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Is Dante's Inferno Worth a Phone Call? -- Writer's Poke #297

In 1997, Kevin called me. The call was unexpected, as I hadn't seen nor heard from him in six years. I don't recall that we talked for long; he was just checking in because he had had a dream, and in this dream, I died. His call was just to make sure I wasn't dead.

Although we have since become friends on facebook, I don't think Kevin has ever posted anything to my wall, and we've never exchanged emails. I'm not expecting another phone call anytime soon, either, as it's been fourteen years now since the last one.

And then last night, he was in a dream of mine. In my dream, he didn't die. Instead, we were at the Mattoon, Illinois, Amtrack station, except it looked and felt more like Dante's Inferno. First class patrons used the train above ground, but the station had nine lower stations below ground. Kevin and I had first class tickets, but I couldn't find him anywhere. I went from station to station, all the way down to the lowest-level .

In the ninth station, filth (and worse) covered the walls, and there was just enough light from the trash-can fires to see through the smoke and into the cavernous shadows. The heat was almost unbearable, and the poor folks using this station looked virtually dead. Kevin wasn't anywhere to be found in any of the stations below ground, and I quickly made my way back home. The stench of my below-ground search stayed with me, and I finally received word from Kevin's dad. When Kevin couldn't find me in the above-ground station, he had decided to go home without looking in the stations below. He was safe and had been asleep in his own bed for hours.

So, what do you think: Is this dream worth the trouble of giving Kevin a courtesy call?

"If you're going through hell, keep going." -- Winston Churchill


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