I have a dream

Darkness chases away the last of the lights and the fears and fantasies that thrive successfully in the maw of night prepare to take over. Helicopters circle overhead, sweeping the boulevards with their beams of light. You must surrender, spits a man's voice over a loudspeaker. You must surrender immediately.

Never again.

She shows him her clenched fist. History always ends in dust and ashes, like an eternal return that whirls round and round without being able to stop but out of the ashes and dust there may be hope again. Or not. Perhaps the ancestral end is nigh and the circle of the Eternal Return broken forever. The apocalypse that slips between the beginning and the end... She had a dream and her dream became reality. Her foot hits shards of glass and squinting, she spots traces of blood and hears sirens moving away and others approaching, men's voices shouting, get him and a woman is screaming and crying and she thinks of her dream, the dream she's had for so long, the dream she's made come true.

It's twilight. Soon it will be dark, an opaque night and men and women will disappear as they always do, into the bowels of the city. The sky is ablaze, bloody, filaments of yellow and red and grey snaking violently towards the apocalypse awaited since the dawn of mankind, that moment when confines and opposites collide and explode to leave only ashes and desolation and shattered dreams. It's been that way since the dawn of time. Since the dawn of time, man has been accelerating his race towards the ultimate moment in his history, his destiny, the apocalypse, because he thinks he has to conceive the end in order to conceive the beginning. An ancient legend that morphs and stretches into infinity. Like spectres, silhouettes flee into the darkness and project themselves onto the sidewalk. A cat cautiously takes refuge under a car. The Beverly Hills sign lies on the ground, shattered into pieces and all around, abandoned backpacks and blankets and overturned shopping carts and plastic bags filled with things nobody wants. Further on, the skeleton of a bloody hand and forearm, and next to it, a man on his stomach who looks like he's asleep but may be dead, stubbornly holding the hand. A crouched man turns his head left and right an infinite number of times, then makes a decision and slowly gets to his feet and grabs one of the abandoned backpacks and wobbles off on his weakened legs in the direction of West Hollywood. Empty-eyed and wide-eyed, a seated woman looks down at her hands, her shoulders twitching but not a sound emanating from her, no crying or moaning or complaining or cursing, not a sound emanating and down the left side of her face a trickle of fresh blood runs gently without her noticing and her jacket is stained with blood but she doesn't see it, she sees only her trembling hands and her broken fingernail. She doesn't recognize her husband, who is dying beside her, bleeding to death and wondering how long it takes to really die. He muses that it's rare for her not to speak to him and that he will probably die in silence, which he considers an irony of fate.

Hope is nothing more than a disjointed puppet, discarded on a street corner. Rats hide in the sewers, waiting for calm to return. Drones fly close to rooftops and dive between people, some filming, others dropping gas. Burnt-out vehicles give off a strong smell of burning and a thick layer of smoke mixed with tear gas covers the streets and people in a gloomy fog. By the time the shopkeepers tried to pull down their curtains, it was already too late, the windows had shattered and the cafe blinds had been ripped open, tables and chairs scattered and broken and salvaged because the men needed weapons and all they had was this. Only this, bits of salvaged wood, a chair leg, pieces of flower tubs, a fragment of the legendary Beverly Hills sign.

She had a dream and that dream has come true and she wonders if she did the right thing and if she could have prevented such a bloody, violent, radical, definitive outcome.

She wonders how many dead and wounded there are. She wonders if things will change, if her vision will be fulfilled. If they don't, mankind is doomed and the idea is atrocious. She tells herself that believing as she did in a more generous humanity is pathetic but that she will forever claim this status of a pathetic woman who still believes in ghosts and that without this hope, living isn't worth the trouble. Not a peep. She races across Santa Monica Boulevard to North Rodeo Drive. She still hasn't heard from him, not since yesterday morning. If only she knew where he was. She feels the shards of glass crunching under her shoes as if they were snow and she thinks of snow-covered mountain peaks and sees blood, grotesque streaks like clumsy brushstrokes forming the beginnings of a painting someone has abandoned.

Coffee shops and bars and cafés have their doors open and expose their naked, ravaged bellies. In one of them, a TV is on and she rushes to watch the news. The counter is intact but bottles and glasses have been smashed on the floor and form a sea with bits of ice drifting between overturned tables and dismembered chairs. You bastards. You've patented natural resources, patented life. It's time to pay the piper. People have finally woken up from their lethargy to take action, they're demanding a better world and it's not absurd, it's a good day. Maybe there's hope at the other end. Maybe there is. Journalists are interviewing film and TV stars, politicians and famous writers and she recognizes a writer who has already spoken out on their behalf. He's at the Last Bookstore and she recognizes other writers behind him, toasting and looking drunk. He, the only one who seems sober, tells the camera that it's monstrous to come to such extremes, certainly but also inevitable. We should have reacted sooner, shouldn't we? That's what happens when humans forget their humanity, that's all and on that note he concludes the interview by pouring champagne for the others. A writer leaning against a bookshelf sings before falling into what looks like an ethylic coma. She leaves the café and surveys the devastated intersection of Rodeo Drive, where men and women run along the shadows of the facades, trying not to be seen. Uprooted sculptures lie on the lawn and a limousine burns in front of an unruffled church gate, probably double-locked.

She proceeds along South Santa Monica Boulevard to the almost deserted Bedford Drive, where improvised projectiles form uneven heaps amidst overturned luxury cars. She heads back up to North Santa Monica Boulevard, where SWAT and FBI buses continue to arrive and park wherever they can. It's not easy with all these abandoned cars. She retraces her steps and runs to Camden Drive, where the rioters try to hide in the alleys, behind dumpsters and cars that their owners have parked as a precaution but there's nowhere left to park. In places, fights break out. Down Camden Drive she arrives at Wilshire Boulevard, where silhouettes stand out against the gray facades of the buildings, their windows illuminated. There are still people trying to walk, even though the silence has been broken and it's no longer worth it but some don't want to give up and she feels moved and shivers. To think she was the cause of all this. She pulls her hat further down over her eyes to avoid exposing her face to the surveillance cameras. On Wilshire Boulevard, the staff of Saks Fifth Avenue actively participate by throwing objects from the terraces. Those working at the Hotel Wilshire opened their windows and threw clothes. Executives from neighboring bank branches gather discreetly in a recess and wait impatiently for the police to arrive. She turns around and heads back towards Beverly Drive, which she takes to reach Sunset. She has to find him. She passes Beverly Canon Gardens, where it's so pleasant to work in the sun, sitting at the garden tables or having lunch in one of the restaurants under the arcades and her gaze stops on the benches in the middle, near which homeless men and women gather because they have to gather somewhere and also to prolong this day that has been someone's dream and has become everyone's dream. I have a dream, said Martin Luther King before he was assassinated for his ideas. I have a dream. She repeats the phrase to herself like a litany against bad luck but it's too late. As homeless people plunge their feet into the fountain, more helicopters fly overhead, making a terrible racket and she can make out cameras held up by technicians leaning out of the open side doors. Disaster. Deep down, she doesn't know whether it's a disaster or not. She realizes that she's limping and that her right hand is red with blood and she feels around and discovers that her leg is injured. It doesn't look serious and the pain is bearable. Sparing her leg as best she can, she continues along Crescent Drive to Sunset Boulevard. Sunset Boulevard. It has never been so aptly named. She makes a phone call to Kim, who must be somewhere near the Fox studios. Kim picks up quickly but says nothing, even when she repeats that she's worried about him, he hasn't called as promised, did she hear from him? Kim doesn't answer and an excruciating pain shoots through her body, otherwise more painful than her leg. She'd never forgive herself if anything had happened to him. Then she hears Kim's voice coming from so far away, telling her to leave him alone, never to contact him again. She doesn't understand what Kim is saying and she hears herself insisting. But is he all right? Kim's voice hits her ears like a slap. It's not your problem anymore. She's talking nonsense. What's she talking about? It's not your problem anymore. Screams behind Kim come closer and the conversation is cut off. Her head is spinning like a ship caught in a typhoon and her throat is dry. What does she mean, it's not her problem anymore? On Sunset, SWAT and FBI men line up bodies and wounded, which doctors dispatch to firefighters or ambulance drivers who head back to the various care centers in Westwood Village. A nurse complains, it's crazy to go all the way to Westwood when Beverly Hills has all the hospitals and clinics you need. Obamacare is not accepted everywhere. If they don't get rid of it, they ignore it, says her colleague in an ironic tone. His heart goes out to the marchers.

What happened with Kim? Does she know? She stops to listen once more to the message he left the day before yesterday on the answering machine, to hear his voice and struggles to suppress the strangulation in her throat and the oppression in her chest. He's here somewhere, he said he'd be here and he's keeping his promises, she's sure of it and she looks everywhere but doesn't see him anywhere. Her body on fire, she returns to the site of the large sign announcing that this is Beverly Hills and she sits down with great difficulty, leaning against what's left of the sign and letting her feet fall into the water of the pool, thinking of the dreams of all those who had once stood there contemplating this symbol of unattainable wealth. They too had dreams. She raises her head to the sky, where the stars twinkle as if nothing had happened, they twinkle as if the world stretching out before her and beyond were beautiful and fair...