Some people are particularly smart, or handsome, or witty. Harold Anders wasn’t particularly anything except particularly bored. He loathed silly parties where everyone talked about themselves and nobody ever really listened, unless there was some titillating nasty news about the deviant behavior of so and so, and who would have ever believed Sharon was such a whore. No, he preferred to stay at home and fall asleep watching reruns of the Andy Griffith show or Bass Masters.
I guess you could say that Harold was particularly good at sleeping, it went along very nicely with being bored, and he found his dreams much more interesting than real life anyways. In his dreams he was a hero fighter pilot flying a Boeing B-52 over imprisonment camps in Vietnam, or receiving the Nobel Peace prize for finding the cure to baldness. No more comb over's, your welcome world. In Harold's waking hours he sat behind a desk punching out numbers. Just one more accountant in a swamp of others and the only good thing about it was most of the other employees left him alone.
Harold thought once that maybe getting married would be exciting, and he found a nice girl stripping in a bar, and asked her out. They dated for a short time, and finding her to be wild and unpredictable, he asked her to marry him. An Elvis impersonator made it legal in the
Chapel of Love Las Vegas style. Gaby shrieked with delight. The last time she ever would. Harold had been wrong about marriage too as Gabby turned out to be just as boring as anyone else he had ever met and she didn’t like him taking naps. He had to come up with clever ways to get any relief from his life. He slept under the car while pretending to fix it, or in the bathroom pretending he had the worst case of diarrhea ever known to man. It didn’t take long for her to get wise to his schemes and Harold had to resort to napping at work.
He would pretend to be looking for a lost memo under his desk and take a ten, or find a reason to go into the basement storage and take a whole hour. But just like at home, no one ever let him rest. It was one of these times, when Harold had just laid his head down on a stack of fat manila folders, when his boss, Bob Jenkins, woke him.
“You are fired.”
“Please Mr. Jenkins, I just can’t seem to keep my eyes open today. It won't happen again.”
“I have been watching you Mr. Anders. I have seen you crawl under your desk, disappear into the basement, and hide out in the janitors closet. I don’t know, or want to know, what you're doing in there or what kind of drugs you're on, I just want you gone. Today.”
Harold had no rebuttal, he had done all of those things, even though he had been sure no one was watching. He scanned the room and didn’t find one sympathetic onlooker. Looking down at his desk he realized he had nothing to pack but a photo of his wife she insisted he keep at work, and his jacket. Harold took the walk of shame out the front door and into the parking lot where he found his back tire was flat. The air outside was heavy like God had turned on a massive blow dryer and aimed it directly above him minus the breeze.
The overwhelming desire to sleep gnawed at him with a persistence he had never felt before. He crawled into the backseat of his car and closed his eyes, sweating and unable to muster enough energy to worry about it. The dream that flooded his mind wasn’t like any other he had ever had, as he found himself standing on the city street and being approached by a devastatingly beautiful woman. Her long hair was the color of asphalt and her nails blood red like skinned knees, and draped around her voluptuous body was a sheer white summer dress. He was both disgusted and in love with her. In her hands she held a mysterious glowing sphere and beckoned him near. Harold approached the intoxicating figure and was just leaning in when he was jammed awake from a knocking on the window.
“Mr. Anders, I told you to leave, not come out here and sleep in your car, you buffoon.”
Harold rolled the window down so Mr. Jenkins could spit in his face when he was yelling.
“My tire is flat.”
“Fine, catch the city bus and get a tow truck to come get your car later. You have five minutes to vacate or I am calling the police.”
“Nice day to you too sir.” Harold saluted Mr. Jenkins.
Mr. Jenkins gave him the one finger salute back, then stormed off into the air conditioned office building, with the green ferns and Berber carpet stained by coffee and the souls of the employees who died there. Harold forced his legs to carry him to the corner bus stop, lift him up the three worn metal steps, and down the dirty narrow aisle. He found a vacant seat, fell into the worn plush cushioning with three tears, and was asleep before the whish of the air brake release. Harold found himself dreaming he was on the bus, which was unusual since that was exactly where he was, only he was the only one.
There was no driver and yet the bus continued on as though there were. They stopped outside a small shop with a bright neon sign that read Madame Jada’s Gypsy Fortune Telling Emporium, rather a long title for a little shop he thought. Then the woman he had seen in the first dream emerged. Harold felt a cold ticklish fear tiptoeing up his back as the bus doors opened and she climbed aboard. As she stood there he realized he had seen her before, many times before in other dreams. Yes, she had been there in all of them. Sometimes she was just on the periphery, maybe a face in the crowd when he accepted his Nobel Prize, or a prisoner of war he had liberated, but she had been there. He didn’t understand why he was now so aware of her.
“What you seek I can give,” she whispered.
Harold, still believing this was just a fantastic dream, decided to entertain the gypsy and find out what exactly she could give him.
“Oh? And how do you know what I seek if I don’t even know it?”
“You want to sleep, long and uninterrupted peaceful sleep, full of unimaginable dreams.”
Harold said nothing to this, dream figures talking about dreaming was rather disturbing, and yet she was absolutely right.
“And just how are you going to give me what I want when you are not even real,” he asked.
“I no longer wish to be just an image in the dreamer’s mind. You let me wake up, and I will let you stay asleep.”
Sleep, that beautiful intoxicating word, but there was no reality in a dream figure changing from subconscious image to physical manifestation. And yet, the fact that a dream figure was aware they were only an image was disturbing, if it were true. Harold, intrigued by the power of his own mind, couldn’t help but want to engage the mysterious woman further, and he made his way down the aisle to her.
“How do I wake you up?”
Madame Jada placed her hands in Harold’s, who was rather surprised with the weight of them and how her skin felt ticklish as though she were magnetically charged. The Madame then pulled him in and kissed him so intently he felt his body become more of a memory of form as his consciousness merged with hers. Madame Jada closed her eyes and drew Harold further into her mind, and when she opened them again, she was sitting on a crowded city bus where Harold had once been. To the other passengers, the world, Harold had never been there, or anywhere, to begin with. Then to no one in particular, Madame Jada smiled and said, “See you in my dreams.”