BLACK AND WHITE (1:1:3:28)

I wake up and for a second I don't know where I am, but the painting of Jesus Christ on the wall reminds me that I spent the night at my parents' home. It also reminds me of the dream I just had, but I can only remember bits, pieces and parts. In one part of the dream, Joe's mom, Kathleen, and I are at the hospital visiting a sleeping Joe. She offers me a piece of gum and I take it, but I don't really like gum so I put it in my coat pocket.

The next thing I remember is that I'm leaning over Joe's body trying to read what's on the dog tags that are around his neck. Either I can't remember what I read or they were just blank.

Now I'm awake and back at my apartment building and standing in front of my door, trying to look in through the peephole from the outside, but of course that doesn't work; all I can see is black. This is a one way street, one way view, and you can't just expect everyone to see things the way you do. Sometimes you just have to look at something at a different perspective, through the eyes of someone else, but if all you can see is black, then you may have to trust that person to guide you through the darkness.

As I'm trying to look into my own apartment I hear someone coming up the stairs. I take out my keys and pretend to go through them. It's Boris. I'm pretty sure he's Russian but that's about all I know about him. He looks at me, nods, and I nod back, and he goes up the next flight of stairs.

Once he's gone I start to look through the peephole again but still all I can see is black. I don't know why but I just keep trying to see at least something, just a little color, just something other than black, and that's when I hear a familiar voice. "What are you doing?"

It's Lynne, holding a basket of laundry. She's so small I didn't hear her coming up the stairs. I tell her that I reversed the peephole so I could see inside my apartment when I'm coming home, just in case there is someone inside ready to attack me. She starts to laugh and that makes me laugh. I'm getting better at this.

She asks me what made me think of doing that, and I tell her that it was actually from an old television show and that my peephole wasn't actually reversed. She laughs again.

She walks by me and she says that she has something she wants to show me. I follow her into her apartment. Then through the living room. Then into her bedroom. I see her bed and I can't help but think of the dream I had with the prostitute. She points to her left and I come closer to see what it is. It's a painting of a white rose with a Sun behind it, giving it life.

I remember that she told me that a white rose meant innocence and purity, silence and secrecy, but I know that the feelings I have for her are anything but passionate. This feeling that I think might be love is simply obsession in disguise.

I've seen so many famous paintings by artists considered the greatest, but I've never felt anything from them like other people do. I think the thing is you have to see one of these paintings at the right time in the right place under the right circumstances, and that's when you will truly understand what appears before you.

For a second everything makes sense, and the painting stares back at you and you understand it. That's how I feel looking at Lynne's painting, because this white rose and this Sun have so many meanings to me.

I ask her if she painted it herself, and she says yes. She tells me that she has been painting since she was a little girl. She starts to tell me she paints because it's like gardening. You have an idea for a painting, and you plant that seed. Once you start painting you are creating a universe of your own and there are no boundaries.

Eventually your universe starts to grow and you paint what your heart tells you to. It's just like writing or playing an instrument. She continues but I lose focus of what she's saying when I hear the news on the television. I tell her to wait, and I walk into her living room, she follows.

Police have discovered thirteen bodies in a small abandoned apartment building. They say the bodies are, just like the other deaths, related to drugs. I can't help but wonder if this is actually the work of a serial killer instead.

Lynne and I talk about it for a while, and then I go home to find that Jamal has left. However Derek is still here, and he is of course reading one of the composition notebooks. I ask Derek where his brother went and he said he left. He tells me that Jamal made a phone call early in the morning and then just left, and that he told him to stay here. I then ask him what he's reading and he tells me he's reading about the short story where the main character realizes that their dreams were actually altered memories of horrible things they had done in the past.

How the main character talks about how dreams are so similar to memories. How when the main character had a dream of his parents dying in a house fire that he or she barely escaped, it was actually him or her who set the fire in the first place in the true reality. That was so along ago I didn't even remember writing it down.

I ask Derek if he wants anything to eat and we end up ordering pizza. While we are waiting, Derek tells me something I already knew. That Jamal lied to me. That he didn't really owe anyone money, he was just trying to get himself and Derek out of what was happening in the southern side of the city. All the killing, all the drugs.

He starts to tell me about how there is a huge drug war going on. He tells me that it started because one of the dealers from one of the organizations started selling drugs to a family member of one of the top guys in the other organization.

Someone said the best way to eliminate your competition or to win a war is by having your enemy destroy itself. Start shipping drugs to your enemies country and soon they will have a domestic problem. The people will get addicted and start acting like addicts and that's the only seed you need to plant. The rest will follow.

Then he tells me that one of the top guys tells one of his own guys to murder the punk who sold drugs to his younger sister, and the next day that guy is found dead lying on the ground for everyone to see. That must have been the man who was intoxicated at the time of his death. The one that the police officer asked Lynne and I about. Then he tells me that the guy who did the killing got caught and was ready to bring the whole crew down. I was right. Now I stop him and ask him how he knows all of this, because he couldn't have been a major player at his age.

He tells me that his brother is the one who is the major player. That his brother has murdered people, and now both the police and the friends of the people he has murdered are looking for him. Jamal, that shithead. He brings his problems here and endangers my life.

I ask Derek if he knows anything about a building full of dead bodies but he says no. I'm guessing that Jamal called someone this morning and got the news that they found thirteen bodies in a building, so he went back out there. For what reason, I can't figure that out. The building full of bodies reminds me of a dream I had a long time ago.

I'm in the military walking along a dirt path with other soldiers, and eventually our journey is halted by a house on the road. It starts to stink, and one of the officers sends me and another man to check what's in there. Right before we kick down the door I glance at the man's dog tags, and they read "Max Harvey."

What we see before us is piles and piles of dead bodies left behind by a war that will probably end all of mankind, or at the very least destroy this part of the world. Murder contracts. The smell becomes so strong that it wakes me up. The dream makes me wonder if the world we live in is as bad as some of us think it is. After all, the decisions made before our time could have left behind a world far worse.

The good book says that the first murder was by Cain, done to his younger brother, Abel. Cain, who is portrayed as a sinful man, murders his brother after God rejects his offerings but accepts Abel's offerings. What was probably the cause and effect of a jealousy or anger gene cost a man his life, and I could only hope that one of Jamal's negative genes didn't turn on and in turn will cost him his own life.

I can only hope that his anger gene is still switched off, but who am I kidding. In order for certain species to survive in a certain environment, sometimes a certain switch has to always be on.

There is a knock at my door, but it's not the pizza-man, it's Joe's mom, Kathleen. I want to tell her that it's not such a good idea for her to drop by unexpectedly, but how can I, the more I see her the more senile she appears. Derek retreats back to his room, so I am left alone with her, and this time the theme isn't forgiveness, it's salvation.

I'm not a people person, I am exactly the wrong person to talk to about these things, yet she confides in me. Thank you Joe for sucking me into a world that I do not belong in. Her problem now is how can Joe get into the kingdom of Heaven if he doesn't change his sinful ways. How can he be saved if he dwells with a lifestyle which is not right.

Eventually the pizza gets here and I offer her some, but she doesn't understand how someone can eat pizza so early in the day, so Derek finally comes out and he and I end up eating all of it. Derek and Kathleen, Joe's mom, greet each other but I can tell they both feel weird about it. I guess it's because they are the exact opposites of each other. Young, old, black, white.

They both come from two very different lifestyles, but I bet if you put them both in a room together long enough, they will both tell each other their life stories, and what was so black before starts to get a little color.

There is a story of a woman who forgot the English language after being hit by a car, and the only words she knew were the words she heard. She wouldn't remember the word "hypnosis" until you said it to her, and only then would it be part of her vocabulary again. The philosophical concept of the story is that we only know and understand what we have experienced.