On a public street near a riverbank somewhere downtown, things appear neglected and abandoned. Around the corner there’s a grand old white-columned courthouse that has seen better days. Old cars rust outside industrial-sized garages — no people can be seen. I’m there to move into the neighborhood. Eventually, with time, the residents show themselves. It’s a bit of an initiation they do.
In the living space I settle into there’s a rat cage, not much bigger than a 10-gallon terrarium, but which is decorated beautifully with plant clippings and dry moss. Around the corner in this strangely welcoming squat group-style apartment is a leopard in small cage. It’s at first unfriendly, even hostile. Then one day it asks to be handled and is so friendly I almost let it escape by rolling through a crunchy plastic carry-out box.
Working on a student project of some kind, I take figurines of the evil Mongol leader from Mulan and add a jet-pack. Mostly, this doesn’t result in its limbs being melted off — mostly. Heph, my partner, does a much more diligent job and regales us with a moving story (which I watch through a gap underneath the rat cage). Blake is also living here, and I recall it being her birthday. The dream ends outside in a oddly-shaped triangular parcel, cars parked tight, with stalagmites of rust rising out of the ground.