Monday, July 29, 2013

The Dream Coordinator


At the office, an old lady stood on the porch, pocketbook tucked under her arm. Chelsea unlocked the door and the woman tottered in on a cane, wearing opaque stockings and old lady heels that squeezed her swollen ankles.

She leaned on the counter. "Do you recognize me?"

"I think so," said Chelsea, shrinking from her stare.

"Yes...We need to talk." The old lady opened her purse and rummaged around inside. She presented a business card. It looked like it had been floating in a gutter somewhere, and it said:

Mildred McNulty
Dream Coordinator
Hwy. 73 & Little Cub Creek

Could it be the same Mildred McNulty from all those years ago? Oh, crap.

"Could we talk privately?" asked Mildred McNulty.

Chelsea looked up and noticed Ted leaning on the counter, watching their conversation with interest.

"Unless you want..." Mildred McNulty glanced at the stitching on his Nomex coveralls, "Ted, here, to hear about the dream you had about him the other night?"

Chelsea flushed, and so did Ted. She said: "I didn’t have a d–"

Mildred McNulty turned to Ted: "The two of you were having a romantic picnic in a sunny meadow. It was sentimental, not my style, but to each his own. And Chelsea here rested her head on your beating heart and said--"

"I don’t think this is necessary," said Chelsea.

"I want to hear about the dream," said Ted.

"I waited for hours for you. Didn’t you get my message?" the old lady asked.

"I don’t know."

"Did you know that you have your Grandmother Coxheart’s glare, and the crease between the eyes? Very intimidating. And, of course, you do have her talent. These things often skip a generation."

"Talent for what?" said Ted.

"Wouldn’t you like to know," said Mildred McNulty.

Then Chelsea heard Ted’s cell vibrate. He fumbled it out of his breast pocket, waved to Chelsea and swished out the door, mumbling.

"Have you been getting the paper?" the old lady asked Chelsea. "Reading the "Sheriff’s Calls?"

Chelsea grasped Mildred McNulty’s tiny elbow. "Thank you for visiting. I’ll show you out."

"But we haven’t talked properly."

"I’m awfully busy. Maybe some other time." She led the old lady toward the door.

"What time works for you?"

"Um."

"I’ll tell you what: we’ll wait at The Little Cub until you come."
Chelsea thought: We? "Sure," she said. "Yes, maybe I'll come." They reached the door.
The old lady tapped her silver-headed cane on the floor, looked up into Chelsea's face and whispered: "This is important. I need you to help me fight the nightmares."