dream

Descriptions of dreams and/or nightmares.

Got nothing.

Last night’s dream:

I am sitting in the audience of a comedy club, something I have never done in real life. It is the last night of a three-night amateur competition. They announce that a particular contestant has dropped out of the competition. The competition must’ve somehow been points-based, because they then announce that it is now mathematically impossible for me to lose.

I am surprised because I’d thunk that the competition was only two nights and that the third night was for awards. I am pleased that this other person forfeited because it meant I won. I am relieved because I hadn’t prepared a routine for tonight. I wait to be called up to the stage to receive the trophy, or medal, or cash, or whatever the prize is.

Then they announce that I’m going to come up and perform anyways.

Smiling, I panic. Can I develop a five-minute routine in the next few seconds? If I wait for the applause to finish before walking up to the stage, that’ll give me twenty to thirty seconds to think of something. If I really stretch out the walk up to the stage, I might be able to give myself another thirty seconds.

The only idea that pops into my head is a lecture about developmental psychology and sarcasm. I’ll talk about the simple, straightforward humor that very young children can appreciate, and then how kids begin to appreciate and use sarcasm, and then how they can discern appropriate times for its use. It’d be more academic than stand-up, but at least it’d be about humor.

Fortunately for me, someone who has badly– badly— overestimated her own comedic talent rises from the audience, grabs the microphone from the host and starts telling lame jokes about cooking and in-laws. The host is too polite to shut her down, and lets her enjoy telling her jokes as people barely laugh. This buys me more time, but I can’t think of anything funny or even mildly amusing to say.

The host finally gets her to give up the microphone, and the audience politely and very graciously applauds. I take a few more steps towards the stage, but then another person gets up and starts telling bad jokes. This buys me more time.

The cycle repeats. Applause and bad comedians keep interrupting the host and delaying my arrival on-stage, which is good, but I can’t think of an actual routine, which is bad. With a little luck, this’ll morph into a not-even-good-enough-to-be-an-amateur’s night, and I won’t have to say a thing aside from “Thank you.” I lean against a wall and watch them enjoy themselves.

Anachronism.

A dream from this afternoon’s kinetic napping action:

It is nighttime. I pull into the driveway of my grandmother’s old house. The garage door is open and the overhead light is on. The water heater is out of place; it’s right in the middle of the garage. I get out of the car and have a look at the heater. The pipes have been detached and the thermostat has been removed and sits on top. I examine the thermostat and begin to rewire it. Hopefully Gram won’t come out to the garage because it’s late at night and I don’t want to spook her.

The door to the house creaks open. I loudly announce that it’s me and that I’m working on the heater. She looks the same as the last time we spoke: houseclothes, broken nose, a shock of white hair, fragile and pale and tired. How she doesn’t look is surprised; at her age she probably can’t be surprised anymore. She says that when I’m finished I should come inside for dinner.

I set down the thermostat, close the garage door and slide the lock into place. I walk through the darkened house to the guest bathroom, take a tiny Dixie cup from the dispenser, and flip on the faucet. Three times I fill the cup with water and drink, then turn the faucet off and trash the cup. I leave the bathroom.

All of the lights are on. A lot of family is in the den; parents, siblings, aunts, cousins. How they snuck in is beyond me. But there they are, chatting and eating brand-name pizza that’s been delivered (we need an html tag for “revulsion”), which means something is amiss.

Gram emerges from the kitchen. She looks like a CEO. She’s wearing a pantsuit, her hair is dark reddish, short, and professional. She is smiling and vibrant and this centenarian looks like she has another 30 or 40 years in her.

I’m stunned at the transformation, but everyone else acts like this is the normal Gram. I suddenly feel out of place but certainly glad to be here. I approach her, wondering if I’m supposed to find this version of Gram familiar. She acts as if there’s nothing strange at all about the evening. She gives me a bear hug and asks how I’ve been. When she speaks her voice is crisp and strong and confident as ever. She shrugs off the delivered pizza, she shrugs off the incident in the garage, everything is wonderful.

After a few minutes of discussing the last few years, she says Grampa’s in the bedroom if I want to go see him. This throws me even further off guard. Of course, I say, and charge into the master bedroom.

Grampa lies in the yellow-framed bed, which has been moved next to the sliding glass doors. He looks painfully gaunt, even underneath two heavy knit blankets, and has several days’ worth of stubble. He is as he looked in the last few days of his life, but he is far more alert. He speaks to me but I am at a loss for words and can’t say much back.

I take out my cell phone and try to take a picture of him with the camera. It doesn’t work. I fumble around with it, trying to figure out what’s wrong. Someone walks in and says, “That’s not going to work.”

Me: “What’s not going to work?”

Someone: “It won’t be there when you wake up.”

It is a dream, and I’ll awaken soon, but damned if I’m not gonna get his picture anyways. I frantically punch the camera button on the phone. The app finally opens. I aim and click the shutter release over and over again, but the shutter won’t snap.

I woke up and, knowing exactly how silly it seemed, dutifully checked my phone.

Non sequitur.

A not-too-recent dream:

It is late in the movie. I am dying of something that was presumably revealed earlier.

I sit in an office writing a letter of resignation, trying to get everything taken care of before it’s too late. I realize that this is doing nothing to prolong my days, and that someone else can take care of my paperwork after I’m gone. I leave the office.

I walk through a park on a perfect day. The only cloud in the sky is right in front of the sun. It is bright but not too bright. It’s wear-anything weather. A cartoonish airship lands in the park. It looks like an ornate gondola, covered in gold. This doesn’t strike me as the least bit odd.

Several people, drawn like cartoon and video game characters, get out of the ship. A leader emerges: a diminutive handyman just different enough from Mario to avoid any pesky copyright-infringement lawsuits. He says they want to visit and pay tribute to the newly-minted mother and her newborn.

I take them to the hospital. We move quickly because I don’t want to get slowed down by people giving me their sympathies and their well-wishes; there’s too much left to do.

We get to the maternity ward. I bring Not-Mario in and leave the others in the hallway. The mother is glowing with pride and cradling her sleeping newborn daughter. I step back and watch as Not-Mario bows and speaks with great reverence to the mother and heralds the arrival of the baby.

I turn and see my girlfriend standing in the doorway. She looks confused and panicked, and she asks if the baby is mine, if I am seeing this other woman. I tell her that it’s not my child, that I’m not seeing the woman, but that my job was to protect them. She is not assured.

Not-Mario invites the other cartoons into the room. I tell my girlfriend that I’ve told her the truth and that there’s nothing more I can do and I can’t stay. I leave her in the doorway and Not-Mario and his people at the mother’s bedside.

I wander back into the park feeling like the movie is coming to a blissful end. Crowds are leaving the park and heading towards the hospital to greet the newborn.

I see that the villain, vanquished earlier, has tried to escape in his aircraft, but he is shot down in the far-away sky. I expect a massive mushroom cloud upon impact, but it never comes. Maybe he escaped after all. I don’t worry about it.

I look for Not-Mario’s gondola, which is now somehow parked near a bar. To get to it I walk past a tree that seems to have a face that might be smiling. I tell the tree that the mother and baby are fine. Now the tree is definitely smiling.

I worry for a moment about my family and friends. And then I think to myself, they’ll be fine. I climb into the gondola and it launches.

As I fly away, music rises in the background. The music reminds me a little bit of “Tempted” by the Squeeze, but more upbeat, with more triumphant lyrics, and with more horns. The credits roll. Rough sketches of the movie’s cartoon characters appear in the margins alongside the autographs and self-portraits of the artists.

I typed this up in the last half-hour when I realized I hadn’t posted anything in almost a week, which would violate 2010 Resolution #5. In response to near-total brainlock and writer’s block, I dug through some old files and found my notes about this particular Roger Rabbit-ish dream from nearly three years ago. I’d almost forgotten about it, and would probably have been able to include more detail if I’d written about it in a more timely fashion. I still have no idea what could possibly have happened earlier in the dream/movie.

Five Years!

Today is the fifth anniversary of my very first journal entry. When I first started blogging, I dreamt of being that daring, edgy writer whose ideas would grab a tragically dull world by its lapels, punch it in the face and knee it in the groin. I was going to change everything.

In commemoration, here’s “First Post” once again, in its entirety:

Testing. Testing. This is my first attempt at a “web log,” or “blog,” as it were. Blog blog blog. Blog blog.

Those were some gonzo times, man, before I sold out. I miss the anger.

Last night’s dream:

I arrive at Mole’s old house on the mountain. I ring the bell. He answers the door. He doesn’t look happy.

I ask what’s wrong.

He says, “It’s bad.”

I ask, “What’s bad?”

He says, “You have to go in.”

He leaves. I go in.

Now I see what was bad. Seated in a semicircle of chairs are “Ingrid,” “Martha,” “Selena,” “Gringita,” “The Lady,” and a few other women I can’t really see in the dim lighting. I’m not sure who they are, but I’ve picked up on the pattern.

I suspect that Mole is playing an elaborate prank on me, and look around for cameras. I see none.

I say hello. They say nothing.

I ask whether this is a joke. They say nothing.

I ask if they’ve met each other, even though it looks like they already have. They say nothing.

I ask if they’ve eaten. They say nothing.

I ask if they have any intention of saying anything. They say nothing.

It is bizarre. It’s as though the whole dream were directed by Lynch in one of his slow moods. After another series of questions and non-responses, they get up one-by-one, hand me slips of paper with their phone numbers–each of which begins with a four-digit area code–and leave.

I walk out onto the front porch and watch a convoy of cars navigate down the gravel driveway and disappear into the woods.

Mole reappears. I tell him that I’m not sure, but I think that was bad.

“You just can’t let anything go, can you?”

One of last night’s dreams:

I am at a grocery store in Virginia with The Mole and Dr. Hmnahmna, presumably getting sundries for the Great Turkey Fry. We are at the end of a short line, waiting to check out at a customer service counter because the regular checkout lines are packed. The line is moving slowly, so I run over to the spice aisle to grab some thyme.

When I come back, the line has gotten much longer. I see that Mole and Hmnahmna are off to the side, having already checked out. I’m angry at myself because now I’m at the back of the line, delaying our plans.

But Mole, Hmnahmna, and the little old lady working the cash register are smiling and waving me up front. I look at the people in line ahead of me, and they’re smiling, waving me up front, and have absolutely no problem with me skipping ahead in line.

I walk up to the front of the line and hand the thyme to the cashier. She scans it, puts it in a bag with my friends’ groceries, and hands me the receipt. Beaming, she says, “And there you go!”

I dig out my wallet and ask what the bill is.

The Cashier beams, “Don’t worry about it, dear!”

I ask if my friends have already paid for it.

She shows me the receipt, and explains that Mole is a member of the store’s loyalty club, called the “Penny Program.” With every purchase, he builds up store credit. When he chooses to do so, he can redeem one dollar’s worth of store credit by paying just a penny. He used some of the store credit and the appropriate number of pennies to pay for the thyme. She points to a few pennies on the counter.

I am duly impressed at Mole’s thriftiness. I look over the receipt, and something nags at me. A little quick math reveals that we’ve used $15 of Mole’s store credit, but only given the cashier three pennies. I point out to the Cashier that we still owe her twelve pennies.

She looks at the receipt, and beams, “Oh no, it’s fine!”

I insist that we’re still a few pennies short, and that I’d like to pay the difference.

She flatly states, “That won’t be necessary, sir.”

Mole walks over and asks what’s going on. The Cashier speaks to him tersely. Mole responds in kind. I can’t quite follow the discussion, but in less than a minute, they’re yelling at each other.

I interject: “Look, I’ll just put it back, okay?”

Mole says, “I’ve already paid for it, and I’m not gonna give them anything else!”

The Cashier threatens to call the cops, and gets on the store phone and calls the manager.

A woman, about my age with dark, wavy hair, approaches us. She is dressed like a grocery store manager, complete with name tag.

I ask, “Are you the manager?”

The Brunette says, “No.”

The Cashier says, “The police are on the way.”

A gunshot cracks in another part of the store. A scream comes from that direction, and I can hear glass breaking and items falling from the shelves onto the floor.

A deep voice booms, “POLICE!” More gunshots.

The Brunette pulls out a gun. I get the sense that the cops are here for her, and not because of the dispute over the Penny Program. She starts firing in the direction of the police. A few other store employees gather around her, draw weapons and fire at the police.

Mole, Hmnahmna and I duck down, trying to slide as far from the line of fire as possible. We try moving down an aisle towards the front of the store, but hear gunfire from that direction, too, and try to find another way out.

The shootout escalates. I look at the convex mirrors that cover the security cameras and can see that more police are flooding into the store, blazing away. Customers have started drawing weapons and firing, though I can’t tell whether it’s at the cops or at the Brunette and her forces.

More noise: guns blasting.

Bullets zipping.

Children screaming.

Glass shattering.

Shelves collapsing.

Wares crashing.

Bodies crumpling to the ground.

Mole and Hmnahmna and I are lying on the floor, ducking the fire. They glare at me as I gently place the thyme on a bottom shelf.

I don’t know if Dr. Hmnahmna intends to use thyme in real life, and I can’t figure out what exactly Mole and the Cashier were arguing about.

Metametadream.

I neglected to write about this one a while back:

I am at my aunt’s house for a big family dinner. I don’t know what the occasion is; there probably isn’t one. Car by car, family members show up and march into the house for the feast.

A dark red minivan, which I don’t recognize, pulls into the driveway. Dad gets out of the driver’s seat, goes around the side, and slides the door open. He pulls out a wheelchair, sets it up. He then opens the passenger door and lifts the passenger out, putting her in the wheelchair.

It’s my grandmother. She looks pretty much like the last time I saw her awake: thin and pale, white hair, broken nose. As Dad pushes her towards the house, she seems agitated and frustrated. She’s trying to look over her shoulder at Dad and speak to him, but she can only manage to move her head a little to the side, shift and hop in her seat, and moan and murmur gibberish instead of talk.

They get her inside the house. My aunt calms her down and brings Gram to the dinner table. As the family feasts as we usually do, sitting around two tables and at a bar, people take turns hand-feeding bits and pieces of food to Gram. She is quiet, but still clearly distraught. Her eyes mist, and she silently cries.

I go over to see her–I haven’t seen her in years–and try to figure out how much she can understand. As she stares straight ahead, I stand next to her, asking her how she’s been, telling her what I’ve been up to. None of this stops the tears.

Finally, in a very fluid, calm motion, she looks over her shoulder and up at me, with a very sad look in her eyes. I tell her I wish I knew what was wrong.

I am lifted to the ceiling by something invisible and I start spinning. I yell for help. My family keeps eating. Nobody notices the guy spinning violently on the ceiling; nobody except Gram, who watches the whole thing happen with great and haunting sadness in her eyes. She can’t help me, and everyone else eats lasagna rolls and sausage-rice casserole.

I wake up, heart pounding.

I’m in my twin bed in my old bedroom at Dad’s house. It’s dark. My little brother is still asleep in his bed. I shake him to wake him up because I’m on the verge of having a heart attack from the dream. He wakes up, but he’s clearly still sleepy. I tell him about my dream, but he keeps tilting over like he’s about to drift back to sleep.

I reach out to keep him from flopping over onto the floor. As I do, his eyes get real wide and he starts spinning uncontrollably and involuntarily in my arms. He screams.

I wake up, heart pounding.

I’m in my twin bed in my old bedroom at Dad’s house. It’s dark. My little brother is still asleep in his bed. I leave him alone this time. I get up, open the door, and cross the hallway. I knock on my big sister’s door. She lets me in her room and I tell her about my dreams.

I woke up, calm.

I was in my current bed, calm, in my own house. It was dark. My little brother was at his house in Pennsylvania. My big sister was in her apartment. We haven’t lived together in the same house since 1993. My grandmother died in 2005.

I had a sandwich and went back to sleep.

Now that I write this, it occurs to me that in the initial sequence of the dream, no one spoke to me or even acknowledged me except Gram. Maybe that was Gram if she had recovered (at least partly) from her stroke, and maybe I had died somehow and she was the only one who could see or hear me. Who knows.

Ghost dream.

Last night’s dream:

A co-worker tells me she’s arranged for me to tryout for Cruz Azul, a professional soccer team based in Mexico City. This strikes me as odd on for three reasons. First, I’m not a fan of Mexican soccer. Second, I’ve never been close to being good enough to play pro. And third, I’m about 60 pounds heavier than my ideal playing weight, and 10 years older than my ideal playing age. But what the heck, it’s an opportunity to get out of the country, to visit Mexico, to see some high-quality soccer and have a good time, right?

My reaction strikes me as odd, because I’d have to employ my least favorite mode of travel, flight, to get to Mexico City, and because I’m not a big fan of huge cities or anyplace outside America. But I decide to go anyways. Will I make the team? No, but it’ll be a fun time and besides, what’s the worst that can happen?

It’s about a month later and I’m dead. I am a ghost haunting an apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, where four people live: three roommates in their 20s or 30s, and the young son of the oldest roommate, none of whom I knew when I was alive. All I know is that I was murdered in Mexico.

I know nothing else. I don’t know how long I’ve been dead. I don’t know who did it. I don’t know why or how I was murdered. I don’t know if my family’s been informed. I don’t know why I’m in Charlotte. I don’t even know these poor schleps I’m haunting.

Actually, “haunting” doesn’t seem to be the right word. The roommates and the son seem to be perfectly comfortable around me. They talk to me without any fear and without any sense that I’m imposing on them–I don’t eat or sleep, so their bills are the same. They go about their business and let me go about mine, which is figuring out exactly what I should do about my predicament.

I can’t tell how much time is passing, but I haven’t tried leaving the apartment yet. Nobody’s home right now; they’re at work and school. I’m trying to figure out what exactly I can do before I try going outside. I work on using computer keyboards and telephone keypads. I can’t remember e-mail addresses or telephone numbers–they’re all entered onto contact lists on the computer and speed-dials on the cell phones, so I haven’t had to remember them.

I remember only two phone numbers. The first is the landline at Dad’s house, which is the one phone he never picks up. I don’t bother calling. The second is my work number. I dial, and for one mad moment wonder if I could get my old teaching job back. Then I worry that because of the state’s class-size legislation, they might not allow me to teach because they might not be allowed to include dead teachers in figuring out the class-size ratios.

The automated system picks up and some anonymous, robotic-sounding woman tells me to dial the extension of the person I’m trying to reach. I punch in the code to check my voicemail. I hear my own recorded voice say, “Vincent Viscariello,” and wait for the robotic woman to tell me to punch in my passcode.

Instead, the robotic woman says, “Murdered.”

It means someone back home knows I’m dead. I’m stunned to hear it, even though it’s no surprise at this point. I keep the phone to my ear and listen to the hum of recorded silence. Now what?

I go to the website of my hometown newspaper to try and find an obituary. No luck–not because I can’t operate the keyboard, but because the website is so poorly designed I can’t navigate my way around it.

Then a sense of peace befalls me. I can’t be hurt–at least not by anything tangible. I can find out who did this and avenge my own death or turn them in, I can communicate with my friends and family, and I have the time to do it–

I’m in front of an old friend, “Karl Winter,” who asks, “Don’t you think people in your position have tried this before? Do you know anyone who has successfully plotted with the dead? Aren’t you wasting your time?” The peace is gone.

My hauntees come home. I ask them to give me a ride to Jacksonville. One of them is perfectly willing to do it, but then he says, “Wait, I was thinking of Tallahassee, because I have to go to Tallahassee for work anyways. I can’t fit Jacksonville in.”

I tell them that I’m a ghost, and I’ll haunt them for real if nobody gives me a ride down to Jacksonville. It’s only about six, seven hours and after that they’ll never have to see me again. Alas, they’re still more worried about missing work than they are about getting haunted.

I tell them that I will let them have every last cent in my bank accounts if they’ll give me a ride down to Jacksonville. One of them points out that my accounts have probably been frozen since my death, and that if not, it’d look pretty darn suspicious if some poor folks from Charlotte suddenly emptied my accounts.

I assure them that one way or another, they’ll get compensated for the lost time at work. After enough begging and cajoling, one of them agrees to drive me to Jacksonville. I don’t know what’s waiting for me there, no idea what I’ll do when I get then, and no idea how much time I have left before

I woke up.

In which my brother and I beat up a ghost.

I was just going through some old voice memos and found one about a dream I’d had recently:

I’m in the faculty lounge at work, telling somebody that a former coworker, Jeanelle (who used to be the English Department Chair at my school) had died. A few minutes later, Jeanelle walks into the room. Stunned, I apologize profusely for telling people that she had died. I can tell that it bothers her a bit, but she forgives me. After all, I can be forgiven for thinking that she had died–especially since she did in real life.

A beautiful redheaded woman sits nearby, has heard the entire discussion, and is not as forgiving. She gives me the evil eye, and I try to explain that I have made an innocent mistake. As I explain myself, she says nothing, but she clearly grows angrier. The more I explain, the angrier she gets, and the darker the rest of the room gets, until I see nothing but her fury. She launches at me.

I find myself in my parents’ house, circa 1988. I’m trying to talk on the phone with a friend from college (which doesn’t make sense because I hadn’t met my college friends that long ago). My brother and sisters are goofing off and making it extremely difficult to have a conversation. I go upstairs to use the phone in my old bedroom (which certainly didn’t have a phone in real life). One of my sisters in on the line, complaining that she needs to use the phone. I tell my friend I’ll call him back some other time. I hang up.

I try to go to sleep in my old twin-sized bed with the brown blanket. My brother is already asleep in his bed. I can’t get to sleep. I also can’t speak. I feel as if something is physically restraining me. I figure it’s just sleep paralysis–which is no big deal now since I know what that is, but when you’re ten or eleven it’s still pretty damn scary. But I realize that this isn’t mere sleep paralysis, that something actually is restraining me. I try to talk to my brother, but my words are muffled by this thing’s grip over my mouth.

I reached over and shook my brother awake. He asks, “Are you nuts?” I try to ask my brother if he can feel whatever’s restraining me. I guide my brother’s hand towards the invisible thing to see if he can feel it. He says he can feel the ghost. So we grab it and wrestle it off me. It slips away.

The family’s three Siamese cats are lying on my bed, tails lashing back and forth angrily, all staring intently at a particular corner of the room, opposite the door. My brother points at the corner and says, “It had to go that way. Maybe it lives under the house, or between the floors, or in the wall.”

So I go to the corner where the ghost had hidden, presumably waiting until I tried to go to sleep again, and get him in a bearhug. My brother and I drag it out of the room, into the hallway, and punch it and stomp on it until it gives up, apologizes and leaves forever.

I woke up and thought it was an especially strange dream. I wondered if I had the dream because of what I had said about Jeanelle dying. I looked around and realized that I was still in my old bedroom at my parents’ house in 1988.

I woke up for real. I think.

Eyeball.

Last night I arrived at the Aabrock’s house in North Cackalacky. I slept in a room that was so dark, so quiet and so comfortable that it could double as a sensory deprivation chamber. This was the dream I had:

I realize that I have a third eyeball to the right of my right eye. I don’t know how long I’ve had it. Nobody else seems to notice. Is it because they’re used to seeing it? Is it because they’re all just too dern polite to say anything? I can’t tell. They say nothing, I say nothing.

Of course, I’ve got to wonder why my optometrist never said anything. You’d think that noticing supernumerary eyeballs would be somewhere in his job description.

I wonder about surgery to remove the extra eye. Some good surgeons should be able to scoop that thing out, throw a prosthetic bone in there and stitch it up real nice-like. And I’d still be able to see perfectly well; my vision is still binocular, meaning the third eye is doing nothing. More precisely, it means one of my three eyes is doing nothing. After some rudimentary vision tests involving a mirror and waving my hand in front of my face, I realize that my third eye is functional– it’s my left eye that doesn’t work.

So to clarify: if I were to have the nonfunctional eye removed, my face, from left to right, would go empty eye socket, functional right eyeball in the proper location, functional further-right eyeball close to right temple. Since that would probably look even more bizarre than I already do, I decide to leave well enough alone. When the new seven-a-side soccer season starts, I’ll wear jersey number three.

I woke up with the correct number and placement of eyeballs.

I’ll have to go back later and fill in the italics.

Stay tuned.

Last night’s dream:

The ‘Rolla has suffered some damage to the front passenger door. I take it to a repair shop. I point out the damage, and ask them how long it will take to fix. The mechanic says an hour.

There’s a diner next door. I walk in and sit at the counter. The waitress is perhaps fifteen, twenty years older than me, and looks good for her age. I order soup and half a sandwich, and ask for a paper. The waitress says, “That’s our only copy,” and points to the other end of the counter.

There sits a very tired-looking man, whose two kids are bouncing around the diner and playing with the jukebox. He looks like he’d wish them away if he could, just so he could read in peace and quiet for just ten minutes. Problem is, aside from wish, he does absolutely nothing to shut his kids up so that I can eat and not-read in peace.

The waitress apologizes for not having an extra paper, and then quietly adds, “And I’m sorry about the noise.” The guy and his kids are there the full miserable, noisy, newspaperless hour. I pay my bill, leave a few bucks as tip and walk out.

I return to the auto repair shop. The mechanic says the car’s ready to go. I pay him and collect my keys. I go to the lot and see my car, parked with the driver’s side facing me. I hop in without bothering to check the passenger door. I buckle up.

The power-lock button on the driver-side door had been broken so long that, even though it’s been fixed, I still reach across to the passenger side to lock the doors. This action is pretty ingrained, so without looking, I lean over and reach for the button. I miss. No big deal, I reach for the button again. Nothing but air. I look up.

The passenger door is missing. Happily, it’s not missing for long—I lean over and see that it’s lying on the ground, handle broken, plastic torn, glass shattered, cloth ripped, and fiberglass dented.

I go back inside and ask the mechanic, “What the hell did you do to my door? Is this a joke? Am I on candid camera or something?”

He doesn’t seem to know what I’m talking about. I lead him outside and show him.

“Oh, that,” he says.

“Yeah, that.”

“So, you… want us to fix it?”

“What do you think?”

“It’ll be another hour.” (Keep in mind, this is a dream.)

I’m pissed off. One of two things is going to happen: either these guys are going to fix my car gratis or they’re going to pay for somebody else to fix it. Either way, I can’t use my car until the repairs are done. I had other plans for the day, but since it’d probably take an hour to have a ride show up or to get a rental, I may as well just wait.

I toss him the keys, and say, “Get to work.”

I walk back towards the diner. I sit at the same seat. Beleaguered Man and his two angels are gone. I tell the waitress the story. She gives me a free piece of cake to cheer me up. I read the paper in peace and quiet. After the hour is up, I walk back to the repair shop.

I go straight to the spot where my car was earlier. The car is still there, the door is not. It’s nowhere in sight.

The mechanic comes out of the shop, and says, “Car’s ready, sir.”

I skip right past flabbergastedness and go straight to the assumption that the mechanic is being malicious, not incompetent.

I say, “Wait here,” and head back to the diner. The waitress greets me. I tell her the situation, and beg her to have somebody cover for her so she can act as a witness for me. She agrees, tells the cook she’ll be right back, and walks out with me.

We go back to the shop. The mechanic is still there, the car is not. It’s not in the parking lot, it’s not in the shop, it’s not up on the hydraulic lift. It’s nowhere.

I yell, “Where the hell is my car?”

The mechanic says, very calmly, “Sir, do you have a problem with our service?”

I say, “I’m done dealing with you. I’ll talk to your boss.”

I storm inside and demand to see the manager. A man comes out and introduces himself as the manager and owner. I brusquely explain what has happened, and cap it with, “Give my car and my money back now or I own this place.”

He says, “Let me check in the back, sir.” As he heads into a back room, I step outside to find my witness.

I don’t see her anywhere. She didn’t come inside the shop, or I would’ve seen her. The mechanic stands where my car had been, just looking at me. I don’t bother asking him where she is.

The only logical possibility is that she went back to the diner. I run over to the diner and step inside. She’s not there.

I ask the cook, “Did she come back?” He shakes his head “no.”

I head back to the shop. I ask the mechanic where she is. He smiles and, very calmly, says, “Who?”

At this point, I woke up. I don’t know where it was going. Did they make her disappear? Was she in on it, whatever “it” was? Was it a prank? Was it incompetence? Was I somehow getting my own car mixed up with someone else’s? Did I rescue the girl (if she needed rescuing) and blow the place up? Who knows. Maybe it’ll resume another night.