The other morning I had the most amazing dream.
Korra from (The Legend of, obviously) and I (no, don't roll your eyes, keep reading, it's way wackier than that) were trying to find some specific person in this crazy little town in the Canadian Arctic, which we knew nothing about and didn't have a map of - just their address on a crumpled printout of an email. (For what purpose we were seeking this person and what the email was about were not mentioned, though, in the way of dreams, I felt like I knew.)
The town was this insane seaside collection of preposterously steep hills and narrow streets, with ramshackle houses and a lot of "temporary" structures made up of jumbled stacks of CONEXes and things, like what you would get if you crossed a Rio de Janeiro favela or that hillside neighborhood Jackie Chan drove a car through in Police Story with one of H.P. Lovecraft's tumbledown New England fishing villages. It had a wildly convoluted street plan for a community of its size, spiced up with occasional dead ends beyond which were arbitrary drops over walls and things - just incredibly treacherous and hard to navigate, particularly if you were doing it in a beat-up mid-'80s Lincoln Town Car with the help of a doggedly cheerful but spectacularly hapless and inept Indian (Bengali, I think) cabdriver named Harun. And it was dark. I don't know what time it was, in the Canadian Arctic that could just mean it was January, but it was dark and this was not the kind of town with extensive street lighting.
I think we hired Harun in Montreal, so at that point he'd driven us something like 1500 miles. This may explain why we didn't fire him, or indeed strangle him, after he drove or backed the Town Car off the aforementioned freefall dead ends, for the third or fourth time, trying to find our address in the darkened, madness-inducing maze. I'll say this for that car, though, it sure was sturdy. Despite repeatedly driving (albeit very slowly) off sheer drops of at least the height of a CONEX, it never seemed to get seriously damaged, and we were not killed to death at any point. After a while it just became part of the routine. Harun would think he saw a shortcut, Korra and I would shout at him not to do it, he'd go for it anyway, we'd grit our teeth and hang on, and the Lincoln would fall down another cliff, after which Harun would say "Oh. I guess not" and carry on. At one point I asked him, "How much for the car? Because frankly all three of us would be better off," and he just smiled ruefully, probably having heard the same from fares he'd nearly killed and/or gotten lost in artillery testing ranges many times before.
Oh, did I mention this town, despite being a) minuscule and b) above the Arctic Circle, was presently in the grip of a gang war? Well, it was, between a band of yakuza and some tracksuit Draculas from the Russian Mob. At one point while we were stopped at a streetcorner so Harun could check his map (which was a London A to Z, so one wonders what good he thought it was going to do him), a couple of the yakuza - impeccably dressed, grim-faced and ceremonial, the one in the lead looked like Tomoyasu Hotei - came up and opened the front passenger door, then, without a word, stuck his hand inside in the international "give me money" gesture. Very direct.
I had no cash and told him so; without changing his expression at all, he withdrew his hand, reached into his inside pocket, took out a paper-wrapped pair of restaurant chopsticks, and thrust them into the car for me to take. "You understand?" he said. "Um, no," I said. He nodded firmly, and then - apparently satisfied - he and his shorter colleague turned to go.
At which point they were set upon by four tracksuit Draculas, the leader of whom tackled the lead yakuza from behind while gleefully shouting, "Pazhalusta!" (Which means "you're welcome"; I think my subconscious wanted him to be saying "welcome," as in "welcome to whatever this town's name is," but I don't know the Russian for that, so it dug out "you're welcome" as in "please and thank you" instead.) There followed a quick but comprehensive four-on-two beatdown against the side of the car, after which the Russians wandered off laughing heartily and occasionally mooning the yakuza, while they, in turn, dragged themselves off to lick their wound. One got the impression that this was business as usual, and it had all happened too quickly for us to do anything about it. (Also, the car was so battered by then that the doors might not have opened in a timely fashion.)
Following this incident, Harun somehow managed (with the aid of a street map of London!) to find the cross street we needed, but, flushed with success, he then overreached and chose the wrong side street, plunging once against through the darkness into someone's garden and then, with a hideous crash, into a (nicely furnished! I guess they have IKEA in Crazy Arctic Town) living room, where an elderly couple were watching TV. They seemed not too surprised that a battered Lincoln had just plowed down their garden retaining wall and into their living room - perhaps this kind of thing happens around there all the time - and were hospitality itself, informing us cheerfully that this was 505 whatever-the-street-was, and we wanted 509, which was right next door. In fact, they were so accommodating, they suggested that we should just walk from their place instead of trying to get the car out again.
Harun came with us, possibly because he was at a loss about what else to do, possibly because we hadn't paid him yet (I rather doubt we intended to by that point), and possibly because we'd all been through so much on this search that he felt he was part of the team by now. Korra and I didn't object, so evidently we either agreed or were just too punch-drunk and bruised from riding over cliffs in the Lincoln to put up a fight. We made our way down a preposterously steep and icy sidewalk, across the neighboring street (which was why there was no 507 - nice touch, subconscious!), and up onto the stoop of the brownstone townhouse(?!) at 509. Korra rang the doorbell,
and I woke up, so I guess we'll never know who lived there or what we wanted with them that was so important we'd endure all that to get there.
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.