It was all so familiar. I was sitting on the bed chatting to Lan as he sat in his leather chair tapping away on the computer. There was always something he was working on, whether it was producing music, composing songs or simply playing some online game. The hours he’d spend in that chair. I remember when he bought it, I thought it was too big for this room, but when he showed me the reclining function I finally understood his reasoning. Lan’s nickname was the Baron, although the meaning of Baron had nothing to do with the more well-known definitions of nobility. To Lan and our closest friends, being a Baron meant pursuing an activity until you mastered it to perfection. In that sense Lan was a baron music producer, a baron gamer, a baron cyclist, a baron swimmer and pretty much anything else he’d focus his energy on. He was the ultimate baron and like I said, this was a familiar position, I was on his bed chatting while he was ‘baroning’.
I can’t remember the content of what was being said, but we were in a standard type conversation. Probably talking about girls, our next gig, or bitching about our drummer who always turns up late. When suddenly it hit me.
“Lan! You’re dead!”
Moving slowly he swivelled his chair round to face me. He had the look of a child being caught trespassing, as if he knew he shouldn’t be here, that this was my place, my dreams. I knew he was dead, I had seen his body, I even knew I was dreaming. But strangely I wasn’t scared, or filled with sadness. I didn’t leap up to grab him, hug him and kiss him. We just sat there, calmly, familiarly, and continued our conversation.
“Yeah sorry ’bout that”
“Fucks sake, why’d you go and do that, you’ve hurt a lot of people down here”
“Ah man, you know I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I just had to go, it was my time, I had to leave”
On reflection I should have argued with him about this. I should have said no one has to leave, least of all you. From the outside it seemed as if he had everything, good looks, amazing talents, great friends, a beautiful girlfriend and a promising career in teaching. We could have talked about this, I wish he would have let me in. But in my dream I accepted it readily and moved on to the next question.
“Oh, OK. Well how are you doing now? You ok?”
“Yeah I’m great, met a lot of nice people, it’s not bad up here”
“Oh, cool. So what’re you doing with yourself now?”
“Well, there’s lots to do up here, I’ve been jamming a lot with some fun guys, but mostly I’ve been spending time alone, writing some of my own material, you know experimenting with sounds and stuff”
“Oh, that sounds like fun”
I nodded in approval at Lans antics. I knew he’d be up to something, no doubt playing with Hendrix & Lennon, perhaps showing them an alternate chord progression, or a harmony that would finish the song nicely. It felt so real, the conversation was so easy I had almost forgotten the pain of the last couple days. It didn’t feel like he was dead, more like he’d just popped out for a bit and is now waiting in the room down the hall, waiting til you fall asleep before he can kindly pay you a visit. And it was kind, I was very happy to see him.
“You know Lan, I’m not sure if I want to do music without you, it won’t be the same”
“Ah come on, you don’t need me, you’ve never really needed me”
“Are you crazy, of course I need you, I’ve always needed you. To be honest, its not just music, I don’t know how I can go on with life without you”
“Man, don’t be stupid. You’ll be just fine, I know you will. And when you’re not fine I’ll be around, I’m always around”
“Ah thanks Lan, that’s nice to know”
“That’s ok, well, see you round sometime”
And just like that I woke up, heart-pounding like a race horse, shaken by what had just happened. I was sleeping on the floor beside Becs and her brother Greg. The two of them, both fast asleep probably dreaming of cakes, motorbikes, travels and adventures. Ordinary dreams, dreams that I have often. Sometimes dreams can be fantastical or surreal, doing amazing things in incredible places. Sometimes they’re plain naughty, doing things that can only happen in dreams. The trouble is you just can’t control them, at least I can’t. If I could I’d meet up with Lan for a midnight baron 3-times a week. In truth, he rarely pays me a visit. I wish he’d come more often, but even at that, I’m so glad he comes at all.