A Green One

In his dream Mr. Perlmutter is lying in bed next to his wife, Ramona, who has come back or never really went away, or however it works in these dreams. They are watching television, as they liked to do after his retirement, in the small hours of the morning. Mrs. Perlmutter has the remote, which is how you know this is a dream.

Every time Ramona changes the channel they seem to land in the middle of another medical show -- not just the networks' cut-and-splatter dramas, but the sort of thing they run on the educational stations, going through entire operations from incision to suture. And though these shows usually feature routine surgeries (hysterectomies, vasectomies, knee replacements), this time they all involve some sort of trauma. Here Dr. Mehmet reattaches the left foot, severed accidentally as the victim was freed from the wreckage.

"You should have bought a green one," Mrs. Perlmutter tells her husband. This is when he wakes up, crying and talking to God.