I dreamed that I couldn’t do anything right. A recurring theme lately. I worked at a warehouse, lately I’ve been working at warehouses and I don’t know why, warehouses of anonymous and chaotic purpose, I’m up high in the warehouse either on the high shelves or floating up near the ceiling, helpless, I don’t know what it means if it means anything at all, I’m working at a warehouse and there are managers there, I fuck up every job they give me, the female manager is about my age and she’s not nice, not nice at all, she tells me to punch some holes in reams of paper but she doesn’t tell me her method, she doesn’t tell me that the warehouse has a fool-proof method to use and they have been using it for years, so she tells me to punch holes in some paper and walks away and I start punching holes in the paper and naturally it’s all wrong, I’m doing it wrong, the holes don’t match up, they’re uneven and obviously punched arbitrarily. I screw up the job in every aspect. The female manager returns and looks at the work I’ve done. You’re doing it all wrong, she tells me, maybe this isn’t the job for you, perhaps you’re not qualified to work here. Then she tells me to follow her, she might have something else for me to do in the warehouse, and I start following her but then I start floating, I start floating as I so often do in dreams, helpless, I float up to the warehouse ceiling and it’s difficult to move in any direction, I can’t build any momentum and soon I’m floating up and away from everyone, I float myself into another area of the warehouse where no one works, it’s a secret area with motion sensor alarms and naturally I begin to set off those alarms, adding to my discomfort and the sad state of my employment in the warehouse, embarrassed, and I want more than anything to settle back down to terra firma and continue working without any attention focused my way. This worsens my situation as management can’t find me and I try to hide, an action that only sets off more motion sensors, a terrible predicament, and then finally I descend slowly back to the ground and reenter the main area of the warehouse, I’m greeted by a different member of management, a young man with blonde hair who says, We’ve been looking for you, I might have another job for you if you can manage, if you can actually perform it without screwing it up, and I follow the young prick to some type of sheet metal press and conveyor and on the way there I see Bob Costas at a paper hole puncher, bent over a huge stack of papers and Costas says, Hey, come here. I walk over there and he says, Let me show you how to do this the right way, even an imbecile can do this. Then he proceeds to show me what an imbecile I am, so I thank him and follow the prick manager to the sheet metal press, he tells me to cut the sheet metal in even strips, but then he walks away without telling me how or what size strips, and soon the conveyor starts sending large slices of sheet metal my way and I’m immediately overtaken by the material coming at me on the conveyor and there’s a great crash and whir and catastrophe from the press and the male manager runs over to me and slaps the emergency shut-off button. I’m incredibly embarrassed, obviously, and all the people, all the workers in the warehouse watch me, the place is silent in the wake of the alarms and the blaring madness of the breakdown, and the female manager is there now with the prick manager, and he says, I don’t think this is the right job for you, and the female manager says, I don’t think we have a job in this warehouse that’s right for you, and they walk away from me, I’m embarrassed, but I decide to take a break from the station I’m at and I walk away, I want to go outside, I want to get away from all the managers and workers and motion sensors and I want to give up but I need the job, I don’t understand why I’m failing at the job, I don’t fail at anything, but surely I’m failing at this job, it’s a goddamned shame, really. I find myself trying to find the outside break area or whatever but I’m back in an empty spot in the warehouse, floating, floating yet again, and the dream repeats itself like this two or three more times, I don’t know what the fuck is happening, usually by this time I wake from the dream, I stir, I shift positions in the bed, which wakes me and reminds me that I’m dreaming, it’s all just a dream, a magnificent ruse, I shouldn’t feel so ashamed and upset, it’s all just a dream and I don’t float, I don’t try in vain to swim through the air, it’s all just a dream, but no, I was locked into it without escape, and as I floated back down to the surface of the warehouse for the final time I tried to bypass the motion sensors so as not to draw attention to myself and there was a dark office set off to the side or the corner, rather, of the warehouse and I guided myself toward that office, the shadow and emptiness, but rather than help my situation, I made it worse, of course, the office turned out to be the room where all the company’s confidential materials were held, I set off yet more motion sensors, and when I emerged from the dark office all the managers stood there watching me. It was excruciating, I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t believe it, and the managers were on the verge of just telling me to leave, just leave our warehouse, you’re worthless and you’re screwing up every job, you’re destroying our machines and materials, you can’t do anything right, they say. And of course I know they’re right, it’s true, I can’t do anything right in this warehouse, just look at my record, you gave me two jobs to do and I’ve failed at both, plus I’ve set off the motion sensors, I’m worthless, you’re right, but then the dream shifted, perhaps I did stir in my sleep, unconsciously, what I mean is that in the dream I wasn’t aware of any type of any consciousness infiltrating the dream, the dream was still self-evident as a dream, but I was a different person, I had a different identity, it was strange, everything that had happened to me in the dream had still happened but I was different, it happened to me but it had happened to the different me, a young Jewish man, perhaps twenty, the son of the warehouse owner, the company owner, and I was still a failure but I was a different person with a different character, and as this young Jewish man I harbored a deep turbulent revenge for the way the managers and the other workers made me feel, I hated them for making me feel like a failure, because as the inheritor of the company and a rich person, I’ve spent my whole life with my parents telling me I am not a failure despite what everyone says, I’m no failure, my parents ingrained this in my head, no matter how often I fail, I am no failure, but I’ve transformed that ideal of positive reaction into some militant type of hatred against the managers and the workers and everyone in the world, actually, the hatred and the violence consumed the person I might have been, and I see myself as this other person in the warehouse, protected, as it were, by the ownership status of my mother or father or both, and the managers know that I can’t do anything right and yet they permit me to linger about the warehouse, which I do quite successfully, I linger around the place watching the progress of the work and think about how I’m going to destroy them and everyone I know and the world as well, I prefer to hang out on the top shelves of the inventory placed up high near the ceiling where I once floated, but I float no longer, as I am a different person, I am a jew who does not float, but soon I remember my plan, I find myself telling everyone in the warehouse, management and workers all, perhaps two hundred people, that I am leaving early, yes, my plan, I must go join my father and mother or father or mother or both, I have work to complete, I am a busy young man, inheritor of a company, I have something to do (which I do, of course, in secret), and I leave beneath one of the massive overhead doors to the surrounding industrial area beneath a pale sun, I have work to do, and I travel about a quarter of a mile away to a neighboring lot and I extract the mobile phone from my pocket and press a button and watch the warehouse of my dreams explode, one second later feeling the shockwaves of the explosion on my skin and hearing the voices of the damned in my ears.
Voices of the damned
TJ McAvoy Fiction, literature, prose, writing 7 Minutes
Published by TJ McAvoy
Primary influences, in no particular order: Chandler, Voltaire, Saramago, Borges, John Coltrane, Nietzsche, Ricardo Piglia, Emerson, George V. Higgins, Manuel Puig, D.F. Wallace, Cortázar, Denis Johnson, Michelangelo, Italo Calvino, Cormac McCarthy, Melville, Keith Jarrett, J-Dilla, Roberto Bolaño, and Don DeLillo. View all posts by TJ McAvoy