In the wee hours of this morning, I had a nightmare that brought me back to my younger years when I was living with my grandmother, great-grandmother, and mother in a tenement railroad apartment on Huron Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

My recurring nightmare back then was paralyzingly frightening: a smirking animal monster hiding at the bottom of the front door stairs of that crummy apartment waiting for me. I was never clear about what kind of animal it was, but it still scared the bejesus out of me.

That damn dream did the trick because I never dared to enter the long, dark hallway leading to the bottom of those filthy stairs for fear that something would be lurking there and, indeed, waiting for me.

And anyway, a padlock the size of my head was bolted onto the front door, making it impossible to get in or out. The only way in and out of our apartment was to climb up several levels of outdoor stairs to get to the back door of the fourth-floor tenement — one way in and out — a real fire trap.

I haven’t had that dream for over 60 years, but the evil-looking monster in this morning’s nightmare was eerily similar — except this dude was clearly a mixture of a lion and a goat.

The dream was so startling that at 3 am, I grabbed a pad and pencil and then typed the words “part lion and part goat” into my phone.

And there it was: Chimera.

According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Ooh, my monster dude was actually a dudette. Now, this female monster was my kind of animal.

One definition described a chimera as something hoped for but illusory and impossible to achieve in reality. This definition resonated with me.

Another relatable description read: “The Chimera represents the coexistence of opposites, such as strength and vulnerability, courage and fear, and life and death.”

Whoa. Maybe my dream was a sign and not a nightmare at all.

When I rehashed how I felt when I first saw the lion goat in my dream, I wasn’t afraid of it per se. It was more of a feeling that I needed an added level of removal or protection, if that makes any sense.

After mulling over the dream’s interpretation, I asked myself: Was I the Chimera?

I tried to get back to sleep, but all I could think about was this Chimera and the duality of her existence. Was she a conflicted role-player of sorts? Who was this Chimera to me?

Trying to get back to sleep was useless, so I made a strong cup of coffee and then parked myself at my desk for hours, searching the Internet to learn more about my Chimera.

According to Wikipedia, Homer depicted Chimera in his epic poem, The Iliad: “Her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame.” Hmm, according to Homer, this Chimera character had a big mouth. I was starting to like her, but unfortunately, she met a violent demise.

Also, as told in The Iliad, King Iobates of Lycia, who despised Bellerophon, the son of Poseidon, ordered him to slay the Chimera, hoping the she-monster would kill him instead.

I was fascinated by the myth and wanted to know why King Iobates despised Bellerophon so much. According to one source, Iobates received a letter from Proetus, the King of Argos and Tiryns, instructing him, “Please remove this bearer from the world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”


Chimera’s hot breath made it impossible for Bellerophon to get close enough to kill her. So he took a large block of lead, mounted it on his spear, and using his winged horse Pegasus, he flew over her and then shot it into Chimera’s mouth.

Chimera’s fire breath melted the lead, blocked her air passageway, and suffocated her. YIKES. I guess that shut her up.

But Bellerophon got too big for his britches when he sought to ascend to heaven in a vain and foolish attempt to join the gods on Mount Olympus, angering Zeus, the God of the sky.

According to my research, Bellerophon’s demise went one of two ways:

In one scenario, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, instantly killing him.

In the other, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, but he doesn’t die.

Instead, he falls onto a thorn bush face-first and is blinded and paralyzed, causing him to live out his life in misery, “devouring his own soul,” until he eventually dies. Call me a monster, but I much prefer this scenario.

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