I said his name into the phone.
"There's been a problem."
"What kind of problem?"
"The kind I need to talk to about in person."
"It's too fuckin early."
"Fuck man you have no idea. Get up and come meet me."
"If it's so fuckin important you come here."
I took off towards his place. I had Cliff in the back seat, breathing. His eyes were open as if looking out the sunroof at the early AM sky. Except they were looking red and dry.
John Mitchell Rogers M.D. was a friend of mine from school. In the very beginning we used to get high once every few months and though we hadn't done that in years, there was a bond. He once told me if he knew he had another life he'd spend this one stoned. Instead he was neurologist who liked to learn functional programming languages for fun.
I rang and he opened the door.
"What is it?"
I showed him Cliff in the car.
"Jesus, Klein, what are you doing?"
"He hacked into the dream machine. He took it from my office."
"Hacked into it?"
"I know, I know. But I need him to get out of this. I don't like not knowing what he did and where is."
"Where he is, is lying in what could very well be a vegetative state in the fuckin back seat of your car. Your car, Klein. What are you thinking?"
He leaned in over Cliff and looked and listened.
"If I were you," he said, "I'd wash my hands of all this immediately."
"I'm the one who pulled the tube. While he was in there."
"And now you want him out."
"And you want me to help you."
Forget what we said before: Cliff is staring at the sky. A flock of birds pass overhead, splitting up and then coming together. He watches them, and inside his skull dense patterns of electrical activity move that way, just like that.