“It was a compensatory dream. How I loved it. My clothes were in perfect repair. My wife was still alive. I was sipping brandy and coffee after a fine supper with several other members of the Class of Nineteen-hundred and Thirty-five. One detail from real life carried over into the dream: I was proud that I did not smoke anymore.
But then I absent-mindedly accepted a cigarette. It was simply one more civilized satisfaction to go with the good talk and my warm belly and all. “Yes, yes — ” I said, recalling some youthful shenanigans. I chuckled, eyes twinkling. I put the cigarette to my lips. A friend held a match to it. I inhaled the smoke right down to the soles of my feet.
In the dream I collapsed to the floor in convulsions. In real life I fell out of my bed at the Hotel Arapahoe. In the dream my damp, innocent pink lungs shriveled into two black raisins. Bitter brown tar seeped from my ears and nostrils.
But worst of all was the shame.”