Baffled

Over the past forty years I’ve had a recurring dream which has baffled me. I dream of finding an undiscovered room in my house. It is always the same. The room is at the back of the late Georgian house, in a poor state of decoration, sparsely furnished with a shabby Yorkshire dresser and two carver chairs. Dusty, tattered curtains of red and gold damask hang at long, narrow windows. A dark oak tea caddy is the room’s single ornament, it stands forlornly on a faded cream painted window-cill. Despite research, via books and the web, I have been unable to establish clearly the significance of this dream. There are widely different interpretations, none of which seem personally relevant. So, still puzzled, I have become accustomed to consigning the dream to my latent psyche where it remains, until the next time it occurs.

One dark and wild Friday night in November whilst driving back from my regular monthly appointment in Preston I had a dangerous and frightening experience. The road and weather conditions were appalling on the unlit country route between Gisburn and Skipton. A high wind and heavy constant rain made visibility very difficult on my unusually quiet side of the road. The dazzling headlights of the oncoming Skipton traffic on the busier opposite side compounded my situation. With such potentially hazardous conditions, I was exercising particular caution when the unthinkable happened. A loud bang sent the car across the road toward the stream of approaching cars. Somehow I managed to veer the car back to the grass verge thus avoiding a headlong collision.

Certain I was the victim of a mistaken identity shooting incident, shock and panic prompted me to lock all the doors. I slumped on the steering wheel anticipating another round of bullets, a scant protection in retrospect! I waited, heart pounding, eerily, the pitch dark road, now quiet on both sides. Relentlessly, the wind and rain buffeted my vehicle. I reached for my phone, I desperately needed assistance and reassurance. Hope plummeted when I realised there wasn’t a signal. I tried to think clearly and devise a modus operandii.

1 BE CAUTIOUS - WAS THE GUNMAN HIDING ?
2 DON’T FLAG A CAR DOWN - IT COULD BE A PSYCHOPATH!
3 FIND A LANDLINE PHONE - LOOK FOR A HOUSE WITH THE LIGHTS ON.
4 ROAD SAFETY - WALK TOWARD THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC.

I alighted, conscious of my vulnerability, the car seemed unlevel. I risked a brief overview and saw the totally shredded tyre on the rear left hand side. Relieved at the absence of bullet holes I announced to the night, ‘It’s not a bullet, I’ve had a blow-out!’

Discovering that I wasn’t an error in a terrorist plot engendered courage, I started to walk up the deserted road with a tad more confidence, increasingly anxious to summon help.
I walked about a mile with no sign of habitation then I spotted a distant glimmer. Despite the icy wind and rain, now turned to sleet, biting at my cheeks I wasn’t cold. The distant light had surged an adrenalin rush and quickened my step.

As I approached I could see that the light was fixed over the front door of a large rambling farmhouse, loose gravel crunched under my feet as I walked to the door and summoned the courage to knock, there was no answer so I knocked again. A lace curtain twitched at the small window adjacent to the door and an eye looked out and met my gaze. A finger signalled to walk to the side of the house. I held onto the wall for guidance, something flew across my path and I stumbled. The side door was ajar.

‘I’m so sorry to disturb you’ I faltered.

’ I desperately need to use a ‘phone, my car’s broken down outside Gisburn and I need to contact a garage and ring to tell the family what’s going on. They’ll be worried that I’m not home.’

A male voice crackled,
‘What’s yer name, where d’ ya live and what’s yer car reg ?’

'Hilary Longfield, I live in Leeds............2 The Avenue LS18. My car’s EO3BG The door opened wider and, in the dim light stood an elderly woman in a dressing gown clutching a poker, at her side, an equally aged man holding a shotgun.

The man spoke.

‘Ay, yer can use ’t ‘phone. Yer ’d better cum in ‘

I was relieved when he placed the shotgun by the hallstand and the woman put the poker in the umbrella rack.

‘Phone’s ont ’dresser in’t back through theer’.

He pointed to a door at the rear of the hall.

Daunted, I walked through the hall and opened the door to the back room and gasped. The large high room was sparsely furnished with two carver chairs and a shabby Yorkshire dresser. Dusty, tattered, red and gold damask curtains hung at the long window. An oak tea caddy with a broken lock stood in the centre of the faded cream window cill. There was no doubt, it was the room of my recurrent dream. I made my calls, thanked the couple and returned to the car to await breakdown rescue.

Strangely I never had that dream again.

Jennifer S

Words 879

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