I need better ones than the ones I have

I"ve been having this recurring dream. Maybe I should pay someone to figure it out for me.

I"m at the Wal-Mart at 71st and Keystone with a full cart of groceries, clothes, automotive supplies and Bibles. I"m the seventh person in a very long and very slow line. After what seems like 90 minutes, I reach the front of the line. I make my purchases, get my items bagged and push my cart out the front door to my car.

That"s when I discover that the front door leads directly into another Super Wal-Mart, my cart has been emptied and I have to walk through the store again to get what I want.

I go through this process perhaps 10 times before I wake up. And when I do arise, I"m already exhausted after having been shopping at the Wal-Mart from hell for eight hours.

Perhaps unrelated to this is a crank caller I keep getting both at work and at home. This person calls every day with a different suggestion on how I should kill myself.

I should OD on the pills he"ll provide, or I should hang myself with a noose he"s constructed, or I should just jump off the roof of Conseco Fieldhouse.

It"s getting so I enjoy the calls. Someone who"s that dedicated to seeing me die must really be a big fan of mine.

Or maybe not. My fan club has been depleted of members and all I have left are people calling me telling me to die.

How do you respond to someone whose life quest is to see you in the cemetery? His last call was, "I was sorry to hear your mother died, but if you kill yourself now, you can see her in hell."

This person apparently has enough time to think about how I should die. I wish he was giving helpful suggestions on how to live a productive life.

Weird, random things have been happening everywhere I go. There is a woman going around the city telling people that she"s the mother of my two children.

Now, anything"s possible, and there were a few years in the 1980s and 1990s that are hard to recall, but I"ve never seen this woman before in my life.

She"s been known to go up to people at the grocery store, people I know personally or professionally, show off her kids and talk about what a great father I am.

Hmm. I"m always auditioning new talent, and the grand prize could be the privilege of bearing my hellish brood, but I am unaware of any current children of mine walking around the city.

Why would someone want to kill me or claim they have had my kids? It astonishes me. In the grand scheme of the world, much less the city, there are many more people more appropriate to want to kill or be obsessed with.

Maybe the apocalypse has already happened and nobody informed me about it. Maybe the Rapture has occurred and I"m left behind with the death-threat callers and the would-be mothers of my children.

Real life is hard enough without strange people doing these things. Trying to maintain the friendships I already have is taxing my energy.

There are some bells you can"t unring, and there are some situations where you"d literally give everything to resolve them, but it still doesn"t do any good.

One of the women I know, one of the most beautiful ones, is also the toughest one. More than once, she"s threatened to kick the asses of her supposed rivals. Once or twice I"ve actually been afraid she"d do it. She"s been known to brawl on occasion. Maybe I should send her after the "mom" of my kids.

All of my personal drama and unpleasantness of the past few months have receded, only to be replaced by other concerns. I"m doing the best I can in any given situation but it"s still a hard road.

For every person who threatens to kill me, there are three or four more with supportive words. For every nutcase stalker, there"s 1.3 million people in the metro area who could care less about me, and four or five who do care.

I want to encourage a new kind of Hammer stalker, one with plenty of cash, a good stereo system, a refrigerator full of Cokes and a fetish for rap music and Joy Division.

The stalkers I have aren"t working. I need one with a new car, so I can drink when I go out; clean credit, so I can buy stuff; no felony convictions (a must!); and a sense of humor.

Maybe it"s the hot weather; maybe it"s just my particular world drama; maybe it"s the dude who wants to kill me. But I"ve lost a lot of my sense of humor over the past few weeks.

I"m trying to get it back, and to take hope in the people in my life who are actually improving themselves, and healing themselves, but right now all I want to do is listen to Pantera, Too $hort and Biggie Smalls and forget about shit for a change.

So I"m taking my phone off the hook for a while and not answering any corporate e-mail. Hit me up on my AOL account if you want to reach me, because I need some time to sit back and chill and figure all this out.