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Excerpt from No One Dreams in Color, a novel-in-progress.

Bob Dylan, Carl Jung and Leonard Cohen walk into a bar in heaven…

Dylan was dressed like a tramp clown, wearing a battered calico vest, baggy trousers, and a dusty bowler. He carried a rusty harmonica.

Jung was decked out in a double-breasted dark suit, with a bright yellow handkerchief folded squarely into the breast-pocket of his suit-jacket. He carried a small black leather notebook.

Cohen was wearing a long blue raincoat. He carried nothing.

Dylan, drunk and blowzy, falls off his barstool and hits the sawdusty floor hard. Ow, he grimaces. Then he raises his head slightly, brings his harmonica to his lips, squeezes out a few bluesy bars, and lets his head fall back to the floor.

   Jung, perched on his barstool, asks Dylan what he sees from down there.

   Stars, Dylan responds on beat. Lots and lots of stars.

   Interesting, Jung says, and writes something down in his small black notebook.

   Cohen falls off his stool next, wanting to imitate Dylan. Or make Dylan feel better, less alone.

   Cohen lies on his back, side by side with Dylan. Cohen’s nose sticks out. As does Dylan’s. It’s hard to tell whose nose is longer, more formidable.

   What do you see down there, Jung asks Cohen.

   Dreams, Cohen responds with a small smile, a child’s guilty pleasure of a smile.

   No, no, not dreams, Cohen amends. Birds. I see birds. Lots and lots of birds. All different colors.

   Interesting, Jung says, and writes something down in his small black notebook.

   God, having given Lucifer the night off, is tending bar. He asks Jung if he intends on falling off this stool. Jung says no. He plans on staying upright.

   God smiles. Jung quickly replaces his spectacles with a pair of dark shades, shielding his eyes form God’s thousand suns smile.

   God comes out from behind the bar. He picks up Bob Dylan, places his bowler back on his head, and seats him on his barstool. Then God does the same for Leonard Cohen.

   What are you drinking, boys, God asks.

   Dylan, whose head is wobbling, as if several screws in his neck have come loose, says to God—You haven’t got any eyes.

   You’ve been drinking, Mr. Dylan, God says.

   Yes, Dylan agrees, rising rubber-legged from his stool, index upraised. Very astute observation, barkeep . . . it’s true, I have been drinking, but your eyes . . . what the hell happened to your eyes? Did you lose your eyes? Did you never have eyes? Never ever?

   Dylan belches into a cupped hand. Then he plays a few bluesy bars on his harmonica. He opens his mouth, as if about to sing, but nothing comes. He has forgotten the words, or they him.

   God, towel-wiping a beer mug, responds—I have eyes, Mr. Dylan, you just can’t see them. You’ve been drinking.

   You mean to say, when I drink, eyes disappear? They just, poof, go away.

   Dylan claps Leonard Cohen on the shoulder.

   Leonard, old boy, what do you have to say about all this? Does the bartender have eyes, or does he not?

   Cohen gazes, slightly askance, in the direction of the bartender, of God.

   I can’t see a damned thing, Cohen says.

   What do you mean, Dylan presses.

   I mean, there’s no on there. No barkeep. So if there’s no barkeep, then it stands to reason that the barkeep has no eyes.

   So then you agree with me that the barkeep is eyeless?

   Cohen cradles his chin in his hand and considers Dylan’s branch of reasoning. He then proceeds to undo the belt sinching his raincoat. The two sides of the raincoat part, revealing that Cohen is completely naked beneath the raincoat. Naked, and projecting a radiant swath of light from the six-pointed star branded just above his navel.

   What do you think, Cohen grins, modeling his light.

   Jung, who has put his dark shades back on, is fiercely scribbling in his small black notebook.

   Please close your raincoat, Leonard, Dylan says. You’re getting light everywhere.

   Cohen sinches his raincoat, cutting off the light.

   Dylan belches, moist and metallic, then slaps his hands against his thighs, and requests—May I have another, barkeep?

   Sure, Mr. Dylan, God assents.

   Please, call me Robert.

   Here you go, Robert, God sets a tumbler of whiskey onto the counter.

   You, my dear fellow, are a bartender after my own poor broken heart. Cheers!

   Leonard Cohen, and Carl Jung, who has taken a break from writing in his notebook, watch Dylan ferociously gulp down his whiskey, and then fell off his stool, resounding with a thud on the sawdusty floor.

   Now what do you see, Jung practically shouts, as if Dylan is deaf or faraway.

   Dylan mumbles incoherently. There are X’s branded onto his drawn eyelids. God once again comes out from behind the counter, picks Dylan up, and sets him on the barstool. Dylan slumps forward, his face pasted to the counter.

   Job, just back from running food, looks at God, shakes his head, and says—Why do you keep serving him? And picking him up?

   God smiles, his entire eyeless face aflame in brilliant light, and responds—Because, Job, who am I to judge?

   Hallelujah, Cohen says, raising his glass.

   Jung resumes writing in his small black notebook.

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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