Condensed Addendum (Slumber Citizens):Revised

2. Slumber Citizen 013654 Works as a Private Tutor for Deviant Citizen/The Flavor of a Dream

Several years passed of the incarceration of Deviant Citizen 166601 in the Institution, and this with only mild success. His parents, who could no longer afford the trauma brought on to the family, nor the expense, hired Citizen 013654 for her services as a private tutor. By this time, she was seeking early retirement; consistent self-discipline and adherence to a stringent schedule had begun to take its toll. However, she found the case of Deviant Citizen to be pitiable and at the same time intriguing; therefore, she took up the office of his tutorship.

Our son suffers from what we believe to be nightmares. He is soothed, his parents insisted, by intimate conversation and literature. His instructors at the Institution – while well trained in the area of discipline – are not of the literary kind (they read only fairy tales to him, inducing tantrums because the characters – as he insisted – are interchangeable and therefore disposable). Somehow exposure to various fictional yet unique individuals makes our son more tolerable. Perhaps these literary characters become so real to his imagination that he can no longer distinguish between their personages and himself, at least for the duration of the novel or story. We have exhausted our literary knowledge and awareness. Whatever it takes, they begged. Just don’t include anything to do with deviants or demons. Other than that, the world of literature is yours.

Entrusted with Deviant’s care, Citizen 013654, well versed and well read in various genres of literature, began with her favorite author – Jorge Luis Borges.

The challenge with Borges is that he is an author of ideas more so than an author of character. Yet, characters are ultimately ideas, and so Citizen went with her instincts. She started by tackling Borges’ take on “Nightmares.”

She didn’t confess this to his parents, for they would have wondered, why begin with a nonfiction essay that is not about people but ideas? Yet, her choice turned out clever in that Deviant’s real issue (as a child) was that he could not really distinguish between waking and dream. This fact may explain why his treatment in the Institution failed. They attempted to stimulate pleasant dreams, hoping these would produce more tolerable selves. But while awake he often believed he was dreaming. Often these delusions of dreaming were for him nightmarish. Once when he found himself behaving like a gentleman with delicate manners and etiquette, it felt so fake and freakish and different from his core self that he had to pinch himself to wake from the nightmare – which was really a waking reality.

Of course, the opposite would happen too. His nightmares would often feel so much like waking that when he really woke up, it would feel like he hadn’t slept at all. He would, like most children, arrive at the day’s duties with lethargy and the desire to return to sleep.

It would seem that such an effect – particularly in Deviant’s case – would be ideal – a sleepy, therefore docile self. Not so. After just a few hours (sometimes minutes), he would be (like most children) re-energized more than ever to terrorize.

And so, (based on a loose interpretation and reading of Borges), Citizen came up with a unique concoction to approach Deviant’s nightmares (whether waking or sleeping). She approached each one (whether remembered or not) as a flavor.

What does this one taste like?

A burp.

And do you like this taste?


(When he liked it, she presumed it would become recurring, as children tend to hold on to likeable nightmares and dreams.)

And last night’s?

Like mildew and vanilla crème.

Do you like this taste?

No and yes.

(With a mixed response such as this, its recurrence would be uncertain and therefore any further exploration set aside for the time being).

And yet this other?

Blah. Bleh.

(Immediate negative responses of this nature would incur immediate resistance and thus an unlikely incarnation).

This was her initial approach. It came upon her to take it a step further; she would insist he explore the taste of such repulsive flavors further and deeper. Try it again, she’d recommend after having him wash it down with one of his favorite drinks (usually water sprinkled with lime). This secondary approach often led to a watered down version of the taste – less dominating and verging on appealing.

Now at this point, it appears Citizen had very much strayed from the original wishes of Deviant’s parents to treat and cure him of his nightmares. He became more or less an experiment in psychology. Should she have taught Deviant about the true character of Borges himself – both his private and public persona, overall likeable – rather than his nearly blasphemous interpretation of dreams? Whatever the case, the results of this aspect of her tutorship were quite impressive.

Treating each nightmare (whether imagined or lived) as a flavor turned it into some kind of a game. Deviant felt free to taste a variety of nightmare flavors as he would various flavors of food, and the end result was at times – equal to giving even the most repulsive of tastes a chance – the exploration of nightmares as approachable as dreams. In turn, releasing him from the fear of nightmares resulted in the promotion of selves that were not to be feared. And this, after all, was the goal of his parents, and for that matter, the Institution. Explore your various selves – any other than your deviant self.

But it must be added that (as with any other child’s game) Deviant grew bored and tired of this flavor game and more often that not, reverted to his core, troubled self.

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