ben and a couple sitting on the couch – who no one actually knew. Ron was in the adjacent room, sitting contemplating what to do next. Ben ceased the moment and thought he should have a word. But before doing so, thought he should confirm his concerns with his little brother.
Ben approached Rick.
‘What’s up with your son?’, Ben asked.
‘Look it’s nothing.’ Rick responded defensively.
Ben was insistent.
‘I’ll have a word’. Rick was perturbed.
‘No Ben’. Rick responded.
However, Ben ignored his little brother, after-all he thought he knew better.
Ben walked into adjacent dining room and sat next to Ron who was sitting, anxiously in the settee.
Ben started up the conversation.
‘G’day. I notice you’ve stirred up a bit of crap. I think you better watch what you say around your parents.’ Ben said defiantly.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Ron responded in denial. He knew very well what he’d been up to.
Ben insisted, he wanted to confront Ron and finally get some answers, from Ron’s ongoing behavior. ‘Yes you do. You’re a liar. Ron Wood, the millionaire? You know what I think all of Aunty Joy’s doe should go to you.’ Ben said in a sarcastic tone.
‘Leave me alone.’ Ron defiantly exclaimed.
Ron was feeling bullied, and intimated by Ben’s behavior. Ben was persistent.
Rick and Suzanne walked in, they were not impressed.
‘We all love you Mr. Dreamer.’ Ben said antagonisingly.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Ron responded.
He was desperate and vulnerable.
‘Yes you damn well do.’ Ben responded.
Ron had enough.
‘Piss off!’, Ron got up and stormed out of the room. He was crying.
Ben casually got up from his chair and stared to the ground, shook his head and then looked up at
Ron’s parents who were standing in the doorway.
‘You’re such a bastard.’ Suzanne yelled.
Ben was astonished.
Rick and Suzanne left Ben sitting alone.
As Ron left Aunt Joy’s beautiful house with its white picket fence and lovely sycamore trees all lined in a row; he thought about that day’s events and what lead to him leaving. As he walked up to the end of the road, he looked around him to see the beautiful gentrification and wondered why he didn’t live in such a place. He also thought about his own home, a sense of melancholy came over him. As he walked on he eventually came to a street full of poverty, graffiti and wandering dogs.
Ron walked into his dilapidated flat. He entered his modest room and sat down on his bed. He looked up at a newspaper clipping that was pasted to his wall. The clipping is a list of NZ’s richest people; his name was penciled in at the top. He looked into his bedroom mirror and then puts a bundle of sausage rolls and muffins from under his shirt and laid them down on the dresser.
Later that evening at Aunt Joy’s house, all was quiet, Uncle Ben –who was looking after the residence until the Estate was settled—was drinking a brandy in the living room. He was exhausted and he was having a nightcap. He turned the TV on, Fawlty Towers was showing; it was the episode called: “The Psychiatrists,’; Ben’s familiar guffaw livened to the room, He loved to laugh, especially to British reruns.
All was quiet throughout the house, the downstairs house lights were on, and a cat was drinking water from its bowl in the kitchen.
Ron surveyed the upstairs bedroom light. He knew it was Ben. Suddenly, there was a sound of smashing glass; a hand puts silver into a sack. Uncle Ben ran down the stairs to see what all the commotion was about; and then he saw it. Ron stealing the family silver. Ron looked up at Ben.
‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ yelled Ben.
Ben looked at the sack and realised.
‘You mongrel, come here with that!’
Ben ran down the stairs toward Ron. But before Ben could get there Ben stopped suddenly. Ron yelled out in defiance, yelling out in desperation, yelling out for help. He dropped the sack and fell into the cradle position. He put his hands over his ears and screamed; Ben backed away. Ron looked at the spilt sack of silverware and sees his distressed reflection in the silverware.
Ron looked around to find his bearings. He was at the dining table sitting with his elegant guests: the young lady and bald man. The bald man is sitting, what seemed to Ron in a drunken state. Ron poised, waited for the bald man to say something.
‘I am a lot wealthier, healthier and better than you. I own three yachts not one and my house is forty feet wider than yours!’ exclaimed the bald man.
Ron was defiant; he wasn’t going to tolerant the bald man’s belligerence. But before Ron could say anything he got distracted by the butler serving him. Ron noticed that the butler looked exactly like Uncle Ben. The Ben doppelganger poured some wine into Ron’s silver cup. Ron then noticed Ben holding the tray of silverware, Ben gave Ron a wink. Ron just glared at the silver cup. Ron got startled by Suzanne who was sitting across from him, Ron looked over at the bald man who was rocking back and fourth in his drunken state, then across to the young lady who was holding her champagne flute to her mouth, and sipping the contents in a graceful and elegant manner. Ron checked across from her and confirmed to himself that it was in fact his mother – Suzanne—sitting in front of him. Suzanne was crying; Ron’s heart melted.
‘I’m sorry Mum; I’m so sorry.’ Ron begged.
Ron coughed on his cigarette; he noticed that he was back in the councilor’s room. Reality kicked in. He looked up at the group. The young lady, councilor and bald man all looked at Ron with a blank expression. Ron then saw his parents – Rick and Suzanne – who entered the room.
Ron then made his decision, he wanted to make peace, he wanted to get better. He thought to himself about what had happened, and what he could do to get better. He stubbed out his cigarette and looked back at his parents. He smiled at them and they smiled back. Ron picked up his chair and walked over to greet them.