Category Archives: urbancontemporary


Some people are buying chez Murphy. In a couple weeks, they’ll be in, and we’ll be out. It’s not that I was attached to that particular house. It wasn’t home to me. But, it was the last place my father slept. The last place he ate breakfast. The last place I saw his face still lit up by life. I can go to any room in this house and envision him there. In the new house, though, he’ll be foreign, strange, wrong.  Like trying to peel off my favorite wallpaper and transplant it on a different wall, some pieces won’t come, and what does won’t fit the same way anymore. 
We packed him up and put him in a box in the ground. Then, we gathered his belongings and shoved them into cartons. Now, we’re doing the same with his memory.  
It’s too soon.  The house still feels like some sort of shrine, a tribute to his impact on our lives. People would say he’d be happy we’re moving on and adjusting to life without him. I don’t know about that. If it were me, and I came back from the beyond to check on my family and found they’d split and left no forwarding address, I’d be pissed.
Everyone–by their actions and attitudes–is telling me the mourning is over. Except it isn’t. Not for me. I’m still sitting by a coffin in a candle-lit room, wondering why their worlds keep spinning when mine has clearly stopped. 
With everything else, I have a choice. No matter what I say about Tyne and my uncontrollable urges to go there, I do have a choice. But, not in this. The house will sell with or without my permission, and the final bits of his life will quietly slip away. And I just can’t forgive Mom for that.


Are dreams really just the bile of our subconscious? Or, are they a link to some other time or place we’ve yet to find? 
Yeah, I know, that opening line sounded a little too much like the intro to an episode of that old seventies paranormal show hosted by Mr. Spock. Sorry about that. It’s just that lately I’ve been having these dreams about my dad. Except, they’re not exactly about my dad–not in the traditional, dead-visits-the-living sense. 
The dream goes like this: 
I’m in some sort of dark cave, my back to the entrance. In front of me are dark-skinned monsters. It’s equally dark in the cave, so all I can tell is they are huge. They loom so high into the ceilingless cavern that I can’t see their heads, only big, dark bodies circling me like sharks, long arms dangling by their sides while their spidery fingers drag across the hard-packed ground. As their nails rasp across the grit, they sound out a word, “Middu.” Over and over again, I hear it, “Middu. Middu.”
The creatures circle closer, and they smell like an antique store that’s been sealed up for years. Everything about them is dusty and ancient. Their breath is hot on my neck, and it, too, is dry and stale. 
Just when they’re close enough to brush against me, he calls my name. 
I whirl around to face my father, who is standing at the cave’s entrance. The light behind him is too bright for my eyes, and I blink hard against it. But, it’s not the rumored white light of the afterlife. It’s too hot and dry, too substantial to be heavenly. No. Beyond him–beyond the illumination my eyes can’t penetrate–is an endless stretch of skin-parching nothingness. It is the desert, and I long to cross into it, but am too afraid to go near. 
For a moment I stand there, staring at my father as he gazes back at me. I want to run to him, but I’m too scared to go near that light, afraid I’ll be drawn in, sucked down into… Something I don’t want to be in. But, my feet have other ideas. My boots start to scoot forward on their own, one after the other, as tiny bits of gravel crunch and grind beneath the plow-like slide. And I’m aware I’m not moving towards him, but past him, into the desert.
A shadow darkens the entrance for a moment, like the sweep of a hand across a light bulb. When the light returns, my father’s face explodes in blood. It pours down his face, filling his mouth as he opens it to scream. His dark brown eyes are wild with terror and his fingers scrabble in a vain attempt to stop the flood of his life from pouring out.  He screams my name, yet the gurgling of blood in his throat changes the sound. It too becomes, “Middu.”
And then I wake up, my body soaked in sweat, my neck muscles painfully tight and my head pounding violently from holding my breath. I gasp for air, almost certain that this time blood will fill my lungs, too.  Of course, it doesn’t. I wake up fully. I shake it off. I get up and shower and dress and go downstairs to listen to yet another rant from my mom about how lazy and irresponsible I am. I don’t tell her about my dreams. I don’t tell anyone. Well, except you–whoever you few are who have nothing better to do than read this.
I’ve never had nightmares. I think I’ve probably been the cause of a couple (especially on my mom’s part), but no dream has ever scared me until now.
So, back to the “In Search Of” beginning of this post–is it just a dream? Or, could my father be trying to tell me something from beyond the grave? When I put it that way, it just sounds corny. But I can’t help thinking he is. That he’s out there, somewhere in the great beyond, trying like hell to get me to understand something about him, or his death, or me. 
Right before I go to sleep at night, I concentrate on him. I ask him to make his message a little clearer because I’m a slow one. I need things spelled out for me, not encoded in cryptic messages. It hasn’t worked. The funny thing is, I don’t try too hard to decipher what he’s telling me, either. I don’t sit down with a dream book, or a psychologist, or even my own decent amount of common sense and try to sort it out. Because when I do, when I figure out just what he wants me to know, he’ll go away. And, no matter what horrible event he has to re-live every night, no matter what sort of hellish limbo he’s stuck in, no matter his torment, I don’t want him to leave. 
So that’s it.  That’s the kind of person I am.  If there’s one thing I could always admit, it’s that I’m not a stellar representative of the human race. Not even close. But, at least I’m aware of it and not trying to fool anyone.
Anyway, tonight it’s back to bed, where–once I finally fall asleep–I will be waiting with both anticipation and dread for my father’s ghostly appearance. 
Wasn’t there some Shakespeare movie about that?