The Dream

a weird tale
by thomas r. mac krell

Thad woke up in a cold sweat on Sunday afternoon after experiencing the weirdest dream in memory. He hadn't intended to sleep for two hours, but only to take a short nap to rest his eyes after working the Sunday crossword puzzle. But here he was, wakened with the sense of total disorientation.
The dream began innocently enough. He was going to work and he was hurrying because he was a little late. This was his first day back to work after his vacation in Florida. The first thing that surprised him was the fact that the Mall was gone. He knew that the JCPenney store in which he worked was undergoing a remodeling, but he didn't think that removing all of the Mall, except the anchors stores was included in the plan. But there it was, Penneys, Kaufmann's, Sears, Elder Beerman, and Office Max. All 73 of the other stores had been razed.
He entered the building and reported to the sales floor, where he sold Men's clothing. Then another thing struck him as odd. There were too many new faces present on the sales force to be the case in only a week. He inquired after Sally, his sales partner; and was told she had left for lunch early. He also observed that many new walls had been constructed in the store, giving the impression that a mini-mall was being built within the store. He had great difficulty finding the new location for the Men's Suit Department, which he had expected it to be unmanned, because Sally was already at lunch. Instead he found three new sales clerks in the department, and they were very busy waiting on customers. They were so busy, in fact, that he could not locate any customers, who were not being helped. He looked and looked, but all potential customers, he approached, told him they had been helped by one of the new clerks. The one customer, who didn't fit this category, he helped select a nice Haggar Tweed sport coat and a pair of dress slacks, along with a shirt and tie. This was going to be a good start. The total sale would be at least two hundred dollars. He directed his customer to an unmanned cash register, which he found to be inoperative. And while he was waiting to use the register which was working, Doreatha, one of the newly hired sales persons said, "Oh, I had been helping this customer earlier, so I'll take over now." Strike one! Thad turned the customer over to Doreatha and left to hunt up another.
His feet hurt, and because there were no new customers to wait on, he kicked off his shoes in order to relieve the pressure on the in-grown toenails on both his big toes. It was then that Doug, another co-worker arrived. Doug had the day off, but he had a couple of sport coats and slacks on hold. He asked Thad to get them for him. He retrieved them for Doug, and as the items were held under his number, he figured he would break even for his first hour. So Doug tried on the jackets, and Thad told him, "If you need any assistance, just call me." He then went to where he thought the Alteration Department used to be, and found --- a rest room! And not a Men's room as you might expect, and as so many customers expect, but a Women's rest room. He had never worked in or visited a Penneys store that had the location of the rest rooms correct. The Men's room was usually in Women's or Children's department, and the Women's room was usually near the Styling Salon, which was near the Men's Department more often than not. He sat down on the floor and rubbed his feet to get the circulation going to relieve the soreness. He didn't have the run of the mill in-grown toenails. No, due to separate accidents involving his big toes, he had developed double toenails on his big toes. One growing on top of the other, and all four nails were in-grown. This caused him unending discomfort. He went back to the cash register and spotted Doug piling several sport coats and suits and slacks on the cash wrap. His eyes overfilled with dollar signs. This sale was going to VERY nice. Very nice, indeed.
He approached Doug only to learn that his wife had exercised her veto power on the items, Thad had held for him. And that as long as he was in the store, he would adjust the Clearance markdown prices on some suits, sport coats, and slacks. Strike two!
He decided to go to lunch and, after that, start the day over. He returned to the spot, where he thought he left his shoes, but they were not there. He saw Ed, from the shoe department, repricing several pairs of shoes and thought his might have gotten mixed in. No luck, they were no where to be found. He looked down at his feet and saw --- white athletic socks. He looked a little higher and saw blue denim. He had been in such a hurry to get to work, he put a dress shirt, tie, and navy Blazer on with his jeans. So now he enlisted Ed's help in locating his New Balance running shoes. They were found easily enough. But he now knew that he would spend his lunch driving home, changing to dress slacks and returning to work.
Finding his way back to the time clock was not an easy task either. The usual spacious department areas were reduced to several small rooms all aligned and connected by doors, sort of like the way all the shops at Disney World are connected, and as the walls contained no windows, just self-closing doors, it was very difficult to negotiate the maze. Several times he found himself back to the same point he had passed several minutes before. And several times he found himself in a room which had only the door through which he had just entered. Dead ends. Eventually, he made his way to the elevator and the Office area. He clocked out and left the building.
As he was leaving, he spotted an old high school acquaintance, Bob Dedrickson. Bob didn't recognize Thad by name, but Thad recognized Bob right off. He still had the body of an All-City halfback. He was slightly balder and his beard, which he had even in school was grey. But aside from that he looked like a sun-wrinkled version of the original. Even though Bob played football, was on the wrestling(?) team and had attended Catholic High School there were always rumors floating around as to his sexual preference. Well, judging from the fact that he had his arm around the shoulder of a slightly younger football/wrestler type, perhaps the rumors were true. They greeted each other and remembered old times and parted.
Thad went out to the now much expanded parking lot and tried to locate his car. He hunted and hunted without success. He even returned to the store and attempted to call Mall Security to help him find his car, only to find out there was no longer any Mall Security. He finally gave up and walked home. Strike three!
Thank God in heaven that this was only a dream (daymare?) as Thad has had enough weird things take place in his life. He didn't need for something like this to actually take place.
About 5:30 P.M. Thad's mother called. She had no hot water and would he please come over and check the pilot light on the water heater? He said, "I'll be right over." He threw on a pair of jeans and left his apartment only to find his car was not there.

Copyright,1999, Thomas R. Mac Krell.

Music is "All I Have to do is Dream"

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