(connected to the character created in The Pen)

Jack just wasn’t himself. Literally. He was a small girl. He was a small girl in a boat with no rudder and without a sail, much less a small outboard motor. In his dream, he was a small dot on a landscape of surpassing beauty.

Small, small, small – can you see a theme emerging here. Take note – this could be important later on.

The boat itself was not at sea but was in the midst of sand dunes that made the girl (that he was in the nightmare) cry herself to sleep night after night and then, as if she had not shed enough water, wake up every morning in the middle of a wet patch of strawberry jam.

Jack awoke from these dreams with an erection. This bothered him a lot. But he never told.

Even though he didn’t really know what the word meant, Jack was pragmatic about these nightmares. He told himself that this kind of stuff don’t mean nothing and he just reminded himself to lay off the cheese at night.

But the dream kept coming back.

It started just after he’d stolen those panties from the washing line. How was he to know that they were kiddie’s knickers. It wasn’t until after he’d finished with them that he thought to read the label. Age nine to eleven. He was mortified!

He threw them to the ground, then picked them up again. He put them in a carrier bag he kept in his pocket (no way was he paying five pence for a bag!) and threw them in the next litter bin, then he went back and fished them out again. Panicked thoughts about DNA evidence and fingerprints haunted him as he tried to think what to do. Should he bury them? Burn them? Wash them and peg them back on the line?

In the end, he reasoned that he hadn’t actually murdered anyone and so he stuffed the crumpled package into the bottom of a neighbour’s wheely-bin. But then the dream started.

It didn’t bother him so much the first time. It wasn’t as if it was scary at all. There were no monsters, vampires, ghosts or demons in there, and he didn’t die or even get hurt. But by the third consecutive night, he began to get a little bit anxious.

By the seventh night, he was disturbed. At the end of a solid month, he was seriously ticked off. By the time three months had passed, he didn’t want to go to sleep anymore. People he knew started commenting about the rings around his eyes, and the way he fell asleep when he was talking to them. He waved them off – told them that they was boring cunts, and then walked off with a laugh like sandpaper in his throat.

It ended when his sister came to stay – with her young kid. Same old stuff – problems with the husband. Anyway – the nipper was really friendly and saw straight past Jack’s scowls. Before he knew it he was playing shop, and dollies and the child laughed fit-to-burst at Jack’s high pitched falsetto when he made the plastic farm animals talk.

Jack found his smile that day in the innocent company of his niece and he slept like a log that night. He woke up in the morning, from a dream about walking down the high street in his undies with all the neighbours laughing and pointing at him. He was the happiest man on the planet. And strangely, the early morning erection didn’t bother him one little bit.

(more detail can be found in Jammin’ Until the Break of Dawn)