It's always the same; it never fluctuates in any way.
I close my eyes and almost simultaneously the thing starts itself up.
It's a dream that begins with me feeling cold asphalt touching my chin.
I look forward and I see it: the black leather shoe.
I smell its just-polished leather, its sole, and the scent of Prada cologne.
My body is pressed against the ground by the weight somebody quite heavy and both of my arms are twisted behind my back.
The sound of pebbles rubbing against the asphalt comes first; then my face is hit by an explosion of pain.
I feel something break inside my nose and warm blood streams down from my nose and into my mouth.
Another blast: I choke on a couple of teeth and cough out globs of blood.
I scream and try to lurch away; a leathery hand shoves my head down onto the asphalt.
Another blast: I feel excruciating pain as the left half of my face caved in on itself.
I hear the sound of my own blood dripping on to the asphalt and I start to lose consciousness -- the dream ends.
I've been seeing this dream every night for five years now.
I don't know who the men (women?) in the dream are; I've never seen their faces.
I know that the dream isn't a reenactment of a real event.
For the first year or so the dream made me fear sleeping; the lack of rest lead to me getting fired from work and that would lead to Ayako leaving me.
I tried counseling, therapy, doctors and at least three different religions; nothing worked and the dream persisted.
By the second year something unexpected happened: I started wanting to see the dream.
Perhaps it was because life there was nothing going on in my life: I had no job and I was living alone in a barren apartment with just a television that was never turned off.
Every day I would awake and wait until night came and for the dream to start.
The dream had become the sole reason for my existence; in other words, I lived to see the dream -- when such words first ran through my head, I threw up on the floor.
I found some peace when I started accepting those words as truth.
One day a I found an unmarked package in front of my door.
It contained money -- lots of it, scented with Prada, and a black leather shoe.
That black leather shoe.
I shoved the the box and its contents down the garbage chute.
To no one in particular I whispered, "it's all I've got."
It's been two years since that day and I still see the dream and I feel content.