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Short Fiction

When the tutor arrived, he looked like the Fonz in a long black dress, or I guess Henry Winkler in a long black dress. The dress was a cheap polyester and hung off him oddly, but took away none of his essential dignity.

“Which class are you studying for?”

“Dream studies.”

“Now does that mean studies about dreams or studies in dreams?”

“Both, I think,” leafing through the table-sized volume that contained my notes. “The point of the class is to combine the two.”

“All right. Let’s talk about this while walking in the lake.”

The lake was right off campus, and remarkably warm for December. We waded in up to our necks.

“Now the important thing to remember,” the Fonz said, “is Perez’s six theoretical structures of dreams. What’s the first?”

“Metaphorical.”

“Then?”

“Psychological?”

“Third?”

“Ornithological.”

“Name the rest.”

“I can’t remember.”

“We’ll make them up: historical, erotic, and purgatory. Now, in which structure do birds feature prominently?”

“Metaphorical.”

“Exactly. See those herons?”

On the shores of the lake stood a flock of herons, wading in the surf and pecking frogs. They made me nervous.

“The herons are a mnemonic. Their names are, left to right: Perez, Hauptman, Smith, and Evers. That way you can remember the major dream theorists.”

I had never looked at it that way, but he was right. I guess that’s why he was the Fonz.