Quonset Hut Dreams

by Lou on June 10, 2005

Last night I had the Quonset hut dream again. It’s a version of a dream I’ve had quite often, especially when I’m in Las Vegas. You remember Quonset huts. They’re prefabricated buildings made of corrugated metal, shaped like the longitudinal half of a cylinder resting on its flat surface. These semicircular, arched-roof buildings, typically insulated with wood fiber if they were insulated at all, were popular during World War II, but have been replaced these days by the sort of tent-like structures you see used on military bases, for school classrooms, and for any other purpose requiring a semi-permanent building.

But in my dream, it’s no ordinary Quonset hut I’m in. Instead of seeing the underside of a corrugated steel roof, this hut is handsomely finished with teak strips running longitudinally along the underside of the building’s roof. The interior is decorated like a British club, with leather chairs, dark paneling on the walls, and a plush carpet. Floor lamps and pot lights in the ceiling wash down on walls full of traditional artwork is subdued, and create an ambiance of quiet dignity.

It’s a very long hut, at least five times longer than other Quonset huts, and there’s a door at either end, as well as door right in the middle of the room. I come in the middle door, wondering what I’m doing there. Then I see the doors at either end. One door is labeled “living;” the other is marked “dead.”

It’s clear to me now that I’m in some kind of purgatory and I can’t tell whether any of the other people in the room are alive or dead. The room is full of people, but none of them are speaking, none are moving, all of them are sitting as still as they would be in a photograph. Then I notice guys in jump suits with employee identification badges around their necks walking around the room with asparagus knives; the kind of knives field workers use to cut asparagus. They are very long, as flexible as whips, and razor sharp.

The knife wielders go from person to person. Some they examine and ignore, but others are turned over on their side. The knife wielders then take their asparagus knife, insert it through the bottom of the foot, and with the flick of a wrist they deftly hollow out their victim. It doesn’t hurt. There’s no sound, no blood, and apparently no pain. When it’s over the knife man moves on to another person. Every now and then someone gets up and walks up to the door marked “dead” then exits through it. Other people occasionally get up and leave through the door marked “living.”

It’s now evident that they’ll eventually be coming for me too, and I don’t want to leave it to chance or to their whim as to whether I’ll be allowed to leave with the living or be hollowed out and consigned to the door of the dead.

While I wonder what to do, I’m suddenly seized with the clarity of the answer about why there is neither blood nor pain when people are hollowed out. It’s not their body that’s being hollowed out; it’s merely the appearance of their body. It’s really their soul.

Why me? Why now? Is Las Vegas ripping my soul out from under me? Can a city do that to you; even one I love visiting? (Though I don’t think I’d be happy living here on a permanent basis.)

Will Las Vegas steal your soul? Can it hollow you out? Or does poker do that? Perhaps it’s the poker lifestyle that separates man from soul? I’m not sure. Although Quonset huts play a part in many of my recurring dreams, I’ve never quite figured out their symbolism. But it’s clear as a bell that I’m fighting against being separated from my soul, and just maybe it’s too much poker or too much of Las Vegas’ surrealscape that does it to me.

I don’t know. But I do know the dream. I’ve had it time and again.

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