A Tale Of Horror

"Literature boils with the madcap careers of writers brought to the edge by the demands of living on their nerves, wringing out their memories and their nightmares to extract meaning, truth, beauty." - Herbert Gold

Well Herb, you're only two-thirds correct in my case. I'm not looking for any beauty – if it even exists at all in the experience I had two days ago.

Normally I wouldn't devote an entire column to something so trivial as a nightmare, but this experience was so intense, the details so rich and horrifying, that I feel I must share this with all of my readers (translation: it's the offseason).

Monday morning I awoke almost in a state of shock. No, I didn't have a premonition of the Trent Green trade, which would take place a little over 24 hours later, and wouldn't have been shocking by any stretch of the imagination anyway.

No, what transpired in my sleep was far more terrifying, a macabre visit from the grim reaper of my subconscious. It was an enactment of one of the most terrorizing fears lurking within the deep, dark recesses of my mind these last few months.

Monday morning, the Chiefs traded Larry Johnson.

"All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land."

- Jack Kerouac


I'm sitting in the front row of Radio City Music Hall – the site of the 2008 NFL draft. The Chiefs are not on the clock yet as the first round begins – the St. Louis Rams have the top pick. I'm to the left of the large stage where a chosen few rookies will walk out from the green room to meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they are drafted.

Suddenly, a trade is announced.

ESPN Anchor Chris Berman speaks from a television mounted on the wall in front of me. Pangs of fear strike my belly as I see the Chiefs' familiar red and white Arrowhead replace the St. Louis logo.

What or – gasp – who did the Chiefs trade to move up to the number one pick? My fears are realized as Berman announces the trade. The Kansas City Chiefs have traded Larry Johnson to the St. Louis Rams. The Chiefs are on the clock. My heart is in my throat.

The terms of the trade are not announced, but I'm already incensed. My anger is momentarily stayed as the Chiefs select their first rookie. It's someone big, and he walks out of the green room, shakes Goodell's hand and walks off the stage.

It's Barry Richardson. An offensive tackle. From Clemson.

The Chiefs traded their all-time leading rusher (Johnson will undoubtedly break Priest Holmes' franchise rushing record this year. Although the dream/nightmare did not verify this fact, it is a logical assumption – especially if you're an LJ homer) for an offensive lineman.

My rage only grows as I peruse my draft magazine. Richardson isn't even the top offensive tackle on the board. Dammit, Carl! What have you done? I feel like crying as I crumple my magazine into a ball of frustration.

I leap out of my chair in Radio City Music Hall and scream at the top of my lungs. I get into an argument with a large black man – another Chiefs fan, somehow satisfied with the franchise-destroying blunder that has just transpired.

I then discover the Chiefs have moved Johnson for a second-round pick and a seventh-round pick. In next year's draft. No, wait. They have swapped second rounders with St. Louis. This is highway robbery. The Rams have kidnapped Larry, tied him up in a sack and whisked him across Missouri in the dead of night. I feel like a parent who has just lost a child.

I begin to think about how unhappy Larry will be on the bench behind Steven Jackson – this was a cruel nightmare indeed. I do, however, experience relief at the thought that he will no longer being playing in the same conference as the Chiefs.

But I'm still angry. I leave Radio City Music Hall early and log on to a popular internet site for Kansas City fans in order to rant and rave about Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards. The site, of course, is down from the enormous amount of traffic generated by irate Chiefs fans. It seems I am not alone.

Then I woke up.

"Have you noticed there is never any third act of a nightmare? They bring you to a climax of terror and then leave you there. They are the work of poor dramatists."

- Max Beerbohm


Max has a point. There was no grand resolution to my dream. Chiefs Nation didn't storm the gates of One Arrowhead Drive in protest. Larry was never rescued from the clutches of his evil captors in St. Louis.

But what does all of this mean? Humans have attempted to interpret their dreams – and nightmares – for hundreds of years. Surely my spellbinding account of the cross-state abduction of Larry Johnson has some significance in reality.

Here's the funny thing – Larry wasn't actually a Ram. Oh, at first he was, but then things got a bit hazy. My subconscious placed him in Tampa Bay and then finally Atlanta before all was said and done. What was going on there?

Did my brain's nightmare center communicate with my football center and realize the Rams would never give up a first-round pick for a Pro Bowl running back when they already have one of their own? Did it then select Tampa Bay as a logical destination (The Buccaneers are horrible at the moment) before realizing they have Carnell Williams?

And why Atlanta? Was I being punished for last week's column, in which I roasted Michael Vick and called for his suspension? Did Roger Goodell read it and activate his media-controlling, shock-dream, tele-torture device in an effort to protect his NFL golden boy? I realize the NFL is trying to control the media more and more these days, but this is ridiculous.

And why did I argue with a large black man? Was my subconscious rendering its own version of Kansas City Star Columnist Jason Whitlock? Will I start dreaming about other famous American football writers? What would Freud have to say about this?

Furthermore, as cliché as it might sound, within my nightmare at one point I actually asked someone to pinch me and wake me up. It didn't happen immediately, but eventually I did – thankfully- awaken. Did I use up my get-out-of-jail free card? Am I now living in an alternate dimension where Larry Johnson will never be traded? One can only hope.

If it turns out that Larry Johnson is traded next year, perhaps I will be hailed as a great football prophet. In that event I will resign my post here at Warpaint Illustrated immediately and enroll in The Tarot School. And if you think I'm kidding, just check out http://www.tarotschool.com ("discover Tarot, discover yourself!").

I'm not really sure why my brain tried to convince me that Larry Johnson was being traded. Was my mind simply flushing out all the bad vibes accumulated the week before this year's NFL draft? Perhaps it was the gorgonzola cheese pizza I ate before bed. Or maybe I just really need to find myself a woman.

In the end, I was just glad to be awake – in a world where Barry Richardson is (presumably) in summer school at Clemson, Michael Vick is still the main running attraction in Atlanta and Larry Johnson stills wears red and gold in Kansas City.

"Dreams do not vanish, so long as people do not abandon them."


- Phantom F. Harlock



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