My friend and I had to get to the car and came to a tangled embankment that we had to climb. The harder we tried to climb it, the more tangled and difficult it became.
A little girl came toward us along the top of this embankment. She was confident in her movements, but I could see that the board she was reaching for was broken so I held my hand out to steady or catch her. Instead, my gesture made her slip and fall precipitously to her death. I could not get over my guilt, although nothing seemed to happen as a result.
I found myself in a strangely crowded street or neighborhood of workshops. I’ve forgotten many of the details of what happened, but I learned that my brother was selling the actual visas and passports of real people, and everyone here accepted this as a normal venture. With the certainty of righteous anger, I stood up and yelled, “You can’t traffic in citizenships!” Some of the presidential candidates were in the area, and I appealed to them. Confused, they scoffed.
It occurred to me that all this was fictional, or should be. I looked around the area, which was compact, crowded, and surreal in aspect. I thought, “This is California, but where are the vineyards?” The names “Danville” and “Danby” occurred to me, but they seemed too mundane and American for the setting and for the kind of story that I thought I had to tell.