Saving Tinkerbell

by David Glenn Cox

My November dreams have become restless nightmares now, as I toss and

turn unable to find rest. Night figures haunt me, walking alone and in

groups alone in the shadows, yet even through the darkness I can see

their faces. Pale and gaunt, tight with anxiety, thin with hunger,

steel eyes looking nowhere and everywhere. Looking back over their

shoulders towards the future, like looking for yesterday to find

tomorrow as they walk away slowly into the distance.

Why do

they seek me out? Why do they haunt me so? Is it because I am also

them? I am one of them with my membership card in my hand, with my

dirty shoes and ragged clothes as proof true. Are these specters me? Do

I run loose in my mind or does my mind run loose in my head? Am I

haunting myself? Have the sinews and synapses allowed my brain to break

free like a ship’s cargo in a storm?

They cohabitate with me

when my eyes close to sleep. I hear their voices; I hear their labored

steps. I hear their children until I wake in a sweating, frozen terror

and I wish to scream for them to be gone from me! But it is no use,

because I can’t. They are the strangers who know me and the ghosts who

are me and I carry their chains as penance for my crimes like Marley.


watch their numbers grow, as I watch the world spit on them and cuss

them and excoriate them and fit them for their crown of thorns. The

populace put forth a shallow, false bravado to hide the fear, the fear

of being next, of walking alone, of being spit upon, of being hated by

the world. The fear of the hundredth job application for a job you’re

overqualified for but under-qualified for because you’re too old or too

young or too female or too male, but most of all you’re under-qualified

because you want to get paid for your work.

They hold me down in

my sleep; they grab my hands and seize me as I struggle to break free,

and as I do sparks fly around the room from the light sockets. I cannot

sing, I can only scream, not beautiful music but the sounds that need

to be heard just the same. So don’t fault me if my words hurt your ears

for I am not singing to you. I’m sending you a message from the other


The charlatans who strut the days in matinees of palisades

and serpentine splendor that remains to remind us that all the world is

a stage, but the play is all of fiction. Their names may change as fast

as the facts, but never forget they run in packs, and sleep better

knowing that their money’s safely in the banks. So don’t try to phone,

don’t try to call, don’t you ring the doorbell and wait on the lawn,

for they don’t know you.

They have names for you, of course, and

programs for you and forms to fill out and waiting periods and

calculations. Stratagems and economic theories and black-tie dinner

parties over food you’ve never tasted and wine you’ve never drank,

followed by dessert and champagne to celebrate their escape from the

life you must daily lead. Slowly it begins to come to me why these

ghosts disturb my rest; it is because I hear them and they do not. I

feel them and they do not. I am one of them and they are not.


do not rest with bloated belly filled with fine food and wine, but with

hot dogs and maybe a beer and I’m glad to get it. Oh, I get it all

right, like a lover spurned, I get it. We are unneeded by you now! This

assembled multitude should disperse now into the night to tread the

footpaths of the night people, the street people, the homeless people

to be summoned up when the trumpet sounds again and the polls open.


will call them out; I will call them out of their temples even if the

star catchers and cultists object. Holy rollers steeped in party and

baptized with the holy water of political furor. It’s not heads I win,

tails you lose. We all lose. You play the game, but they run they game.

When your man calls six they all chant, yes, six hooray! When their man

calls six they cuss and yell, oh no, not six! So excuse me while I

laugh because it’s all the same play, for penny-stinkers and kings!


no, they cry out from the temple pews, you’ve just got to believe!

You’ve just got to! Otherwise Tinkerbell will be lost to us. Come on

now, you’ve got to have hope! With hope we can do anything, so come on,

join us, lets all hope real hard for Tinkerbell. You see? I think it’s

working. I see a light shining. Sure, that’s it; everyone hope real


Yes, I see the light, too, but I see it in the dark, for

in the dark there is a clarity. A clarity not given to those who live

in the light. A thousand points of light are surrounded by a million

points of darkness, and those of us with concrete for beds, we know

this unquestioningly. Hope is a four letter word, but so is help and so

is food; hope is what you hold onto when there is no help or food. Like

fairy sprites, it is all a make-believe game.

But our night is

as real as is their day. Hope is not a plan, hope is a way to dodge the

blame and for them to say heretic! You’re disloyal, go away! You don’t

believe when I would upend, but ’tis for you to unrecommend. For that

will change naught, and it will change nigh, because I will condemn all

those who lie. For to silence me won’t silence the others, as they,

too, will begin to haunt you under the covers. At night time close in

safe repose, you’ll see their shadows, you’ll wear their clothes and

you will know what they know.

Reality is stone and fantasy

whipped cream, and no, this is real and not a dream. The night men grow

and their numbers swell, and without saving us there is no saving


Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.