Dream of:09 March 2002 "In His Element"
I groggily awoke in the small basement of the Gay Street House in Portsmouth, Ohio. What was I doing there? And where had I been sleeping? there was no bed down there. An ironing board? I had been sleeping on an ironing board? Apparently so.
Jaggedly I began to retrace – I had returned to Portsmouth to work for my father. He owned and ran several businesses, and I was going to work as a salesman in one. Probably I would be working in his cellulose insulation business; not only would I sell insulation for houses, I would also install the insulation. I would work when I wanted, and I would be paid a commission for my sales; thus my father wouldn't have to pay me unless I sold something. The arrangement should work out well for both; he wouldn't have any out-of-pocket expense, and I wouldn't feel pressured. Besides, I had enough money so I didn't even have to work; I could just live on my savings.
I made my way upstairs. A bit of a carnival atmosphere up there. The entire first floor had been converted into offices. People scurrying. I ended up in a room with perhaps ten other fellows (mostly in their 20s); apparently all also worked for my father. They were dressed casually but not sloppily. Apparently they were also salesmen, probably working for commissions. They exuded talent but were singularly unimpressive. A slothful lot who had nowhere else to go.
I continued on to the small room on the Gay Street side. Two other fellows were in the room. Perhaps this was the room where I would be working. One fellow (probably in his early 30s) pulled out a brass saxophone with silver keys and began playing. Was this my father's old saxophone? The sound was squeaky and amateurish, but at least the fellow was trying. Maybe I could bring in my flute and we could play together. I could even imagine having the flute in my hand. How did my mouth fit on the flute? Like a saxophone? I couldn't quite remember. I never played with anyone anymore. Doing so would be difficult, at best. But maybe
I walked back through the House into the back middle room. A fellow whom I recognized crossed my path my old classmate from high school, Phil Waddell! What was he doing here? He looked about 30 years old; his hair was still bright blond. He was smoking a cigarette little more than the butt. We grinned at each other and began talking. He also worked for my father. Grand. Maybe he and I could associate outside of the office. I used to like Waddell, although we had never been friends. I had heard he had become involved in drugs after high school. As we talked, the subject of drugs surfaced, and he soon told me he had a drug called "rumba" which he could sell me. I had never heard of rumba. He said it was a leafy substance which was smoked like marijuana. I asked him how much it cost and he said $70. I thought I would like to try some, but $70 seemed like too much money to me. I just happened to stick my right hand in my pants pocket and I pulled out a handful of green leafy substance. I immediately recalled that I had worn these pants once before and that I had stuck some marijuana in the pocket. I wouldn't need to buy any rumba – I already had some marijuana. Nevertheless, I wanted to see more of Waddell and I asked him if he would like to meet later that night. He said he would and after we agreed to rendezvous back there at the House at 9:00 p.m., he departed. Yes, I would like to see Waddell later; we would have a night on the town.
I walked back toward the Gay Street side of the House and entered a room where a meeting was about to begin. My father was sitting behind a brown wooden desk while approximately ten men sat around the room and looked in his direction. I headed toward a seat next to my father, but then I realized the seat had already been taken, so I sat in an easy chair in the corner about three meters from my father. The chair squeaked when I sat down.
My father seemed in his element. He was lying -- more than sitting -- in his chair. His obese stomach protruded into the air. He seemed in charge, but disengaged at the same time. It was as if he had built up this way of life, but he was unconnected. He liked having all these people around him, but he didn't relate to them. He was simply the man in charge; he gave orders, and others obeyed. He didn't try to understand his employees, and they didn't try to understand him. Nevertheless, although the personal relationships were hollow, my father's command was impressive, and I felt special because I was his son.
How much longer would he continue to operate a business? He was already 70 years old. He couldn't last much longer; but working seemed to give some meaning to his life. I wished he would live longer. I wished I could do something for him. If anything, I wished I could help him lose weight. Losing weight would be the best thing he could do.
The meeting began and a man sitting with his back to the wall began talking. Behind the man, pinned to the wall, hung a piece of paper with the Target department store logo on it several red concentric circles. I thought the man had probably sold something to Target and the paper was evidence of the sale. The man recited several verses, then was silent. Then a second man spoke up, and he also recited some verses. My father looked over at me and said the men were reciting Bible verses. Probably part of some motivational technique which my father was using.
Where was my step-mother, Lucille? I could imagine her being there, playing the role of the queen. Everyone would defer to her, since she was married to my father; but she was nowhere to be seen.
My father finally announced he was going to introduce the group to someone whom they didn't know. I immediately thought he was going to introduce me. He would probably even write my name on a blackboard behind him and write that I was a lawyer. He had always liked telling people that his son was a lawyer. Instead, he introduced the person sitting next to him. One by one the other people in the room walked up and shook the person's hand, and one by one they left the room without saying anything to me.
The last fellow to walk up, however, turned to me and asked who I was. I told him that my last name was "Collier" and that I was my father's son. He seemed impressed and he asked me if my father wanted me to be with him (my father). I confidently told him my father had always wanted me to be with him. The fellow reached out his hand; I took the hand and we shook. As I tried to disengage our hands, however, the fellow continued to hold on; soon it was painfully clear the fellow was trying to stealthily pull a ring off my little finger; a small silver ring with a red gemstone. He was almost successful, but I managed to pull away my hand in time. He turned and walked out.
I was dazed. Why would my father employ someone who would try to steal a ring off my finger? I wanted to talk with my father about these people. How would I describe my opinion of them? The word "losers" immediately came to mind, but I couldn't say that to my father -- he would be offended.
I turned to look for my father, but he was nowhere to be seen. Instead, several women (who also apparently worked for my father) had entered the room. I turned to two of them and began telling them about the fellow's trying to steal my ring. They weren't surprised; they said he often did that.
One woman caught my eye. She was black-haired and quite pretty, yet slightly plump a Monica Lewinsky type. I thought I might get to know her later. But, having any contact with her would be unlikely I was still married to Carolina.
As the women departed from the room, I began wondering how I looked. I needed to look in one of the big mirrors which hung over the many mantels in the House. I could already imagine what I would see: I would be about 30 years old and my hair would be quite short. I walked into the next room, looking for a mirror.
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