In which I’m at a bookstore and see John Denver. He seems to be employed there. He’s packing boxes or sticking price tags or something. I walk up to him directly and we greet each other like we’re old friends. I have a memory of hanging out with him in Sun Valley and this is the first time in years since I’ve seen him. We chat a bit and he’s glad to see me too but there’s a sadness behind his otherwise cheery expression. He sets a book down in front of me.
“Here, I want you to have one. Signed it for you.”
It’s a hiking guide to the hills of Berkeley by John Denver.
He sighs. “It’s not selling well at all.”
His attempt to appear upbeat has now completely faded. John Denver looks so sad. I didn’t know that he had a book out, but I feign that I did so he doesn’t feel bad. I open it. I don’t read anything in particular but notice it’s printed on that sort of confetti paper with all those big colored squares scattered about. As discreetly as I can, I explain to him that I’m sure the guide is great, but maybe it’s not selling because it’s difficult to read on top of confetti. He takes the book and examines it closely.
“Damn, you're right.”
We talk about how he needs to have a serious talk with his publisher or designer or whoever.
[ SCENE 2 - one of those dream scene changes in which there is no transition, just cut to new setting ]
I've joined John Denver at his place and I'm sitting around a dinner table with him and his friends. We joke and chat. They are all very funny, kind people about his age (late 50s-60s), 3-4 men and a woman who seems sort of like the matriarchal member of the group though she is also the same age.
[ SCENE 3 ]
All the people from the table and myself are now on the beach. It’s the “Berkeley beach”. Completely different from the marina as it is in reality. To the East are the hills, then downtown, then it slopes directly to the water as if West Berkeley didn’t exist. It’s also an actual beach with sand and warm and no bay — direct to ocean.
Looking to the North I notice that one of the mountains a few miles up the coast (much taller and steeper in this world than real life) is smoking. It’s a volcano. Just as I’m asking myself if it always smokes like that or is it actually erupting, it erupts. Huge explosion and some shaking. Giant billow of smoke comes out the top. The beach is crowded and everyone rushes for their cameras. They are surprised, but not that scared, as if this is a common occurrence or they expected this volcano to go off soon. I get my camera and take some shots of the scene and the people reacting. I am smiling about how fantastic the photos will be.
I look around to see if there is any major damage from the eruption. The water is pretty rough and boats are tossing about. Some buildings have broken windows and the like. But overall it seems nothing tragic has happened. People are not in panic. They are only crowding to spots where there is a good view of the mountain which is still spewing dark smoke.
Looking to the East I see Lawrence Livermore Lab (or at least what I perceive to be it. in any case it seems a very important government installation). Middle-aged men in hazmat suits (or maybe they are clean suits) are running out of the building carrying equipment, boxes, computers. They look like scientists. Many of them have signs attached to their fronts or backs that say things like “DO NOT APPROACH ME” and “CARRYING IMPORTANT MATERIALS”. I take some photos of the men. They don’t seem pleased about it, but they are far too concerned about saving the equipment to stop me. “I can’t wait to get these pics on Flickr,” I think. (Yes, really.) Suddenly we hear deep rumbling in the West.
Looking to the West I am shocked to find amphibious military vehicles rising out of the ocean. They are clearly US troops. Tanks start appearing on the scene. Now the situation is clearly more serious. What was once merely an observation of an amazing natural phenomenon is now nearing pandemonium. John Denver and his pals, who are still with me, wonder aloud whether the authorities are trying to secure certain sites from another eruption. We don’t see any reason for armed conflict, but we fear it in the backs of our minds. Does the government actually imagine a scenario in which Al Qaeda set off the volcano? We do not put it past them.
Looking to the South I see a rocket on its launching pad. I can’t decide if it’s a standard satellite rocket or a missile. It launches! Someone on the beach is blaring patriotic music as it lifts off the ground. I am very scared now, but the crowds around us are cheering and shouting. We watch the missile fly up not very far and then it falls, straight down into the ocean a few hundred feet from us. Now everyone is frightened. A soldier grabs me and I wake.