Work Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 29, 2019

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Submitted: October 29, 2019

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WORK DREAMS

An anxious writer earns a living in a graveyard and compiles a collection of work dreams.

 

THE BLACK LINE

With the cemetery grounds being the size they are it is not uncommon for people to get lost. Even in my dreams, I get asked for directions and I give them my spiel.

“So, you’re saying that there is a white line, a green line, and a yellow line, correct?”

“Correct,” I sighed and said in an exasperated way to the man that pulled up in the minivan, rolled down his window, and halted my progress. 

“And all they lead me out of here?” he asked tentatively as if making sure I was not misleading him.

“Correct,” I replied as I craned my neck to squint past the van to see there was still a long road ahead of me and it was almost all uphill. When I thought he was satisfied with my reply and I could continue on my way, “but what about the black line?” he asked.

I stopped short, dead in my tracks and my work boots squished. “We don’t talk about the black line!” I said shortly, clamped my mouth shut, and locked my jaw.  He can find his way out. I gave him a map! I fumed as I turned around and stormed away from him back to where I came from.  From the waist down, a thick black oil-slick mud covered my pants and ran out of my boots.  I stomped back down the road, following my trail of oozing black footprints.

 

BUT THE BARS!

I’ve never been good at flying in dreams. More like awkwardly hovering or riding an invisible bicycle just a few feet off the ground. This dream was different, I still couldn’t fly though, but I could parkour like a professional. Better yet I was doing so in New Orleans. So, I vaulted and flipped off of rooftops and balconies and swung from poles through the French Quarter in reckless abandon in an attempt to frequent all of the bars.I avoided the streets and sidewalks in my lofty game of “barkour” for they were littered with as many sticks as there were people.

I heard my name shouted from below and I paused perched on a balcony railing and pretended not to hear. “Get down from there! There’s work to be done!” the voice shouted over the grinding of the wood chipper as a thunderous churning swallowed the din of New Orleans.

“But why?” I asked through the safety helmet I just then noticed I was wearing.

“All this wood isn’t going to chip itself!”

“But the bars!” I shouted back and gestured outwards at the streets that stretched before me. “We are in New Orleans! Who brings a chipper to New Orleans?” I whined wanting to shirk my duties and parkour my way away from there.  

“But the sticks!” My co-worker replied feeding the hungry beast another load of wood.

My dreams diminished before my eyes. “But the bars,” I muttered to myself as I looked down at the ground to see that all the people are replaced with even more sticks.  I glanced at my feet to see the wrought iron railing that I was perfectly perched upon had taken the form of branch, and all the buildings were tragically transformed into trees. I was no longer in New Orleans but in the middle of a forest and twigs and sticks and branches stretched to the horizon. “But the bars?” I asked as I looked up at the sky through my visor for answers. The ceaseless grinding of the chipper was the only answer I received. “Fine,” I sighed in defeat and hopped down for there was work to be done.

 

FORTUNE COOKIE

It was shaping up to be that kind of morning for I woke up too late and in the resulting rush nothing was going right. The coffee pot wasn’t working and I was lacking certain important articles of my uniform.  My pocket saw and pruners were nowhere to be seen and I somehow managed to find five left gloves. I shouldered a somewhat clean pair of khakis and decided to put them on in the car. There wasn’t time to spare for pants. On the way out the door, hunger churned in my guts and I knew I needed breakfast or something to tide me over until the first break. I grabbed a fortune cookie off the kitchen table and popped it in my mouth. I stopped and gagged for it tasted awful, and I was sure I had never tasted anything so foul in my life. For the fortune cookie was filled with something else besides the fortune. I opened my mouth in horror and tried to spit it out and cough up what had slid down the back of my throat.  I tried to puke. Shocked, I fumbled for the discarded fortune for it had fallen on the floor. There was shit in my fortune cookie. Who could have done such a thing?!  I thought as I unfurled the paper and flipped it over. FUNNY TRICK, HA.  RIGHT? The prophetic words read.

“NO!” I shouted back, my tongue still wagging and I wondered if the taste would ever go away. I couldn’t get it out of my mouth. “Wrong!” I hollered at the fortune as I watched the numbers on the clock change to 8:00 am on the stove. I was officially late for work.  I fished around for my phone and fumbled to find the numbers. There wasn’t a connection, but I had to call my boss and let him know. Someone shit in my fortune cookie! What a horrible way to start a morning! I thought and then I woke up.  It was an hour or two before my alarm. My mouth wide open, tongue hanging out, and my phone was in my hands. Poised call into work and eternally grateful that the call did not go through.

 

BUBBLES

The road stretched a mile out into the water and ended in a point. Where I stood, the peninsula rose about fifty feet off the lake. I had been camping there a week prior, renting a cottage in the Adirondacks with the family for a much-needed vacation. It was nice to be back there even if it was only in my dreams.  The sun shone brightly through cottony clouds and a pleasant steady breeze wafted off the water and up the cliff. I stared off into the pine trees and cottages that lined the distant shore and breathed deep for it was a truly peaceful day- except for the infernal racket of the wood chipper.  I heard the backup alarm first and wanted to wave the rig the away hollering about ruining my vacation. My coworkers had no business backing that thing up there in the first place. It was a bad idea.  Instead, I stood behind, within view of the side mirror and the reflection of the driver, and signaled for their approach.

 In one horrible moment, my fears were founded and the back corner of the chute extended over the edge and the wheel slipped. I signaled for them to stop but they kept backing up. Encumbered by the heavy load, the wood chipper and box truck rolled back over the cliff and down into the water.  The noise of the backup alarm was swallowed by the lake.  All I could see of them were bubbles. I stood on the cliff, in a state of shock as I watched their descent into the depths. You can still save them!  A voice called out from the back of my brain, but everything happened so fast, I knew they were already gone. There was no way for me to mount a rescue without being dragged down to the bottom myself. The bubbles stopped and the water was once again calm aside from the lackadaisical waves blown by the breeze. I peered back out to the far shore and woke up unnerved.

 

CURSED CHARLIE

Every Cemetery, Graveyard, Memory Garden, and even Potter’s Field has one, a member on the payroll that nobody talks about much less sees; bearing the title of Cursed Charlie. This unspoken employee dons a uniform in the colors of the night and has eyes that shine like the moonlight caught in the granite gravestones.  Every Cursed Charlie is tasked to roam the grounds alone in the small hours of the morning and sprinkle salt on every single crossroad to ensure that the spirits stay sleeping.  I woke up in the middle of the night and spent the next few hours wondering and worrying about what would happen if Cursed Charlie ever missed a shift.

 

THE PROCESSION

I strolled down the thoroughfare at the renaissance festival with a swagger in my step. After all, I was dressed as a pirate and the occasion warranted it. It was also what I had taken to at the weekends during the festival season to soothe the weary workaday soul. I swung around an overlarge tankard and brandished a wooden broadsword, grinning and leering at both booth attendants and patrons through blackened lips and heavily darkened eyes.  Conversation hushed and the crowds parted and took on a solemn demeanor as I passed and they give me a wide berth. Much to my chagrin, I turned my head and risked a look back to see there was a hearse at my heels. Black funeral flags were attached to the corners of the expansive hood.  A line of cars crept along in tow and I could not see the end of it. A magnetized flag adorned the roofs and the hazard lights flashed. Dust kicked up from the tires obscuring my view of the people parked on the side of the road as they let the funeral procession pass. They were going to be there a while for it was going as fast as I was. I was the one that was holding them up. I picked my pace and so did the hearse. I thought about dodging and ducking and rolling off the gravel road and out of the way. How long was this behind me? I wondered in a brief panic, where is the escort? Then it occurred to me as I turned around and stopped. So did the procession. I was the escort. “Oh come on now! “ I stomped my boot and brandished my wooden sword and shouted to the driver. “I’m not even at work! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I woke up almost seated on the cot in our tent, confused for a second as to where I was. No,  I am not working right now, I reminded myself again and went back to sleep, a least for a little bit longer before it was time to put on my gear and head to the festival.  


© Copyright 2019 Jessica Hopsicker. All rights reserved.

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