Balinese Moose Amok

I dreamed my three sisters and I returned to Bali to share a week's vacation.Checker cab straight from the 747 to the Hilton, red carpet and then theescalator to the second floor lobby. I am surprised that, in stark contrastto last year's long lines, there are only a handful of people waiting atany of the service counters. Lynnette is already standing in one shortqueue, but I spot an even shorter one. I try to persuade her to switch,but a concierge waving landing lights says No, this is the one forthem. So I go over to the same counter but stand in front of a differentregister, behind an elderly couple dressed in safari outfits, apparentlyfrom New Zealand. The receptionist smiles at me as if to say Just giveme a moment to get rid of them. I stifle an impulse to glance atmy watch, and start looking around. Odd, but evidently it's stillwinter in Bali, for there are a wide variety of woolen hats, mittens,and sweaters for sale near the registers, presumably to keepone's hands warm and the snow off one's head.There's even a ski mask that looks just like one of mine.I ponder it: Could I have pinched it standing in this same linelast year? Well, not again this year. The New Zealanders shuffleoff behind a gaggle of bellboys, and I'm up. Being still in school,I reflect, I'm not exactly loaded. Despite my relative poverty,my sisters will expect me to pay for my own room while they splitthe cost of another three ways.

Then it strikes me: Why am I, no, Why are we, going to payHilton prices when everything in Bali can be had so cheap? Apartfrom the airfare, isn't economy part of the lure? Well, maybe notfor them. I start stammering something about halting procedures,the receptionist frowns, and I appeal to my sisters that we retreatto the mezzanine for a moment and pow wow.Three pale faces barely nod, not speaking a word,and several times along the way I turn aroundto make sure they are still following me.

The mezzanine turns out to be little more thanan oversized dark landing halfway down the old,pre-escalator-era staircase,yet it boasts a large stone fireplace and is furnishedwith leather upholstered chairs and a sofa. Do Ireally want to turn my back on such luxury? I beginquestioning my own judgment. There is my sisters' safety toworry about, not to mention the non-refundable reservationfee. And between the three of them, they command no more thanfive words in Indonesian. The case they present, however, issomewhat different. They take turns testifying that what theyreally need are wakeup calls,the quietude of the central air conditioning,European style bathroom fixtures, and room service breakfast in bedcomplete with real oatmeal. That oatmeal is five dollarsa bowl! I interject, but they keep on as if I hadn't said a thing.

Listening to this litany of creature comforts tires me,and I lean forward to prop up my chin using the arm of my chair.Mounted on the wall directly above my shoulder is a moose's head.(Rather like I would imagine an elegant hunting lodge,this part of the Hilton.) My sisters, too, become tired, and finallytheir arguments trail off into a shy sort of silence.I had imagined myself as again playing the role of a knowledgeableguide to the sights and sounds of this tropical island paradise,just like last year. Now, this year, I am wondering What hashappened to me? I wanted to be a good brother and rescue themfrom needless extravagance, but already I feel totallydefeated. They know the alternatives, and what we're gettinginto. It is our second go around, after all. Just thenthe mounted moose head lowers itself onto my shoulder. He'sheavy, but I don't mind the weight so much as the fact thathe seems to have taken a fancy tochewing my hair. I slide off the chair onto the floor, tryingto escape, but he bumbles after me, knocking the chair on its side,and pins me against the dark red carpet under his chin and onewildly flexed knee. I feel the power of his jaw muscles as hecontinues to chew myhair like cud. Trying to free my head reveals that most of the hair onthe left side is clamped securely between his molars.

Fearing greater aggression, I caress his head and stroke his neck.just trying to keep the beast calm. He won't let go, and seeingvisions of him chewing my ear off or jabbing my eyes out withhis cumbrous antlers, I delicately inquire of my sisterswhether they might not notice or devise some way of helping me.After carefully ascertaining that they do in principle know thelikely whereabouts of a number of bellhops, deskworkers, andpossibly even of a manager, and that they are aware of theduty of all hotel employees to be of service to its payingcustomers, or for that matter, to anybody even in the process ofcontemplating taking a room, I finally yell out -- at Ellen,for specificity's sake -- Then why don't you please go get help,oh brilliant sister of mine?! She reacts but does not budge. Then,Listen, I was wrong to wax so ironic about your brilliance, butplease forgive me and go get help anyway. Nothing, not evena raised eyebrow.

Meanwhile, my yelling has bothered the moose enough that hejostles me around, but while squirming under his heavy weight,I manage to look around and see door to the outsideon the next landing. I slithering my way toward it, the moosereleasing me from under his legs but not loosening the clutchof his jaws on my hair. The door turns out to be only a fewsteps down, not a whole flight, but still the moose stumblesand nearly plants his hooves in my back trying to catch himself.I make it halfway out the door into the failing light of dusk,hoping the moose will prefer the lush vegetation and freedom ofthe open air outside to my my chemically treated hair.But he shows no interest in escape and refuses to let goof my hair. When will he grow weary of clenching his jawsand holding me down with his head like this? It occurs to methat these moves are much akin to its usual feeding behavior,head down and jaws working. My sisters have followed us tothe threshold but still do nothing.

Finally some men from the hotel approach: a manager, severalbellboys, and a doctor carrying a large black leather bag.Momentarily distracted by theirapproach, the moose relaxes his jaw for just a second and I pull out,rolling over and over to escape. Only after they all move in onthe animal do I finally stand up again. The doctor shows more concernfor the beast than for me (of course!), but soon enough he has finishedadministering a large hypodermic injection into his shoulder -- whilewatching this procedure I notice a terrible scar ringing the moose'sneck where he had formerly been mounted to the wall -- and thenhe sends his patient off with a pat on the rump.This is when I start complaining bitterly. Against the doctor'savowal that I was never in any real danger, I am quick tointerrogate him as to how he could have any actual knowledgeof the situation, having himself arrived so late. I begindisputing the competence of any health care professional whoneglects to apply an alcohol swab before giving an injection whenI notice the thick rubber gloves he is wearing. Perhaps themoose was ill, perhaps even rabid. I don't know how I missedit before, but when I then see that the doctor's entire headis enveloped within a talcum-dusted latex sheath, I'm suddenlybeside myself with rage.With one hand I grab the doctor by the collar, and with the otherI grab his strap-on dark glasses and pull them away from his faceas far as the elastic will stretch. I shout right into hiseyes So, there is absolutely nothing about that moose to be afraidof, is there? and I let go of his glasses, my fury not in theleast diminished by the loud smack of their striking hisrubber-wrapped face or the whimper that escapes his sealed-inlips.

Nor would I hesitate to do worse, but just then the moosecomes bounding over the row of checker cabs and leaps clear overour heads. Two bellboys have already each gotten their lassosaround its neck, and once it lands, they pull hard ontheir lines. A third and forth succeed in roping its legs,and together they manage to bring it to the ground. Thedoctor gestures frantically and I let him go to attendto the berserk moose.

I stand there watching, machinating further revenge.I'm far from satisfied with the the degree to whichthe doctor has admitted his shame, whether coerced byphysical humiliation or not. Only when the head managerof the Hilton hands me the ski mask I had seen in thelobby, inside of which I discover a nine millimeter Beretta,do I see the criminal folly of my ways. So the stuffedmoose head regains its body and runs amok -- is that anyreason to shoot the doctor? I wrap the gun up inthe mask again and hand them back to the manager. ThenI step into the back of the cab at the head of the lineand, leaning out the window, inform my sisters that Iam heading back to the airport to wait for the first flighthome.

Dreamed by: Spraxlo