Maybe it was the kombucha at dinner, or maybe it was my son Rohan’s everlasting spirit and love of play that tired me so, but by the time the philistines were discussing their “Sports Ball ‘’ on the local news, I had dozed off. Usually, my dreams are congenial affairs of myself and Rohan activating our play centers in an endless field on a summer’s day, but this was different. I dreamt that I was watching myself sleep in the chair in front of the TV, when suddenly the TV slowly began to lift itself off of the ground. It had begun to grow legs. A boil-like head began to protrude from the top of the television. I noticed it was wearing a rather bedraggled fedora. I began to have my concerns, I’d heard of this phenomenon before. Once the arms began protruding from the sides and I got a look at the red and green striped sweater, I knew. Freddy Kruger had come to kill me. Half television, half-demented spirit, he stomped towards me.
Extending his razor-sharp fingers he exclaimed, “Isn’t the news a scream!”
I’d heard of him before. Everyone in Springwood has. We had our reservations about moving here, but the price was right and outweighed the very slight chance of being murdered in our dreams. Wyntyr, my partner, had just birthed Rohan, and we needed to upgrade our living situation after the birthing pool leaked and ruined the floors of our downtown Austin loft.
“It’s not like we’re going to be living on Elm Street,” Wyntyr argued. “Springwood is a big town, we’ll probably never even bump into this Fredrick person.”
And she was right, for a time I suppose.
I narrowly ducked out of the way of his bladed glove as he swiped at me, making a fine mess of my August Beckett artisanal wicker chair. Even though he was awkward in his current form, he was still quick and I wasn’t able to outmaneuver him. He grabbed my copy of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow off of a side table and hurled it at my head.
“This book is a real nightmare!” He cackled.
The impact put me in a daze and I stumbled back, tripping on Rohan’s always-in-vouge set of wooden toys and finally through the drywall and onto the floor of the kitchen. Freddy, now looking like his usual self, wasn’t done with me yet. He picked me up over his head and began banging me into the walls and cupboards, but with every impact I heard the sound of a pinball game. He pushed my head through the framed painting of Frida Kahlo wearing a daft punk shirt.
“Game over asshole!” He yelled, tossing my limp body to the floor.
The kitchen, like myself, was destroyed. The walls were full of holes, the countertops smashed and the few cabinet doors that still hung were stained with my blood. It was a total write-off.
Looming over top of me, Freddy admired the razor-sharp blades on his glove. “Your soul will give me strength. The strength I need to-” he stopped suddenly. I opened my eyes, slowly at first- almost too terrified of what I would see. Freddy was fixated on the wall in front of him. He walked towards it and tore off a piece of the loose drywall that he had bashed open with my face, exposing the beautiful brickwork underneath.
“Is this…natural brick?” he asked himself. “It is!” He began to look around the kitchen, studying the particulars. “This is a vaulted ceiling. If you got rid of these recessed lights and knocked it all out…you could really have yourself a good space here.” Producing measuring tape out of his pocket, he began to measure the wall I had just crashed through. “Hmmm” he murmured. “It has good bones.”
“This is your backsplash now, bitch!” Freddy Kruger yelled at Wyntyr. She didn’t even glance up from her June issue of Monocle. Freddy had been at it for more than two weeks now, and his presence had turned from shocking to ordinary. We hadn’t seen any of the work he had done because large tarps covered both entrances to the kitchen. He kept surprisingly ordinary work hours for a supernatural being, always in around 8 and leaving at 5, lunch pail in hand.
Still, the lines of reality were blurring and I asked myself “Am I in his nightmare, or is he in mine?”
There were certainly Freddy-like events going on: I’d hear creepy nursery rhymes floating in the wind, and there was a general feeling of unease in the house. But if he was controlling this world, would he really have had to recut that one piece of crown moulding so many times? Would he make so many trips to Home Depot? Couldn’t Freddy just have the right amount of ceiling paint to finish the job?
Finally, the time came for the big unveiling. Freddy, unusually sheepish, tried to explain the concept but he quickly lost the words. Pulling back the tarp, I could see why.
Think “Venezuelan chop and chew”, but not? “Industrial” vibe, but “french cottage feel”? I don’t want to say “plantation-style” because of cancel-culture, but I’ll say plantation-style. But maybe it isn’t any of those things. It was just…brilliant. And beautiful. And powerful. We adorned him with praise, but he was too humble, doffing his fedora, he inadvertently exposed his violently burnt brain to me.
“Maybe that’s why his ideas are so scintillating,” Wyntyr would later say, insisting that the fedora doff was a sign of affection, not unlike a common house cat flashing its belly. This man. This nightmare. This burnt child killer with a bladed leather glove had the mind for design, the passion for concepts and peerless commitment to craftsmanship. He was an artist of the home.
Then the bill came.
Our life has been different since Freddy took Rohan as one of his dream warriors. The house seems to lack a bit of the life that it once had, but Wyntyr and I are both sleeping better than ever and the amount we’ve been able to declutter has been simply electric.
Whenever I give a tour of the house to someone new, more often than not they pause when they get to the kitchen. “I’d give my firstborn for a space like this,” they say.
“Hey” I reply. “I know a guy.”