Skinny-legged hopper with the jut-mouth pout is leaping and frolicking with the new mown hay-smell rippling in his snotty nose – all moist and with just a bit of the yellowish crust that makes you think of homemade clotted cream. I think of that. You think of that. Skinny-legged hopper doesn't think of anything, only his hopping and leaping and frolicking.
It was before the war-time, and before the fear-time, and before the time when we chose to lie about the intersection of war and peace and love and fear and dreams that only comes once in a blue or some-other-colored moon; dreams that are empty, unfortunately, and tied up in a discarded candy-wrapper, tossed to the side and trampled underfoot. The skinny-legged hopper knew all about that kind of dream, as he was a dream-peddler.
“Buy my dreams?” asked the skinny-legged hopper, arriving at the door of the next house on his dream-peddling route. He held up one of his brochures, opened to the picture of his very favorite dream – a technicolor beauty that featured dwarves and knives and undulating dancers. He shook the brochure a couple of times to arouse the curiosity of Mr. Pilate, the man standing before him in the doorway.
“Dreams?” asked Mr. Pilate. “What are dreams?”
“A dream is a wonderful thing,” said the skinny-legged hopper. “A dream is like a sleep-thought. It is like a pretty picture in your head; a moving picture-show that you get to enjoy when you close your eyes.”
“Can you show me?” asked Mr. Pilate.
“Well,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “not really. You would probably have to be asleep. And then I couldn't really sell you any dreams, could I? I mean, you would be asleep and unable to produce your credit card or checkbook or pocketbook. That would not do.”
“Agreed,” said Mr. Pilate, frowning and looking toward Mount Moriah in the distance.
“Well,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “I have some testimonials here from some pretty respectable people. Would you like to hear what some very important people have had to say regarding these dreams?”
“Well,” continued the skinny-legged hopper, “Mr. Virgil Pusser, the chief bag scrubber at the cow-bottling facility said that our dreams make him all shaky. They make him get all googly-feeling and that he has only urinated forcefully over his bed-clothes twice in the time that he has been enjoying our dreams. Mostly he just wakes up hungry.”
“Hmmm...” said Mr. Pilate, “that doesn't sound very positive.”
“Oh, but it gets better,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “The Reverend Miranda Chuckleby, high-priestess of the Microwave Temple said that she gets the overwhelming desire to crawl into a tub of warm water and open a vein whenever she awakes from one of our dreams. She has actually done so only once, and luckily the medical personnel were able to plug the wound with spackle and refill her veinage-system with gin and red food coloring. All is well.”
“That sounds awful,” protested Mr. Pilate. “I don't think I like the sound of this at all.”
Oh, wait,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “it gets much better. Mr. Clive Bors, the President of the United States of Iowa has said that our dreams take away all hope and have caused him to mutilate livestock upon several occasions. Once he went so far as to make love to a goat before mutilating it with a paper punch.”
“Was it a three-hole punch?”
“Yes, I believe it was.”
“Hmm...” said Mr. Pilate, obviously warming to the idea, “so how much for these dreams? Particularly the goat-loving and -mutilating variety?”
“I have here a dream consisting of a meter-maid in latex and two dolphins armed with firearms from the era of the Boer War. It usually produces nice effects.”
“Are the goats guaranteed?” asked Mr. Pilate.
“No,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “but all of our dreams can be returned, as long as you return the payment along with the dream.”
“Return the payment? How much?”
“We will pay you $49.99 in American dollars for each dream that you select. If the dream does not work out for you, just return the dream along with the payment, and there will be no questions asked.”
Mr. Pilate stood quietly and scratched his furry little lower lip with his furry little finger. He looked off at Mount Moriah in the distance and could make out three men carrying a body around its western slope. He looked away and pulled out his wallet.
“Fill 'er up,” he said to the skinny-legged hopper, “and give me my dream.”
And the skinny-legged hopper was only too happy to oblige.