Substitute Dream

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young adult struggles to understand whether or not his dreams are capable of coming true.

Submitted: January 11, 2016

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Submitted: January 11, 2016

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“Daniel, look alive.” muttered a co-worker, who then reached over the table where they were sitting across from one another, and lightly smacked him in the chest with the back of his hand in an attempt to grab his attention. “We got another one.”

“Yeah, sure, I got this.” said Daniel, as he rose from his seat and dropped the magazine he had been staring into, on top of the table. He began straightening his black bow tie that was attached to his white dress shirt, and then began adjusting his black dress pants. “I hate it when they show up late. It makes our job harder.”

“When you’re rich…,” commented his co-worker. “…you can afford to be late.”

Daniel lightly chuckled at the comment, but internally he was deeply sighing over the fact that the straggling wealthy person was making his job more difficult due to their tardiness. He quickly made his way out of the parking garage that was stationed on the side of the mansion that overlooked the front of the drive way. The parking garage was the size of a football field and during business hours, or whenever his employer held their weekly meetings that attracted thousands of people, Daniel and his team always had to fill it with cars that belonged to a variety of owners from every upper class social sect that one could imagine.  

Earlier, when the meeting had started, he and his co-workers, who were all valet parkers, had been extremely busy with the heavy mobs of traffic that were incoming all at once.  There were thirty of them on duty tonight, however even that wasn’t enough to compete with the many visitors arriving. They had to quickly greet the guests, take the guest’s vehicle and drive it around the back, park in the crowded garage, and then race back to the front of the mansion on foot to take the next vehicle, without allowing themselves a chance to rest. It was a task that left Daniel and his other co-workers exhausted and drained, almost as if they had completed a triathlon consisting of politely greeting everyone, driving, and then running. 

The first two hours were the most stressful, since everyone was coming in at the same time, however once the event started and everyone was settled inside, then all became calm and Daniel and the other valet members took shelter in the garage. Inside, they were allowed to sit near the front, where their employer had a few tables that were set up for them to sit at and play cards. There was also a  TV that was bound into a corner of the wall, however it couldn’t be turned on or off and it only had one channel that it was permanently stuck on which happened to play a 24 hour marathon of FOX News everyday - most of them would rather it not even be on, so they usually just turned the volume down  low and didn’t bother listening to it - and there was a box full of a variety of magazines also present for those who wanted to read any of them. Most of them spent time staring into their phones or making small talk with one another. They were technically still on duty, however it was only if there were guests arriving who needed them to take their vehicle.    

Usually a valet member sat in a chair near the front of the garage like a look out and warned the others of any incoming cars, so that one of them could quickly hurry outside to welcome them. 

The mansion he worked at belonged to a famous politician who was constantly holding events that garnered a large audience, sometimes gathering people from all over the country. Daniel had never actually been inside the building, however the exterior connoted at all the products of wealth that were inside of it. The structure was four stories tall, with a long, wide, chalky white stairwell leading into it. In the center of the driveway, there was a silver, fountain the height of a light pole that gushed, presumably, thousands of gallons of water each day, and there was a tall, dark gate surrounding the entire lot. 

As Daniel made his way outside of the garage, he caught a glimpse of a dark red car pulling through the gates. He quickened his pace so that he arrived at the bottom of  stairwell at the exact moment the vehicle pulled up. Once close enough, he immediately identified that the dark red vehicle was a 2015 Rolls Royce, triggering his mouth to hang open in shock. It was the very car that he had been hoping to purchase one day, however he knew he would never own one in his life time because it was so expensive that it cost as much as eight semesters worth of college might cost. 

His heart rate slightly inclined over the realization that he would be parking his dream car. The closest he had ever managed to get towards it was through staring at images of it online with his face an inch from his computer screen. It felt almost like a dream that there was actually one right in front of him. He had been studying the car so closely, the way a vulture watches their prey before soaring down to strike, that he nearly forgot to greet the guest.  

The door swung open and a man in his forties, dressed in a black suit climbed out without bothering to close the front door behind him.

“Hello, sir. Welcome to the Patrick residence. I’ll take your car for you. Please enjoy your stay here.”

The man appeared to be in a rush, because instead of acknowledging Daniel’s salutation, he rushed around the back of the Rolls Royce and swung open the back door and a small, girl with curly blonde hair, wearing a cherry red dress slid out. The man then tossed Daniel the keys with one hand and lifted the small girl up with the other and he began running up the stairwell, without uttering a single word. 

“You’re welcome….” said Daniel so quietly that he was the only one in the world who could hear it.  

Normally, Daniel would have been offended by the rude guest‘s demeanor, however the vehicle he was going to have to park seemed like an exception to the discourteous behavior. The man probably could have spit on him and Daniel wouldn’t have minded it all, just as long as he was able to get into the car he had always wanted.  

He moved slowly around the car several times, studying it from different angles, before climbing into the driver’s seat, quietly squealing from delight of actually being inside of it. In the past, he had parked numerous fancy, expensive vehicles, some belonging to the most famous people in America, but despite all of that, this moment couldn’t compete with any of those.

The interior still possessed that brand new car smell and the owner kept the inside of it extremely clean, almost as if he had just driven it out of the dealer ship. Daniel was convinced that his co-workers were probably wondering what was taking him so long, since they were trained to move quickly, but he didn’t care because he wanted to savor this moment. 

He spent several minutes studying the switches, levers, and all the internal features, before he actually began driving it. The automobile moved gently across the graveled surface and drive felt quite smooth. Daniel leisurely pulled the car around the back of the garage. The garage opened in the back and the front, however the valet always pulled vehicles around back and parked them inside when guests were arriving, and when everyone was leaving, they pulled them out through the front. 

He steadily inched the Rolls Royce into a interior of the garage and began driving through the many rows and columns of luxurious automobiles, looking for an empty spot. He intentionally passed a couple of parking spots in order to drive a little long, until eventually he parked the fancy car and climbed out.  

“Took you long enough.” 

Slightly caught off guard, Daniel looked down and spotted a fellow co-worker named Maxwell, sitting on the ground behind a bright, orange McLaren 650S Spider. 

Maxwell was in his mid-twenties and half of the staff, despite not having any proof, suspected he was on drugs because his eyes were so large, with dark circles underneath them as though he hadn’t slept in years. Along with that, he had a habit of going long periods of time without blinking, which is what led many to believe he was taking in some form of illegal substance, to help explain his eyes unnatural functioning. 

The young adult had lengthy, dark hair that draped from his scalp like a mop, and at first glance he appeared extremely frightening. He was usually off on his own when they weren’t working. Daniel was trying to figure out why he had taken shelter in the back of the garage, a great distance away from the other valet workers who were sitting at the front.

Daniel noticed that on the ground in front of him he had several cards spread out, engaging in a solitary game of cards against himself, and he had a can of pop beside him. There was an unlit cigarette sticking out of the side of his mouth like a toothpick. Their boss forbid them from smoking while working, however Maxwell had a serious cigarette addiction, so to please both his boss and his craving, he didn’t smoke on the job, however he did keep an unlit cigarette in his mouth to help sooth his cravings. Daniel wondered if he was more addicted to the tobacco or the gestures associated with smoking.

“I was just…checking it out.” said Daniel, glancing at the car one more time.  

“You know what…” said Maxwell as he began to group his cards into a single pile. “I think if society wouldn’t shun you, you’d probably make out with that car.”  

“Dude,” Daniel laughed at the remark and shook his head. “Seriously? I’m just admiring it.”  

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” said Maxwell. He rose to his feet with the cards in one had and his empty drink in the other. “Do you want a car like that?”

“Actually, yes. How’d you know?”  

“I can tell. Everyone wants something.”  

“Well. I could never afford it now.” said Daniel. “But maybe in the future. I’m going to try to save up for it once I can pay off some of my bills.”  

Maxwell slithered his unlit cigarette from his mouth, as if he were actually smoking, and looked over at Daniel the way a parent looks at their child when they tell them they want to grow up and be superman.  

“Lemme guess, you have a car note, or college fees, or - you’re too young for a house so I’m gonna say you have rent? Something like that?”

“Um, just minus the car note part because I walk or take the bus everywhere.” Daniel explained. “Most of the money I make from working goes to rent and the rest, I have to save up for school with. I haven’t started classes yet, so I’m just saving for now.”  

“Then, after you go through school and do all that stuff, you’re going to have to pay off all that student debt, right?” Maxwell laughed. “Trust me man, the closest you’re ever going to get to that car,” he then pointed at the vehicle with his cigarette. “Is right there.”  

“That’s harsh, but a guy can dream.”  

“True, you can dream, there’s nothing wrong with that, but just don’t forget reality. Like I always say, sometimes you have to substitute your dreams for smaller things.”  

“What do you mean?”

Daniel wasn’t sure what Maxwell was talking about. At first he thought their exchange of words was merely friendly small talk, but now it felt like the strange guy was trying to give him a life long lesson. It was even more awkward because it was coming from someone who was from the same age group as him, acting as though he had years and years of more experience than him.  

“I’ll tell you what I mean.” said Maxwell, while placing the cigarette in his mouth, taking a long inhale of air, before pulling the cigarette out. The cigarette stick was soaked with salvia, soggy, and it looked as though the paper containing the contents was preparing to rip. “A friend of mine from the impoverished side of town told me he wanted to travel the world…but he can’t do it. You know what I told him?” Before Daniel could answer, Maxwell did so on his behalf. “I told him, to write about all those places he wanted to go, because there’s was no way he’s ever going to be able to afford to go to them. He can’t go there physically, but at least he can go there in his imagination.  

“My own sister always wanted to be a famous singer. She practices every day with her guitar and sings her heart out, but we already know that a record company is never going to scout her out. Instead of singing on a stage, she sings at the train station and people drop money in her guitar case. The most she makes a day is probably twenty dollars in dimes, nickels, and quarters.  

“As for me…” Maxwell’s voice trailed off for a moment, as he searched his thoughts for the right words. “It sounds childish…but I always wanted to be a NASCAR driver and own a lot of cars. I’m completely honest with myself…it’s never going to happen. So instead of doing that, I work here, where I drive fast, pricey cars into a garage for people who can actually afford them. You see what I mean Danny?”

“That sounds…really depressing.” commented Daniel.  

“It might…but it’s better than sitting there wasting time on dreams that we know are never going to happen. What about you Danny? What’s your dream?”

“My dream…?”

Daniel paused for a moment to actually search his mind to figure out what he wanted in life. Unlike Maxwell, the car he admired wasn’t his entire life ambition and he actually had other bigger goals in life such as graduating college, having a family, getting a better job, but overall his main objective was to change his living conditions. He wanted things to be better for himself, his mother, and four siblings who all lived together in a small, overcrowded apartment complex.  

Maxwell’s crazy eyes were locked on Daniel as he pretended to inhale and exhale his cigarette, when in reality he was just taking in pure oxygen. Maxwell scanned every inch of his face as if searching for his answer so he wouldn’t have to say it, however Daniel didn’t feel comfortable telling his co-worker of any of his dreams, especially after discovering his sullen outlook on life.  

“I haven’t made up my mind yet.” He lied.  

“That’s understandable.” said Maxwell, slightly shrugging. “But once you do…just know, you might have to aim lower, for something smaller.”  

With that said, Maxwell meandered away in the opposite direction leaving Daniel with a lot to think about. Prior to their conversation, he had been under the impression that by working hard and never giving up on himself then he could accomplish just about anything, however Maxwell’s remarks were beginning to make him question everything. 

He already knew that upward social mobility would be difficult for someone like him, who came from a poor family that on some nights had to skip dinner because they couldn’t risk spending money that they needed for rent in order to keep their apartment, but he didn’t think that  fact should immediately exclude him from the luxuries of life. He wanted to have nice things for himself and his family, and the possibility of working hard to obtain it was the only hope that was actually getting him through the days. 

Although now, after hearing Maxwell’s argument, his co-worker sounded more logical and made his entire plan for the future seem impossible when considering every variable. Even if he did manage to succeed and get through college, he certainly wouldn’t be free from student debt which took most people an entire life time to pay off. Along with that, he wanted a better house for his family, so he would have to save up for that. His thoughts were going through an a great deal of mental gymnastics, wagering all the possibilities and facts, that in the end it made him feel like he was trapped in a rat race that would ultimately lead him no where.  

Daniel wandered through the garage of parked cars, completely lost in his thoughts, and before he knew it the event had ended and guests were leaving and the valet was immediately active again. 

He spent nearly two hours rushing back and forth from the front of the house to the garage to return people their vehicles. When he looked up, the entire garage was empty of  everything except a dozen vehicles of straggling guests who were standing outside, seizing an extra twenty minutes to talk to the jovial, politician that they were a very fond of.  

Daniel had been making his way back toward the front when one of his co-workers met him half way, halting him, and then tossed him the keys to the very 2015 Rolls Royce he had been obsessed with.  

“I’m kinda in a rush.” explained his co-worker. “Would you mind grabbing that car for me?”

“Yeah, sure, no problem.”  

Daniel did a U-turn and made his way toward the back of the garage. Now that it was practically empty, the walk felt longer and he could clearly hear his footsteps bouncing off the spacious walls with each step that he took. 

When he finally reached the car and climbed into it, disappointment filled his heart, contrary of what he had felt earlier when he had first been seated inside of it. The difference was that now he was aware that this was probably the very last time he would ever be inside a vehicle like that, and the very thought pained him. He wanted to make this situation as painless as possible, so he rapidly pulled the car from the garage to the front of the building.  

He climbed out, preparing to return the keys to the same man who had given them to him earlier, however the man was a half a yard away, amongst a small group of people surrounding the politician, talking together. Daniel closed the car door and paced around the front of it, standing beside it like a guard the way protocol had instructed that he do. If the owner of the car wasn’t present, then they had to patiently wait for them.  

“Hi!” said a small voice, slightly startling Daniel.  

He looked down and saw the tiny girl who had been with the man earlier, standing in front of him. While her father had been talking, she had probably wandered ahead of him and made her way to the car. Daniel had to admit that the little girl looked extremely cute and had puffy cheeks filled with baby fat. Her bright red dress matched well with her black dress shoes. If he ever had a daughter, in the future, he imagined she might look just like the little girl. She was holding an enormous rainbow colored, swirl lollipop the size of her head that Daniel suspected was a souvenir from the party.  

“Well, hello there.” said Daniel, kneeling downwards so that he was at eye level with the girl. “Are you ready to go home?”

“Yes.”

“How old are you?”

“I’m five.” She said, while incorrectly holding up four fingers.

“Oh wow…you’re so young….Once your Dad’s finished talking, you’ll be able to go home and rest.”  

“I want to sit in the front seat,” said the little girl as she began to suck on the top half of the lollipop and talk at the same time. “But Daddy said I’m too small.” 

“Aww, don’t worry. You’ll get there soon enough. Your Dad has a really nice car.”  

“Do you have a car like that?”

“I wish, but…this one costs too much.”

“Why don’t you ask your Daddy to buy you one?”

“Um…well, my Dad doesn’t have a lot of money and I would rather buy it myself.”

“If you get a good job, then you can have a lot of money and he can buy one too.”  

“Yeah.” said Daniel rising to his feet.  

For some reason, it all sounded so easy to her, maybe because she was still a child and couldn’t quite grasp yet how complicated things were. Daniel began to wonder if earlier, when he had been talking to Maxwell, if he sounded just like her - like a small child who had a lot of dreams, but in reality didn’t acknowledge that the world didn’t work that way, and that dreams were more of a suggestion than they were probable reality.

“I’ll try to get a good job.” He said while beaming down at her. “And then see if I can buy one too.”  


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