Bechtel in their Dreams

Adrianne Aron

I hear you, señor. How over and over you keep reaching for something and those guys keep interfering. You try and try, but they keep messing with you, changing the rules for what you've got to do to succeed. You’re frustrated and unhappy, feeling you might never make Vice-president, might lose the house to foreclosure, lose your Bechtel stock in a crash. You reach, and grab, but you wind up empty handed. If only they’d be consistent, you say, you could get ahead. They’re wrecking all your hopes, ruining your restful sleep, covering your face with sweat, waking you up in the middle of the night.

Everybody’s got a right to a good night’s sleep. Those sleeping meds aren’t doing it for you, the threats are too strong, and those guys in the night keep waffling on the rules. I’ll tell you what, señor. I’ll take your dream and I’ll give you mine. Because you see, in mine, absolutely nothing interferes with the rules. The Bechtel stock is a hundred percent secure. The protocol is set, it’s always the same guys calling the shots, and they follow the rules exactly, precisely. Meticulously. You wanna trade?

The machine whirrs, I hear the water beginning to flow, low voices speaking in words I cannot make out. That might be English they’re speaking, same as the guys in your dream. The man in charge announces a name like a train conductor calling a stop: routine, loud, clear, strong; no interference, no interruption. I imagine his small face, pinkish, with a mustache, a little toothbrush of a mustache (but I can’t see him through the hood), and I picture him at a metal desk, scratching an itch on his left knee, checking the manual and nodding to his partner. And then, without a single deviation from the set protocol, they pounce on me, grabbing me by the arms, under the arms, pushing me to the table, pushing without interference, to the regulation steel table brought in by the Bechtel contractors, below the tank of water mixed with the prescribed amount of salt.

They yank on my chin and push it backwards, submerging it in the saltwater tank, and I shudder, señor, gagging, choking, drowning. I am gasping for breath when I wake up in my wet, sweat-soaked bed.

You wanna trade? No transaction fee, just a quick trade on the dream exchange.


<em>Adrianne Aron is a psychologist who works with survivors of torture. She lives in California, and is the translator of Mario Benedetti's acclaimed play on the theme of torture, "Pedro y el Capitán" ("Pedro and the Captain," Cadmus Editions, 2009). With others, she edited and translated work of Salvadoran psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press, 1994). For R &amp; R she writes fiction: little stories, bigger stories, and a novel in progress.</em>


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