Picture an old department store, a store with a central atrium onto which every floor opens. Marshall Field’s in Chicago and Galeries Lafayette in Paris come to mind. Here are photos of those retail temples, to help set the, well, setting.
The scene begins with me on the third or fourth floor of one of these buildings. The exact floor isn’t relevant, I think, to the dream, but I like to be thorough to the extent my memory allows since readers might recognize significance in some of these details that I don’t.
Instead of shelves and racks of apparel, the floor is covered with desks, as if in a large newsroom. The desks are made of wood and appear in style to come from the same period as the building itself. Here is the kind of desk I’m referring to.
(Within the dream I think I knew that I was in a department store but I didn’t consider it especially odd that it – or the floor I was on, at any rate – would be full of desks instead of clothing displays.) My desk is near the atrium railing, and I get the sense that I have arrived only recently. I say this because there’s nothing on top of my desk. It might not even be my desk at all, but rather one at which I only happened to sit, not knowing where I should be sitting on account of I’ve just arrived and no one has told me yet what to do.
I am talking to someone about the fact that I have just moved to New York, where we presumably are, but I can’t say whether I’m talking to one person or a group, a man or a woman or multiples thereof.
I hear a voice coming from across the floor.
I see a group assembling over there but stay where I am. An unseen speaker – perhaps the people who drew near can see him but I can’t, likely owing to my remaining far away from the assembly – announces that Mr. Evan Martindale or Owen MacIndale, or possibly Alan McKenna, has been put in charge of the project. (Maybe it wasn’t a project. Maybe it was a commission or an investigation. It could have been, simply but vaguely, “an effort.” This is one of those places where I welcome the input of readers in case there’s important meaning I’m overlooking, not that you’d know what Mr. Martindale or MacIndale or McKenna was placed in charge of any more than I would.)
The announcer adds that the man he is introducing served well, as we all remember, in the service of our “former leader” in numerous capacities. Indeed I remember the man’s name (in the dream, not now) but not whether I ever met him or not. I don’t know to which former leader the announcer refers.
The announcer is speaking without the use of a public address system, which probably is fine for everyone except me since everyone but me has gathered close to the speaker. I am still watching from my desk, or the desk where I happen to be sitting, near the atrium railing.
The announcer and the man in charge, whom we shall call Mr. M, as well as several other grim-looking men in their vicinity, are wearing green military-style fatigues but I can’t see any insignia to identify a branch of service or rank or anything.
Mr. M steps forward – no applause after his introduction; he just steps forward – and mumbles something about being eager to get moving and make some progress on “this.”
Suddenly I’m no longer at my desk but instead I’m standing right next to Mr. M! Only in the hindsight of wakefulness is this remarkable. How did I get here?
As the crowd disperses Mr. M says to me, “Here we go. Get some fatigues if you want, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to since you’ll only be here for a month.” Then he and his squad of fatigue-clad men are shuffled out the back door.
In an instant I find myself on the roof of a building in the nighttime. I am able to discern that it is a clear night because I can see both stars and a skyline. The stars twinkle – some of them in colors other than white – and I can easily make out the Sacramento skyline.
Sacramento??? Yes, there is the capitol, there is the Hyatt; it’s Sacramento, all right. I wonder momentarily why I’m in Sacramento all of a sudden but I don’t spend too much time on that particular point.
(As I write this down I begin to wonder if I had two dreams instead of one. That would definitely make it easier to comprehend being in New York in the daytime and Sacramento at night but I’m not ready to commit to that yet. I’ll proceed with the single-dream scenario.)
The roof where I find myself is arrayed with a dozen or so fast-food counters. There is a taco counter, a hamburger counter, a pizza-by-the-slice counter, even a juice bar. I am hunting for one food place specifically but I can’t remember now what it is; I only remember that I can’t find it. There is a directory of rooftop food counters and on it I see that the place I am looking for is in Stall or Space #702. A few people – not more than a half-dozen – are leaning here and there on various counters but none of them seems to be eating anything. They just lean.
I circle the roof in search of Stall or Space 702. I find #704 – Hawaiian hamburgers, I think – and, encouraged, look ahead, only to find that next door to the Hawaiian hamburger place is a barbecue place whose address is #700. Perplexing, I think. 700 and 704 but no 702? Maybe it’s closed.
But what ho! I see a white door – no stall, space or counter; just a door – with “702” hand-printed on it. The printing was made with a Sharpie or Marks-A-Lot but I really doubt that that is germane. There is no knob or handle on this door, nor a metal push-plate such as you might see on an interior door in a restaurant. I press on the door gingerly, and it gives. I continue to push. Slowly, slowly, until…I’m back in the department store. There are a few fatigues-clad men milling about. I approach one and say, “You know, I think I will get some of those fatigues.”
And I wake up.
The key elements of the dream – or dreams, the possibility of which I have already acknowledged – it seems to me, are the following:
- The department store
- The desks
- The project, investigation, commission or effort
- The leader of #3 (see above)
- The fatigues
- New York
- The roof
- Fast food counters
- The number 702
- The non-existence of #702
- The door marked “702”
- The fatigues (reprise)
I will spend a little time but not a lot in an attempt to form a cohesive psychic narrative, then report back at a later date, or perhaps not at all. Meanwhile, I welcome input.